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Opinion

Opinion

Ignoring facts isn’t the answer

July 11, 2010

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A scene from the near future:

Augustus Merryweather IV glanced up at the tapping on his office door. Harvey Carbunkle stood there in bow tie and shirt sleeves, smiling eagerly from behind horn-rimmed glasses.

Augustus sighed. He hated this part of the job. It was never fun to let people go.

He waved the young man to a seat, spoke without preamble. “Harvey, I’m afraid it’s not working out.”

The eager face fell like a refrigerator from a moving truck. “You’re firing me?”

“I have no choice. Your work, well ... it hasn’t been up to the standard we expect for an editor at Merryweather Publishing. Frankly, I’m surprised. When I saw that you were a graduate of BU, I couldn’t wait to hire you. Boston University turns out some great students.”

“I didn’t go to Boston University,” Harvey said.

“Baylor, then. Still a great school.”

“I didn’t go to Baylor.”

“But your resume says you graduated BU.”

A proud smile. “Yes, sir. That’s Beck University.”

Augustus was confused. “I’ve never heard of ...”

“Beck University!” said Harvey, the smile widening. “You know, Glenn Beck? He has that show on CNN. Also, that novel, that other book, that radio program, that standup act, that line of athletic shoes and that cologne. He founded an online university back in 2010 so people could learn the real truth they don’t get in your so-called ‘universities.’” He made air quotes.

“So, when you rejected that Martin Luther King biography because it didn’t mention how white conservatives started the civil rights movement ...”

A sharp nod. “I learned that at Beck U.”

“And when you told the author of that book on religion that ‘pinko commie’ is the preferred term for preachers who talk about social and economic justice ...”

“Beck U.”

“And when you asked why there was no reference to Nazi death panels euthanizing children in that book on health-care reform ...”

“Yes, sir! Beck U.”

Augustus sank back into his chair. “Beck me,” he muttered.

“Beg pardon?”

Augustus regarded the man who perched before him. “Harvey,” he said after a moment, “you can’t believe all that garbage they filled your head with. None of that stuff is true! It’s just the rantings of a paranoid nutjob living in an alternate reality. The facts …”

Harvey shrank back, looking horrified. “No, sir!” he shouted. “No, sir! Professor Beck warned us about people like you. He said you’d try to confuse us with all your ‘facts’ and your ‘logic’ and your ‘reason.’ Well, Harvey Walter Carbunkle is on to your game!”

All at once, Augustus felt tired. He felt old. “Very well,” he said. “Believe what you want. But we’ve still got to let you go. You’re not qualified.”

Harvey appeared to contemplate this. He shrugged. “That’s OK,” he said. “Now I’ll have time to pursue my graduate work at the U of L.”

Augustus sat up straight. “Louisiana?”

“Limbaugh.”

“Of course,” said Augustus, dropping back into the chair.

Harvey’s expression was pitying. “I wish I could help you see how wrong you are. You think the world is about ‘facts’ and ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’ you can ‘prove.’ The lamestream media has you fooled and you don’t even know it.” Abruptly he turned away, gnawing a knuckle.

“Well,” said Augustus, “I suppose we’ll just have to agree to …” He stopped, alarmed. “My God, man, are you crying?”

Harvey’s eyes were glistening. His voice wobbled like a toddler. “I’m sorry,” he gasped. “It’s just ...” His voice tore. He bit his lip, lifted his palm, took a steadying breath, then tried again. “It’s just that I love my country so much and I’m frightened for her future.”

Augustus shook his head. “I know just how you feel,” he said.

— Leonard Pitts Jr.,winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday at www.MiamiHerald.com. lpitts@miamiherald.com

Comments

not_holroyd 3 years, 9 months ago

We really aren't that far away from being in Germany in 1932, thanks to the likes of Shewmon.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 9 months ago

I like the quote, "There is no history, only historians." We are taught myths in school and spend a great deal of time unlearning them. (See Mark Twain.) Beck and his ilk are reinventing another myth about the 'christian nation' and using it to justify their pursuit of issues. Nothing wrong with that, but they are, perhaps, distorting history to meet their own ends? We need to learn to live by the golden rule as a nation, but no religion and no fake history is necessary to accomplish this. "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..." should suffice.

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overplayedhistory 3 years, 9 months ago

What does it mean when the people that Beck is irking the most are educated conservatives?

