Yesterday on his show, Glenn Beck sourced some anti-Fed comments to a dubious historian. No surprise there. But Graeme Wood helps explain just how abhorrent the source is:

Mullins was an open purveyor of blood libel: he claimed that Jews kidnap Christian children, ritually puncture their veins, and drink their blood as a restorative for their own degenerate bodies. During Pound's involuntary commitment in St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington in the Fifties, Mullins visited him frequently, and under his direction, Mullins authored foundational texts in Federal Reserve conspiracy theory. Those theories have proved impressively durable. In addition to Glenn Beck's citation yesterday, Pat Robertson's books peddled variations on them in the 1980s, and elements of the Tea Party echo them now. (Short version: the Federal Reserve controls the world, and the UN is taking over the US via the New World Order.)

Mullins died in February at 86, and when I visited him in Staunton, Virginia, six years ago on assignment for The Jewish Daily Forward, he was already slowed by age, living in a creepy, dark rat-trap filled with religious icons, votive candles, and old newspapers. The wallpaper curled down off the wall in two-foot sections, and the chairs coughed up decades' worth of dust when we sat down.

The point isn't that Beck is an anti-Semite. There's no evidence for that charge whatsoever. It's that, whether he is a liar or a huckster or an earnest idiot, he regularly feeds his audience indefensibly dubious information (and never corrects it). But he's good for Hayek sales, so the conservative movement makes itself complicit in lending him legitimacy.

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