Glenn Beck: Father Coughlin Comparison Is 'Laughable'

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," March 11, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: I'm called many things by the left, because of my viewpoints. But the only thing that they really love to trot out over and over again is that I'm Father Coughlin.

Most people don't know who that is. But you need to know who he is. When you see, you'll see that it's laughable. It's a deep insult to be compared to him. But it's hysterical because it's such — it's so ridiculously inaccurate, it doesn't even make sense.

Yes, Father Coughlin was against communism. Yes, he was on the radio, like me. Yes, he was against the sitting president, FDR.

But it's weird, because that's where it ends — because he was initially a supporter of FDR. He was also wildly anti-Semitic — not me. He was for big unions. You know how I much I love the unions. And he's also for — and this is my favorite this is his magazine, an original copy from the day — he's also for "Social Justice," the union man. Yes. That's me in a nutshell, isn't it?

Actually, he was not a fan of FDR after he got in office because he thought FDR's policies didn't go far enough — again, not me.

Father Coughlin perverted American ideals for his own power and most importantly for social justice. Social justice. Social justice. Social justice.

Let me go back to the railroad. Father Coughlin was on — where, I don't know where the board went — Father Coughlin was on the wrong side of the European tracks. He was on the "right" side of the European tracks: fascism. He was the leader of a nationalist, socialist movement. Oh. Hmm.

The danger from the so-called "right." Watch:


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: As another presidential election approaches, a Roman Catholic priest, for the first time in American history, is seriously involved in national politics.


BECK (voice-over): Father Charles Coughlin was one of the most influential voices of 1930s. He was a Catholic priest who became an immensely popular radio personality with the largest audience in the world.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, "LIBERAL FASCISM": Radio was the first mass media in the way that print never could be — coming around almost exactly on time with this economic hardship. It was this electric combination.

There were times when Father Coughlin's following got to the point where he had 30 million to 40 million listeners. You could walk down the block and you could hear the same broadcast of Father Coughlin coming from every window because every family was listening to it.

BECK: At his peak, Coughlin received more mail than the White House: 80,000 letters a week. Many of them contained cash.

Born in Canada, 1891, Coughlin first took to radio airwaves in 1926, right after he joined the Detroit diocese. At first, the content of his broadcast centered around Catholicism. However, during the early 1930s, he changed the content of his broadcast to political and economic commentary. His primary targets were Jews, socialists, communists and international bankers.

He was the quintessential economic populist.

GOLDBERG: He railed against the big department stores, against the banks and the fat cat Wall Street interest. There was also anti-Semitic strain to Coughlin's diatribe.

BECK: He blamed Jews for the Great Depression, communism and for all the nation's ills. During a rally in New York, he said, quote, "When we get through with the Jews in America, they'll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing."

GOLDBERG: Critics of Coughlin only started pointing to his anti- Semitism when Coughlin started criticizing FDR. When Coughlin was one of FDR's main supporters, no one really seemed to care.

BECK: Coughlin started off as a huge supporter of FDR. In the 1932 election, Coughlin said, "The nation's choice was Roosevelt or ruin." And he dubbed the New Deal, "Christ's Deal."

He had radical monetary policies. He thought increasing inflation would get America out of the Great Depression. When FDR refused to support this type of legislation, Coughlin turned on him and became FDR's harshest critic. He called the president "the great betrayer and liar" and a "Jew."

His views and activities became more even extreme. He started a campaign for social justice.

GOLDBERG: What social justice meant for Father Coughlin is ill-defined redistribution of wealth, redistribution of power, the radical takedown of the established economic interest.

BECK: In 1934, he established the National Union for Social Justice: A 5 million member workers' rights organization that would protect the common man from abuses of capitalism.

He also started a national weekly newspaper called "Social Justice," that promoted congressional candidates and reinforced his radio themes.

COUGHLIN: We will endorse a candidate who can rise above his party and put patriotism first!

BECK: Coughlin's criticism of FDR and the New Deal eventually led to his demise. FDR Succeeded in silencing him through a National Association of Broadcasters code, passed in 1939, that forbade controversial broadcasts. By the following year, Father Coughlin was off the air.


BECK: The reason why Father Coughlin became so popular was because of fear and hunger in the Great Depression: People's lives had come apart and they didn't know what to do, so they turned to somebody. A priest — Father Coughlin.

He was able to articulate their feelings. Unfortunately, his solutions were fascist. I mean, here, he's got a picture in one of his magazines — a picture of Stalin and Hitler. But it's "Social Security: Still a Hope," because they haven't tried the Christian plan — the Christian plan. Social justice.

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