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The DC Story on Glenn Beck: Truth Has No Agenda (but it does have sources)

John on April 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

The Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle has a story up today about Glenn Beck and his use of sources. The story lists at least half a dozen people who went on the record to complain about not being credited for material used on Beck’s various shows, including Andrew Breitbart, Pam Geller, Mandy Nagy aka Liberty Chick, Christian Harstock and myself.

I personally sent Matthew four instances in the past 18 months where VS was not credited for material that appeared on Beck’s TV show, his radio show or both.

To be fair, about two years ago we got an on air credit for a video which was reworked by Beck’s staff for the TV show. That was a big deal for us and I made sure to mention that in the quote I gave for the story. But since then, it has been a different story.

Boyle’s story notes an instance where the blogger’s name was removed from view when his clip was played on air. In our case, we place our name at the end of our clips, making them easy to remove. However, it would be easy for Beck’s staff to add a chyron graphic with our name. But that hasn’t been the case.

We get a sort of blanket denial from a member of Beck’s staff, saying:

Glenn’s shows have a high-standard and a long history of championing bloggers and attributing sources whenever possible including frequently providing extensive footnotes on GlennBeck.com.

Except when they don’t. Case in point, last November Morgen posted a clip of Bernadine Dohrn going off the rails in a foreign press interview. This was picked up by Gateway Pundit, Hot Air and even by Ben Smith at Politico. Glenn used it on his radio show the very next day. You can see the transcript on his radio show website along with our video clip. Beneath our clip (which does retain our name at the end at least) is a link to the same clip on Beck’s other site The Blaze. At the bottom of that post, the Blaze gives a hat tip to Gateway Pundit which is apparently where they saw it. Jim at Gateway Pundit, who always gives credit to others, credits us at the very top of his post about the clip. So, it’s not like The Blaze or Beck’s radio staff could have missed it. They knew the clip came from us and yet neither the radio show website nor the blaze offered us a link and of course our name wasn’t mentioned on air.

I know it’s impossible to get it right every time, but at this point the ratio of credited stories to uncredited ones isn’t 1:1, not even 1:3.

I have to be completely honest here. When I was first asked to comment for this story, I declined. I declined for three reasons. First I had a clear memory of that first time two years ago when Beck had mentioned VS on the air. I knew if I commented for the story, that would never happen again. Second, I’ve complained publicly about attribution before and while I don’t regret doing so, I also can’t say I enjoyed fighting with talented people on my own side of the aisle. It’s just no fun and you never end up feeling like you won much of anything.

I also had a third, more personal, reason for doing so. Last month I applied for an open position at The Blaze. Yes, that’s right, I wanted to work for Glenn Beck. Call it a case of If you can’t beat them, join them. This shouldn’t be a shock to regular readers. I like Beck. I’ve publicly defended him several times from charges I thought were outrageous. And given how many times he’s used our material, I thought it was pretty obvious that I’d fit in there. But for whatever reason, my e-mails to his HR staff were ignored. Not a polite “Thanks but we’ve found someone else.” Just silence. And after 2-3 weeks passed I began thinking about all those other times I’d seen one of our clips used on the show without attribution. And in each case I’d think to myself, well…maybe next time we’ll get credit.

So when I learned last week that quite a few bloggers had decided to go on the record, I decided to say something as well. Because the fact is, one on air attribution doesn’t make it okay to take material without attribution the next 4-5 times. I shouldn’t have to hope that we’ll get credit the next time. We’re owed credit every time. That’s true whether you’re writing for a new blog no one has ever heard of or if you’re one of the most powerful men in the media. Anyone who takes our content owes us an acknowledgment. Not occasionally. Every time.

I got so frustrated that once late last year I complained to Beck directly via Twitter after he’d used something on the TV show without any kind of hat tip. He responded by re-tweeting my complaint to his thousands of followers. It was an acknowledgment that we were in fact the source and, at the time, that was enough. But looking back, why am I having to beg for what should be offered? I’m tired of begging. And frankly, it costs Beck so little to offer a tweet or a chyron or a mention. Why wouldn’t he make more of a proactive effort to be really good to the blogs who’ve been good to his show?

So I’ve no doubt that this act of public complaint will not endear me to Glenn or his staff, who are understandably  protective of him given the constant attacks (not to mention outright threats) he receives. It pains me to be lumped in with creeps like the folks at Media Matters, but I guess what I learned this last month is that my relationship with Beck has been entirely one sided. I respected a lot of what he did and, given his use of our material I assumed that was mutual on some level. I went to bat for him in public and assumed that maybe someone on his staff would remember that, at least enough to offer me a brief email saying thanks but no thanks. Apparently I was wrong on both counts.

The truth has no agenda? That has to cut both ways I’m afraid. What in Matt Boyle’s Daily Caller story isn’t true? In the end I agree that the truth has no agenda, but it most certainly does have sources.

Addendum: Yid with Lid has an interesting perspective on this story. He was also asked for comment and wonders why his comments favorable to Beck weren’t used. He also notes that Beck is not the only person on Fox to use material without attribution. On this latter point, I concur. But that’s a story for another day.

Update: Scott Baker has put up a first response to the story. He says he understands the frustrations of bloggers but that he and the Blaze make every effort to credit people. That’s fine but it’s really not the issue. This wasn’t a story about Scott Baker or his efforts to credit people at the Blaze. It was a story about Beck’s use of material on his TV and radio show (especially audio and video clips) without attribution of any kind. Frankly, what the Blaze does is not relevant to that question.

Scott posts a video of Glenn crediting people on the TV show, especially the Business Insider. I just don’t see how We credit lots of people is a great response. As I said above, they’ve credited us on TV before by name. That’s not in question. The problem is that one specific hat tip for one story two years ago doesn’t cover all of our material in perpetuity. What about the 3-5 times they haven’t credited us? So far it looks like instead of some kind of apology and a promise to do better, this is going to become World War III.

 

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