Glenn Beck
What You Do Will Be a Pivot Point

Glenn Beck is a complicated person in American life, and he is acknowledging his role in the damaged state we’re in. To create the world we want our children to inhabit, we all need to be ready to let others surprise us, to offer forgiveness, and to ask hard questions of our own part in this moment. This doesn’t happen often in politics, but it is essential in life, and it must be part of common life, too. As part of our ongoing Civil Conversations Project, Krista draws out Glenn Beck in this spirit.

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is founder of TheBlaze, a multi-platform news and entertainment network. He’s the author of many books of fiction and nonfiction, including The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life.


May 11, 2017

Krista Tippett, host: When I told people I was going to have Glenn Beck on this show, some reacted badly. But I’ve been conversing with him privately this year about what it will take to heal the divides and misunderstanding among Americans. He is a lightning rod of our ruptures, but for several years, he’s also been acknowledging his own role in the damaged state we’re in. Here he is with Megyn Kelly on Fox in 2014:

Ms. Megyn Kelly: When you think back on your time here, how will you remember it, how do you remember it now?

Mr. Glenn Beck: I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes. And I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language because I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.

Ms. Tippett: Glenn Beck is a complicated person. So, after all, are we all. Speaking with him brings home the reality that if we’re going to create the world we want our children to inhabit, we’re going to have to find ways to hold more complexity peaceably, and probably uncomfortably, just to soften what is possible between us. We need to be ready to let others surprise us, let them repent, offer forgiveness, and ask hard questions of our own place in this moment. This doesn’t happen often in politics, but it is essential in life and must be part of common life too. As part of our ongoing Civil Conversations Project, I draw out Glenn Beck in this generosity of spirit.

Mr. Beck: We have to start believing the best in each other instead of expecting the worst. And I’m guilty — I hate to say that because I can’t imagine how many people in your audience just rolled their eyes and went, “You’ve got to be — coming from Glenn Beck?”

Ms. Tippett: I’m Krista Tippett, and this is On Being.

[music: “Seven League Boots” by Zoe Keating]

Ms. Tippett: Glenn Beck now broadcasts on The Blaze, a multi-platform news and entertainment network that he founded. His childhood in Washington state was marked by addiction in the adults around him and his mother’s death when he was a teenager by apparent suicide. He rose to national popularity and prominence in radio and then live television in the glory days of cable news at CNN and Fox News.

Ms. Tippett: You know, it’s interesting. And this must be the interesting way you live, that people feel like they know you, right? I mean, Glenn Beck is a concept. [laughs]

Mr. Beck: It’s a really — it’s both good and bad. I get credit for things that I never did and get blamed for things that I never did, just depending on who I talk to.

Ms. Tippett: I mean, I was just thinking about it as I started to delve into preparing to talk to you, as I do with every interview, but just that, again, Glenn Beck is a concept. And then you start getting to know the human, right? [laughs]

Mr. Beck: Yeah.

Ms. Tippett: So I just want to start where I always start my interviews, whoever I’m talking to, asking about the spiritual background of your childhood. And what I want to say to you is that sometimes — I mean, everybody has a story. Sometimes it’s a religious story, but I’ve also come to really have an expansive understanding of what that means. And, boy, when I look at your childhood, I mean, your mother dying when you were a teenager, there was so much hardness in that. I just want to say I’ve got to think that that was part of the spiritual background of your childhood and/or overshadowed it or both.

Mr. Beck: I think — a couple of things. First of all, I had an encounter, at least I feel, with God when I was 8. 7, actually. And it actually kind of screwed me up quite a bit later in life. And it wasn’t until 40 that I actually gave up on that. I heard when I was 7, in my own head, “What you do in life will be a pivot point.” And I didn’t understand it, but it was so clear and so different. And I don’t even remember why that — I mean, it was just bizarre.

And then, about four weeks before my mother died, I had another spiritual brush. I was walking by my mom, whose hands were in the sink in the kitchen, and I was in the hallway. I was walking by, and I, again, heard a voice in my own head as clear as day: “Stop, go back, kiss your mother, and tell her you love her. She won’t be here much longer.” And I didn’t. I dismissed it, and a few weeks later, she was dead. Then that happened with my grandfather, and then that happened with a girl that I was dating in high school. She had a headache, and I remember distinctly feeling, “Oh my gosh, she’s got a brain tumor.” I just knew it. So I had, early on, a brush with the Spirit. And then that voice that I heard when I was 7 gave me an arrogance that was not good and really screwed me up.

Ms. Tippett: That’s how you took it? That’s how you think you internalized it? As an arrogance?

Mr. Beck: No. Well, I took it as a — I mean, between that and then — I got into radio when I was 13. And so when you’re 13 and 14 years old, and you’re in Seattle Market with some of the better people in the industry, and they say, “My gosh, listen to this kid,” in front of you. “Have you heard this kid? I mean, when he’s 25, what is he going to be like?” You start buying it. And so I just had this arrogance that I just knew I was going to make an impact. And by the time I was 30, I was so screwed up that I was ready to repeat the mistakes of my mother’s life.

Ms. Tippett: Did you have — you have a big intelligence and a huge curiosity. Did — I mean, you didn’t go to college. Did you think about going to college? Was that not a possibility for you?

Mr. Beck: No, it was — there was nobody in my family that ever went to college, and we couldn’t afford it. And it was not — I remember being in Algebra I, and the first week in Algebra when I was — I don’t know — 9th grade. And I remember raising my hand, and I said, “What am I ever going to use this for?” And the professor said, “All kinds of stuff.” And I said, “Uh-huh. All I know is that I need to know that 14 minutes before 8:00 is 46 minutes after the hour. That’s all I — everything I do will be divisible by 60, so I don’t need any of this.”

Ms. Tippett: [laughs] You were already on the clock. You were on the radio clock.

Mr. Beck: I’m already on the clock.

Ms. Tippett: So, you did kind of fast forward a minute ago. I mean, as you said, there was addiction, alcohol in your family, and you have went into that. You were very successful in radio. You’ve also said that you were suicidal by the ‘90s. You’ve said, “I was a bad man. I was a deplorable human being.” Did you get into recovery then in the late ‘90s? Is that…?

Mr. Beck: No.

Ms. Tippett: No?

Mr. Beck: Oh, yeah. Late ‘90s, yes. The first time I battled depression was in the ‘80s, and I have such empathy for people who are battling with depression. If you’ve never really battled with chemical depression, you just don’t understand. It’s — the world turns inside out. What is black turns white, what is reasonable to you is completely unreasonable to everybody else. And you get to this place to where you’re like, “The world is a much better place” — and there are a lot of people that probably still would believe this — “The world would be a much better place without me in it.” And you start to believe that.

Ms. Tippett: That language you used a minute ago, “pivot point” — your life is full of those. That’s language you use. And I think, when I look at your story and at you, there’s a lot of change; there’s a lot of momentum; there’s a fair amount of conversion as part of your experience. When I’ve talked to people about the fact that I was going to interview you, and when I read some of these articles that you have written, there’s this skeptical edge. “Well, now he’s saying something different, but will he stay this way?” Like, when I look at your story, the sweep of it, you’ve never stayed the same way.

Mr. Beck: No. Life is about change.

Ms. Tippett: And so it seems to me — so you did go through this very dark period, and you got into recovery. I mean, it seems to me, that was a big pivot point for you, and it was kind of around the turn of the century. Is that right?

Mr. Beck: Yeah, it was in the mid ‘90s. I remember — I turned 30, and I remember looking at the clock on my bed stand, and it was turning midnight in the old LED clock that the numbers would almost jump as you watched them. And I watched it say 11:59, 11:59, and then it switched to 12:00. And I remember thinking, “Your whole life is going to change.” And I knew that what I had built was just unsustainable. It was just lie to myself on top of lie to myself.

And I read a letter right after that from Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, and it was about how Peter should learn this about mathematics, and he should read these classics, and when languages — he should learn these things. And then it got to religion. In the last part, it said, “Above all things, when it comes to religion, fix reason firmly in her seat, and question with boldness even the very existence of God, for if there be a God, he must surely rather honest questioning over blindfolded fear.”

And that changed my life and still, today, is the most important thing to me ‘cause I was going through recovery, through the 12-step program, and I was examining myself, and I was really trying to — but there were things in my life that I wouldn’t go. I just wouldn’t look at, like my mother’s suicide and everything else. I just — “I’m fine. I’m fine with that.” And I wouldn’t ask those questions.

Ms. Tippett: And so what changed?

Mr. Beck: I decided that I didn’t really know anything. I don’t know. There was a humility that happened. I had been praying for God to humble me. And boy, don’t ever pray for that because that one — there’s like a big bell on the other side that rings, and God’s like, “Somebody’s praying for humility? Quick, dispatch somebody.” And so I was really humbled at that time, and it wasn’t frightening for some reason anymore to admit that I didn’t know anything. And I think part of that is because I had become, in a different way, self-destructive.

