December 7th, 2014

An Open Apology to Glenn Beck

The invite was received. The plane tickets were purchased. The questions were prepared, and I was set to go. Tomorrow, I was going to fly to Texas to appear on Glenn Beck’s TV program.

Those plans, shall we say, “fell through.”

You see, while over the past few weeks I pitched Glenn’s team on having me on to discuss Feardom, I didn’t have in mind what his researchers later found: a blog post from early 2012 in which I said some not so nice things to and about their boss.

Titled “An Open Letter to Glenn Beck,” the post was a reactionary takedown of Glenn’s treatment of Ron Paul. After I was informed that Glenn’s staff had come across it, I went back and read it myself to see what I had said nearly three years ago. I was with my family, and in sheer surprise at the… ahem… strength of some of the words, I read some excerpts to my wife who, along with myself, was surprised by my tone.

Here’s the harshest part, though a similar tone pervades the entire article:

But good heavens, Glenn. You’re so inconsistent! For example, you’ve recognized that Ron Paul is the closest thing we’ve got to the founding fathers, and then you encourage people not to support him. Then you about-face and suggest he’s what we need, only to then attack him a few days later.

Flip-flopping Mitt Romney? He’s got nothing on you.

But hey, I get that you have a hard time with consistently applying a principle. Many people do. No sweat. All is forgiven. I don’t listen to you, and I encourage others to steer clear, but you’re welcome to continue your self-contradicting tirades all you like, so long as you have the breath to do so. I prefer to keep my distance from you, as I don’t consider you a reliable source of analysis and truth. In short, I ignore you.

After I read the article I fully expected my invitation to be withdrawn—and it was. Rightly so, of course; I wouldn’t really want to share my platform with a person who had treated me like that.

The interesting thing about reading this missive I wrote is that I agree with the substance—Glenn Beck was wrong to treat Ron Paul as he did, and wrong to malign his supporters—but I completely disagree with the tone. I can clearly tell that I wrote it from a defensive, reactionary position, but if the same events occurred today, the article would be quite different.

I can also tell that I was enjoying myself a little while writing it; I used to find pleasure in flame wars, tearing to pieces the opposing side. Years ago, I found value in being correct, but undervalued the importance of delivery and diplomacy. That has since changed.

What did it for me is Libertas Institute—a serious effort to change public conversation and policy. Here I found myself strategically planning how to find long term success for liberty in my home state. Could a bombastic approach produce desired results? Clearly not—a few friends might cheer, but it would do little to attract, let alone persuade, those outside my camp.

And so, my new organization forced me to transform both my personal attitude and my public persona. I now recognize, and practice, what I disregarded years ago: that the message I hold so dear will find its way into the hearts and minds of those within my sphere of influence more through friendliness than flames. Respecting others, and wearing a smile on your face, opens doors that angry Facebook rants never did. Liberty will win when more of its messengers behave in a way that others would want to emulate.

Whether or not future opportunities of collaboration exist with Glenn Beck, I apologize to him for the way I communicated my thoughts to him. We disagree on many issues, but agree on many more—and in the past few years I have had great success in working together with people on areas of agreement, despite other disagreements. I no longer see a need to berate a person for the policies they support that I find problematic.

Of course, I still criticize flawed positions, whether held by friend or foe. But that’s where I prefer to focus my ire—on policy, not people. I missed the mark when going after Glenn to the degree I did, and I likewise missed that mark in earlier years on a routine basis. I now see almost everybody as a friend—one who simply needs a little convincing to “see the light” and embrace a position of liberty. Whether they ultimately agree or not, it’s a healthier and happier approach to life, and one I hope others in the liberty movement will adopt.

30 Responses to “An Open Apology to Glenn Beck”

  1. Carl Youngblood
    December 7, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Well done, Connor. I urge you to post some kind of disclaimer at the top of that post linking to this one. It might also be worth sending this to Beck’s staff so they know about it. I can see how publicity like being on his show can probably only help your cause, despite your occasional disagreements, just as I have expressed disagreement with you but still support many of your efforts at the Libertas Institute. Best of luck to you!

