April 7, 2009

When he wasn't complaining about us mean liberal bloggers yesterday, Glenn Beck actually did a very good thing on his Fox News show: He completely eviscerated the conspiracy theories about supposed "FEMA concentration camps" that have been a favorite of the right-wing lunatic fringe for some time now.

It is in fact an impressive and thorough debunking of the rumors, led by Jim Meigs of Popular Mechanics, who's very good at this kind of work. Meigs, as it happens, concludes that these theories originated in the 1990s with the Patriot/militia movement. (Go to Beck's site to read more.)

As it happens, that's exactly what we reported at C&L three weeks ago. And in fact, much of this information has been available for some time, though you would never know it from listening to the right-wing conspiracists.

Still, Beck deserves credit for his forthright reportage of the matter. Indeed, it seemed an apology for having unfairly accused him of promoting these theories seemed like it might be in order.

But then there's the small matter of what he actually said:

Beck: We don't even understand freedom anymore. We are a country that is headed toward socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination.

I have to tell you, I am doing a story tonight, that I wanted to debunk these FEMA camps. I'm tired of hearing about them -- you know about them? I'm tired of hearing about them. I wanted to debunk them.

We'll we've now for several days been doing research on them -- I can't debunk them! And we're going to carry the story tonight.

...It is our government -- if you trust our government, it's fine. If you have any kind of fear that we might be headed toward a totalitarian state, there is something going on in our country that it's -- it ain't good.

Hmmm. This is a completely different Glenn Beck from the one who was on Fox tonight. Does he have an evil twin or something?

Beck tried to portray himself yesterday as fundamentally skeptical of the claims -- but he sure had a funny way of showing it a few weeks ago. As you can see in the clip, he actually went on to report the "FEMA camp" claims credulously back then.

Well, better late than never. I'm actually looking forward to Part 2 of the debunking tonight, because the first part was excellent, and while Beck may be slow coming around, it's always better late than never.

Mind you, we won't be holding our breaths to see if the lesson sticks. You never know which Glenn Beck is going to show up on any given day.

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