Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leave Glenn Beck Alone

Glenn Beck is not a happy man these days. Despite his worldwide entertainment empire (his phrase, not mine) earning him $32 million last year, he cries a lot at night. I suspect that many men are crying at night these days, but most don't do it on a nationally televised program. Most men are not, as Mr. Beck says, the focus of a White House witch hunt. Apparently these danged liberal (or communist, fascist, whatever) jokers in the media and the Democrats in government are teaming up again. A veritable vast left-wing conspiracy (to quote Hillary Clinton) is out to get poor freedom-loving Glenn.

After listening to his tearful, whining, directionless sob-story for awhile now, I have figured out what Glenn's problem really is. He has lost one-third of his viewers in the past 3 months, and Fox News is having difficulty getting market value for ad space on his program due to a boycott. Damn liberals are, apparently, using market techniques to change corporate behavior...who taught them that trick? Of course, ratings decline is a strong assertion; when ratings are up, Nielsen is accurate; when they are down, Nielsen is part of the vast left-wing conspiracy. Alas, I believe that his ratings have declined and I have an explanation; many of the good, intelligent, and truly freedom-loving viewers who make up his audience, have decided that they don't want to watch a brainless coward rant to them on television anymore.

What...was that too strong? I am truly sorry. Somebody should get Glenn a tissue now.

There is nothing wrong with playing political hardball; Olbermann and O'Reilly do it, politicians do it, old-school newspaper columnists invented it. Beck's problem is that he can't take what he dishes out. Americans don't mind political division, opinion, or even the occasional stretching of the truth. What Americans can't stand, are weaklings who don't know their own limitations. Can you imagine Reagan acting like Beck? Conservatives need not look further than one of their own, Clint Eastwood..."A man has got to know his limitations." What Glenn Beck is, is a talented broadcaster with a gift for salesmanship in the mold of the peddlers that traveled the nation's rivers in decades past, selling snake oil to farmers who believed that a strong handshake was the basis of trust.

What Glenn Beck's limitations are, among other things:
  1. A complete and utter lack of understanding of our nation's economic system
  2. A complete and utter lack of understanding of the Depression and World War II
  3. A complete and utter lack of understanding of our Constitution
  4. A complete and utter lack of understanding of Marxism, Communism, Fascism, Capitalism, or Democracy
  5. A complete and utter lack of understanding of dignity, class, or decorum
I suspect that the full list of things that Glenn Beck does not understand would fill many volumes, and that is OK. Apparently, in his words, facts aren't important. He doesn't think that fact-checking stories is critical because his is not a news show, but an entertainment show (again, his words, not mine). Maybe that is why viewers are tuning out; they watched in good faith because they assumed that a show with a guy and his chalkboard, on Fox News, probably was a news show. Silly viewers, tricks are for Hannity.

Here is what happened. His viewers watched as he dressed up as Tom Paine and extolled the conservative Christian virtues of the Founding Fathers. Then they learned that Paine was an atheist who advocated for the taxing of the rich in support of the republic. His viewers watched as he quoted Thomas Jefferson while talking of Christian values and the government, then they found out that Jefferson thought the Book of Revelations were "the imaginations of a deluded mind...", and that he personally removed all references to the divinity of Jesus (along with Revelations and most of the Old Testament) from his Bible.

His viewers watched him reference the Constitution and the Founders, improbably stating that the Founders were against immigration because they assessed a tax on immigrants. Then some of them reread that clause, Article One, Section Nine:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall
think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one
thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation,
not exceeding ten dollars for each Person

His viewers, most of whom are smarter than Glenn, realized that this clause was in the document to ensure that slavery would be legal through at least 1808. I will bet that viewers with a sharper eye than most turned off the TV right then and there. His attacks and insensitive remarks about non-Christian peoples are remarkable, coming as they do from a man who converted to Mormonism as an adult. The Latter Day Saints are often the recipients of hateful and discriminatory activity from many of the evangelical groups that Glenn courts with his nightly rants. Not all evangelical groups (in fact, not even most)...but he who lives in a house of glass...

Incidentally, has it occurred to evangelicals that most Jews aren't as thrilled with Jesus as they are? Has it occurred to anyone, that the notion of a nation founded on "Judeo-Christian values" is a kick in the stomach to Jews who suffered decades of insults and discrimination at the hands of (some) evangelical Americans? This isn't a plea for reparations or political correctness...let's just be honest about our nation's proud and occasionally scarred history.

But Glenn Beck is correct; people are out to get him. Media Matters has chronicled Mr. Beck's lies and distortions on an almost nightly basis; of course they chronicle lies, distortions, and mistakes on all of the prime time news programs. A citizen boycott of his program was begun that has led to more than 80 national advertisers leaving; the organizers learned that tactic from conservative family groups who have used it against Disney, ABC, NBC, and hundreds of other companies that they felt were running inappropriate content on television. Their axes to grind were; sex on TV, an assertion of bias against NBC, and the gay family days at the Disney Parks. Those conservative family groups had, and have, an absolute right to their actions. So do the citizens that don't think highly of Glenn Beck stating on national TV, that the President is a bigot with a deep-seated hatred of white people.

