The Problem With Bob Beckel

Chyron from FOX News, 14 July 2014

FOX News host Bob Beckel, described as the “token liberal” of the program, The Five is, in that context, a curious icon. Much like former Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) demonstrated in 2004 just how low one must sink in order to satisfy Republicans, perhaps Beckel is a symbol of just how morally bankrupt one must be to satisfy the bosses at FOX News.

We heard last week of Beckel’s sinophobic rant, including an ethnic slur we haven’t heard much of for decades.

Now Bob wants you to know that he’s sorry if you were offended by what he said, but he’s not sorry for saying it:

During his apology, Beckel was nonspecific about what exactly he was apologizing for.

FOX News logo“I made some comments last week about Chinese people which apparently upset some people for which I apologize,” he said.

But he made it very clear his apology stopped there.

“I do not apologize for the things I said about China, and I won’t go into the litany of it now, because there are too many China apologists in this country,” he said. “But I will continue to warn the American people about how dangerous China is to the U.S. security and to our business community.

“But to those who were offended, I do apologize. I do not apologize to the Chinese government, or for the habits, or for the murders or anything else.”


We must also remember, however, that Beckel is the sort of “token liberal” whose job is to play the fool. Like the time in 2013, when he wondered, “When’s the last time you heard about rape on a college campus?”

Then again, perhaps Beckel is also an icon of something else in our political discourse. Whenever people describe the Democratic Party as liberal, most liberals just shrug it off as background nonsense. As it is, today’s “liberals”, then, are defending Congressional Republicans of 1993. In 2007, Democrats established themselves to the right of 1970s Republicans by passing a FISA authorization that included domestic espionage. Or perhaps we might consider the growing fight over the Highway Trust Fund; Steve Benen noted today:

Making matters slightly worse, let’s not forget that Republicans are relying on so-called “pension smoothing” to keep the Highway Trust Fund from going broke, but Republicans have also condemned this exact same policy when Democrats offered to use it to pay for unemployment benefits.

In other words, Republicans hate this fiscally irresponsible gimmick – except when they think they need it, at which point it’s fine.

Instead of noting the Republican flip on “pension smoothing”, it is probably more useful to note the Democratic flip. The “liberal” party will settle on conservative outcomes if that is all they expect to get from a trade. Setting aside the Republican idea of a trade or compromise, it is hard to see how compromising toward the undermining of pensions is what we might call a liberal policy.

Bob Beckel is a career Democrat, though, born in 1948 and schooled in pre-’68 Democratic politics. We can also thank him for his contributions to sleazy campaigning and his contribution to the rise of astroturfing. It is no surprise, then, that FOX News’ “token liberal” is a racist, bloodthirsty misogynist. Much like Zell Miller at the 2004 Republican Convention, Bob Beckel is an example of just how low a person must sink in order to meet the conservative standard.


That is, “In exchange for Republicans telling us what they want, the rest of us are to do our part and give it to them.”

LaFond, Nicole. “Fox Host: Sorry About The ‘Chinamen’ Thing, But Watch Out For China!” TPM LIvewire. 14 July 2014.

Fung, Katherine. “Bob Beckel: Rape On College Campuses Doesn’t Really Happen”. The Huffington Post. 20 February 2013.

Benen, Steve. “Good news, bad news on the Highway Trust Fund”. msnbc. 14 July 2014.

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