BECK is not a conservative or a libertarian he is a entertainer who is also a radical. I mean come on how can anyone take someone who is a Mormon seriously. Really Jesus came over north America too and told Joseph smith to start a harem.

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parrotuya 3 years, 9 months ago

LP stirred up the hornet's nest today! I sure hope he brought some bug-killer!

DOWn, baby, DOWn, & SPILL, baby, SPILL!

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greasyncheesy 3 years, 9 months ago

If Beck is irking this Pitts guy and liberals, he must be doing something right.

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Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

I do not, and have not ever watched any of Becks programming, nor any program that remotely resembles such bull$hit. I also consider any thing that comes out of Leonard Pitts thought processes to have as much value as fecal matter.

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overplayedhistory 3 years, 9 months ago

No conservatives on this board, just the same old people trying to pass an emotional reaction to the truth as conservatism. No matter how hard you try to discredit Pitts or justify the crazy $hit Beck says, you will not be taken seriously by educated people if you watch his show for anything other than a laugh. Referencing him immediately produces a look that a child gets when they try to enter into an adult conversation.

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Jaylee 3 years, 9 months ago

What is the point of this one? At least wait until Pitts writes something moving one way or another to post it, geez.

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 9 months ago

Pretty tough to see a bright future for America when you have to listen to these disgusting people all day long instead of hearing sensible and EDUCATED people work on solving the real problems of the American people.

Unfortunately, it is hard for good people to get elected anymore in this jungle of farce.

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 9 months ago

I think any orally gifted person with a little acting ability could take the right wing hate literature and make a ton of money with it.

It is a good gig and there are a lot of people hungry for this BS.

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 9 months ago

Let us provide a little perspective here:

Glenn Beck- High School diploma. Attended one class in Christian theology at Yale but dropped out. Sean Hannity- Attended seminary after high school, but dropped out to work for radio station.

Rush Limbaugh- After High School and at his Mother’s urging he attended Southwest Missouri State University for 2 semesters and a summer. His mother said he flunked out of everything. After this, he went to work for a radio station.

I guess even Tom could figure out the pattern here and how it relates so precisely to Mr. Pitts column. Well...maybe not Tom.

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Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

Mud_Flaps post at 2:58.... Another very accurate post, I couldn't have said it any better ! Right on the money !

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greasyncheesy 3 years, 9 months ago

So you Beck haters have no problem with some of the trash being put out by the blogosphere? Like moveon? Or even what about publications like The Pitch? Some of the most hateful obsenity laced rants there you'll find. What about that? Or is it just becaue Beck is so popular? Beck should scare the people he goes afterr. It seems to be working.

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kimmydarling 3 years, 9 months ago

Glenn Beck, a man who called the wife of his radio station competitor and mocked her openly on air for having a miscarriage stating that his competitor and his wife "couldn't even manage to have a kid right". A man who mocked the children of the president after making a huge deal about the fact that families were off limits.

Or..perhaps the man who, before joining Fox News, was spouting ideals diametrically opposed to his current views. He's an actor parading as a true journalist..

He's a disgusting waste of a human being who consumes oxygen better people could use. Rush Limbaugh is no different. Where good people can listen and understand that no side is 100% right or wrong, these two feed nothing but hatred, fear and ignorance.

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Ralph Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

@monheim, re: your 1238. I'm sure you've been around here enough to realize there are a few posters who will shout you down and parse comments to the comma to quote things out of context. The greatest offender was HWSNBN, whose mantel appears to have been jointly taken up by Big Prune and Tom Shewmon. To their credit, they haven't gone after people in real life (yet).

Tom uses any argument he can against Pres Obama, Congress and the "lamestream, looney-left media", with his most vehement attacks being directed towards the President. His rationale is that Pres Obama is a Democrat, a liberal, and has it out for any rich white person in the country. So, given all that, even though he makes every effort to make people mad (being successful at times), take what he says with a grain of salt..


halftime, score is nil.

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irvan moore 3 years, 9 months ago

I don't particulary like Pitts or Beck but you gotta admit IT'S FUNNY. everything doesn't have to be liberal or conservitive, somedays it's just what it is.