  2. Shoal Creek
    December 7, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    3 years ago, Glenn was just as bombastic as you were. It is how he gained title as “the most hated talking head in America.” It is just a little hypocritical of his staff to rescind the invitation after Glenn, himself, claims to have changed his tone just within the last 6 months.

  3. Potbelly MacKraken
    December 7, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Connor, did you ever read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People?” If not, you may want to think about putting it on your reading list. It’s a good read and has some very helpful advice on how to positively influence others while achieving your goals and their goals at the same time. And it’s cheap! I’m still reading it myself, and I’ve seen myself become a more positive person, both around others and by myself.

    http://www.amazon.com/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0671027034

  4. Karen
    December 7, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    The Internet is so permanent – sorry for the missed opportunity. I struggle with diplomacy & totally relate. I agree with the previous commenter – preface the old article with an apology for the tone and a link to this page.

    With any luck Glenn will someday do the same for his disparaging remarks about Ron Paul and career-destroying rant about Debra Medina. Those are tough to forgive.

  5. Karen
    December 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    I’m so glad I took the time to read this. I had almost totally written you off years ago because of the crassness of your positions — even though I recognized your knowledge depth was valuable. One of your “frequent followers who always agreed with you” responded to one of my positions in the rudest of ways, but yet I knew that my position was solid. History has borne out my theory, now 4-5 years later. God is the author and finisher of liberty. In defending and representing His views, we must try to present the way He does. None of us know it all, despite the degree of study we attempt and if we are lacking in spirit brought on by arrogance, we can never hope to help the cause.

  6. Timothy McGaffin II
    December 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    I like the tone of “An Open Letter to Glenn Beck”, that’s how standing up for freedom should be done: boldly.

    We are at war here with wolves in sheep’s clothing deceiving the very elect, Glenn Beck is one of these wolves. The time for playing nice and compromising with evil is long gone. Every time it really matters, Beck is on the wrong side of the issue. Every time. There’s a great documentary on YouTube showing how Beck is deceiving so many and it is called, “Glenn Beck is Rat Poison”.

    If Connor’s tone was incorrect in his post, “An Open Letter to Glenn Beck”, then Beck would have been happy to still have Connor on his show as a guest to convert Connor to the truth or to make an apology. Ron Paul goes on the shows of many people that have been wrong about him and ends up converting them to the truth.

  7. jon
    December 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    We all like to think we’re right. Unfortunately, most often than not we find that we are wrong. I’ve changed my opinions radically over the last 6 years. I used to believe in natural rights, now I’m more along the lines of Mises, with the belief that natural rights don’t exist. Certain behaviors exist that can influence humanity for good or ill. So, even though others believe in natural rights and I don’t it doesn’t mean that we can’t work together for the betterment of society. I do think ultimately disregarding natural rights thought could lead us closer to a better world more quickly, it is what it is. In the end it is about being nice to one another and helping one another. That is what the free market and self-interest is all about!

  8. Bryson Jack
    December 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    I am glad that Connor is learning to catch more flies with honey, but he was spot on with Glenn Beck and I think he should have stated more strongly that he still defends his original points… Connor just missed a huge opportunity to make tons of money and I am sure that is very disconcerting, as well as the missed opportunity to awaken people to his message… hopefully he can reach the Glenn Beck listeners another way…..

    The question is, in hindsight, if Connor could go back in time, would he alter his words to be more loving (Christlike) or to better sell his book…that is only a question a very introspective Connor could answer….

    I think that the truth should be laid out boldly (in a loving way) and let the chips fall where they may.

  9. Steve Reed
    December 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Well done, Conner. I think we all say things in the heat of the moment only to look back later and feel differently about our content or tone.

    I don’t follow Glenn at all, nothing personal, but he must have people on frequently that disagree with him. I think it reflects poorly on him to miss out on promoting something good over something like a relatively obscure comment.

    Too bad.

    Seems like there are many things we can learn here from this story.

  10. George Milliner
    December 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    Connor, a friend of mine is a fan of yours, not me. He links to your stuff fairly regularity. If he hadn’t, I would not have heard your name.

