SALT LAKE CITY –
Independence Day weekend this past July saw an influx of tourists to Salt Lake City as Glenn Beck brought his Man in the Moon production to town as well as an “Independence Through History” museum. A large number of items were on loan from local collector and Provo native, Brent Ashworth, who Beck called a “National Treasure” for his preservation of American and world history.
As with most things associated with Beck’s name, it didn’t pass quietly in the night and is still causing waves in Utah and with Beck supporters nationwide.
In a recent guest column in the Salt Lake Tribune, writer and local educator Alexandra Karl wrote a scathing yet factually inaccurate op-ed of the museum and certain items on display, beginning with the headline “Glenn Beck’s Nazi exhibit”. While the exhibit did include some Nazi items, the majority of the museum featured items like Abraham Lincoln’s desk and a Bible brought to America on the Mayflower.
Karl also referenced the name as “Man on the Moon” instead of “Man in the Moon” and stated the main event took place at the “Rio Tinto Center” instead of the USANA Amphitheatre where it actually took place.
Those two items were corrected and noted in a follow up commentary by the Tribune’s deputy editor Tim Fitzpatrick who also apologized for misleading labeling which could have be interpreted as Karl being a staff writer. Fitzpatrick remained behind the column however, noting it as opinion and not news.
Beck’s radio producer and head writer Steve “Stu” Burguiere spoke with boldted.com and was not surprised by the article.
“From everything I know about the Tribune, I can’t exactly say I’m surprised by it, but it is disconcerting from the perspective of we all need the media as citizens to tell us the truth. We don’t need to always agree with them, but we need to have the feeling that at least a decent percentage of what they write will be factual,” Burguiere said.
“When you read that story and you realize there was no connection at all with the truth, not even an attempt to get the truth, it was merely an attempt to smear Glenn Beck. I understand there is a market for that but it’s disappointing I would say, more than anything else.”
The column was picked up by fark.com and swiftly spread to the far reaches of the Internet becoming the top ranked story on the Tribunes website. The column not only caused ire with Beck listeners, but Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin also, who labeled the piece as “Journalistic Malpractice” in her op-ed run by the Tribune.
“As we go forward in the future there are so many media choices it’s important to find voices you trust,” Burguiere said. “This is why we were so frustrated with the Salt Lake Tribune article, there are a lot of people that trust the Tribune and think they would never print something that didn’t even know the name of the show they were talking about or the location of the show and the ownership of certain items.”
Karl questioned Beck’s reasoning for owning certain items, which were actually part of Ashworth’s collection and were labeled as such next to the display, then went as far as to claim by owning certain Nazi memorabilia, Beck was actually a sympathizer rather than a critic.
“(The media) is a necessary part of our country, we have to be an informed public or this system just doesn’t work. The American experiment is a failure if the American people can’t be informed and involved and then you look at the way they paint the audience. Many of these people flew here (Salt Lake City) to see what turned out to be one of the most popular attractions (History Through Education), paying airfare and hotel and many even paid extra to have guided tours to better understand the historical documents they were seeing and they understood it because they listen to the show and they knew what the message was,” Burguiere said.
“The message of the weekend was that human beings try really hard and they hit really high highs and achieve amazing things. And then over and over again they seem to fall into the same pattern where hatred pops its head up and this circle seems to continue through our history. One of the basic things you look for in history is if you don’t know your history, you’re bound to repeat it. Some of the darker things that were presented at the museum were certainly not to sympathize or show anything positive and Glenn has never said anything positive about these groups. The point is to understand what they did and why they did it so that it never happens again. We can’t just bury this stuff and it can’t be in some national archive where nobody can see it, we need to see it to remind ourselves that this can never happen again.”
Karl’s claim that Beck is a Nazi sympathizer was easily refuted by Burguiere as well.
“They were calling someone who won the defender of Israel award from the Zionist Organization of America a Nazi sympathizer, people don’t necessarily think that would happen to them from a trusted media source. We have passed the time when people will blindly follow a media source, there are so many more options that people are realizing there are other places that do a better job,” Burguiere said.
“This is only going to make for positive change. You need to do your own homework, do your own research and you need to research what media sources give you the truth most often and hopefully the people in Salt Lake will do that.”
Beck has been flooded with emails and calls to call for a boycott of the Tribune or to file a defamation lawsuit and is currently mulling his options. The Tribune has not returned calls for a comment but Burguiere has strong feelings on the subject.
“Glenn has always been committed to making something better rather than destroy things he doesn’t like. That’s a principle he’s always stuck to and I think in the long run he will continue to do that and I know he’s not looking to destroy but when you look at boycott it has a negative push to it. I’ve never understood why liberals love boycotts so much,” Burguiere said.
“For me, I want MSNBC talking more, the more they talk the better it is for me. I want them making their stupid points as loudly as possible, it’s more material for us. It’s what Glenn did with The Blaze, for a long time he was frustrated with the mainstream media and for a long time we were just criticizing it, but where does that get us? So we went out to do something about it and make something better. The Blaze is our attempt at doing that, instead of saying MSNBC, CBS and ABC are bad, what we’re saying what if we do something good? The other side of it we see so many times is form emails and fake phone calls and organizations that pressure you to do things that will make you feel better and shut people up. I don’t think I’ll ever get on that bandwagon, personally.”