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Mike Ford 3 years, 9 months ago

repeat the garbage long enough and the dummies will believe them.. ancient fox secret.. go into media areas with little competetion and spread this message like facism.. I have ex-relatives in mississippi who fit this profile perfectly.. some live in the middle of nowhere Mississippi.. others live near the coast... descendants of simple Scotch and Irish lower class people.. some part Indian like my ex-relaitives.. aren't educated enough to be objective.. if it fits a simple pattern and it's easy for them to digest... it must be true... they're too obsessed with class competition and their place on the economic rung to be objective and listen and study all views of history. I do watch Fox to study idiots. I took sociology in college. I'm a son of retired clergy whose seen people in churches through fouir states over twenty five years. All of the church people I saw in Miss and LA made me an amateur sociologist. I tried to figure out what made these people so racist in the 1970's when I was young. They are motivated by fear and loss coming from lower class European immigrants. Fox plays on their fears.. Beck plays on their fears.. Limbaugh plays on their fears. Some of what I say will be called racist I'm sure. I grew up there.. I saw what I saw.. and they are what they are... stuck in Jesusland with no clue selling themselves and their natural resources to people who manipulate them and blaming minorities whose land they stole and whose free labor they used for their problems. Fear can't be overcome with reasoning.. Beck and Limbaugh know this. These people lash out by calling others what they are instead of facing what they are and evolving into something else... educated... I'm speaking of the people who've already called Pitts a racist.

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tomatogrower 3 years, 9 months ago

Questions for Tom, cato, LG40, etc: 1. Do you believe that white conservatives started the civil rights movement? 2. Did you really believe that there were "death panels" in the health bill? 3. Are ministers really "commie pinkos"?

Are these really facts, fiction, or opinion? I would call the first two lies, I mean fiction. The last one could be an opinion, but not one based in fact. So, Beck is an entertainer, who deals in fiction, but he's on a news channel, so really his fiction should be called lies. He's not on the Comedy channel, or making a sitcom, or doing skits like on SNL. He only passes himself off as an entertainer when he's caught in an out and out lie. Why doesn't FOX put him on one of their entertainment networks, if he is an entertainer?

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monheim 3 years, 9 months ago

It's always a red flag for me whenver someone's defenders outright discount you as part of some kind of supposed "conspiracy" that the guy you're following "warned" you about. Sure, people don't use the straw-man verbage like in this column, but just check out Tom's comments. How many hyperbolic, conspiracy-fueled epithets can one person use? Militant looney leftist socialist extreme progressivist...blah blah blah. If someone tells you they disagree with you because they were warned to not listen to you, that's not someone worth debating with. And when the only other response is this childish nonsense about being jealous of how popular they are? Facts don't depend on popularity.

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tange 3 years, 9 months ago

BU? Ah, so that's where he got his BS.

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ivalueamerica 3 years, 9 months ago

I generally do not like Pitts, he is too exagerated, but this hits it on the head. Fox has really done a number of Journalism in our country.

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Gareth 3 years, 9 months ago

TomShewmon is back?

I thought he had run away like the whiny little infant he is.....

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yourworstnightmare 3 years, 9 months ago

On a larger view, this sort of nonsense is a direct result of the social upheaval of the 1960s. This upheaval brought many good things, including women's rigths and civil rights.

It also brought with it the hippy attitude that every opinion is valid and the louder and more emotional the opinion, the more valid it is.

The left are now seeing the results of their actions from the 60s, when they used every means available, including entertainment, music, media, to further their political message.

The lines were blurred by the left in the 60, and conservatives have now embraced this tactic wholeheartedly.

Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Palin, et al., are all children of the left's tactics in the 1960s, come back to haunt them.

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yourworstnightmare 3 years, 9 months ago

Entertaining column.

We must remember that Beck, Limbaugh et al. are entertainers. As entertainers, they stretch the truth and yes, lie, for laughs, just like any other entertainer.

This is an example of Pitts mimicking the entertainment style of beck and Limbaugh.

Beck and Limbaugh make more money when they say entertaining and outrageous things.

The trouble starts when they stop smelling their own BS and start taking themselves seriously. The trouble is multiplied when masses of "conservatives" start treating Beck et al. not as entertainers but as newsmen and reporters.

I think Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry the Cable Guy, and PJ O'Rourke are hilarious. I do not base my political views on their entertaining routines.

It is sad commentary that a political "movement" in this country has a basis in the comic routines of the entertainers Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and others.

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Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

Post #10, 06:58 am, by Mr. Shewmon is 100% fact, which cannot be explained any clearer. It's a real shame that some of you just can't handle the truth

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tumbilweed 3 years, 9 months ago

Ignoring any commentary concerning these fools is the answer.