I didn’t want to do radio anymore because it was just shallow and empty. And just being a morning show DJ was just awful. And so I got on the air, and somebody had said something, “Well, you don’t know anything, and you’re Mr. Perfect.” Because my image, at the time, was “Mr. Clean.” And I said, “You know, you don’t really know anything about me because I’ve never let you in, but let me tell you who I am and why I know.” And I laid it all out, and I said to my producer, as I turned off the mics, “Mark this day down on your calendar. This is the day that Glenn Beck ended his career.” And that producer is still my executive producer. He’s still with me.

Ms. Tippett: What year was that?

Mr. Beck: ‘95? ‘96?

Ms. Tippett: ‘95. And that was on the air? You did that on the air?

Mr. Beck: Yeah, and I found that the most unexpected thing happened. People would stop me and write to me in times when we still got letters and say, “You know, when you said what you said, I can relate. Nobody knows this about me, but I’m carrying something.” And I realized, “Oh, my gosh, we are all hiding from something.” We all have something that we think we’re a fraud on, or if people only knew, or something that I’m carrying around. I don’t know what it is, but we all have it. And if we would just be honest with each other and just say, “Yeah, this is who I am,” all of a sudden, it loses all of its power.

Ms. Tippett: Mm-hmm. But I mean, it is ironic, as you say, because it was after that point that you became this huge public figure, right?

Mr. Beck: Well, that’s ten years later. And I actually think that I was — in ‘96, I was still — I was rough. If you listen to my shows in even 2000, I mean, I’m a — I’m LDS, so I’m a member of Mormon faith. And when you, as a man, are brought into what’s called the priesthood — and every man is a priest in my faith — the congregation votes on it. In fact, the whole — what’s called a stake, the whole — I don’t even know what you would call it — the whole diocese votes on it. And I’m one of the only people that people raised their hand and went, “No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Ms. Tippett: OK. [laughs] And you came — we’ll talk about this, but you came to Mormonism, to the LDS church, fairly later in life.

Mr. Beck: 1999.

Ms. Tippett: It wasn’t — you weren’t born into that.

Mr. Beck: No, no, no. 1999.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah, 1999, after this. So after this period.

Mr. Beck: So I went — in ‘96, I was just starting to — I took everything out, and I said “OK, I don’t know anything. And so I went — because I couldn’t afford college, I went to the Barnes and Noble, and I assembled what I like to call the library of a serial killer. I went in with the intention of, “Who would argue with each other in philosophy? Who would argue with each other in religion? Who would argue with each other in” — whatever it is. And so, I was putting a library together with Mein Kampf and Alan Dershowitz. I mean, crazy.

And my philosophy was, if you can go to the extremes and you can go to people that should have nothing in common, if you find any point of connection, then there’s truth in that. And it’s led me to things like — that I think is very true — horrible to say out loud, but that’s what I do for a living — Jesus and Hitler had one thing in common, and that is they could both look somebody in the eye who was hungry or in despair and say, “I will feed you.” And it’s important to listen to what their solution is, but most people don’t. And one will lead you to an evil path, and one will lead you to a good path. But it is exactly the same entry point.

Ms. Tippett: And we get to Glenn Beck. [laughs]

Mr. Beck: Are you regretting this yet? [laughs]

Ms. Tippett: No, but I just — there’s so much to talk about. But I mean, let’s fast forward and go from there, go backwards and forwards from there. 2014 — you’ve said versions of this to other people, but I just especially really liked just the short clip of you with Megyn Kelly in 2014. And she was asking you about your time at Fox, and you said — and I think you really surprised her – “I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.”

So between this — 1996, 1999, your personal pivot point, in 2014, you went to CNN. You started “The Glenn Beck Show” in 2000. You got syndicated. You went to CNN. You went to Fox. You had 6.5 million listeners behind Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Dave Ramsay by 2008. Talk about what you were seeing in your career in 2014. Yeah, just start talking about that.

Mr. Beck: Can I go back?

Ms. Tippett: Yes, and you can go back anywhere.

Mr. Beck: Can I go back? Because this is really…

Ms. Tippett: Yeah.

Mr. Beck: This is important. To understand, I didn’t want to go to Fox News. I turned them down three times. I didn’t want to go to Headline News. In fact, I remember the only reason why I took it is because I believed the country was in real trouble. I had just spent three years saying, “There is a financial crash coming beyond description, and this is happening now.” I’m talking to Fox at the same time that the financial crisis is finally there.

Ms. Tippett: Right, 2008, yeah.

Mr. Beck: And so I was convinced that the country is in real trouble. I still am. It’s just more resilient than I thought it was. And I got on, and I had no idea, A, the power of Fox, B, the danger of doing 60 minutes live unscripted every single day…

Ms. Tippett: Kind of wild. You were kind of wild.

Mr. Beck: …plus a three way radio show. Yeah, and doing it in a way that I thought would get people to watch, which it did. So I’m mixing mediums, which was dangerous, but I thought, oh, everybody will get it. And then there was this mass pushback, and it wasn’t good, and it just kind of pushed the wrong buttons in me, and I’m like, “Really?” And I honestly thought that, OK, I’m going to present this in a way that people will be able to watch and understand. And then, somebody in the media will pick this up and go, wait a minute, there is — I don’t believe Glenn Beck, but there is something here. There is this connection that he showed, and we looked it up, and it’s true. That never happened. And so what happened was, I took half the country and basically flipped them the bird. That wasn’t smart.

[music: “Conversation Heart” by The Six Parts Seven]

Ms. Tippett: I’m Krista Tippett, and this is On Being. Today, with Glenn Beck.

[music: “Conversation Heart” by The Six Parts Seven]

Ms. Tippett: You have also said, in 2000…

Mr. Beck: Can’t we quote somebody else?

Ms. Tippett: [laughs] No, I’m sorry. We’re talking about you.

Mr. Beck: OK. [laughs]

Ms. Tippett: I understand that this is not the side of the microphone you’re happiest on.

Mr. Beck: Yeah, let’s quote somebody else. I hate that guy.

Ms. Tippett: No, I’m in control here, as you also understand. [laughs]

Mr. Beck: Yeah, OK.

Ms. Tippett: You’ve said a lot.

Mr. Beck: I know.

Ms. Tippett: And here’s another way that I feel like you can help take other people inside something they may not understand. You’ve said, “I did a lot of freaking out about Barack Obama.” And that was — and you’ve been criticized for calling him — I mean, well, we won’t even go through all that. You…

Mr. Beck: No, you — I mean, I understand what I’ve said.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah, calling him racist, blah, blah. That’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to dissect that. That’s been dissected. But when you say that, and I think you — again, you are — your audiences, people who you have been listening to, attending to, were freaking out about Barack Obama, and a lot of people don’t understand that. And just…

Mr. Beck: Well, could I — let me…

Ms. Tippett: Yeah, say something about that, about what that is.

Mr. Beck: Yeah, let me just say this. This is why I have — and I’ve been begging the people on the right. How can you not have empathy for the people right now who are saying, “Donald Trump is going to destroy America. We are gonna be in — he’s gonna have concentration camps?” You were thinking that about Barack Obama. How can you not understand that somebody sees this guy, who is much more vocal and has many more tendencies than the last guy, how can you call them crazy?

There are people — I’m finding it fascinating that at this moment where we could have profound understanding for one another and we can say, “I know, I know, I know how you’re feeling, and don’t make the mistake that I made. Don’t do the things that we did.” “Well, nobody could be as bad as you.” Stop it. Stop it. Let’s take this moment at time and say, let’s learn from the past. Let’s not overreact and freak out. And believe me, I’m one of the — I mean, you’ve heard me over the last, what, 18 months about Donald Trump. I’m warning you, grave danger. This guy could go totalitarian on us. He could very well do that. He also may very well leave the Oval Office as a decent president. I don’t know. I can’t see the future. What we should be talking about is not people, not even events, but ideas. And the idea is no one person should ever make the American public, left, right, or all of us, this afraid.

Ms. Tippett: And I mean, so this is another pivot point for you, I sense. And you know, Glenn, that you — “fear” has been a big piece of your vocabulary and you’ve proudly called yourself a catastrophist and you also understand the science of fear. You’ve written about this, how our brains are hard-wired to respond to this. And there is a lot in your writing and your work about groups, right? I mean, the book you wrote in 2016 about “progressives” and just these sweeping statements about groups of people. At the same time…

Mr. Beck: Hang on just a second because I want to make sure we’re really careful here.

Ms. Tippett: OK.

Mr. Beck: Did you read the book?

Ms. Tippett: Yeah.

Mr. Beck: OK. So it’s about early 20th century American progressives. Not just any progressive, but the ones who really understand what progressivism, at its core, at its founding, really is. The difference between a cattle and a rancher. That a real early 20th-century American progressive says, “We know better than the average guy, and so we’ll make the decisions.” I don’t think that’s the average progressive. I don’t think that’s what they are. I don’t think they understand what an early 20th century progressive is. And so this is really a history book to be able to say this is that seed, and it’s in both the Republican and the Democratic parties.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah. I hear you, and I believe you, but I also think there are these sweeping statements that don’t contain that subtlety. Like, “This book will present a clear, concise, and documented picture of progressives as they really are, eugenicists, racists, misogynists, terrorists, and authoritarian tyrants.” And it doesn’t qualify. And I just think — and I don’t think you disagree with this — that this is one of the things that’s gone terribly wrong on both sides…

Mr. Beck: I do.

