When Chris Wallace interviewed Glenn Beck on “Fox News Sunday” the day after his stunningly successful Restoring Honor event at the Lincoln Memorial, he told Beck that in all his years as a journalist in Washington, he had never seen anything quite like him.
I could relate to his statement, because in my article “Glenn Beck’s departure from Fox News” (May 26, 2010), I said that Beck was “the biggest, fastest, most controversial star in the political commentary business in my lifetime” and pointed out that the White House purportedly referred to him as “the Beck problem.”
But jealousy and the establishment have a way of Palinizing those who have the courage to take the road less traveled. So it’s not surprising that rumors are now flying about Glenn Beck’s ratings decline, his loss of major advertisers and his possible end-of-year departure from Fox News. The word is that the powers that be at Fox supposedly want Beck to put a more positive spin on his commentaries.
Not long ago, neocon Bill Kristol took a shot at Beck when he said, “When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he’s marginalizing himself.” Kristol seems like a nice enough chap, but he’s your classic establishment Republican who doesn’t like newcomers saying things that go beyond the normal, meaningless Beltway chatter.
Likewise, supercilious Bernard Goldberg, the one-trick-pony who, but for the grace of Bill O’Reilly, would long ago have faded into obscurity, recently made a snide comment that “Beck brings a lot of it on himself.”
Really, Bernie? How? By showing actual videos of Van Jones preaching revolution? Of Anita Dunn saying she draws her inspiration from Mao Zedong? Of Mark Lloyd saying that he wants to go beyond the fairness doctrine? Of Frances Fox Piven advocating violence? Of George Soros bragging about how much he enjoys playing God?
This is the kind of stuff Beck has been showing every day for two years now, always encouraging his audience to check out the facts for themselves.
Though Beck is a multi-faceted individual, his greatest talent is that he’s a master teacher. His Fox News shows are like going to college, but learning things they don’t teach at the most expensive campuses in the country.
And therein, I believe, lies the crux of the problem. Beck is too good of a teacher, something Will Durant warned about when he said, “Woe to him who teaches men faster than they can learn.” Most Americans are not yet ready to accept the truths Beck teaches, so they find it easier to dismiss him as a doomsayer or conspiracy nut.
As to the supposed decline in Beck’s audience, if true, there could be many reasons for it. One that comes to mind is that, at some point along the way, Beck seemed to start priding himself on having relatively unknown guests on his show, sort of a way to confirm his purity by not having the same old faces that everyone else offers up.
Another is that, as time passed, Beck started having fewer and fewer guests of any kind on his show – known or unknown. Personally, I find his solos to be both educational and enjoyable. But many people have short attention spans and probably prefer to hear other voices engaged in a two- or three-way dialogue.
The bottom line for me is that Glenn Beck is still the most remarkable person on television, and I’m hoping he stays with Fox. But if the powers that be ever did insist that he put a more positive spin on his show (i.e., that he lie to his viewers), I believe his sense of honor would compel him to leave Fox. Beck is on a mission, and I think purity in thought, speech and action are nonnegotiable with him.
As I said in an earlier article, I believe Beck when he says he will never give up. I believe him when he says if he is forced off television, he will find another platform that is even bigger. I believe him when he says he is willing to die if that’s what it takes to speak the truth.
The big unknown remains his health – particularly his eyesight. It’s going to be interesting to see if people look back on Glenn Beck as a shooting star or if his best years are yet to come. My guess is that it’s the latter.
If so, you can expect the attempt to marginalize him – especially by neocons – to continue and intensify. Folks like Beck, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann – who don’t follow the establishment’s code of conduct or content – scare the hell out of both the left and the right.