The Opening Serve: Glenn Beck hasn't been shy about voicing his opinion on Newt Gingrich ever since the former Speaker of The House began to surge in the polls. We noted he played a little bit of gotcha journalism with Gingrich, but Beck took it a step further and went on Fox Business this past weekend to air his grievances:
If you have a big government progressive, or a big government progressive in Obama… ask yourself this, Tea Party: is it about Obama's race? Because that's what it appears to be to me. If you're against him but you're for [Newt Gingrich], it must be about race. I mean, what else is it? It's the policies that matter.
Yeah, you're reading right. Beck actually hinted that the Tea Party, should they choose to support Gingrich, may be racist.
The Return Volley: Beck's comments didn't fall on deaf ears, and spurred Andrew Breitbart to call into Stephen Bannon's show/podcast this weekend. Slate's Dave Weigel notes that Bannon, the director of the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated actually lives in a home rented by Breitbart. With that kind of home-court advantage, Breitbart begins going after Beck as soon as the interview began, referring to him as a "snake" and a "race-baiter." "The self-appointed historian of the conservative movement, an autodidact who's read a lot of books over the last few years decided to impart his assessment on Newt Gingrich," said Breitbart. "He played the race card." And he continues, "Beck is a coward and will not defend himself when he makes a mistake, or lies about a person ..." From there, with a little bit of urging from Bannon, Breitbart goes off on a wayward tangent explains how Glenn Beck steals material from people, Breitbart included and how he criticized Breitbart's handling of the Shirley Sherrod story.. "He lied to his audience on television, saying that he didn't do the Sherrod stories on his radio show ... He also has historically been found to take countless bloggers' content to turn it into book gold to turn it into chalkboard gold--his infamous chalkboards much of them were taken from websites ... "
What They Say They're Fighting About: Whether or not Glenn Beck has a point about the Tea Party and racism. Beck's comments aren't too far off what people have said in the past when criticizing the Tea Party (something along the lines of if the Tea Party were fiscal conservatives then where were they when we signed up to two wars--which then transcends into an inevitable heated discussion about race and racism, and really, try this with your favorite tea partier). But even though Breitbart says Beck has committed the grave sin of pulling the racism card, the fight isn't really about that.
What They're Really Fighting About: The history between these two and The Blaze's burgeoning success. You'd think that these two conservative flame-stokers would be on the same side of the issue on a lot of things, but apparently that isn't the case. And it stems back to something Breitbart mentions: The case of Shirley Sherrod. Back in July, Glenn Beck had stepped up to bat for Sherrod, who had resigned after Breitbart's Big Government posted an edited speech she gave to NAACP earlier that year. Couple that with Beck taking apart James O'Keefe, Big Government's cover boy, on his Blaze news site earlier this year and you've got yourself the real reason why Breitbart seems all to happy to jump on Beck's "race-baiting."
Who's Winning Now: Beck. There's a reason that Breitbart is pounding chest and yelling louder than ever about Beck's transgressions, and it's because there's a threat there and there's a bit of jealousy. Breitbart obviously sees the growing popularity of The Blaze and its encroaching on the Big network's readers, which is why the vitriol is flowing freely from Breitbart's end. But if the best defense that Breitbart can muster against Beck's "race-baiting" comment is a video on Big Government pointing to the transgression with an exclamation mark (or a few scrappy tweets), rather than actually pointing out an intellectual and thoughtful argument about how Newt Gingrich is nothing like Obama (which Gingrich has actually already done) or that the Tea Party isn't in fact racist, then maybe those Blaze converts are onto something.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.