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September 03, 2009

Controversy Over “Glenn Beck Day” in a Small City in the State of Washington - (genghis)

I think Uncle Jimbo did a post regarding Mr. Beck, but on a different issue, a few days ago. Opinions vary wildly concerning Mr. Beck, just as they do with many prominent figures in the media and talk radio in particular. There is no doubt that he does tend to have a polarizing effect due to his very strong opinions. Controversy generally follows, deserved or not. This is meant to be a neutral post, so you can hash it out in the comments.

With that in mind, Mr. Beck has been invited to receive the keys to the City of Mt. Vernon, Washington as reported in the Seattle Times. (original content has been squished into paragraphs to save endangered pixels) This has set off something of a local firestorm. Fair or not, here goes:

”As dozens of companies pledge not to advertise on Glenn Beck's Fox News Channel show after he called President Obama a racist, and as his controversial on-air behavior draws more scrutiny, the mayor of Mount Vernon ... is presenting him with a key to the city. Mayor Bud Norris announced that Beck, who grew up in Mount Vernon, will be on hand to accept the award Sept. 26, which Norris will also proclaim "Glenn Beck Day." Tickets for the Saturday evening event are $25.”

So that’s the “who, what, where and when” (with a partial “why”). Here’s more of the “why:”
”Beck's advertiser abandonment has snowballed since he called Obama a racist on July 28, adding that he believed the president has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." Which makes Norris' timing provocative, to say the least. Critics say his announcement amounts to an endorsement of that and other extreme views of the television and nationally syndicated radio commentator — which have also included ruminations on killing filmmaker Michael Moore and poisoning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as barking like a dog over a Hillary Rodham Clinton audio clip and perpetuating the "death panel" claim about Obama's proposed health-care reform.”

The first citation, regarding what he said about Pres. Obama and “the white culture,” is well-documented since it’s the source of the current controversy. The others I don’t know about as it’s hard to tell if the reporter is attributing the accusations to Beck’s critics or is citing them as accepted facts. If you know and want to argue things either way (or believe this is a misrepresentation or just the reporter’s opinion), try to back that up with actual quotations and sources in the comments. Moving along…
"That's certainly their preference if they choose to view it that way," Norris said Wednesday. "This isn't about his political views. It's about recognizing someone who has a history with our city."Norris, mayor since 2004, said he'd been planning the Beck event for "six months to a year." Beck also has a Seattle speaking engagement that day. Not only was it Norris' idea alone, but when he asked City Council members if they wanted tickets, six of the seven declined.”

The article goes on to list Beck’s background in radio, specifically that he started his career in Seattle at the age of 13 and that his first experience with broadcasting came after winning a contest to host an hour on a local Mt. Vernon radio station, KBRC. Norris’ also recalls Beck as a young man growing up in Mt. Vernon and working with his father at a local bakery. So he does have ties to the city of 33,000 which is located an hour north of Seattle.

However, local opposition is growing against Beck’s appearance and his being handed the keys to the city:

The Mount Vernon honor already has begun drawing a landslide of attention. The mayor's office was besieged by so many phone calls Wednesday that his assistant rerouted them to a different city office. And members of the Young Democrats of Skagit County were protesting outside City Hall with signs reading "Change the locks," KOMO-TV reported.

Some opposition seems a little odd though:
"The timing is probably unfortunate with everything that's going on," said Kristen Whitener, director of Mount Vernon's Chamber of Commerce. Her phone had been ringing, too. "We've gotten phone calls from people who are very upset. People are threatening not to shop here, things like that," she said. "I think it's unfortunate that some of the phone calls we're getting from people are being negative to Mount Vernon because of it. I hope they would understand that one decision by one person doesn't reflect everybody. "I hope that it won't put us in a negative light," she said of the city, about 60 miles north of Seattle with a population of about 33,000. Beck, Whitener said, "has definitely crossed the line on a few things. I've never met him and didn't really realize he was from this area."

I suppose it’s understandable, even if a little weak-kneed. By “what’s going on” you can presume she’s talking about the economy, and chambers of commerce are generally about…commerce, and not getting stuck in the middle of controversies not of their making. That it should’ve even been a controversy in the first place is even debatable, but welcome to polarized America in 2009.

A lot of things to mull over here and I’m sure you’ll be more than willing to do so. Have at it.


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posted by xgenghisx at 09:53 AM

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