The CNN Headline News host had an extra-special guest on his show Wednesday night -- a spokesman for the ultraconservative conspiracist group.
Cable news viewers can be forgiven if, like us, they happened to turn on Glenn Beck’s show on CNN Headline News Wednesday night and were surprised to see a spokesman for the John Birch Society being treated like an expert source.
It is, let’s face it, pretty shocking to see a group that has been a pariah since the 1960′s given credence on a mainstream television network, especially when the group is as far out as the JBS. The JBS is, after all, the group that believed fluoridated drinking water was a Communist mind-control plot. Oh, and its founder, Robert Welch, once accused Dwight Eisenhower — and no, we are not kidding — of being “a dedicated conscious agent of the communist conspiracy.” It even inspired Bob Dylan to write a satirical song, “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.”
Beck himself referred to the group’s reputation, introducing his guest, JBS spokesman Sam Antonio, by saying, “Sam, I have to tell you, when I was growing up, the John Birch Society, I thought they were a bunch of nuts.” But Beck’s views on that score seem to have changed — “You guys are starting to make more and more sense to me,” Beck told Antonio.
Naturally, Antonio — who was there to talk about immigration issues and the controversial prosecution of two former Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting an unarmed man, not to mention some conservatives’ conspiracy theory that the prosecution is part of a breaking down of U.S. borders into a “North American Union” — agreed.
“Yes, we at the John Birch Society are not nuts,” Antonio said. “We are just exposing the truth that’s been out there for many, many years.”
Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon. More Alex Koppelman.
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