Ms. Tippett: …that we throw these huge “isms” and these labels at each other.

Mr. Beck: So the problem is, is when we’re trying to make — we can’t qualify every sentence. And I did a calculation once because I lost my voice. My vocal chords went paralyzed, and they said they could come back; they might not. And I counted — what was it — 10 million words in the last x number of years that I have uttered. You can’t utter 10 million words publically and not screw up.

You’re going to screw up. You’re going to say things that you said poorly, you were wrong about, you regret, or were misconstrued or — it’s just gonna happen. We have to start believing the best in each other instead of expecting the worst. And I’m guilty. I hate to say that because I can’t imagine how many people in your audience just rolled their eyes and went, you’ve got to be — coming from Glenn Beck?

Ms. Tippett: [laughs] Right.

Mr. Beck: So I get that. I get that. I’m the worst messenger since Paul. I get that. So, I don’t mean to be the one — just please take it. Pretend I’m somebody you like, and relisten to that.

[music: “Sometimes” by Live Footage]

Ms. Tippett: You can listen again and share this conversation with Glenn Beck through our website,

I’m Krista Tippett. On Being continues in a moment.

[music: “Sometimes” by Live Footage]

Ms. Tippett: I’m Krista Tippett, and this is On Being. Today, as part of our ongoing Civil Conversations Project, my guest is Glenn Beck. I’ve been conversing with him privately this year about what it will take to heal the divides and misunderstanding among Americans. He is a lightning rod of our ruptures, but for several years, he’s also been acknowledging his own role in the damaged state we’re in.

Ms. Tippett: How would you describe how you — what you do differently now editorially? You are still the same person. I do think — I would use the word “repenting.” I think you have done some public repenting, but you still have very strong political convictions, which are not — which everybody is not going to agree with, and some people will disagree with violently.

Mr. Beck: Sure. But can’t we — hopefully not violently, but can’t we — I want to get back to a place where — I mean, how is it that who we voted for is all we are? I have so much in common with — I mean, Samantha Bee is the best example. I watch Samantha Bee, and I watch her exactly as the way she probably used to watch me. I watch her with my hand over my mouth going, Sam, don’t you know what this is doing to half the country? Half the country is going to hate you for this. But we’ve gotten to know each other. I sincerely like her. She’s really nice. We have so much in common.

Ms. Tippett: I really — you went on her show, and it’s very, very funny. You were there both as this soul-searching person you are with me, but also as a performer, as a comedian, really. I mean, one of things she said is, “In case you haven’t heard, Glenn Beck is acting really weird.” This was her introduction. And she said to you, “My audience wants to kill me for normalizing a lunatic like yourself.” She said to you, “For people in my world, even if all you said for the rest of your life were reasonable things, I feel like you’ve still earned a permanent side-eye from them.” And you kind of took that.

Mr. Beck: I can understand it. I can understand it. And I hope that one day, somebody on the left can also come out, and those also on the right too — I don’t mean to single out just the left — but somebody like Sam can come on my show, and I can say to her, “The things you’ve said, my audience will always have a side-eye to you.” And I would hope that she would say, “I understand that, and I kind of deserve that, and I get it.” But then, at that point, what do you do about it?

So now, how do you balance comedy at this point in American history? And I hope every thinking person with a microphone or a camera is thinking about every word they say and trying to figure out, “How do I bring my audience to a better place?” And it’s not reasonable to ask people just — “Well, then throw away your career and just stop doing that.” But that’s not reasonable. I have 300 employees that count on me getting up every single day. That’s not reasonable. Now, how do I change? How do I make this work so I don’t flush the jobs of 300 people?

Ms. Tippett: Yeah. I mean, let me — so let me ask you about a specific way that I think you’ve had a change of heart, you had a pivot point. And this would be — this is interesting to me. After the shooting of the five police officers in Dallas, you started to shift your thinking about Black Lives Matter. This is why it was interesting, is for a lot of people who were opposed to Black Lives Matter, or just disinterested or skeptical, took that shooting of police officers in Dallas as further proof of that, right? So why did you have a different experience?

Mr. Beck: We are in — I’m in Dallas, Texas. That’s my home. Texans do not screw around, especially when they come to our police officers. And you’re right. A lot of people said, “See? Look.” My staff was down covering that parade or march and — excuse me for calling it a parade — but that march. And so when the shooting happened, the people who were marching, along with my people, went behind cars and into alleyways, and they were in it together. So they went through that experience together. And they realized, in that experience — because they had a time to talk and to be there, and they talked for about an hour or two after — and they realized we’re exactly the same.

And so I brought those people in that were with my staff. I brought them in. I think there were five of them, ranging in age, and I said, “So let’s just talk. Nothing off limits. Let’s just talk.” And we had a fascinating conversation. And I realized what they’re saying is, “Our community is in trouble. Our community is in pain.” Well, I understand that. I get that. And that we can unite on.

Ms. Tippett: You in — on The Blaze, which is your — would you say that’s your primary platform now, which you founded and…?

Mr. Beck: Yeah.

Ms. Tippett: OK. So you, in 2016, at some point, said, “I want to apologize for being a catastrophist,” although I still — I think you still claim — do you — you claim that.

Mr. Beck: I am a catastrophist.

Ms. Tippett: [laughs] OK. You are, and you apologize for it.

Mr. Beck: Oh, yeah.

Ms. Tippett: So in that same post, you said, “We’ve got to stop scaring the kids because that’s what we’re doing. We’re scaring the hell out of the children.” And you know, Glenn, I have to say, you’re — because I’ve been following your work, your show, your various shows, and your website, and your daily email, for a while — and it’s such a mix, right? Because there are these healing stories and these completely — these juxtapositions and these relationships that you have. Like, you just told a story of Black Lives Matter or with Riaz Patel that are so counter to the Glenn Beck persona the Glenn Beck concept of old. But there’s also a lot that is scary, I mean, that catastrophist still comes through. And I — yeah, I’m just sharing.

Mr. Beck: But wait. Gift of fear. Gift of fear. There’s nothing wrong with — and this is when — people say, “Well, you sell disaster food.” Yeah, you mean the same kind of food that I’m reading about now in Variety about how all the Hollywood stars are stocking up with the food, building bomb shelters? Yeah, I get it. But to me, that’s not part of being a catastrophist. What I’m trying to do is be more of a mile marker and going, “You’ve passed the last exit. You know that, right? You should stop at the nearest safe point and turn the other direction because it’s going to — the things that I said were coming, many of them are happening, and we’re in the direction of bad stuff. Prepare yourself now and be strong to stand against it and to be a beacon of light.”

Ms. Tippett: Do you — I was gonna ask you how — we mentioned a while ago that you converted to the LDS church. You’re a Mormon. It’s an important part of your identity and your family. And I was going to ask you how your faith and your theology — I mean, I think I may just have heard it there, but — does your faith give a blessing on this, the catastrophist…?

Mr. Beck: Oh my gosh, no. No, I know I’ve done damage to really good people of my faith. They are such good people that mind their own business and want to be left alone and just — and I’ve — no. They don’t like showboats. And I just feel compelled to warn people of what I see, and unfortunately, I think I’ve made a lot of Christians look bad and a lot of people of faith look bad. And I will pay my price for that.

When I went to Fox, that weekend I met with my family, and I said, “I don’t want to do this, and if I go there, this is going to change our life because it’s so big, and it’s just gonna — it’s not gonna be good.” And the family said — I said, “I believe these things are coming, and I believe I have to warn people. Are we all in?” And my kids, my older kids, voted on it and said yes. And I said, “Then if I go, you have to do one thing. Everybody in the family has to keep a diary because I know how the world will remember me. And you need to tell the truth to my grandchildren. ‘That’s not who grandpa was.’” Because I knew that warning people never goes well, and then I really screwed it up on top of it.

I do what I feel I’m prompted to do. I take the stands that I do because I feel that I’m supposed to take those stands. Unfortunately, the framing of those stands — all me. That’s where it gets screwed up. The presentation of that is all Glenn.

[music: “Her String” by Clown N Sunset Collective]

Ms. Tippett: I’m Krista Tippett, and this is On Being. Today, with Glenn Beck.

[music: “Her String” by Clown N Sunset Collective]

Ms. Tippett: I was aware all through last year that whoever had won in November, the presidency, what was just laid bare are these fractures, the fact that we don’t know each other, these just chasms among Americans, that we don’t know our fellow Americans in every direction.

Mr. Beck: You sound like a catastrophist. [laughs]

Ms. Tippett: [laughs] Well, but I mean, I…

Mr. Beck: Right.

Ms. Tippett: Right. But, so…

Mr. Beck: You’re worried and warning. Yes.

Ms. Tippett: And then I’m asking, also as somebody in media, a very different kind of arm of the media, and yet, in media, and seeing the imperfections and how the old model is just not serving us all around, the way things have been always — have done. But what would you — just thinking — I always say anger is what pain and fear look like when they show themselves in public. And that’s all out on the surface all around. And I’m really aware of the pain and fear beneath that, and I think you are too. How are you thinking now about the work not just of telling the truth and even making the truth dramatic enough that people pay attention to the danger, but to the work of healing? Or is that just not your calling?

