Glenn Beck made waves Sunday when he “stormed off” CNN during a live interview with Brian Stelter on his show, “Reliable Sources.”
The mainstream media portrayed Beck as one who left angry over a question he did not like. After all, why was a journalist’s personal question about Beck’s business — which had nothing to do with the subject at hand — unfair?
Watch the entire 7-minute to interview to understand why Beck walked out and why the interview is being used by some observers as an example of what’s wrong with the mainstream media.
As Beck revealed in a post-interview Facebook Live video, he and Stelter had agreed to discuss the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” illegal immigration policy, the resulting child separation, and how the media’s role in the story further drives a wedge between it and mainstream America.
Prior to talking to Beck, Stelter hosted the executive editor of Time magazine, who dismissed what his magazine did last week when it published a misleading magazine cover, and George Takei, who compared detention centers at the border to World War II-era Japanese-American internment camps. Stelter did not push back against either man’s claims.
Beck began the interview by issuing an indictment of the mainstream media’s coverage of the Trump administration, its immigration policies, and explained why the media are unable to reach Trump voters.
“You have become me, circa 2009 — and you don’t see it … none of you [in the media] are willing to listen to what you’re doing, and you’re dividing us even more,” Beck said. “We’ve had two people threaten the lives of either a congressman’s child or the president’s child. Where are the people who were so worried about language and the tone on television?”
“Don’t you understand what you’re doing? You’re driving people into the arms of Donald Trump,” Beck explained.
Stelter replied wanting to know “what is the right answer, then, if we don’t point out the lies?” The exchange that followed exemplified Beck’s point about the media:
BECK: Well, first of all, you have to recognize the mistakes of the past. I can’t take this border issue, because I wasn’t allowed into anybody’s circle after my audience raised $3 million, and we risked everything to go down to the border, and we brought churches together, we actually fed the homeless. I was mocked for bringing them soccer balls, which people now say is a good thing, because at least they have soccer balls at summer camp. And on the other side, no one in the media would even listen. No one would listen when I said —
STELTER: Glenn, that’s not true. There was lots of coverage —
BECK: I had DHS people coming —
STELTER: I remember you going to the border in 2014. Obama policy might have been ugly. It’s a lot worse now.
BECK: Was there this kind of coverage —
STELTER: Of course not. There weren’t as many kids in jail.
BECK: Of course — oh, stop it. Stop it.
STELTER: Stop what? There were not as many kids in jail.
BECK: You’re telling me — so, it’s the number. So, what’s the number, Brian, that we care about putting kids in cages? What’s the number that we start caring about when we’re separating families?
STELTER: The more there are, the more we care.
Caleb Howe at PJ Media offered this analysis of the back-and-forth: “That was an objectively ridiculous exchange on Stelter’s part. He’s absolutely committed to not saying the media covers stories differently with Republicans in office than when Obama was president. So committed that he turns it into an absurd discussion about the quantities of horror, a gross calculation on anyone’s part.”
Beck’s main point was that the media’s hatred of Trump and its desire to instigate outrage to drive ratings and revenue are turning Americans away from the media and into the arms of Trump, whom they may not even agree with. America is tired of being divided, misled, and lied to, Beck argued.
Look no further for an example of this than the coverage the media gave the border crisis during the Obama administration compared to the media coverage of it now, Beck said:
This is why people who don’t necessarily even support Donald Trump are saying, “you know what, I’ve baked in the lies. I’ve baked in the lies. I know. I got it. I got it.” But the journalists now are like saying, “well, two can play that game.” Neither one of you are self-aware enough to know that there is justice and mercy. One’s arguing justice, one’s arguing mercy, or they say they are, but they’re not. All they’re doing is playing politics, and the American people are tired of it. Who is talking about an actual solution on this? Who’s actually done something? Who’s actually consistent and cared when it was a Democrat in office and cared when it’s a Republican in office? You know? Those people exist around the country, and they’re watching you two, the media and Donald Trump, playing this little game back and forth, and they’re sick of it. They don’t want to hear about it from either side.
As Howe pointed out, the mainstream media aren’t exactly introspective, nor are they open to constructive criticism, which makes the problems worse. This is why, Howe added, Stelter basically does everything Beck points to as problematic, such as continually interrupting Beck and arguing back against each piece of constructive criticism Beck offers.
The interview only derailed further from there. Beck said the media aren’t interested in having actual dialogue because he’s reached out to media outlets to have honest dialogue off-air, to which he’s received no response. Productive discussions would have to be off-air, Beck said, because the media are only interested in outrage and ratings. Stelter seemed to miss Beck’s point:
BECK: Because it’s all about ratings. Because this is all about ratings. This isn’t about ratings. This is about saving our country, bringing us together. Stop dividing us. I mean, you — I can’t —
STELTER: So, to be clear, you think that I’m dividing the country for ratings by booking you?
Beck was quick to call out Stelter, who mocked Beck’s use of chalkboards, for turning the interview personal. Stelter hardly allowed Beck to complete one sentence.
Finally, after Beck implored the media to be more self-reflective and self-aware, Stelter turned the conversation personal and asked Beck a business-related question about TheBlaze.
“Wow, Brian, thanks a lot. I think that’s the most ridiculous question I’ve ever heard. I’m sitting here ready to talk to you about the detaining of children and parents … we want to stop it and you want to play those games? Have a nice day,” Beck said as he walked off camera.
What was the reaction to the interview?
While immediate reaction decried Beck, by Monday morning, many observers had come around to Beck’s side, agreeing that there is a problem in the mainstream media and saying Stelter proved it with his interview.
In reply to Stelter’s tweet of the interview, people said:
I don’t think the interview came across like you think it did. If I were Glenn I would have walked off the air as well. You lost me as a viewer
— Candice Coppola (@candice_coppola) June 24, 2018
Partisan politics aside. You bring him on to discuss immigration and attack him on personal business issues. You have a credibility problem.
— Greg Dording (@GregDording) June 24, 2018
i’m a left leaning progressive and glenn beck is absolutely right. poor form on brian’s part. loaded questions, too personal.
— Jason Sakran (@Jasonsakran) June 24, 2018
I usually enjoy your show, but you clearly had an agenda and did not intend to discuss the planned topic. I’m not one who usually defends GB but I would have walked out too. Your facial expressions were embarrassing. Acting surprised?
— Chelsie Foster (@ChelsieMFoster) June 24, 2018