Will Demagogue for Food

Let’s all bow our heads for a moment of silent prayer for the soon to be departed right Reverend-Professor Beck.

Moment over.

For those who have not heard the news, Glenn Beck announced last week that he will be leaving Fox News at the end of the year… (with five months notice in the bank).

“Not long ago,” Linda Feldmann writes in the Christian Science Monitor, “the populist rabble-rouser of the right and self-described ‘rodeo clown’ was flying high. Beck began at Fox a little more than two years ago, in January 2009, having jumped from CNN Headline News.”

All of this happened just “before the birth of the tea party,” Feldmann points out “and he quickly became one of the movement’s leading advocates. In March 2009, he launched the successful 9-12 Project, which sought to promote patriotic values. And last August, he drew tens of thousands of people from around the country to a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, called Restoring Honor.”

In Shameless – The Ethical Case Against Three Out-of-Control Critics and the Need for Civility Now, More than Ever, I devote a substantial chapter to Mr. Beck appropriately titled by Beck himself: “If you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.”

Among the more beloved utterances from the eminence of enlightenment:

“When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining.” (Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, September 9, 2005) 

“I say we nuke the bastards. In fact, it doesn’t have to be Iran; it can be everywhere, anyplace that disagrees with me.” (Beck,when asked for his views about bombing Iran, Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, May 11, 2006)

“So here you have Barack Obama going in and spending the money on embryonic stem cell research. … Eugenics. In case you don’t know what Eugenics led us to: the Final Solution. A master race! A perfect person. …The stuff that we are facing is absolutely frightening.” (Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, March 9, 2009)

“There are a lot of universities that are as dangerous with the indoctrination of the children as terrorists are in Iran or North Korea. … We have been setting up reeducation camps. We call them universities.” (Fox News, Glenn Beck, September 1, 2010)

“The plan that He would have me articulate, I think, to you, is get behind Me, and I don’t mean ‘me,’ I mean Him. Get behind Me. Stand behind Me.” (Beck, speaking on behalf of God, Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, April 20, 2010)

“I haven’t seen Jesus and what he would do on a talk show on Fox, but I’m going to try.” (Fox News, Glenn Beck, April 21, 2010)

So, what happened to cause both Fox and Beck (mainly Fox) to call it quits?

“…over the last year,” Feldmann writes, ‘Glenn Beck’ has lost more than a million viewers from its 5:00 p.m. show, going from an average 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8 million in January 2011, according to The New Republic. Beck’s radio show has been dropped in several big cities, including New York and Philadelphia. TV advertisers started fleeing, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart.

“Beck’s antics got to be too much – the tears, the conspiracy theories, the ‘Obama is a socialist’ drumbeat.

“ ‘In recent months, it seems, Beck’s theories became so outlandish that even conservatives – both viewers and media personalities – were having a hard time stomaching them,’  writes TNR’s James Downie.

“He cites a theory by unauthorized Beck biographer Alexander Zaitchik, who says that Beck was caught in a vicious circle: ‘To keep viewers coming back, he had to keep creating new, more intricate theories.”

But read more closely towards the end of Feldmann’s piece and you may find the real reason for the departure of the populist provocateur.

“Beck warned viewers not to use Google, saying it’s ‘deep in bed with the government.’ ”

That’s it, Glenn. Now you’ve gone too far!

I ended my chapter on Beck with what might now be a prescient quote.

“You know,” Beck confesses to his radio audience, “we all have our inner demons.  I can’t speak for you, but I’m on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show.”

But will Beck be gone from our lives?

Not quite yet.

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