A $1,761 Postage Stamp: How The Glenn Beck Machine Constructed An Attack On Clean Energy Reform

Fox News host Glenn Beck, the new darling of the radical right, is part of a well-coordinated machine to block progressive reform. Yesterday, Beck fanned himself with a giant $1,761 postage stamp, claiming he had uncovered “outright lies” by a “spooky” White House. According to Beck, “buried” Treasury documents reveal that President Obama’s clean energy agenda “is going to cost a lot of money.” He thanked “our friend Chris Horner at CEI” for revealing the “facts” about the “cap and trade energy bill”:

The Department of Treasury issues a report and says, “Here, Mr. President, boy, that looks like it is going to suck. It is going to cost $1,761.” Got it?

Watch it:

How did Glenn Beck come to be waving a giant postage stamp, accusing the president of a “cover-up”? By following the same process that has been used to create other popular Glenn Beck conspiracy theories: that Carol Browner is a socialist, that millions of people marched in the Glenn Beck 9/12 rally, that the EPA suppressed global warming skeptics:

Chris HornerSTEP ONE: “News” generated by right-wing think tank. On September 15, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner begins shopping around two internal Treasury Department memos about cap-and-trade proposals, one written by the Bush administration in November 2008, one written in March 2009. CEI is a corporate-funded think tank that has opposed regulation of dioxin, cigarette smoking, global warming, prescription drugs, alcohol, and bovine growth hormone.

STEP TWO: Right-wing print journalists write “breaking news” story. Chris Horner feeds the documents to Amanda Carpenter at the right-wing Washington Times and libertarian blogger Declan McCullagh at CBSNews.com. McCullagh’s blog post, “Obama Admin: Cap And Trade Could Cost Families $1,761 A Year,” has a better headline than Carpenter’s “Hot Button” story.

STEP THREE: Promoted by Drudge, story repeated endlessly on right-wing blogs, Twitter, and talk radio. On Wednesday, the Drudge Report promotes McCullagh’s story. The “$1,761” figure is picked up by Politico’s Ben Smith, Hot Air, Townhall.com, RedState, and hordes of right-wing Tweeters.

STEP FOUR: Republican politicians, right-wing think tanks, and polluter front groups release statements of shock and outrage. Despite the rapid response of the Treasury Department calling the stories “flat out wrong” and “misrepresentations of the facts,” the House Republican Conference, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the American Petroleum Institute, and the Heritage Foundation promote the figures.

STEP FIVE: On Fox News, Glenn Beck calls President Obama a liar/socialist/Marxist/communist/fascist/racist. On Thursday afternoon, after discussing the story on his radio show in the afternoon, Beck rails for nearly ten minutes about President Obama’s “cover-up” and “outright lies.”

Unreported by Beck, the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated that the average household cost of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act would be 44 cents per day.

(It should be noted that Ben Smith quickly posted a correction for his blog post when Declan McCullagh’s story was called into question. CBS officials, however, have only made McCullagh stop inflating his job title.)