Glenn Beck is also correct that someone in government is out to get him. Representative Anthony Weiner (yes Glenn, he is a Democrat) of New York convened hearings on Beck's habit of preaching the apocalypse of our economic system, putting his faith in God, guns, and gold, and then switching to a commercial sponsored by Goldline. Boy, conspiracy theories sure are hard to fit in one sentence...maybe I need a chalkboard?

I think God and guns absolutely play a role in our nation's security and freedom, but gold? No. Glenn Beck either knows he is lying, or is a sucker fleeced by Goldline. After all, Goldline's chairman pulled no punches when he was asked about Beck and his firm; "....these people are bought and paid for. They will say what we tell them to say." When it comes to nightmare scenarios on the economy, Nevada Republican senatorial candidate Sue Lowden is a great deal closer to the truth of the matter than Glenn. It would be God, guns, and chicken gold accepted here friends. In the United States of 150 years ago, gold had intrinsic value, now it is just another pretty face.

Of course, Beck is far from the only raving lunatic on television...the left-wingers have their share. I have gotten to the point that I avoid most TV "news", or entertainment masquerading as news. Most of the stories on all of the channels are just like this article; a no-holds barred attack on personality or presentation, with no focus on the substance. I have enjoyed writing this piece, and I am sure that many in the Rational Middle will enjoy reading it, but it has not advanced the cause or purpose of our democracy. The potential loss of Democracy is, I suppose, the price paid to view an unfolding conspiracy theory, be it perpetrated by a President or a gold huckster (or even a second-rate blogger).

And speaking of unfolding conspiracies, how about the President? Is Obama, that mean-spirited Communist Kenyan from Hawaii by way of Kansas grandparents, out to get Glenn Beck? Well if he isn't, he should be. If Beck talked about me or a loved one in the way he has the President, I would put his guns and gold where only God could find them.

Then he could have something real and tangible to cry about.

The Rational Middle promises to be more calm by the weekend...


  1. As a Latter-day Saint, this man offends me. Yes, I know my leadership has taught that we should not get offended so easily, that it's Christ-like to turn the other cheek and in my heart of hearts, I really believe that. But there is something about Glenn that just ticks me off.

    I wasn't aware of what he was about till maybe a year or two ago. Before the current Conservative Storm, I thought he was just another news guy who happen to be a bit more conservative in his views. It was later I found out that he isn't just a conservative or even an ultra-conservative, he's a certified nut job!

    And the worse part? How many of my own fellow LDS members were seemingly paying more attention to him then our church leaders. While our leaders teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Beck is busy teaching the gospel of Glenn Beck, which specializes on fear and hate. It horrified me what I was seeing.

    But, I'm happy I'm not the only Average Joe member of my faith who isn't really happy with Glenn. This Facebook group I think says it all:!/pages/GLENN-BECK-does-NOT-speak-for-my-church/392885978688

    At the end of the day, I know exactly who Glenn Beck is. He is that slimy guy who knows how to work the system until one day it catches up with him and we never hear from him again. Thing is though, how much damage will he do before he gets to that point? With any luck, the worst is over, let's hope.

  2. Who are the "raving lunatics" on television from the left you claim you could have mentioned but did not. I'm curious to hear who on the left you believe compares to Glenn Beck.

  3. Chris Matthews jumps immediately to mind if the question is "raving lunatics". Although I watch him occasionally, it is fair to see Olbermann qualifies as "raving lunatic". If you are asking who "compares" to Glenn (your word compares); I think he is a special creation unto himself.

  4. If you believe Matthews and Olbermann are anywhere close to raving lunatics then I humbly suggest that you have not watched them often enough to render an opinion. You might disagree with their politics or even their style (in Olbermann's case in particular) but their statements are based on fact. They reference all which they say. When they do error, they are quick to come clean and set the record straight.

    You are way off base here Michael.

  5. I accept your commentary Jake (although not the part about having watched them enough)...thank you for your comments.

  6. Well Michael, I was all poised to send back a scathing comment, but then, you wrote this: "Most of the stories on all of the channels are just like this article; a no-holds barred attack on personality or presentation, with no focus on the substance." which essentially capsulizes anything I had to say and saves me the effort.

    Also, I would second your statement concerning the "lunatics" on the left. I enjoy your even handed commentary. In my viewpoint, there is nothing wrong with lambasting those things on the one side you don't agree with. But I think you are hypocritical if you don't acknowledge there is an even share of knuckle heads on the other side!

    That's the issue I have with sites such as Piperni's Canadian Blog and take on U.S. Politics. They are wont to consider there is much wrong on both sides. Not all the lying, hypocrisy, hate, fear mongering, etc. emanates only from the Right/Conservative/Republican side. A man much wiser than myself once said something to the effect of, "I won't debate whose biases are greater."

    Your even handed commentary allows you credibility people like Piperni can never enjoy.