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devobrun 3 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if Pitts sat down and thought and discussed with colleagues and came to the conclusion that somebody (might as well be him) needs to enter the fray with conservative commentators? The stretched "facts" and rants from Beck and Limbaugh are intended to stir up the masses against "social and economic justice" as defined by Obama, Pelosi and Reid. So Pitts writes a column intended to stir ire toward Beck and Limbaugh against their idea of social and economic justice.

Its the same thing, Leonard. You're doin' the same thing they are. If they are wrong, so are you. Ah, but the goal is different. Therefore the petty narrative is justified.
Weak, Mr. Pitts, below your standards.

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Pilgrim2 3 years, 9 months ago

Funny. The Pitts joins Glen Beck in writing a work of fiction. Beck - The Overton Window. The Pitts - this column (just the latest example). Whoda' thunk The Pitts would do anything similar to Beck. Oh, the irony!

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demonfury 3 years, 9 months ago

To all the liberal idiots on this thread, and I do mean that in the literal sense of the word, IDIOTS, will be talking out of the other side of their mouths come November. When the Republicans re-take congress, and finally have the ability to stop the anal bleeding that your messiah is causing, we might be able to start moving in a positive direction. As for Pitts, who is a master bigot, and racist disguised as a serious columnist, will blow away like the Dan Rather's of the bonehead media. The Pulitzer was gifted to him, not earned, due mostly in part because of his minority. And once again Pitts has used this to highlight the color of his ignorant, racist, dumb a$$. He is a complete disgrace to America, and Americans, especially black Americans. His articles only fuel the fires of hatered in this country, as he writes about how bad hatred (mostly of blacks) really is. If he were in China, he'd have been executed years ago. Why doesn't he ever write about that injustice in the media world? It's because people like me have fought for the freedom of speech that he abuses at will. Without the 1st Amendment, that he exploits but has not earned, Pitt's is just another welfare minority case in Southern Florida. How's that for reality?

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devobrun 3 years, 9 months ago

Leonard is a Pulitzer prize winning opinionator from the Miami Herald.

This one won't win a second award.

It is childish and petty.

"It’s just the rantings of a paranoid nutjob living in an alternate reality. The facts …”" he says. What are the facts regarding conservatives and Dr. King? What are the facts regarding Nazis death panels and the euthanizing of children? And what does a term used to characterize a preacher have to do with facts?

So, Mr Pitts you disagree with the right wing characterization of things. Fine. They disagree with you. Setting up a straw dog (Harvey) and knocking him down is easy isn't it?

Weak, Mr. Pitts, weak.

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JJE007 3 years, 9 months ago

YOU are one of the privates on the "victim mentality" army and the "handiest tool" of "The extension" as a "party of NO...Republican's fault". Don't you feel done...YET? We're ready for s'mores. The weenies are all roasted.

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jafs 3 years, 9 months ago

How is your propaganda that it's all the Democrats fault any different from what you claim they are doing?

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 9 months ago

Beck is addressing the "victim mentality" which is the handiest tool of the left. So what? The extension of this is when Dems came up with the brilliant strategy of labelling Repubs as the "party of NO". It's all relative. Dems have nothing but propaganda up their sleeves----it's all Republican's fault. But people are about done with that crap----about done.

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jafs 3 years, 9 months ago

In context, he seems even worse.

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independant1 3 years, 9 months ago

If by some divine act of providence we could get rid of both parties and hire some good men, like any other good business does, that would be sitting pretty. (Will Rogers)

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Benjamin Roberts 3 years, 9 months ago

But the second thought I had when I saw these people and they had to shut down the

(cont.) Astrodome and lock it down, I thought: I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims. These guys -- you know it's really sad. We're not hearing anything about Mississippi. We're not hearing anything about Alabama. We're hearing about the victims in New Orleans. This is a 90,000-square-mile disaster site, New Orleans is 181 square miles. A hundred and -- 0.2 percent of the disaster area is New Orleans! And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags -- and again, it's not all the people in New Orleans. Most of the people in New Orleans got out! It's just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they're getting all the attention. It's exactly like the 9-11 victims' families. There's about 10 of them that are spoiling it for everybody.

