Glenn Beck, like other Never Trump conservatives, has gotten a lot of credit from over the past couple of years because he frowns at Donald Trump’s personality, even though Beck was one of the major media personalities who laid the groundwork for Trump’s rise. Notably, Beck compared Trump to Hitler in March 2016, saying: “We all look at Hitler in 1940. We should look at Hitler in 1929. He was a kind of a funny kind of character that said the things people were thinking. Where Donald Trump takes it, I have absolutely no idea. But Donald Trump is a dangerous man with the things that he has been saying.”
Now, apparently, Beck is all in on Trump, as on Friday, he whipped out a Make America Great Again hat and put that bad boy on. The reason for this is that some media outlets reported that Trump—in a “sanctuary cities” roundtable in California on Friday where he said a litany of racist, awful things—referred to undocumented immigrants as gang members. In fact, the White House and conservative sites have been screaming about ever since, Trump was only referring to MS-13 gang members as animals.
“When I saw yesterday how the press was all reporting the same damn story,” Beck said on his show Friday, “that Donald Trump was calling MS-13 gang members—they left that out of the story—’animals,’ and they were spinning it as if he was saying that about all immigrants, I’d had enough.”
“Media,” Beck continued, “If you can get me, Glenn Beck, to do this”—at this point, he took out his MAGA hat and put it on—”If you can drive me to the point where I say, ‘You know what, I’ve had enough,’ I’ll vote for him in 2020. Gladly, I’ll vote for him in 2020.”
“Glenn Beck, who throughout his journey from Fox News chalkboard conspiracist to head of conservative news outlet The Blaze has maintained a principled opposition to Trumpism,” Mediaite wrote in its writeup of Beck’s about face, “has apparently succumbed.” Added fellow Never Trumper David Frum: “Glenn Beck succumbs to the imperatives of the conservative entertainment complex.”
And conservative radio host Charlie Skyes, an MSNBC contributor and fellow Never Trumper, told the Daily Beast: “Having watched Glenn Beck for months and years being as critical of Trump as much as anyone, on one level this is stunning. On another level it’s just an acknowledgement of the incredible pressure on the right to conform. There’s really not a business model for conservative media to be anti-Trump, and perhaps Glenn Beck is just simply acknowledging that.”
The theory that Beck has a financial incentive to embrace Trump has some merit, not least of all because this is an extraordinarily dumb controversy to flip on considering both Trump’s history of conflating immigrants and people who commit violent crimes and the actual context of his comments:
[Fresno Co. Sheriff Margaret] Mims: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 gang member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.
Trump: We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.
But regardless of what Beck has to gain by backing Trump, this is who he always was. In 2006, when he was still on CNN, Beck criticized immigrants’ rights’ protests protests against then-proposed hardline legislation by implying all Mexicans were criminals. “It is so riddled with drugs and corruption and mob that you cannot raise a family,” Beck said. “It is a country that has been overtaken by lawbreakers from the bottom to the top. And now, what you’re protesting for is to have lawbreakers come here.”
And if anyone is guilty along with Trump of conflating immigrants with violent crime, it’s Beck. In 2010, when he had a show on Fox News and could afford a private jet, Beck did a segment where he ran through a list of groups which “radicals in [the Obama] administration had a connections to.” One group was the National Council of La Raza (or NCLR, and now known as UnidosUS), a Latinx advocacy organization which has been critical of both Democrats and Republicans.
“They oppose any cooperation between local law enforcement and federal authorities, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and enforcing US immigration laws,” Beck said of NCLR. “Why wouldn’t you want them working together?”
“Then you have MS-13 ,” Beck said later. “ This is a blood-thirsty, this a notoriously violent drug gang who has often left behind dismembered corpses, decapitated heads. I mean, it’s bad.”
Later in the segment, Beck brought up La Raza again, and then pivoted back to MS-13. “Sonia Sotomayor is a member of La Raza. Barack Obama addressed the LA La Raza in 2008,” he said, before immediately moving back to MS-13. “[Former attorney general] Eric Holder...on MS-13, without any kind of explanation, has decided to step in and make sure three illegal immigrants in MS-13, three gang members—they’re the decapitation gang, don’t forget—that they don’t get the death penalty. Eric Holder did that. That’s weird.” (In 2015, Holder called for a national moratorium on the death penalty.)
And now, Beck’s red line for him to renounce his anti-Trumpism is outrage that Trump referred to human beings as animals. And liberals should remember that the next time he tries to rebrand, so they aren’t dumb enough to fall for it again.