Mr. Beck: No, I think it is. I haven’t figured out how to do it exactly yet and make it — for instance, we’re — I mean, I went down to the border two years ago when the border thing was really high. And my audience was so angry with me because…

Ms. Tippett: Well, you were handing out toys and clothing and food to undocumented immigrants on the border.

Mr. Beck: Yeah. To the kids. And my audience was beside themselves for about four weeks. And I kept trying to explain there’s a difference between policy and principles. We can agree on policy that, yes, they shouldn’t be here. Yes, they should go home. But the principle is they’re people, and they’re here. So now what? We can argue about this in Washington, but we have to help people. We have to stand by and see the need in people. It was never reported, but I think we sent almost $3 million down and 18 or 19 semi trucks full of food. And that money was all raised by my audience, that once you broke down and got past and said, “Look, don’t make this about politics. Let’s make this about who are we as people.”

The next thing that we did was we have rescued 6,000 — and it’s probably more — probably closer to 6,500 or 7,000 refugees in Syria and Iraq. And then, right now, I’m really working on a project that I helped start called “Our Rescue.” It’s an operation underground railroad.

Ms. Tippett: Right, working on this global slave trade.

Mr. Beck: How do you present that one? I can’t get anybody to look at that. My audience — I can’t find a way to make that palpable or not even — safe enough for people to watch it, so they avoid it like the plague. We can change the world, but I’ve got to find a way to reach into people’s hearts without manipulating anything to get them to say, “OK, I’ll look at this.” And my calling now, I think, is to try to find a way back to the heart. Once the heart closes, the Bonhoeffers of the world lose.

Ms. Tippett: And do you feel that hearts also get opened by being outraged? Is that also that line you’re walking?

Mr. Beck: No, I don’t think — no, I think outrage is — you’re right about anger. It comes out from a place when you are afraid. And if you’re afraid, your reason centers shut down. And I’ve made mistakes in the last year by being too forceful with my words where I should’ve said, “Talk to me. You don’t need to hear me. Talk to me. Tell me what you’re feeling. I understand that.” Because I do now. I understand what they were feeling, and I understand what the Hillary Clinton people were feeling.

Ms. Tippett: [laughs] What, if you could…

Mr. Beck: This makes me sound like a lunatic, doesn’t it? [laughs]

Ms. Tippett: No, no, it doesn’t. It’s — no. You know what I’m thinking of? I did a public conversation with Matt Kibbe, who’s a libertarian…

Mr. Beck: Oh, yeah. I know Matt.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah, and Heather McGhee who’s a progressive activist. And I ended up at the end quoting — because what came to mind was — quoting Walt Whitman. And actually, I’m getting it on my phone because I want to say it right. “Do I contradict myself? / Very well…” Because “I am large, I contain multitudes.” And the fact is we all do. And you are just — you’re being very honest. You’re laying this out there, your multitudes.

Mr. Beck: Can I tell you — but we are all like this. We are all like this. And we want, for some reason, we want to put everybody else into this box. I don’t know why. We’re all like this.

Ms. Tippett: And I think your critics would say that you’ve done that, and I think you’re confessing that. I mean, do you understand why people are confused by you? [laughs]

Mr. Beck: Yes. Yes, yes. And I think — and I want to be really clear. I accept responsibility for a lot of it, a lot of it. And all the big ones that I’ve spent two years talking about, I take responsibility. But we all have to take responsibility as well for only listening to the clips, only listening with a hard heart. And I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about people on the right and the left, listening to people that don’t agree with them or don’t fit into that box, immediately expecting the worst. Immediately going, “OK, I’ve heard — so I know. You also are this.” No. Maybe not. Maybe they are, but maybe they’re not.

Ms. Tippett: So let me just end by asking — I really want to believe, and I do believe that there’s overlap between our audiences.

Mr. Beck: I think there are.

Ms. Tippett: And my audience is not just a public radio audience anymore, but even so, we can get too narrow a vision of that and of your audience. But I would like for you to say — what would you like, let’s say, people listening to public radio to know about your audiences as their fellow citizens that you think they don’t know, this complexity that feels important to you, that we hear, that we see?

Mr. Beck: I don’t want to assume that I know what your audience knows or doesn’t know, so.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah. But you know what I…

Mr. Beck: I do, so…

Ms. Tippett: I mean, these are artificial constructs, and there’s a grain of truth, and they’re not the whole truth. But to that grain of truth.

Mr. Beck: So what I would say if I were introducing two friends together? You guys aren’t going to think you have anything in common. But all of the big things you do have in common. All of the big things, all of the — there’s no one in this, within the sound of my voice that doesn’t believe in the freedom of speech, in the freedom to have your private life not being snooped in, that you can live next to your neighbor and they can be different than you and they can believe different things. And you could be an atheist, and they could be a Christian, and you could be best of friends. There’s nobody that I believe — that I know in my real life that is that kind of person that says, “Well, I only want people like this.” And I live in Texas.

We’re so much alike, and we’re being defined, and I believe whether people know it or not, being used and manipulated and pushed into making caricatures of each other. My audience is — I really truly believe — they are open-hearted people who, for the last eight years, have been really frightened. And if you will listen to them and get past the things that you think you understand, you will recognize many of those things you’re frightened of too. It’s just different packaging.

Ms. Tippett: You’ve also said — I mean, we talked about how you said, when you say the last eight years, that’s the Obama presidency. You’ve talked about being freaked out, and a lot of people were freaked out, and this is something that’s hard for people on the other side to understand. But you’ve also recently said that Obama has made you a better man. What do you mean by that? What’s that?

Mr. Beck: I don’t think we’d have the same conversation today that we had eight years ago because of the things that have happened in my life, because of the things that I’ve done, both good and bad, I’m a better person. I’ve taken the good, as I believe the imposter that it is, and not taken that as a badge of honor. And I’ve taken the bad to heart enough to go, “Is that true?” to be able to grow. If I could rewind the clock and keep the knowledge that I have, I’d be a totally different man than I was at Fox in 2008. I don’t know what I would do if I still believed the same things that I did then and I do now. I don’t know how I would present it, but I wouldn’t do what I did.

Ms. Tippett: Well, Glenn, thank you so much for this. There’s nothing tied up in a neat bow here, and that is the way life is, right?

Mr. Beck: It’s one of those movies that — it ends, and you’re like, “I’m not sure I like the ending.” And you’re like, “Yeah, I know, but that’s the way it is.” [laughs]

Ms. Tippett: [laughs]

[music: “4 Bc” by The American Dollar]

Ms. Tippett: Glenn Beck now broadcasts on The Blaze, a multi-platform news and entertainment network he founded. He’s the author of many books of fiction and non-fiction, including The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life.

[music: “4 Bc” by The American Dollar]

Staff: On Being is Trent Gilliss, Chris Heagle, Lily Percy, Mariah Helgeson, Maia Tarrell, Marie Sambilay, Bethanie Mann, Selena Carlson, and Rigsar Wangchuck.

Ms. Tippett: Special thanks this week to Rabbi Irwin Kula for helping make this conversation possible.

Our lovely theme music is provided and composed by Zoe Keating. And the last voice you hear singing our final credits in each show is hip-hop artist Lizzo.

On Being was created at American Public Media. Our funding partners include:

The Fetzer Institute, helping to build the spiritual foundation for a loving world. Find them at

Kalliopeia Foundation, working to create a future where universal spiritual values form the foundation of how we care for our common home.

The Henry Luce Foundation, in support of Public Theology Reimagined.

The Osprey Foundation, a catalyst for empowered, healthy, and fulfilled lives.

And the Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based, private family foundation dedicated to its founders’ interests in religion, community development, and education.

Books + Music

Recommended Reading

Author: Glenn Beck, Keith Ablow
Publisher: Threshold Editions
Binding: Hardcover, (304)Pages

Music Played

Artist: Zoe Keating
Label: Zoe Keating
Artist: The Six Parts Seven
Label: Suicide Squeeze Records
Label: Live Footage Music
Label: Clown and Sunset

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Share a Reflection

  • SK B

    Krista, Thanks for doing this. And Oh my Jesus!!!

    Glenn, One doesn’t have to be smart to be successful. If anything it’s better to be stupid and you will become successful faster. You did that and Trump did it. People like you will be glued to TV and Oprah.

    Going on leftist shows and apologizing Trump is crazy is too late.

    Stop taking credit for predicting Financial crisis. You flatter yourself.

    Do us all a favor. Please forgive yourself on your own terms in your own space. We know where we are. And listening from you is extremely hurtful. You are throwing salt on our wounds.

    • Anastasia Higginbotham

      Yes to what you say. I was so moved by what Krista was trying to do I went to The Blaze website after to be enlightened. But oh wow. No point of entry for me there. None. And I didn’t like the way he would say to Krista, Can we go back? Can I just…? He would push away her questions to keep telling his sympathetic story about himself. I also want him and all his people to come clean about their racism.

    • Mike Ruhland

      My thoughts pretty much. He would come over as more genuine if he just shut his mouth. Actions.speak.louder, yada, yada.