    I wonder if this little bit of intrigue has taught you something about the “business” of people who make money from promoting conflict; anger and fear mongers like Glenn Beck. Perhaps you begin to see that honesty and a desire for the best outcome never factor into their thinking. They will say and do anything at all to best serve their brand name. They don’t have to be consistent… as long as people keep tuning in.

    But you, of all people, already know this.

    You were wrong to seek to use Glenn Beck to promote your ideas. You had a lucky escape from the dark side via his egoistical refusal. I think you should be thanking your lucky stars, not apologizing to him for “being mean”.

    People like Glenn Beck are part of the problem. Please don’t ever consider such a project-ending, credibility-eliminating stunt again.

    Be patient and take your own advice: allow the truth to influence people – where and when it can.

    –Geo

  11. John Jackson
    December 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Neat post. Neat that you came to realize diplomacy is better than blowing up bridges. Public discussion doesn’t need to be a war. Those who we disagree with do not need to be hated (or treated in a hateful manner). Funny how almost all of us never learn this. Perhaps there isn’t a one of us who doesn’t stumble and tear apart another person at one time or another. Bless you, bless Glenn Beck and bless all those who disagree with you, me and Glenn Beck.

  12. Clumpy
    December 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    I suppose tone is always something to keep in mind when interacting with and talking about others, and the temptation to use invective or creative put-downs when dealing with figure who hold viewpoints you find disagreeable something to avoid.

    At the same time… the things you wrote above aren’t invective, but essentially a true putdown of a man who’s been pulling a lot of people down some very bizarre and dangerous paths, and doing far more than his share to jeopardize political discourse in our country. Here’s a man who has essentially made a career out of bizarre speculation which damages careers and lives (most recently, finally facing slander charges for fabricating out of whole cloth, and repeatedly asserting charges that one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing was in fact one of its perpetrators). Here’s a man who seems to flit hysterically from teary-eyed humility to bizarre, conspiratorial invective and hysterical theorizing on a dime regardless of who it affects, who encourages the most kneejerk, unhinged and tribalistic thinking in his followers. There’s probably no better mark for this than his online community, TheBlaze, which has become one of the most toxic in current existence—a disgusting hotbed of conspiracy-mongering, barely-veiled racism and mean-spirited hysteria.

    Whether Glenn Beck is cynically playing a character for money, or really that incapable of living in our modern age and processing information in non-destructive ways, I can’t help but think that your far more measured, principled, and consistent brand of political analysis (even if I disagree with much of it, though increasingly less so) is better off without being tainted by association with this man, potential for self-promotion notwithstanding. Paranoia, hate, inflaming vulnerable people with the same for profit and then just letting them run wild… better off staying as far away from that nonsense as possible, and there’s nothing wrong with public opposition to dishonest and dangerous invective.

  13. Nate
    December 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    Good article. I applaud your progression Connor. I think there has been a sort of collective enlightenment for most of us who have been politically-minded on social media over the years. The vitriol easily comes out when at a keyboard, and we say things we’d never say to someone in person. And I think we’ve realized how we often offend people with overly strong words, and not only are the social costs often not worth it, but as you say it’s ineffective. So it’s made a lot of us more civil.

    @Timothy – I think you are wrongly judging Glenn Beck. Sure he’s made a lot of mistakes, but he does a lot of good as well and is an ally on many issues. Even if he’s given in and made a lot of wrong decisions at pivotal moments, I think we shouldn’t be so quick to judge and treat someone as though they have evil intentions. I don’t think we can say someone like Glenn Beck is a “wolf”, and what the term implies. Same for Mitt Romney. And Alex Jones. Etc. I think it’s better to err on the side of kindness & civility, and as Connor says, it’s a much more effective approach.

    @George – I disagree. I think using someone like Glenn Beck’s platform to spread truth hurts one’s credibility only in the eyes of a tiny fraction of the public, and they are mostly the type who won’t change their minds on anything anyway. Most reasonable people recognize that appearing on one’s show does not equate to agreeing with them (eg, all the hardline democrats who go on Fox News) . The potential good in swaying a much larger audience greatly outweighs the downside of alienating an unreasonable, bitter few.