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Benjamin Roberts 3 years, 9 months ago

Not that context will matter to those whose opinion will not be changed by facts. Here is Beck's transcript of September 9, 2005 as posted at mediamatters (http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200509090003):

BECK: Let me be real honest with you. I don't think anybody on talk radio -- I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to say this out loud -- but I wonder if I'm the only one that feels this way. Yesterday, when I saw the ATM cards being handed out, the $2,000 ATM cards, and they were being handed out at the Astrodome. And they actually had to close the Astrodome and seal it off for a while because there was a near-riot trying to get to these ATM cards. My first thought was, it's not like they're going to run out of the $2,000 ATM cards. You can wait! You know, stand in line. Maybe it's because I'm the kind of guy, when I go to a buffet, I either have to be first in line, or I'm the very last. Because I know there's going to be extra food, and I just won't stand in the line. I'll wait until all the suckers go get their food, and then I'll go get mine. Or if I'm really hungry, I hate to admit this -- and really, I don't even have to be really hungry. If I'm really being a pig, I will kind of, like, hang out around the buffet table before the line is -- you know, chat with people right around the table: "Oh, they just opened the line! Let's go!" And then you're first in line.

When you are rioting for these tickets, or these ATM cards, the second thing that came to mind was -- and this is horrible to say, and I wonder if I'm alone in this -- you know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year. And I had such compassion for them, and I really wanted to help them, and I was behind, you know, "Let's give them money, let's get this started." All of this stuff. And I really didn't -- of the 3,000 victims' families, I don't hate all of them. Probably about 10 of them. And when I see a 9-11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, "Oh shut up!" I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them. And, again, it's only about 10.

(Cont.)

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Scott Kaiser 3 years, 9 months ago

Pulitzer winner, eh? Too bad he doesn't check his facts closer...Beck is not on CNN, he's on Fox.

By the way, it's OK for people to disagree. As long as civility rules!

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jaywalker 3 years, 9 months ago

Beck's the worst of the bunch, and that's saying something with Hannity out there. Seems to me to be quite a waste of time, however, dedicating a column to him. I'd like to think a Pulitzer winner could come up with better material to opine upon.

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ConcernedCynic 3 years, 9 months ago

I thought GB was going to move to Chile or Colombia or some south/central American country like that after the health care bill passed...too bad he didn't.

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independant1 3 years, 9 months ago

When newspapers knock a man a lot, there is sure to be a lot of good in him. (Will Rogers)

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 9 months ago

Corey, I discount your quotes that I'm quite sure your extracted from one of your far-left sources and which was taken completely out of context. Beck was being sarcastic----he was mocking the looney left. Do you reside in the looney left or not? You should be able to differentiate when he's serious or not. He 'peppers' his show with satire and sarcasm and humor.......the militant left just chooses (or not?) to miss it.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 9 months ago

Here's a piece of reality that the MSM is mostly ignoring: http://minx.cc/?post=303497

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 9 months ago

Corey, why don't you learn to identify satire and comedy......Beck mixes it up with hard facts and exposing this rogue progressive regime on power. Again, if you can't catch the sarcasm and satire, you're not to sharp. He has drawn an insanely huge audience at Fox News, the only credible news outlet.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 9 months ago

Still, Pitts is a racist who is deeply envious of Beck and Limbaugh's wild popularity and success. Pitts is a third rate columnists whose heart is filled with hatred, racism and bigotry. It's simple. The Miami Herald keeps Pitts around to do what he does; stir up trouble. The Miami Herald is one of many of liberal propaganda machines which is in tight financial straights.

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Corey Williams 3 years, 9 months ago

"When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining." –"The Glenn Beck Program," Sept. 9, 2005

"You know, we all have our inner demons. I, for one – I can't speak for you, but I'm on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show." –"The Glenn Beck Program," Nov. 6, 2006

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Tarball 3 years, 9 months ago

Why do you profile beobachter? Your emotional bitterness is frightening. I have noticed that you consistently attack/harrass and profile participants constantly on this Newspapers site. Hateful name calling of posters is not very nice. You post as though cato, Tom and tea party people are friends of yours. Do you intimately know them? Can't wait for your thoughtful response.

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beobachter 3 years, 9 months ago

He's earned a Pulitzer Prize for commentary, what have you earned for your commentary? How many have Beck or Limbaugh earned?

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 9 months ago

Here I am. Talk about living in an "alternate reality"---- Pitts does. I'll err on the side of Beck. For too long the corrupt liberal media and the elite liberal establishment have been acting as historical revisionists. Beck is merely challenging their dishonesty and incompetence and their agenda. Pitts should start writing dimestore novels----or do some self-publishing on lulu.com, huh beoB?

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beobachter 3 years, 9 months ago

Can't wait for cato, Tom and the other teabaggers to show up.

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