  • Joseph F Masteika

    Marvelous interview. My deepest thanks for daring to risk an interview with someone who doesn’t meet the expected specifications for an “On Being” interview. If we are ever to heal this deep divide, we wil need millions of conversations just like this interview. Thanks you.

    • Tbk

      Millions? Really?

  • divadarya

    I also thank Krista for doing this; helping us through uncomfortable spaces is needed.

    I have a few things in common with Beck; I’m white, I’m sober, I was raised to be a man, and God “spoke” to me when I was about eight. In my case, God let me know, in 1959 America, that I was really female. Now, my mom did take DES, a powerful estrogen, all the way through her pregnancy,so some science may be in there, but when the only entity you feel safe talking to at age eight is the creative force of the Universe, you listen.

    I find it ironic that Beck is now pushing the conservative political party line about so-called bathroom laws, even singling out Target, one of the few places trans people know we are safe to relieve ourselves in nationwide. He says he’s not singling out the “0.3 percent of trans people” but he is, and I’ll bet, if he wants to be honest, he knows he is. This comes back to you Krista; how come no one ever asked us about this before they poured more gasoline on their worst fears and prejudices about us. What’s telling to me is that the few times I’ve engaged a Trump voter online, they’ve all agreed that “I’d love him as a man” and that “we have no problem with REAL transsexuals like you” One of the interesting things about being trans is that “real” is a pretty nebulous construction, kind of like “gender.”

    As far as God goes, I knew early on I needed one bigger than the commercial churches in the US who sell fear and militarism from the pulpit; why would I embrace a God whose followers are screaming at me about going to Hell? I embraced the same one I rediscovered and loved me uncondtionally when I got sober.

    Glenn should maybe listen to your conversation with Richard Rohr,

  • ms_kat

    This was, bar none, the most difficult episode of On Being I have listened to in years of listening. I often disagree with people on the show and I can sit with that, but this episode was so hard. In fact, when I saw his name, I tutted and didn’t want to listen. But then I read the show notes and decided I should.

    What made this so difficult to listen to was the attempt to turn off the part of my brain that is knee-jerk critical, the part that wants to argue, to point out flaws, to score points.

    I found myself consciously attempting to practice what Peter Elbow calls methodological believing. For those of you who don’t know his work, methodological believing is “the equally systematic, disciplined, and conscious attempt to believe everything no matter how unlikely or repellent it might seem—to find virtues or strengths we might otherwise miss.”

    I won’t explain why methodological believing is vital here, but suffice it to say, it hinges on a set of questions (such as What does he see that I don’t? How could this argument possibly be right? What can I agree with? What’s interesting or helpful about the view? What would you notice if you believed this view? If it were true? In what sense or under what conditions might this idea be true?) I found it such a struggle to hold the questions, let alone attempt to answer them, as it pertains to listening to Beck because my critical voice is so much louder.

    Which I guess it means it was interesting and necessary even when it felt offensive and aggravating.

    • RicoQuinn

      Great post!

  • Gabby

    I am wondering whether there is any hope for people of very opposite political values to commit to stand together to oppose blatant corruption in government. This would be a useful step with potential to build trust.

  • Grace McDonald

    Kudos for having the heart to talk and listen to Glenn Beck.

    I gather that mental illness runs in his family/ himself. I’m not convinced that Glenn Beck put the time and effort into private, intensive therapy before agreeing to take Fox’s–or any–microphone. For me, Glenn Beck will always embody harm and fracturing fueled by an uncritical, extremist mind. Listening to this interview made me think about questions of mental illness in general and auditory hallucinations specifically. How can one distinguish between the voice of God? The Supergo? Schizophrenia?

    Glenn Beck provokes anxiety in many people because he appears to be a very conflicted person who has trouble seeing/appreciating(?) the shades of grey. For example, he states that he “kept trying to explain there’s a difference between policy and principles.” What good is it to have humanitarian principles when the same people are inflicting oppressive, traumatizing policies that continue to strip people of basic rights. I do not understand how you can be angry/fearful of someone because they are, say, a Black socialist and still be seen as having an “open-heart.” If Glenn Beck is looking for forgiveness from American citizens, he’s not gonna find it with me. Or with my colleagues and friends with whom I shared this interview. We all said the damage has been too great. As my friend put it, “Beck is spending an awful lot of energy trying to re-brand himself with his glasses, scarf, and fedora. Maybe he should take his $90 million and use it to lobby for PBS.”

    Beck also said “my [philosophy] has… led me to things that are horrible to say out loud that’s what I do for a living.” I literally can’t. Krista Tippett arguably has to do or has done the same thing but does it in a way that results in opening up a space for dialogue. Beck’s rather self-indulgent neuroticism doesn’t seem to allow for other possibilities of being or meaning (headache=brain tumor? #Confirmation Bias #magical thinking #unfit for radio). This country could do with less catastrophic talk. GB, despite selfishly wishing he is a prophet of the Biblical persuasion, is nothing more than an anxious, obsessive, conveniently binary thinking, white male going through a mid-life crisis. #Sorrynotsorry #GoawayGlenn

  • leif fairfield

    Wow, I had so many problems with this episode. I forced myself to finish it, just in case I was being presumptuous.

    But I can’t understand how a person can call for unification and understanding while also justifying the spread of “castostrophic” thinking among “his audience”. Even saying “my audience” versus “your audience” shows a huge readiness to draw big, chunky lines around people. I’m sorry, who in media thinks they can claim me as their own? It doesn’t work that way.

    I am sure Ms. Tippett has many illuminating or nuanced conversations with Mr. Beck, but this episode didn’t even come close. I always can expect to hear new, challenging, dense, or vigorating ideas in this show. This episode felt like a GB infomercial, and ultimately was very disappointing to me.

  • 2PenniesMore

    Oh my! What happened to On-Being? Today’s program was all about container and nothing about content! Shallow, egocentric, self-aggrandizing, prophetic syndrome, confusion between genuine breast-beating (best done in private) and chest-thumping (best done on stage)… I literally forced myself to keep listening, if only to hear how far this exercise in narcissism would go and it went nowhere but into shallowness. Let’s call it a blooper and wait for another week. And do not think I had a prejudice about your guest, I had never heard of him and I wish he would explore the benefits of a prolonged silent retreat.More content, please, not more wind, if you want to heal the big divide!

    • Dana Hovan

      YES! a silent retreat, maybe with Mr. Limbaugh! ugh.

    • theknot

      I agree! More content please. I don’t want to know about another sick celebrities personal problems and desire to return to fame. this was useless.

  • Tbk

    I, literally, feel nausea.

  • Joe

    Totally agree. Very difficult to hear Krista giggling like a school girl in the presence of a master manipulator. Why did she not dig into why he claims Obama is a racist? So he is very proud of employing 300 people. Big woop. Why did she not ask him: How much of what you do is about making money? How much of what you do is about sowing fear? How much of what you do is about the End Times? How much of what you do is about driving fearful people to the Mormon church? Really weak, Krista.

    • Robin

      I understand the desire to get those answers (wish we could) but that is not the purpose of On Being at all and Krista is not an investigative reporter. This series in particular is about Civil Conversations, about trying to understand each other and is a good example with a person I would not normally even try to understand. I think the comment by ms_kat above really speaks to these issues/emotions.

    • Beck Lister

      I think Krista’s so-called “giggling” was a nervous reaction. We all have nervous little habits that reveal themselves when we are uncomfortable. Cut Krista a break, people.

      • Greg Stueve

        That’s exactly how I read her responses. She couldn’t hold her nervous disbelief when he was contradicting himself and demonstrating that he does what he does for profit/grift. I understand Krista’s methods but I wish she would have challenged him at least once. For those who wish to listen to how an adversarial interview with GB is done, check out Bob Garfield’s conversation with him for On The Media.

  • Potter

    If Glenn Beck has to tell his children to keep a diary so they can tell the world what/who he truly is, then there is some huge discrepancy between what he does and has been doing in public and his private life. So he is an act and anything goes, or went. I also heard the word humility, but I did not hear any. I can’t help myself but think that since he feels he is responsible somewhat (and maybe he gives more credit to himself than he deserves, I don’t know) for the severe division in our country has arrived at in this perilous time, then he should use his talents accordingly, not behind the scene or in some corner, to help repair this state we are in. We should listen to interviews such as this one and to others of similar talent, who know people’s weaknesses well, but who have done unquestionable harm to the country.

    I agree with a comment below: Ms. Tippet was too “giggly and fawning”. It turned me off. But that did bring out Beck’s “ ego trip” further. Part of me was saying Glenn should just keep quiet now and go home,work the land. (Oh but his 300 employees!) But again I rather he would repair, help detoxify the air that has been so fouled. Yes I am angry.

  • Tbk

    Why do we keep giving them the ball, allowing them to play offense so that we can accept playing defense? I don’t get it.