  14. Chip Browne
    December 8, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    But why is your change attributable to the events surrounding your work in the Libertas Institute? I would propose that your change is attributable to adherence to the principles presented by Jesus in His Sermon on The Mount. Even this public apology fits in with the principles taught in that sermon. I believe the new you that you are describing here is more in alignment with being a true follower of the Lord.

  15. Tmac
    December 8, 2014 at 6:27 am #

    The original post was a little hard-hitting, but nothing that GB didn’t deserve. His positions have been very inconsistent on these issues. Just as you said, there is a pattern of flip-flopping, saying one thing and doing another. There was nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. Like many, however, Glenn often seems to be open only to what he wants to hear, and statements that support what he is saying. So he wants to shut down and exclude anything to the contrary, which isn’t a very intellectually honest approach.

    What is so ironic is that Glenn Beck has often taken exactly the same, hard-toned approach that you did in the original post. In fact, he seemed to be most popular, and had the biggest following, and may have been the most effective when he was taking a harder-hitting approach, because he was one of the few who were.

    Rather than cancel the invite, he should have been more excited than ever to have you on the program. He should have been willing to discuss your previous thoughts, and your evolving positions and approach. In cancelling the invite, he has demonstrated that he may not be much different than the politicians he criticizes.

    You need to be careful about the same thing. At some point, the effort to make friends, influence people, and to always be politically correct, and take a soft-toned approach turns into meaningless fluff.

    And I have to disagree with those who assert that a softer tone is more like the example set by the Savior. Such assertions aren’t based on a view of the whole picture. When it came to addressing the powers-that-be His tone was anything but soft. If the Savior’s tone under such circumstances is any kind of measuring stick, it is probably best not to exclude the possible use of any of the tools in the tool bag. For some applications — like pounding nails, as opposed to driving screws — a hammer is still the best tool.

    When it comes to the question of what means most to GB, liberty or money, there isn’t much question in many peoples’ minds as to which one GB has chosen. Seek and find a better balance if you will, but don’t become a sell-out, as many view Glenn Beck to have done.

  16. Jeremy
    December 8, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    I’ve been watching your path for years and I think it’s awesome that you are not where you once were. It’s a difficult thing to realize that being correct isn’t enough. Kudos to you for working hard, and consistently, to change the tone of the discussions that really need to happen to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

    Don’t let your past mistakes get you down, we all have them. It would be nice to leave it all behind as if it never existed but that’s not reality. There is power in being changed for the better, and that change can be, and is, inspiring.

    Looking forward to reading feardom, I think my copy is in the mail right now. =)

  17. LLP
    December 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Connor,

    Glenn would be unlikely to recant as you have. You have proven you are the better man. I hope if you do find yourself on his show that you stand by your analysis if not the tone as you were completely right about him. That post is one of the reasons I started following you.

    I started listening to Beck after someone introduced me to some of Beck’s Libertarian stances. After his treatment of Ron Paul I stopped listening.

  18. Suzanimal
    December 8, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    Very glad you wrote this, Connor. We, as human beings, are inherently flawed from birth. We have to learn, through our experiences and decisions, about interacting with our fellow flawed human beings. I applaud you for your open apology. It shows you have grown and matured. And have learned through successes, missteps, chance and experience. May you one day have the opportunity to speak with Glenn directly, as I am sure he has walked a similar path. And I hope he has been forgiven and forgives others, for their words & actions and his as well.

  19. JC
    December 9, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    Connor,

    I have watched as Glenn Beck has angered me by what I see are flawed positions over the years. Someone with such a large soap box influences people and can be a great tool for both good and evil. I believe that all of us are eventually responsible before God for how we influence others. If Glenn Beck or his staffers decide to un-invite you, you can still share your message in a way that’s true to you and still have the success that you’re destined for whilst doing it. It’s his loss if he can’t collaborate with someone who used to criticize him. He has infuriated everyone at least once over the years and I think that his actions limit his own options for success, which I believe that he may very well deserve.

