Monday, November 21, 2016

Oops; My Bad

Glenn Beck, Voice Of Reason

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo With Outdated Technology

You will pray for the time when I was only on the air for one hour per day.
-- Glenn Beck, To His Critics Upon Leaving Fox For, uh, 'Other Opportunities' In 2011

"I could give a flying crap about the political process [Beck said]".  Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. "We [i.e., Fox] are an entertainment company," Beck says. He has managed to monetize virtually everything that comes out of his mouth.
-- Lacy Rose, "Glenn Beck, Inc.", Forbes Magazine (online), April, 2010

According to a brief interview in the Paper Of Record, Glen Beck is sorry.

I assumed he would be sorry for his part in the right-wing echo chamber which poisons any hope of a national debate that isn't polarized; for wearing lederhosen on Murdoch Teevee; for making up his own facts; for smearing a Holocaust survivor (even if it was George Soros) with the innuendo that he was a nazi collaborator; and for being a self-aggrandizing bully.

Glenny is a not very talented talk-radio broadcaster -- an ambitious Limbaugh-wannabe who, for a time, was able to get Fox to hire him as a teevee commentator, and then bankroll him with his own, hour-long daily program. An opportunist, Beck followed the model of self-marketing: he sold CDs on investments in uncertain times (always, buy gold), on political analysis; books with his name on them -- even novels; speaking engagements. And, product endorsements -- most notably, for Goldline International, a bullion sales operation which was eventually forced to refund $45 million to defrauded customers.

Estimated by Forbes to have grossed $34 million in 2008 alone, Glenn was being spoken of as a player, part of the reptile-house lowlights like Coulter, Hannity, O'Reilly, Lard Boy and Mikey (Savage) Wiener. The high-water mark was Beck's appearance as the keynote speaker at a rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in support of "Restoring America's Honor", with an audience of several hundred thousand Tea Partei supporters.

Then, Beck began inserting more religion into his broadcasts, and his viewership on Fox began to slip -- 30% in little more than a year. In 2011, after nearly three years in his own slot, Fox fired him (Speaking at a Ted Cruz rally in February 2016, he claimed he had been fired after being "told [by Fox executives] to stop talking about god").

Beck continued trying to milk the All-American gravy train he had tapped into, and attempted to create his own cable channel, The Blaze, an enterprise which has run into financial difficulties and staff issues, and has had declining viewership for some time. All signs point to Beck as the ultimate cause of whatever trouble there may be.
Colleagues and underlings interviewed by The Daily Beast -- on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution -- describe Beck’s irresistible personal magnetism and undeniable brilliance that one called “mad genius,” mixed with a colossal streak of narcissism, neediness and, above all, capriciousness that have left them feeling whipsawed and, in many cases, betrayed... Beck, who turned 52 this week, was not available for an interview.
Perhaps Beck has an urgent need to appear more relevant than a washed-up, right-wing trash talker -- why he needs to appear the voice of calm and rationality in a deeply divided and polarized country; one he helped to divide and polarize. It's a little like listening to a former broadcaster in Joseph Goebbels' propaganda ministry, minimizing his behavior as a public figure in the Third Reich:
I could excuse [statements he had made], to some degree — I won’t — but I could excuse some of it by saying that I was trying to, in some ways, accomplish what Jon Stewart can accomplish: draw huge crowds, make points and then encourage you to do your own homework. I know I wouldn’t believe me if I heard myself apologizing, so I’m telling you now: Don’t take my word for it. Watch my actions. I don’t care what you think about me. All I care about is saying, Please, don’t make the mistake I made.
When asked about his role in 'mainstreaming a conspiratorial way of thinking about our politics' for the American right-wing echo chamber, Beck replied, "I don’t think that’s fair."
We both play that game; we’ve done, on the right, the same thing that we accuse the left of doing. You have to know what’s true and what’s not, and quite honestly that’s where the media is supposed to come in and fill the gap.
"Quite honestly."  So... it's fine for someone like Beck to scramble or invent things they broadcast -- then, it's up to the media (such as the New York Times), a liberal conspiracy, to "fill the gap".  And, of course, Beck always accepted any fact-checking: Oops; my bad! I was wrong; you were right! Sure he did.

But, let's not focus on what he may or may not have said or done; that's all in the past. The world has moved on; can't you? And, Glenn appears to ask -- weren't we all part of the problem, Left and Right? Oh, we all did the same things. Isn't everyone responsible for where we are now?

It isn't me, Beck seems to say -- not anymore. I'm different. I'm not the issue -- look over there; look at Trump, he says -- there's a crazy man (when campaigning for Ted Cruz, Beck referred to Trump as "a wack job").  He's our real problem, now.

In what appears to be a Mea Culpa, Beck insinuates that he's changed. He's willing to (almost) apologize, let bygones, and be an object lesson to the Left on how not to conduct themselves in future. Beck just wants to find a solution to bring together a divided nation.
Please be better than I was. Please learn from my mistakes. Let’s just take it from 2000: George W. Bush was called an idiot, among other things. It got so bad that Republicans and conservatives just stopped listening to the media, because we made everything about jingoism. And so what happened? The pendulum swung back so far the other way that ... [t]hey stopped listening to people on the left. Now we’re here in crazy town. What we need now is for reasonable people to sit down with each other and say: O.K., your guy wasn’t the end of the world. My guy wasn’t the end of the world. How can we talk to each other?
... only, his apologies really aren't about making an apology. They're about temporizing, and trying to reinvent himself as a relevant figure in any national discussion or debate (and possibly serve his own financial interests). In short, they're about amnesia -- which frankly, we can't afford.

We can't afford useless blame and vengeful arguments, either. But we need institutional memory, not expedient recollection. We need to separate the opportunistic leeches and time-wasting divas from the credible and serious people -- now, more than ever. And we need to remember who made a profit pushing lies and intolerance. We need to remember who made Trump possible, who helped bring America to the point in recent history we are today. 

Beck was happy to be incendiary, to provoke, to bully, when it paid to do so. And he's done so well as a bully -- Beck's net worth was once estimated by Forbes at $100 million -- the total lifetime earnings of between one and two hundred working-class Americans; all the money they will see in their entire lives, every nickel and dime. And, like every bully ever born, when it's possible they could be blamed for their behavior, or when it might be better for their cash flow, they suddenly become subdued, polite.

If there's a possibility that behavior might result in real punishment (or bad press), people like Beck don't claim to be 'news commentators', or 'journalists'. They're not even savvy businesspersons. Suddenly, they claim only to be simple entertainers -- and surely, entertainers can't be held accountable if what they say is taken seriously. It's the fault of crazy persons, the ones who do terrible things; it's really someone else's fault. Always someone else's fault.
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