  • divadarya

    I’d just love for Mr. Beck and his audience to go a little deeper into some self-awareness. All white people in the US benefit from a system that favors us and disfavors anyone with darker skin. Glenn’s audience is in flyover America where people are seeing the false promise of eternal growth collapsing. Like African Americans in the early 60’s they’re watching jobs evaporating, family structures stressed, and drug use rising; instead of looking critically, they take the easiest, most fantastic answers. “Civilization is collapsing” “Immigrants are taking your jobs because of a conspiracy of Sharia Law” “Jesus is returning and will set up his global Kingdom” “Chemtrails are making your kids gay” “Transgenders are gay men in denial who molest women in rest rooms and break God’s Law”
    I honestly don’t think Mr Beck is a racist, per se, but he isn’t helping. I live in a city full of immigrants from all over the world in a thriving state that accounts for more votes than 46% of USA. We tend to mind our own damn business, and we honestly aren’t trying to ruin the heartland. I still give Krista credit for attempting this, even though a solution is miles, if not light years, away.

    • Marzook Almarzook

      I was texting my daughter about interview with Glenn. She said she did not have the stomach to listen to whole interview. Hw texted me, (Maybe if he wrote an expose and donated proceeds to black lives matter….

      • heta

        You and your daughter apparently haven’t watched Beck in recent months. He’s said on several occasions that he understands and sympathizes with the Black Lives Matter movement.

        I’d much rather see him write an expose and donate proceeds to Operation Underground Railroad – an organization he’s involved with that rescues children from human trafficking. That’s a pressing matter these days, if you’ve been following it.

        • Marzook Almarzook

          Scare tactics he used were just mistakes on his learning curve. I read/hear vociferous discussions by Muslim clerks who, much like GB, apologize for f****up their communities. They come back later, and say: sorry. One is happy that Muslim clerks/GB “learn from their mistakes; the unanswered questions is what is happening to the communities that are broken and remain suspicious of differences.

    • heta

      People have a terrible tendency to assume that others cannot change. It’s illogical if you think about it. Everyone changes over time – we grow, we learn. Glenn isn’t the same person he was on Fox. He’s not even the same person he was under the Obama admin. He’s learned from his mistakes and made positive changes. This is why he’s reaching out to the other side. He’s promoting unity. I cannot fathom why anyone would fault that.

      Your description of his audience sounds more like Alex Jones’ audience. Not that I’m partial to Beck’s audience as I tend to find them annoying.

      Reflection and awareness needs to occur on both sides. It’s easy to say that one group should be considerate of another group while being inconsiderate themselves. There’s too much self-righteousness going on. People need to take a step back and realize that wrong-doings is plentiful on both sides. Instead of arguing and accusing, we need to unite. Everyone wants what is best for the country, we just have different ideas on how to achieve that. It’s time the country puts petty differences aside and open honest dialogue.

      • theknot

        I don’t think we become different people over time. We may learn and grow in ways which allow us to behave differently, or relate to ourselves differently, but we are the same person from birth to death.
        Also, the subject here is Glenn Beck, the things he’s done wrong and the things he is trying to do right. the point is to focus in on the details within this particular open honest dialogue.

      • divadarya

        I still have a problem with the transphobic stuff he wrote on The Blaze about bathrooms, even acknowledging he’s changing fairly radically over time. He’s selling fear; I’m sure he say I was one of the 0.3% of trans people who “have nothing to worry about”, but we worry, OK? We’re demonized as gay men in denial who want to molest women in bathrooms, which, by the way, is quite a trick, but his people don’t seem to be into critical thinking.

        He even admits in the podcast he has to keep people employed, and unfortunately he keeps them employed by selling Doom Porn to them. I lived with a survivalist for a while; I know all about the weird nexus of fear, ego and delusion that goes into buying guns, storing grain and making sure one have enough gold to survive the “coming collapse”.

        I’m skeptical but still listening.

  • flowerplough

    Glenn Beck is no more complicated than Donald Trump or Barack Obama. Basically, if there’s money in it, he’s interested. Like Obama with $400,000 speeches to the people he never even thought to begin to start to try to investigate for causing the ’08 crash, like Trump with casinos and the Howard Stern Show, Beck’s pro’ly just talking to Krista ’cause he thinks there’s millennials’ money coming to men in media who’re in touch with their feminine side

  • At the risk of sounding like the language police, your characterization of Krista as “giggling and fawning” seems incredibly condescending and verging on sexism (another commentor referred to her as a “schoolgirl”!) Krista is open and joyful with all of her guests — even when they are talking about their deepest sorrows, or the horrors humans inflict on each other. She is trying to honor their humanity and connect. Why should she be any different with GB? The way I look at it, if KT has decided to interview you, she’s gonna treat you like a human being, as broken, and — yes — dangerous as you may be.

    • Ness Belli

      I love Krista’s voice. It sounds like a true embodiment of her honesty and true compassion for those she engages with.
      My problem was that I don’t believe Beck was being honest with her or himself. Personally I did not enjoy listening to her let him get away with being so disingenuous, When he talks about his listeners being so afraid for the last 8 years, with all due respect, how is that not flat out racism? And what’s worse is that Beck had a hand in making those people afraid with his blasphemous hyperbole.

    • daisylynn

      WELL SAID Erika – If nothing else Krista is nothing but consistently gracious. I am always charmed by her grace, kindness, insight, generosity and gorgeous listening and the fact that she never falters in this shows who she truly is!

      Admittedly, I would have liked for her to stay on him when he redirected ESPECIALLY when bringing up his recent book which makes a HUGE blanket statement, when he JUST finished stating blanket statements are really dangerous.

    • Ness Bell, your comments, and the ones of those who agreed with you below yours, merely show you to be an ideologue whose mind is made up before even listening. I’m truly sorry you live there. You might want to consider moving. The change will do you good.

  • Jacques du Plessis

    I have a friend from my native South Africa, who grew up as a street kid since very small. He converted to God in his teens, yet kept hurting people for many years after his conversion. His conversion was not a switch, but more a commitment to something better. It did not start out solid, but it got better. In his middle ages he went to college, became a lawyer and today is devoted to help the poor and the disenfranchised. I had learned this in life. Some start from a wholesome spot, others not, and those who had a rough start have a longer way to get where they want to be, but their journey is fascinating.

    I see Glenn Beck’s life as a man growing up with a mic to record it. So, we see his mistakes, his lack of patience with complex issues, etc. but it is insightful to see how he is becoming, how he is not stagnant with himself and courageous to revisit the assumptions he has held in the past.

    It is not if I agree or disagree with him. I see in this interview the deeper morphing towards a better as we understand that is important — a path we all should consider.

  • Neal Scribner

    I found this Glenn Beck interview bizarre and disturbing. Clearly many other regular listeners did too. I found the interview bizarre because Krista was unwilling to push back against this media abuser – to force him into being honest. It seemed bizarre because we know that Krista prepares thoroughly for these interviews, yet allowed Beck to slither away from probing questions repeatedly. The interview sounds like a litany of unanswered questions.
    I found the interview disturbing in the way it demonstrated, to me at least, the power of the voice – just the voice itself, a tone of confidence, apparent genuineness, convincing, even (false) self-awareness. I went back and listened to some older recordings of Beck, and found the same power, despite some unhinged excursions. These are oratorical talents that can move crowds or nations to great evil. This is certainly an old story, but I wish Krista had challenged his abuse of the media itself more directly, since Beck continues to be influential.

  • Tbk

    The blaze is running the same type of stories Beck ran at fox. Nothing has changed. Why is he here? To spread “his” word. Why doesn’t he give liberals the same opportunity to speak to his audience?

    Either Ms.Tippett being duped, or Ms.Tippett is duping us.

  • Christian

    He’s in the apology business to get back to where he was. He shouldn’t be allowed a seat at the table.

  • Lara

    I frequently listen to On Being for the insights I receive on people I may or may not agree with and their inner lives. Krista Tippett has a unique ability to draw people out an a difficult aspect of being human.

    I have reservations about this interview, as the interviewee is known to stretch facts, shade discussions and completely mischaracterize numerous aspects of his own life as well as the body politic.

    He is also grasping for renewed relevance and a restored place in the political discussion. There are fact checkers in the Public Radio world, and now is the time for them to follow up on this. The public is waiting.

  • Kirsten Barton

    We all should be listening to each other more. This was a great show and gave me hope that there are multiple ways for us to all come together. Thanks for having GB as a guest.

  • Dan Gordon

    If Beck wants to move forward and accept people with an open mind and open heart, count me in. I especially appreciate his statement: “We need to start seeing the best in people and not expecting the worst”. I decided while listening that I was going to follow that advice and that I would start with trying to see the best in Beck. But later I felt that something about his mea culpa didn’t ring true to me. I think it was the combination of blame he heaped on himself while reciting his childhood traumas. If a person is truly sorry and is asking for forgiveness their history and motivations need to be left for a different conversation at a different time. Beck’s not taking responsibility or showing repentance, he’s blaming and explaining.
    I saw in the news today that Beck has invited Bill O’Reilly to join him on his entertainment network. O’Reilly claims that his downfall at Fox is all part of a liberal plot to destroy him. More blaming, more lack of responsibility. They are two peas in a pod and they deserve each other. I for one will try my best to follow Beck’s advice and see the best in people but I will do it with eyes and ears wide open and for now I will not take as sincere anything those two men say. I agree with the friends that advised you not to give Beck the airtime – he is a fraud and a demagogue and we have enough of them right now!

