Separated at birth?
With his Fox News show down to its last few days, and about to embark on a risky and probably unsuccessful attempt to replicate his cable success on pay-to-view Internet broadcasting, a desperate Glenn Beck cooked up a transparently phony publicity stunt that began to fall apart within hours.
Beck claimed on his radio show this morning, and then later (at great length) on his TV show, that he and his family were victims of an evil liberal mob in a New York park:
"These people were some of the most hateful people I have ever seen," said a distraught Glenn Beck this morning as he described an altercation he and his family had last night while watching a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps in New York's Bryant Park. Explaining that a group of people yelled at his family, took pictures of them, and kicked a cup of wine onto his wife, Beck said that his security team feels that, had he reacted poorly, things might have "gone off."
"I swear to you I think, if I had suggested, and I almost did, "Wow, does anybody have a rope? Because there's tree here. You could just lynch me.' And I think there would have been a couple in the crowd that would have."
Beck also claimed that wine was deliberately spilled on his wife, Tanya, and that she was intentionally kicked.
Um, except that this story began falling apart almost immediately:
Some have said that, were any serious altercation to have actually occurred, it would instantly have been written about on Twitter or Facebook by someone at the park. The fact that there seems to be no such mention on various social media platforms doesn't prove that Beck is exaggerating, but its also not an unreasonable argument.
We at Mediaite contacted one of the Twitter users who tweeted about sitting near Beck and his family and she told us she didn't witness any of the hostility Beck describes. She said that, in fact, she saw people going up to shake his hand and that the only real jeers she heard were directed at a group doing fake acrobatics sitting near him. She also said she believed he had two security guards sitting right by the entire time.
I think the Twitter/Facebook point is important -- this is 2011; wouldn't someone have made mention of this? And hey -- just as in Anthony Weiner's "hacking" experience, if Beck and his family were assaulted, why haven't they called the cops?
By the way, I think you see the muscle guy (and you certainly don't see any hostility) in photos of Beck in the park posted at Gawker.
Gawker also has an message from a friend of the wine-spiller:
I was on the blanked directly behind Mr. Beck, and while we did find it amusing that wine was spilled on Tanya & co, I can tell you that it was 100% accidental. My friend was drinking her wine and it tipped over, as wine glasses are wont to do. We immediately helped Tanya & co clean up the "mess" and offered them our napkins, and apologies were made. There was no hostility or animosity in the exchange, and I find it hard to believe that a half-filled glass of wine would be capable of "soaking" anyone, even waif-thin Tanya. Moreover, why would we waste the wine?
(The author of this message elaborated further in a message to New York magazine; she claimed to have pictures, and foolishly revealed her real name, which means right-wingers will now proceed to ruin her life.)
Oh, and the incident just so happens to feed into Beck's latest meme:
Today on his [TV] show, Beck, clearly distraught, told the story again, wrapping it into his current message of courage and strength against a mob that is intent on shutting you down.
I think we're dealing with a cross-platform, multi-millionaire Ashley Todd:
Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old college student and McCain volunteer, admitted on Friday that she made up a widely reported story about being mugged by a so-called big black guy at an ATM in Pittsburgh. She falsely told police this week that her assailant became enraged after seeing a John McCain bumper sticker on her car, and proceeded to scratch a backwards "B" -- for "Barack" -- on her face. It now appears the mark was self-inflicted....
But he won't be forced to undergo court-ordered psychiatric counseling. More likely, his fans will just rewrite Wikipedia pages to suggest that the movie screening was disrupted by a mob.
UPDATE: In the comments here, gocart mozart takes issue with my Ashley Todd comparison:
I would have gone with "MORTON DOWNEY GLENN BECK JR."
"In 1989, as fascination with Downey's TV show began to wane, he was involved in an incident in a San Francisco International Airport restroom in which he claimed to have been attacked by neo-Nazis who painted a swastika on his face and attempted to shave his head. Some inconsistencies in Downey's account (e.g., the swastika was painted in reverse, suggesting that Downey had drawn it himself in a mirror), and the failure of the police to find supportive evidence, led many to suspect that the incident was a hoax and a plea for attention. A few months later, the show was cancelled."
Yeah, this does seem to be a favorite tactic on the right, doesn't it?
OH, AND: PurpleGirl in comments here mentions the Michael Steele Oreo incident.
AND: Via Rumproast, I see that Beck and his crack time have uncovered suggestions of malice aforethought on the part of the wine-spiller. So noted. Now wake me, Glenn, when your crew uncovers evidence of anything resembling a lynch mob.
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: St this point I don't know what the hell happened, and I seem to have confused the target of Beck's wrath with the actual wine-spiller. Read this and this, and draw your own conclusions. I still haven't seen the slightest evidence of a would-be lynch mob.