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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Glenn Beck's Source Attribution Problem

First, an article was posted at the Daily Caller website on April 18th that cited claims by multiple bloggers that Glenn Beck habitually uses videos and materials without giving credit to his sources. One of the people quoted in the article is Andrew Breitbart, who actually admitted that Beck doesn't seem to cite the lesser known sources much. It also goes on to say that Beck has a heavy reliance on material from other sources. That's true but Beck's strength is taking those sources and connecting dots with them.

Via the Daily Caller:
Publisher Andrew Breitbart has seen a number of his stories surface on various Beck media properties over the past few years. While he describes himself as “grateful for the many times he has credited me and my sites,” Breitbart says that “sometimes he also uses other peoples’ work without crediting them, making it appear as though it were his own. But especially since adopting ‘The Truth Has No Agenda’ slogan – and trying to deliberately re-position himself as the pious conscience and judge of many of those he took content from – he has exposed himself to his new motto’s unforgiving standard.”

By any standard, Beck seems unusually reliant on the work of others, and unusually reluctant to credit it. In an interview with TheDC, Roger L. Simon, CEO of Pajamas Media, suggested that Beck has committed the journalistic equivalent of a notorious crime. “It is not a question of just doing it right the majority of the time. It is a question of doing it right always,” Simon said. “Doris Kearns Goodwin is forever a fraud in my estimation because she has been caught plagiarizing once. If you rob a bank once, you still robbed a bank.”

A remarkably large number of conservative writers say they feel robbed. During the March 18 airing of his television program, for example, Beck ran a portion of video created by a Chicago-based blogger who calls himself Rebel Pundit. The blogger, who does not publicly reveal his name, says he was initially pleased to see Beck running his video, which featured left-wing protesters demanding amnesty for illegal immigrants. He was soon shocked, however, to see that Beck’s staff had obscured the watermark logo of his website,, from the tape.
Beck responded to this article by mocking the charges (video below). I don't think that was a good way to go about it; these are the people in the trenches who are leading the movement he claims to champion. The people who are wanting to be cited are those that do a lot of hard work and if Beck's staff took a video from a blogger known as Rebel Pundit and scrubbed the guy's website from the video, that's just wrong. If you have a one hour show with 5 hours of material, it can sometimes get dicey. It's hard to cite all of your sources and doing so at every turn can take away from the quality of the broadcast but that reality doesn't apply to scrubbing a website from videos. Such things appear on the screen and do not detract from the broadcast if left alone. It actually takes more work to scrub the logo than to leave it alone.

Here is Beck's response to the piece in the Daily Caller. Note he references the article as appearing on the USA Today blog, which likely picked up the DC article and ran it. Beck comes off looking small here for mocking those who just want credit for their work. In this segment, he's clearly attempting to smear those with a grievance by painting their charges as ridiculous. Note too that he very quickly says his staff didn't 'scrub' any videos. If they scrubbed a website logo from videos submitted by bloggers, Beck may have lied about that. Perhaps that's why he spent such little time talking about that charge.

Via Verum Serum:

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