  • Marzook Almarzook

    Islamophobia was left out, also.

  • theknot

    My first reaction to this was an urge to call Krista out on not challenging Beck more. I agree with so many of the other listeners who point out how he controlled the conversation and steered it toward his self promotion. But after going through all the comments up to this point, and giving it some thought, I remember, that’s not what this show is about. And it’s not Krista’s talent. I mean, I would rather not put her in the position of challenging a narcissist like Beck. I don’t think bringing down the self righteous and making the destructive feel ashamed for their actions is her gig. Krista has a talent of finding and showcasing those who work diligently to illuminate the human condition. She is about participatory exploration of complex and deep topics. So i have to wonder, Glenn Beck? Really? It was a bold experiment, but i think a mismatch for this platform.
    I think, if you’re going to open a dialogue with this “type” of person on air, you should be very very careful. It’s like playing with fire. He got away with making himself look like a decent person. He’s not. He’s some kind of deranged, And incredibly charismatic. Time and time again, selfish maniacs rely on generous and forgiving people, and co opt their attitude of acceptance, only to sooner or later wash out the true, beautiful and good with a twisted message. He even points out something to that effect with his weird Jesus Hitler comparison. (It makes me think of those wasps that inject eggs into living hosts.) Those who participate in truth and exploration of ideas can be vulnerable via their compassion. It’s a fine line and a slippery slope.

    Thank you @clear-eyed, @Rebecca Davis, @Isabell Cooper, @doggypaws, @Saundra Plett, @Molly, @Lawrence Bowden, @Grace McDonald, @divandarya, @Ness Belli
    I agree with you heartily.

  • BWF

    Personally, I’m willing to believe that Beck can change; in fact, such a
    thing would be great. That said, given the gravity of his past history,
    it’s my belief that he will have to “do the work” of some type of

  • heta

    That is a noble view on educators. There are similarities in the dynamic of teacher-pupil and media-audience, but it’s not the same. We hold a sect of educators to a much higher standard than media personalities. Unfortunately, not all, as we often hear about harm from professors at our universities. But, let’s put that aside since it’s not an entirely accurate comparison.

    Glenn Beck has apologized for his behavior. I daresay he’s apologized more than any other media personality to my knowledge, which is fascinating to me. How many influential people have come forward and said, “Wow, I’ve made huge mistakes. I didn’t realize how wrong I was. I’m sorry for the harm I’ve caused. I’ll make it right. I’ll do better and I’ll help others learn from my mistakes,” and then follow it up with action? It isn’t lip service and that’s why he was given this platform.

    I’m never disappointed at improvement of the mind. People can change.

  • db

    All politics aside, why have this huckster on? Nothing has sounded so hollow as this BS repentance! GIVE ME A BREAK!!


    I’ve listened to this broadcast twice and am certain that I understand his intent —

    We should all regard ourselves as responsible for the misdeeds of Glenn Beck.

    We should hold ourselves responsible for Glenn Beck encouraging people to regard Blacks as ignorant criminals.

    We should hold ourselves for Glenn Beck equivocating about police injustices. Up to and including murder of innocents.

    He wants us to do this despite the fact that we have NEVER espoused the kinds of things he has in any way.

    Yes, this broadcast has greatly helped me to understand Glenn Beck. Perhaps much better than ever before.

    Glenn Beck is as much a liar as he’s always been. If he’d had the least epiphany of enlightened awareness of what he’s done he’d fall silent once and for all and accept full responsibility for his own actions, his own words and stop seeking to have others shoulder his crimes.

  • noel

    Does Beck still believe that Obama hates white people. I enjoy Jon Stewart’s take down of him and his conspiracies.

  • noel

    Inviting Bill O’Reilly to join him did it for me. His treatment of women? Maybe your Mormon priesthood considers women as having no authority for various important rituals like blessings, healings. Has a LDS woman ever laid hands on his head to pray for him? Smith had a number of wives despite the fact the his legal wife objected or did not know about the others.

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  • Martha__A

    I’m so disappointed. I hesitated, then because I respected and trusted Krista, I listened to the episode. I wasted the hour. I listen to ON BEING show to learn, to be inspired by people and ideas, to hear a thoughtful dialogue between intelligent articulate people. Beck does not use reason, constantly contradicts himself, never answers a question posed, doesn’t listen, and is shamelessly manipulative and self-promoting. I deeply question his sanity. And he seems to believe his own schtick. You cannot have true dialogue with an insane person. I learned nothing and was not inspired.

  • 2PenniesMore

    “What else could Glenn have done to have earned your respect?”
    He could have sent a note saying that he is so heartbroken and repentant about his past interventions that he is grieving and considers himself unfit to speak and lead for a while.I did not know who he was before, but through this episode and some research about him, now I do and I am pleased that, hearing him for the first time on this show I felt red flags popping up all over.

    “What could he say that would make you feel that he is listening?”
    If he was truly listening, he would say nothing or very little because one cannot listen and speak at the same time…

    “What have you found to be an effective way to genuinely listen to other side?”
    Listening to the roots of the “other side”, not to the fear-mongers and manipulators of the other side.

    “Instead of calling Beck a whatever “ist” – I’d love to hear something that brings us together.”
    Hate speech surely won’t, lies either, nor “alternative facts”. I am sorry to say that after years of believing that reason and common sense could bring us together, I have come to the agonizing conclusion that only the collapse of our economic and social order rooted in an unsustainable plundering of the Earth and obstinate denial will eventually bring us together, unfortunately a bit late and after much chaos and suffering. Did you notice how people get together (for a while) at funerals or after some natural catastrophes? It is beautiful to see and heartwarming, but frankly, does it take those extremes for us to get to our senses?
    I hope I have answered your questions, Jennifer, and I wish you well.

  • robWeeve

    Glenn Beck is a fraud and worse and is likely going to open his door for Bill O’Reilly to move in

  • Betsy Struck Daniels

    I hardly even knew Glenn Beck before this interview, so I had little preconceived knowledge of him. The intention of the interview was to create civil dialogue for all people to know each other better, maybe to gain new perspectives. So I liked that. Unfortunately, I had an immediate concern during this interview when I learned that his view was how he thought he had been instrumental in tearing this country apart. Really? Already, I was so skeptical of anyone with such a big ego. He starts out by spiritualizing what he states are voices from God to him when he’s 7,8 years old, and later in his teens. He also had a very tragic past with his mother who committed suicide and I sure was sorry about that. He states multiple times how he never had the money for a college education. I wonder if he has ever considered taking courses anytime since, in order to grow his knowledge and gain new understandings other than his own? I felt really sad about this interview because I had hoped that Krista would be able to dig deeper in her masterful way. There is a certain amount of laughter that is ok, but I too, grew weary of the frequency. I was hoping for the questions that helped us understand Mr. Beck’s reasons for being so alarmist, where does this come from? Sadly, I could not trust Mr. Beck… there were way too many contradictions . It felt like a whole lot of “hot air.”

  • Betsy Struck Daniels

    Beautifully said! I kept trying to ask the open minded questions to believe anything I was listening to. I stopped listening twice because I couldn’t understand the contradictions and felt the interview didn’t “ring true.”

  • Lori Rowland Houlihan

    Well darn. I was willing to be open to everything Glenn Beck said, but now he’s possibly hired the one of the most successful lightning rods for hatred, living today, Bill O’Reilly. Sorry Mr. Beck. You had me for a moment, but no….you’re a liar & will say or do anything to pad your pockets. Gross.

  • Mari Heart

    And now it is done. Glen feeds Bill. Same old, same old. The birds are flocking…

  • Rachel Livingston

    I am reminded of the king’s prayer in Hamlet:
    Then I’ll look up;
    My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
    Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?
    That cannot be; since I am still possess’d
    Of those effects for which I did the murder,
    My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.

    Krista, this man’s words fly up, his thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

  • Beck Lister

    Shannon, I think the issue is to look at what Beck has said in the past and agree that some things he has said are very inappropriate. He has called Hillary Clinton a “stereotypical bitch”. He has said that Barack Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” and “is a racist”. These are not claims made by others or made up alternate facts; these are things he has said. These are direct quotes, and if you google them, it is documented exactly where and when he said them. I am trying very hard to open my mind and want to believe that Glenn Beck wants to make a change in the statements he makes; the future will tell the tale. But I do think it is unfair to say that some of the things Beck has said in the past are indefensible.

  • Judy Montel

    best quote: “pretend I’m someone you LIKE…” Takes courage…

  • Yes there is ‘overlap’ in audiences. I’m one of them. And Krista is by far my favorite hostinterviewer. I thoroughly enjoy just about every show.

  • Robin Dake

    Normally, I jump into Krista’s interviews as soon as they are released, but I hesitated on this one. When a friend said, “Maybe he will surprise you.” I tip-toed in. He was surprising, more thoughtful and even a bit regretful than I imagined. I especially felt this point resonate: “can we at least understand what “they” (us liberals) are feeling because that is what we felt for the last 8 years.” It resonated, but then fell flat because what conservatives felt for the last 8 years was built on lies — lies that Mr. Beck himself perpetrated. What those of us that are terrified about this president are feeling is based on fact. That is a big difference. I didn’t hear any regret for the lies and the damage that has come from those lies.

