Glenn Beck's regrets

This is the irony underlying Beck’s current stance: The same doomsday sensibility that helps him appreciate the menace posed by Trump led him to massively exaggerate the menace posed by Obama—and thus to breed the hateful paranoia on which Trump now feeds. Beck, in fact, pioneered some of Trump’s most disturbing themes. At the beginning of Obama’s first term, Beck repeatedly called the president antiwhite. In 2010, he wondered why Obama “needlessly throws his hat into the ring to defend the Ground Zero mosque. He hosts Ramadan dinners, which a president can do. But then you just add all of this stuff up—his wife goes against the advice of the advisers, jets to Spain for vacation. What does she do there? She hits up the Alhambra palace mosque. Fine, it’s a tourist attraction. But is there anything more to this? Are they sending messages?”

Trump opponents may appreciate Beck’s Hitler analogies now that they’re directed at The Donald. But during the first 14 months of the Obama administration, according to Dana Milbank’s book Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America, Beck and guests on his Fox News show invoked “fascism,” “Nazis,” “Hitler,” “the Holocaust” and “Joseph Goebbels” 487 times. For good measure, Beck in 2007 said that Hillary Clinton sounds like “the stereotypical bitch.”

Beck says he’s sorry for all that. “I played a role, unfortunately,” he told Megyn Kelly during a 2014 interview on Fox News, “in helping tear the country apart.” He told me that now that America has “hit the iceberg,” he wants to help it heal. “I’m not the guy you want at the beginning of the ride on the Titanic, because I’m the guy going out and saying, ‘We’re going to hit ice,’ ” he explained. “But once she starts going down, I’m the guy who would be standing at the lifeboats saying, ‘Relax, it’s going to be okay. Let’s get the women and the children in the boats. Let’s not tear each other apart.’ ”

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