Since Glenn Beck left Fox News in 2011 and founded his own web channel, TheBlaze, the former right-wing sensation has been less prevalent in the mainstream political conversation. Still, Beck has cultivated a substantial audience for his subscription-only programming, and is now using that following to pressure cable networks into carrying his channel.
Beck started promoting GetTheBlaze.com on Monday, asking fans to demonstrate to their television provider that there is wider demand for the libertarian channel. If his channel does get picked up by cable television providers, anyone who pays for cable will subsidize Beck’s channel, regardless of whether or not they watch it. As The New York Times explains, TV channels get small per-subscriber fees, whether or not the subscribers ever watch.
Beck argues that carrying TheBlaze would be no different from supposedly ideological cable channels like MSNBC and Al Jazeera America. But since leaving Fox, Beck’s radical libertarianism has gone even further fringe. In the past few months, Beck has promoted multiple conspiracy theories via the channel he is now trying to push on cable subscribers:
1. Cop killer Chris Dorner was supported by liberals. As Los Angeles was turned upside down in the manhunt for Chris Dorner in February, the former police officer who killed 4 people, Beck claimed “the American left” was supporting Chris Dorner. His evidence was a Facebook page with “thousands of likes.”
2. Obama secretly tried to release the “blind sheikh” bomber. Relying on a single anonymous source “close to the Obama administration,” TheBlaze accused President Obama of plotting to secretly release a 1993 World Trade Center bomber. The conspiracy theory quickly took hold in Tea Party circles, even prompting top House Republicans to parrot the false theory.
3. The Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated the US government. Beck hosted Rep. Michele Backmann (R-MN) to defend her widely denounced anti-Muslim witch hunt. On Beck’s show, Bachmann once again accused Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, of being a Muslim Brotherhood spy, a ludicrous charge vehemently condemned by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Scott Brown (R-MA).
4. The Petraeus scandal was orchestrated by the White House. Like most of the right-wing blogosphere, Beck was obsessed with a purported cover-up of the Benghazi consulate attack. When CIA Director David Petraeus was caught in an affair with his biographer, Beck claimed the White House deliberately orchestrated the scandal in order to discredit the military and distract from the Benghazi attacks. In Beck’s mind, the White House was also behind last year’s Secret Service prostitution scandal, another supposed attempt to undermine trust in law enforcement.
Beck also announced last month that he hopes to one day create his own town to bring together his various projects. “Independence, USA” is Beck’s libertarian fortress fantasy that would be protected from the rest of the US’ drift away from “the values of freedom, responsibility and truth.” The town would be a Disneyland-esque utopia, based around Beck’s “Media Center” where he would film movies, TV and documentaries.