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  • Michelle Leduc

    Well, this episode evoked enough of a reaction to get me to post a comment here for the first time. First, I respect and honour the On Being commitment to engage in a variety of perspectives. I have been opened up to so many different viewpoints and ways of seeing the world and for this I am grateful.

    As a Canadian who does not get my news through television, I didn’t even know who Glenn Beck was, so I was fortunate in not having to work too hard to stay open and un-reactive. That said, I found his comparison of his audience’s fear of Obama to your audience’s fear of Trump to be quite suspect. Contextualizing this comparison as a demonstration of his compassion seemed inappropriate at best and probably disingenuous.

    In attempting to show his compassion for those who have fears about your current president by siting his and his followers’ fear of the former president, he created a normalization of this presidency. Our fears and your fears are no different. It’s like having a climate change denier on to show a “balanced” or “neutral” perspective on the environment.

    The rabid fears of a Democratic president are no more appropriate than the rabid fears of a Republican president, if the fear is based solely on a difference of opinion. The current president is a threat to far more than left or right values. But by equalizing these fears, Beck shifts the entire playing field. Very clever. Very manipulative. So far as I could tell, this man is more interested in being provocative than in searching for the truth. And as such, he is not worthy of being a guest on On Being – my favourite podcast.

  • Jean & John Lewandowski

    I read the whole interview, because I respond to Mr. Beck’s voice so negatively, and I wanted to give him as fair a reading as I could. My reaction: I believe people can change, have seen it and felt it myself, but I’m unconvinced that Beck has really grasped the enormity of the damage he’s done enough to change. I don’t see any indication from what he’s said or done recently that he’s not just found another venue for self-promotion. The Blaze is certainly his latest outlet for overheated rhetoric peddled as “news.” I believe in redemption, but we mustn’t be so hungry for stories of redemption that we buy them uncritically, especially in these perilous times. People who will go to any length to promote themselves and exploit others’ vulnerabilities and credulity can be very dangerous, and it behooves us to remember that doubt is a powerful mental and spiritual stance.

  • Stephen Troy

    The act of healing lies not in making the “other” shut up or admit they’re wrong. You can’t stand way off to one side and expect the other to see your point of view. Healing can only occur when we search for common ground.

    Our opinions are like looking at the cosmos through a backyard telescope. Have you tried to yell across a fence to your neighbor for them to look at a specific point in the sky? They will never find it. You must come together, stand next to each other, shoulder to shoulder with kindness and goodwill. Only then can you see the perspective of the other. Only then will they see yours.

    Right now, what we need more than anything is someone trying to help us find a way around, over, or through our fences. Krista is doing that by inviting this man’s voice into our lives. Many of us are not ready to open that door. Glenn knows this, and understands why you have built such a tall fence against him. But thank you Krista for attempting to find a path around it. We are all better for it.

    Much metta

  • Felipe Correa

    I applaud Krista’s courage and her willingness to reach out to such an unlikely source. Although the interview did not have the usual “intellectual meat”, it did open up another channel to help engage the more dogmatic and close minded among us.
    I’m hopeful that the seed of deep thought, temperance, and humanity that Krista sowed grows strong and delivers positive results in the life of this influential individual.

  • Lezlee

    Sometimes people change a little bit…which would be considered a success in this life. But people do not change their basic nature. Not even with a near death experience.

  • lpr

    Wow… I have long felt troubled by Krista’s subtle endorsement of often oppressive ideologies. She’s always looking for the best in her guests and by extension in their discourses and tend to ignore the harmful and oppressive parts of these discourses. I always found this utterly unfair to the ones who suffer on the receiving end of religious bigotry. But this episode… wow… Is the rehabilitation of one of the most bigoted and toxic influences on America’s culture really what Krista wants to be using her platform for? Is the way to heal America really to be extending compassionate Olive Branches to trolls? Who next? Ann Coulter? Milo Yiannopoulos? I always imagined that the reason Krista never interviewed any of the “New Atheists” was because she wished to stay clear of supposedly shrill voices, even though those are some of the most intelligent public intellectuals around… But now she gives us Glenn Beck? Utterly confusing. The question here for me remains: where is the consideration for his victims, all the communities who have been the target of his bigotry and, more to the point, of the bigotry he has enflamed in millions of others. What do you say to those people? Join the circle and sign cumbayas?

  • Fletch

    I really tried to listen but the 1st 5-10 minutes I didn’t buy it…’that he cares about anyone but Glenn’

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  • Carolin Hosac

    As non of us are without our own shortcomings I stand with Krista. Beginnings need to be made and they are not going to be perfect.

  • Jill Johnson

    I agree with sunnyside. I was initially excited about hearing two people from divergent views have a civil conversation, but became very unsettled by his contradictions and insecurities. He seems to be a man without a true north. Was disappointed Krista didn’t challenge his inconsistencies more.

  • Jaye

    You swallowed some Kool-Aid, with all due respect.

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  • Name that tune

    I was really encouraged to hear this podcast. I think Krista is taking a very big step forward. Part of the problem is that people on both sides of the street see the other’s dirtier side more clearly. This really can go back to either/or thinking adopted by people no matter where they fall. I hope we can embrace both/and thinking. It’s not about being right, having the most powerful argument or having the most listeners. It’s about hunting for the truth no matter the messenger. I say this next part being fully aware that I am threatened by plenty of people and things, but if you feel threatened by something, then you then that is where the healing is. When we reach a place of being in the now, we are not threatened because we can accept truth. When we hold onto things, then we run into trouble.

  • Dear Isaac. Your reflection is heartening and a gift to all of us here at On Being. When producing this interview, we knew there would be people like you who would be challenged — even irritated — by our choice to give Mr. Beck a voice on our platform. And they would be justified in doing so; some folks just aren’t ready to go there yet, which is understandable. Your willingness to enter in despite your misgivings and give us the benefit of the doubt is greatly appreciated. It takes a high level emotional intelligence and self-awareness and trust in us to listen beyond your skepticism. Thank you. —Trent (editor-in-chief)

    • jwfs

      Read the transcript- I read it 2x– Mr. Beck is an enabler of deep racist policies of Trump adminstration. I’m gay and I know many of Beck’s and Trump’s followers would take a baseball bat to my head.
      THIS is a fact– I hope this comment is not deleted. I love On Being.

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  • RicoQuinn

    I want to thank you for hosting the interview with Glen Beck and your Civil Discourse project in general. I was one of the eye rollers he referred to 🙂 but society desperately needs these kind of conversations right now. Right or wrong, I know the bubble I live in does not serve me well, and as hard as it is to listen to, the challenge of talking to and listening to people I strongly disagree with makes me a better person and a better citizen.

    • Mai Wirri

      I also decided to listen to this interview with an open heart and mind. It wasn’t easy because I have never been a fan of Beck, his ideas or his work. However, I must say that I am glad that I listened to the interview because many of the things that he said were important for all of us to hear. We need to have MORE conversations with people that we strongly disagree with, so that we can find out what we have in common. The messenger wasn’t great but the message was. Was he sincerely repentant? I don’t think so, but that’s between him and his Creator. I can never know a man’s heart.

      What I have come to realize (after reading many of the comments) is that he is damned if he is and and damned if he isn’t repentant? If he is sincere, he won’t be believed and won’t be given the opportunity to be seen in a different light. If he isn’t sincere then half of the country will continue to demonize him and demand repentance. I have to allow the man to change and not judge him if the change isn’t on my timeline or look exactly the way I think it should look. My hope is that as the years go by, he will grow wiser and less concerned with making money and spreading a gospel of fear.

      Great job Krista! This is why I love On Being!! Keep up the good work that challenges us all to grow in the best of ways.

  • jwfs

    After listening to this program: I believe Mr. Beck is mentally unbalanced– not a bad person at all but sick. I would have asked Mr.Beck: the foundation for Donald Trump’s candidacy was Trump’s stating that President Obama was not an American citizen. Do/did you support this outrageous, pernicious and racist. and deeply hurtful claim by Donald Trump? If you did , why? If you didn’t why did you not speak out in defense of President Obama?

  • sonoranhotrock

    I think Ms. Tippett was giving a space to glimpse Beck’s psyche. Thus her repeated mentionings of his childhood and history of reinvention and her lack of challenges to his messianic and catastrophist beliefs. Ms. Tippett was leaving it up to the listener to form conclusions.

    For a direct questioning of Beck’s apology tour and his professional history, listen to On the Media’s Bob Garfield interview with Beck.

  • Zeena

    It took me a while to decide to listen to this, but somehow the Charlottesville violence and the awful, unrepentant, un-redemptive press conference from the President made me want to give it a try. I think this captured someone in the midst of crisis, which can either make someone retreat back or to break through to something different. He seems to be warring with himself, and he seems to have had several existential struggles in the past. Change is always ugly, and it isn’t often linear. And to my shock, I recognized some of myself in his descriptions of himself. I think Ms. Tippett navigated his contradictions the best that she could. This was an interesting fly-caught-in-amber moment, and I think she was aware of that.