Is National Endowment for the Arts Pushing Obama Administration's Agenda?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," September 1, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: I may be a self-educated man, but I am a man who has spent a lot of time trying to do my homework, figure out what was going on. I made a promise to myself on September 11, because I didn't think I was qualified to be able to speak to a nation or even speak to my neighbors, about things that I didn't understand, so I put myself through school.

In the last year and a half or so, quite frankly, because my daughter disagreed with me on American history, I put myself through American history classes. And I studied the early 20th century progressive movement. It is there that I learned that beautiful things can be extraordinarily dangerous.

It is there that I learned that Goebbels in Germany actually said they lost World War I because of propaganda from the West. They studied American propaganda coming from the progressives in the Woodrow Wilson administration. I learned that we had 150,000 political prisoners in this nation because people spoke out against the administration and the war.

I'm going to show you the beginning of something that should scare the living daylights out of you. It is propaganda in America. The National Endowment for the Arts is now holding conference calls.

I want to lay this out for you and then I want to bring a guest in. One of the guys who was on the conference call felt awkward about this whole thing. He is an artist and he felt awkward and decided he was going to tape the conference calls.

The only reason why we can bring this story to you with any credibility is because he did the brave thing, probably destroyed his career, or at least he will never get a dime from the National Endowment for the Arts and probably won't speak to another artist again or they won't speak to him because he has betrayed the movement.

Here is the first e-mail that came in from the National Endowment for the Arts. It said:

"This Monday, there is a conference call for arts-oriented marketers and producers to discuss the President's United We Serve initiative that I thought you might like to participate in. A call has come in to our generation. A call from the top. A call from a house that is White. A call that we must answer. Please join these people" blah-blah-blah "as we heed the president's call to action this summer — United We Serve."

Then there was a reminder e-mail that went out. It said:

"With the knowledge that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things when given the proper tools, President Obama is asking us to come together and help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda — health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education and community renewal."

Quote five, "It is time for us as a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, tastemakers, leaders or just plain cool people, to join together and work together to promote a more civilly-engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change. No one knows our communities better than we do. No one can inspire as much as we can. We have a unique role to play in making service accessible and fun to those who are not accustomed to volunteering. We know that engaging all Americans in service means we must expand the idea of service."

Go to quote two on e-mail 2: "Already you are helping us to reframe the image of volunteerism."

Quote 3: "The United We Serve team, in collaboration with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the National Endowment for the Arts is hosting a conference call."

Well — let me give you — before I give you all of the audio and introduce you to the guy who was brave enough to not only tape it and then bring it here — there he is. Before I bring him on, let me give you a taste of what was said in this conversation.

Listen carefully [to] what was said by Yosi Sergant from the National Endowment for the Arts — your money. Please play "this is a brand-new conversation":


YOSI SERGANT, NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS: ... brand-new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally; we're still trying to figure out the laws of putting government Web sites on Facebook and the use of Twitter.

This is all being sorted out. We are participating in history as it's being made. So bear with us as we learn the language, so that we can speak to each other safely and we can really work together to move the needle and to get... to get stuff done.


BECK: Your tax dollars have funded artwork that you may or may have not seen yet. This has just happened, but already artwork is out. And they are learning the language so they can speak to each other "safely."

I'm going to introduce you next to the man who received these e-mails and more of the conference call and — coincidentally — some artwork that happened within two weeks of this phone conversation. Next.


BECK: Of course, there's going to be plausible deniability — kind of — on this one because they're learning to speak the correct language to be able to talk to each other safely. That is a quote from the conversation that we're going to replay for you here in a second. There is a propaganda arm now, engaging artists and the art community using your tax dollars in propaganda.

Pat Courrielche, he is a contributor on Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog, a filmmaker and an art community consultant.

Pat, when you received these e-mails did any alarm bells go off in your head?

PAT COURRIELCHE, BIG HOLLYWOOD CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, you have to take into account the time that this was sent. I mean, this was at the very beginning of August and the town halls had gone nuclear. In the e-mail, it states to speak to specific topics and I just — that was really surprising to me.

BECK: OK. Because it was —

COURRIELCHE: I was very surprised to see —

BECK: Because it mentioned the White House was teaming up with the NEA and art communities, right? Is that what —

COURRIELCHE: Yes, exactly. Exactly. I mean, you have — you're basically inviting out the art community, people that they potentially fund in the National Endowment for the Arts — that potentially funds these people.