    I too have had to learn that there are more important things than “being right”, In the case of Glenn Beck, I think that he’s still learning how to be right at all. I get that infotainment means that sensation has to be injected into everything. I also get that he has to entertain while he grows and learns. Nevertheless I’ve seen him twist facts and be malicious in ways that are so out of harmony with the gospel that I don’t pity you for not being associated with him. Count your lucky stars that someday, someone won’t look at your blog and find out that you openly collaborated with Glenn Beck. It may come back to hurt you :)

  20. Jim
    December 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Connor,

    Civility is a great attribute, but action grounded in correct principles must take the lead. What you said 2 years ago was accurate and needed to be said. Ezra Taft Benson said “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.” The proud need to be occasionally tweaked. A little healthy cynicism on occasion keeps things in perspective and stings the proud just enough to bring needed comic relief. Glenn( or Connor for that matter) should not be concerned about being shot at. It’s how you know you are in the battle.

    Thank you for your timely insights.

  21. saxoclese
    December 10, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Glen Beck’s extreme and nonsensical beliefs make him an embarrassment to the the LDS Church of which he is a member.

  22. Levi
    December 11, 2014 at 3:06 am #

    Wow. That bit of criticism caused them to take back their invitation? And Mr. Beck was just calling out SNL for not adequately mocking the President. I guess it’s easy to talk big when you won’t let anyone who might be vocally critical on the air with you. Man, you don’t need him.

  23. Iimx
    December 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    saxoclese, What has he said that is a distortion of LDS belief?

  24. saxoclese
    December 12, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Really? Try these comments for a start.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahs28/the-best-of-glenn-beck-1yzj

  25. iimx
    December 12, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    saxoclese,
    Actually, the list of statements sounds about 70-80 % in line with average Mormon Sentiment. Hatred of democrats, hatred of liberals, support of military, against gun control, hatred of government. (actually big government unless it supports Mormonism to any degree) Where he might be off is to the degree he expressed certain feeling, but it doesn’t seem that far off.

    What is more is that an Evangelical that used to live below me thought he was right about everything. This isn’t just Mormonism, but perhaps christian thinking. My partners father loved to listen to him on a regular basis, and thought it was right on.

  26. saxoclese
    December 13, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Iimix It sounds as if you and I are on the same side, however I believe it is important to distinguish between the teaching and doctrine of the LDS Church itself and the extreme political ideology of some of the Church’s more vocal members. That said, I have never met an extremist on the right who believes that his views are extreme. By and large those folks believe that theirs is the mainstream view, possibly because they only associate with others who believe the same as they do. Some libertarians are a good example of this. In this discussion I am reminded of one of my favorite sayings:

    “I take no issue with Jesus Christ—its his fan club that I have a problem with.” :)

  27. Iimx
    December 14, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    Sax, Thank you. Nice to know. I hope that there is a philosophy which actually distills the intended effects. I think I may have found one that might do that but still investigating.

  28. James
    January 18, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    Glenn Beck is to truth as bipolar is to joy.

  29. Amanda
    January 30, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    Thanks for that Connor, I too have fought the same battles, praying for love and kindness. Enlightenment surprisingly brought me a lot of frustration and even anger at those around me, which upset me greatly. I felt like a hypocrite, asking others to see the teachings of Christ and apply them to all walks of life. Even.. dare I say it? Politics. Figures like Glenn Beck I felt abused their influence while in a position to do great good… squandered it, for reasons I cannot comprehend. I instead try to focus on the good this man has done, while maintaining my unmovable positions on the proper role of government, the inability to choose the lesser of two evils, and how pure the laws are of life, liberty and property. To never compromise on their importance, or my responsibility to take up arms against those who threaten it. Before Moroni took his soldiers to battle, he first strengthened them in the love and laws of Christ. I work every day to do the same, otherwise my message will be lost in the spirit of anger, which is fair. I tend to stop listening to someone who I feel doesn’t respect me.

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