I made a mistake.
I’ll correct it plainly. Then I’ll explain how I came to make such an embarrassing error.
Here goes: Glenn Beck was born in Everett.
He was born Feb. 10, 1964, at Everett’s Providence Hospital to “Mr. and Mrs. William Beck, Mountlake Terrace.” It’s there for all to see, at the Everett Public Library, on Everett Herald microfilm.
If Beck’s birthplace means nothing to you, it’s likely you missed my column last Friday — the one about Mount Vernon Mayor Bud Norris planning Glenn Beck Day. On Saturday, Norris honored the conservative Fox News commentator with a key to the city.
Not only did I write, “Beck was born in Mount Vernon in 1964,” I ended that column with this: “I’m glad Beck wasn’t born in Everett. Even if he had been, I’m quite certain he wouldn’t be carrying around an official key to the city.”
Today I’m correcting a neutral misstatement.
Truly, there was no agenda in my mistaking Beck’s birthplace. I didn’t make it wrong just so I could say “I’m glad he wasn’t born in Everett.” It was an honest mistake. Lots of media outlets made it.
Last week, I didn’t just blithely type “Beck was born in Mount Vernon.” I did some checking. And I had no reason to disbelieve what I found.
On Aug. 18, the Mount Vernon-based Skagit Valley Herald reported of Beck: “Soon the Mount Vernon native could also have a key to the city.” The noun “native” in my Webster’s dictionary can mean a permanent resident, but the first definition listed is “a person born in the place or country indicated.”
On March 30, The New York Times said: “Born in Mount Vernon, Wash., in 1964, Mr. Beck has long been a performer.”
“The Making of Glenn Beck,” a profile in the online Salon magazine, says “Beck spent most of his childhood in Mount Vernon.” Part one of the lengthy piece doesn’t include a birthplace.
And yes, I checked Wikipedia, the ever-changing online encyclopedia written by volunteers. Its entry last week showed Beck’s birthplace as Mount Vernon. It now says Everett.
Beck’s Facebook page lists his birthday, “February 10,” a location, “New York, NY,” and personal information, “Yes … it’s really me.” I didn’t find a birthplace on his Web site, www.glennbeck.com, but then, that site is about his show, not his biography.
Enough excuses. I made a mistake.
I didn’t attend Beck’s appearance Saturday in Mount Vernon. I don’t know whether he mentioned there that he was born in Everett. In its article Sunday on the event, The Skagit Valley Herald reported: “Beck, 45, was born in Everett and later moved to Mount Vernon, where his parents ran City Bakery.”
And sure enough, when I looked at The Everett Herald’s edition from Feb. 11, 1964, the day after Beck’s birth, I found the announcement. I tried getting his birth certificate from the Snohomish Health District. Without a maiden name for Mary Beck, his mother, the vital statistics office wouldn’t provide a copy.
Today’s column is not meant as a retreat from my original opinion. I still believe a mayor is publicly paid to serve all the people in a city, not to bestow a civic honor on someone whose views are as divisive as Beck’s.
Many readers disagreed with me, as I expected them to.
I had cordial conversations with some, corresponded with others by e-mail, and was yelled at by a few via anonymous profane phone messages.
Now, about that frog. As long as I’m correcting mistakes, some readers angrily pointed out that I wrote that Beck threw a live frog into boiling water.
Careful readers understood what I wrote, which was that Beck “appeared to” do such a thing. I only included it as an example of how Beck blends political opinion with zany shtick.
He didn’t boil a frog. And I never said he did. He wanted it to appear as if he was tossing a frog into a pot of boiling water. He was making a political point.
Here’s an irony. Before writing last Friday’s column, I worried that the topic wasn’t local enough. Beck was to visit Mount Vernon and Seattle, with no Snohomish County stops.
How local can you get? Beck was born in Everett to a Mountlake Terrace couple. He then spent boyhood years in Mount Vernon, Bellingham and Pierce County.
Glenn Beck Day? Maybe next year it will be a regional event.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.