COURRIELCHE: And you're having them talk about specific issues. And you know, this was a hand-picked group. We were told several times throughout the conference call that we were selected for a reason, that these are the people that helped Obama come into the office. They used the "Hope" poster and the song as specific examples of how this group played a role in getting this man elected.

So to me, I'm like — I'm seeing this hand-picked group and I'm seeing them talk about — wanting to talk about specific issues at a time that these specific issues being vehemently debated.

And it just didn't seem right to me. The National Endowment for the Arts is called the National Endowment for the Arts, not to use the arts. And it is very subtle distinction, but it's a very potent distinction.

BECK: I don't know if we have this piece of audio cut: "I would like to encourage you to pick something — health care, education, environment — the four areas the administration has identified as areas of service and then apply your artistic creativity to it. Bring them to the table. Again, the NEA is honored to be working with you."

What does that mean to you when they said that?

COURRIELCHE: Well, to me it was steering us in a certain direction. It was telling us to make the arts specific to those areas. And when you had the crowd that we did have on that phone call, there is only going to be one result of that.

BECK: Who was on the phone call with you?

COURRIELCHE: It was gallery owners, venue owners, musicians, poets, actors, all walks of life from the quote-unquote, "independent art community," you know.

And —

BECK: Hang on. I want to play this. Do we have SOT 3 here about the goal of the phone call through this group? Do we have that? We don't have that one.

Let me quote this: "The goal of this phone call..." — could we get those, please, and we will play them again tomorrow — "The goal of this phone call through this group — we can create stronger community amongst ourselves to get involved in things we are passionate about as we did in the campaign, but to continue to get involved to these things to support the president, but to do things that we are passionate about but also to push the president and to push his administration."

That's a quote.

COURRIELCHE: Yes, yes. And it's a little bit scary. I mean, the quote you played earlier when they said "getting this group together to speak with the government." That's a choir I'm not ready to hear.

If you look throughout history, history is riddled with that being a bad thing: With art coming together with the government to speak to the people.

BECK: I can't believe, honestly — you know what? You are in the art community. You are with the filmmakers and everything else. I mean, you know, Sean Penn doesn't have a problem with Hugo Chavez. But I can't believe that there are not more artists, more people that are willing to speak out and say, you know, freedom and the freedom of speech, the freedom to create is much more important than any one administration's agenda.

I mean, they would all scream fascism if Bush would have tried this or anybody else would have tried this.

Where are people's principles? Do they have any?

COURRIELCHE: You know, I have been getting a really positive response to the article and to this whole issue. On Big Hollywood, I've gotten a ton of comments....


BECK: From the art community or from the left or from the tea party tinfoil hat people as others like to call them?

COURRIELCHE: Well, Big Hollywood is an art community.


COURRIELCHE: I believe it is a right-leaning art community, but they are out there. I know, because I have been reached by them throughout this whole ordeal.

BECK: I want to play again, and then we will come back. I want to may again "the brand-new conversation." America, listen to what they're saying. National Endowment for the Arts — was the White House on this phone call?


BECK: OK. White House is on the phone call. This is the National Endowment for the Arts. Listen to what they say carefully:


SERGANT: This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand-new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally; we're still trying to figure out the laws of putting government Web sites on Facebook and the use of Twitter. This is all being sorted out. We are participating in history as it's being made. So bear with us we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely and we can really work together to move the needle to get... to get stuff done.


BECK: This is beyond useful idiots here. This is amazing. They know exactly what they're doing.

When we come back, I'm going to show you some artwork that maybe coincidentally came out two weeks after this phone call. That's next.


BECK: It's an amazing thing to see that your president, your White House, your government is trying to trick you, use your tax dollars to change your mind. It's called propaganda.

The people involved in a conference call, including the White House, knew that this was on the fence, if not outright illegal. They knew for sure that this would outrage you if it would ever get out.

Well, it did because of the gentleman who is on with us, Pat Courrielche. He was brave enough to — did you just set a little tape recorder next to the conference call, the speakerphone?

COURRIELCHE: It is called Apple Voice Memo.

