This winter, Glenn Beck took a wee, tentative sip of sanity, and found it surprisingly refreshing. He gave an interview to the New Yorker talking about how bad he felt for “freaking out about Barack Obama.” He told the Atlantic he regretted his role in the rise of Trumpism: “I’ll not only take my share of blame, I’ll take extra.” But that has evidently gotten boring, because Beck is now dragging back out his Conspiracy Chalkboard to claim the Women’s March was backed by George Soros and Islamic extremists. There he is.
Beck, you will recall, was into appearing more reasonable, but not too reasonable: he insisted on a correction when the New Yorker claimed he supports Black Lives Matter. And now he is diving from the deck of the Good Ship Reason right back into the frigid waters of his weird theories: As Right Wing Watch notes, he’s now claiming that the Women’s March was funded by liberal billionaire George Soros, and that it’s also connected with “radical Islam.”
“I’m afraid tomorrow I have to go back to my chalkboard,” Beck said. “We’ve been working on it this weekend. We’re going to give you some of the connections, we’re going to talk to the woman who wrote that article for The New York Times about the connections to George Soros and to radical Islam and have a talk with her. Tomorrow I’m bringing the chalkboard in because the connections are there and if you want to call me a conspiracy theorist again, you can; I’m not going to accuse anybody of anything, I’m just going to point out the facts because somebody has to and perhaps someone in the media will listen.”
Beck is deriving his theory from this very odd piece that appeared in Women in the World, a strange little site that lives on the New York Times’ webpage but isn’t editorially controlled by the newspaper. The piece, by a former Wall Street Journal reporter named Asra Nomani, basically suggests that the march was orchestrated by Soros, because his foundation donated money to some of the partner organizations. In other words, it implies that the march is some kind of sinister front for Soros, an all-purpose liberal boogeyman for right-wing conspiracy theorists. Nomani writes:
Following the money, I pored through documents of billionaire George Soros and his Open Society philanthropy, because I wondered: What is the link between one of Hillary Clinton’s largest donors and the “Women’s March”?
I found out: plenty.
By my draft research, which I’m opening up for crowd-sourcing on GoogleDocs, Soros has funded, or has close relationships with, at least 56 of the march’s “partners,” including “key partners” Planned Parenthood, which opposes Trump’s anti-abortion policy, and the National Resource Defense Council, which opposes Trump’s environmental policies. The other Soros ties with “Women’s March” organizations include the partisan MoveOn.org (which was fiercely pro-Clinton), the National Action Network (which has a former executive director lauded by Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett as “a leader of tomorrow” as a march co-chair and another official as “the head of logistics”). Other Soros grantees who are “partners” in the march are the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. March organizers and the organizations identified here haven’t yet returned queries for comment.
“Funded or has close relationships with” is very sticky wording, and it doesn’t mean very much. Nomani’s “discovery” that liberal organizations participated in the march also isn’t exactly earthshaking. The piece was updated after publication with a statement from Soros’s Open Society foundation that reads, in part: “There have been many false reports about George Soros and the Open Society Foundations funding protests in the wake of the U.S. presidential elections. There is no truth to these reports.”
But now, that piece is being widely shared by right-wingers as proof the march was “staged,” including former Congressman Steve Stockman and InfoWars writer Paul Joseph Watson:
And now our good friend Glenn Beck is reintroducing himself, tweeting a link to that story as well as more general mockery of the Women’s March.
But he’s still interested in healing this divided nation, when he’s not busy profiting from it in various ways.
Woke Glenn Beck was fun while he lasted, but watching Half Woke Glenn Beck try to straddle the line between “wild-eyed conspiracy theorist” and “sober elder statesman calling for unity and togetherness for the good of America” will be delightful.
We’ve emailed Women in the World to get some more insight into how they fact-check the pieces they run and will update when we hear back.