BECK: OK, because I don't know. All right. Gosh, I feel like a grandfather all of a sudden.

All right, so you recorded it. They didn't know you were recording?

COURRIELCHE: I don't believe so.


COURRIELCHE: I believe that — they might have recorded it themselves. I'm not sure.

BECK: Sure, but they're not going to release it. This is one of the things that they said — NEA for propaganda. Here it is:


SERGANT: I would encourage you to pick something, whether it's health care, education, the environment. There's four key areas that the corporation has identified as the areas of service. Then my ask would be to apply your artistic, creativity community's utilities and bring them to the table. Again, I'm really, really honored to be working with you.


BECK: OK. What kind of art are we talking about? What are the different kinds of art that we would see come out of something like this?

COURRIELCHE: You would see posters, potentially music, art installations, gallery shows, touring gallery shows, featured designs —

BECK: And they would be paid for by tax dollars from the NEA?

COURRIELCHE: Not necessarily, and that's one thing I do want to make clear. They did not say, you know, specifically, "Speak to a certain policy and we are going to pay you guys to do this."

But you're on the phone basically with the largest funder of the arts in the United States.

BECK: Right.

COURRIELCHE: And you are in the art community that gets funded by these people.

BECK: Right.

COURRIELCHE: I mean, that conversation shouldn't be had. It's simple. It is a simple topic.

BECK: OK. If they weren't implying that, what would be the problem then? Why would they have to be — could you play, again, please, the sound bite where they were talking about we have to be careful with our language here? Why would they say this?


SERGANT: This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand-new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally; we're still trying to figure out the laws of putting government Web sites on Facebook."


BECK: All right, why would they say that if it was — if they weren't implying that there was some give and take here?

COURRIELCHE: You know, that's a question for them. They have been avoiding comments for quite some time now. It has been out for a little over a week.

And I don't believe they've gotten one comment from The Washington Times. And I believe they denied sending out the invite, which I gave you.

BECK: Which is really weird, because we've seen it.

Let me ask you this — play NEA "knows how to make a stink" — try to explain to me what you think they meant by this:


SERGANT: Take photos. Take video. Post it on your blogs. Get the word out. Like I said, this is a community that knows how to make a stink. Do it. Do it within your town. Do it nationally. Call on other producers, marketers, publicists, art — you know — artists, people from within our community and get them engaged.


BECK: Take videos of what? What does he mean, "This community knows how to make a stink"?

COURRIELCHE: You know, once again, it's kind of an implied steering in a certain direction. I mean, you're talking to a crowd that supported Obama. You're talking to a crowd that helped that 'Hope' poster.

You know, and I listen to that. And honestly, I feel kind of bad to have to bring this out. But facts are bipartisan. And I want the people that were on that phone call and others in our community to know that this is not what the government was meant to do. And this is not what the National Endowment for the Arts was meant to do.

They are there to promote the arts, increase access to the arts and be a leader in education in the arts, not to push issues.

It's a simple thing.

BECK: Well, they'll say that they were just educating.

COURRIELCHE: They were educating...

BECK: Yes. That's what they're doing.

Tomorrow, we're going to follow this a little closer. I'm going to show you what happens when the art community and government combines.

But let me just show you a couple of things. Now, Patrick, this artist was one of the guys that was on the phone call. But we don't know for sure if these were a direct result, but they just coincidentally were created a couple of weeks after that phone call.

Go ahead. Here's one of them, "Health Care for All."

COURRIELCHE: I can't see the art.


COURRIELCHE: OK. Health care... yes.

BECK: And then, there's sick — "Sick Shouldn't Equal Broke." It's a Rock the Vote — demand health care.

COURRIELCHE: Those were from Rock the Vote.


COURRIELCHE: Both of those are from Rock the Vote and they were on the phone call.

BECK: coincidence? Do you think coincidence?

COURRIELCHE: I'm sorry. No, I don't think so. No. I mean, the announcement came out several days, about a week or so after that and it was pretty clear. They basically said enough is enough, universal healthcare. And the timing is just — it's too much of a coincidence.


COURRIELCHE: And this person was also part of the pitch team as well for the community, so —

BECK: Patrick, thank you for your bravery. Thank you. I mean, I don't know how popular you're going to be in the art community now, but God bless you, man. Thank you for your bravery and we'll talk again.

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