Friday, October 12, 2018

Glenn Beck: Canary in the Never Trump Mineshaft

Remember this guy?

Roger Ailes' prime-time lunatic frothing tool and crocodile tear-monger?

Doomsday Prepper kit salesman of the month and spinner of the crackpot racist fairy tales so beloved by Fox News simpletons and bigots?

Oh Glenn Beck, he sure did have him some high old times.  While others piddled around the edges of the pool, he cannonballed right into the middle of the Republican midden-pile of crazy. His brand was unctuous and oozy (The Christmas Sweater) plus aggressively paranoid (Agenda 21, man!) all doled out by the weeping bucketful.

Fox News 'Nazi' Rhetoric Starts At The Top

On his TV and radio shows, Glenn Beck has attacked the Obama administration and its liberal allies as Nazis several times.

"You have to think like a German Jew [in] 1934," he said on his radio show on one occasion.

On another, he said on Fox: "Well, some believe that the idea of eugenics got ugly before they started gassing Jews and homosexuals."

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has followed the rhetorical blasts and footage on Beck's show closely.

"A lot of it is the imagery -- you know the Nazi banners, the Nazi parades," said Milbank, author of a new book on Beck called Tears of a Clown. "We've seen this movie before -- as the Nazis march across the screen."

But Beck often pivots, warning viewers as well about a shadowy government in a way that some of his critics say evoke classic elements of anti-Semitic slurs.

The piece de resistance -- by far -- came just last week about the liberal billionaire financier George Soros, who is a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust. Beck called him "The Puppet Master."...

Beck and Ailes are by no means the first to call others Nazis. But Fox News does stand out amid mainstream media outlets for its ferocity and frequency in doing so. Milbank found Beck had referred to Hitler or Nazis on his Fox News program several hundred times...
He was so sincere!  So fucking real, man!

Made a lot of money at it too.  A lot of money.

The first important element in this story was that Beck went all-in on a losing proposition: the belief that he was bigger than the Fox News viper pit that created him.  He struck out on his own to make an even bigger name and fortune for himself.  And he failed.  Bigly.  From the WaPo:
After leaving Fox News in 2011, Beck quickly expanded TheBlaze into a multimedia platform. By 2012, he had signed a deal with Dish TV and reached into over 10 million homes. By 2013, he had expanded his operations in New York and bought a massive facility in Dallas. But the further he moved away from the shadow of the News Corp. empire, the less relevant he became.

Fast forward five years from his Fox News departure and ask yourself when the last time it was you saw a Glenn Beck show on TV, read about him in the newspaper or heard political commentators even discuss his name in a political debate. Other than a brief sighting in Iowa in February, Beck has been largely irrelevant to the 2016 campaign. That may be, in large part, because his business has fallen apart since Beck left Fox News.

As the mercurial TheBlaze founder told staff members last year, “We are three million dollars in the hole! That means we are three million dollars from profit. That means I have to take three million dollars out of my wallet, and I have done this now for several years. I don’t have money left. I’m out … I need three million dollars by the end of the year. If we wait, it’s gonna be massive, bloody cuts.” Those massive cuts came later in the year and the media empire Beck imagined creating while sitting comfortably in his Fox News anchor chair never materialized.
The second critical element in our tale was an abrupt and violent shift in the political winds.  In the space of two years, Donald Trump went from being a punchline to being the nominee of the Republican Party to being president-elect.

And Glenn Beck was a Ted Cruz guy.
Glenn Beck endorses Ted Cruz

Conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck endorsed Ted Cruz for president here on Saturday, blasting Donald Trump as a progressive who will be dangerous for the country.

Beck's endorsement is the highest-profile one yet for Cruz, coming nine days before Iowans cast the nation's first votes in the presidential nominating process...

"I have prayed for the next George Washington. I believe I have found him," Beck said of Cruz, lavishing praise on the Texas Republican...
Suddenly the stank from the ideological slaughterhouse Beck had been only too happy to help build and operate began blowing back through his kitchen window.

Suddenly everything tasted like ass.  Saggy, racist orange ass.

And so, with no other hand left to play, this guy --

-- the Rally to Restore Honor guy -- abruptly decided it was time for the Great Big Glenn Beck Very Sincere Soul Searching Tour.

Step One:  Run away from Rafael Edward "George Washington" Cruz as fast as possible:
Glenn Beck apologizes to listeners for backing Ted Cruz

Glenn Beck, a staunch Ted Cruz supporter in the 2016 GOP presidential race, interviewed the Texas senator Monday in a series of often-tense exchanges, after Cruz finally endorsed GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump.

It ended with Beck apologizing to listeners for backing Cruz.

"Do you have any new information that has made you say 'Oh my gosh, he's now not a sociopathic liar and now there's suddenly a reason to believe him?'" Beck had asked Cruz on "The Glenn Beck Radio Program."
Beck ended his conservative radio program with an apology to his listeners for supporting Cruz, adding that he should have backed Marco Rubio instead.
"That was so calculated that it was stunning to me," Beck said. "I think I have to apologize and say, maybe, perhaps, those of you who said Ted Cruz is calculating and a smarmy politician, I think I may have to slightly agree with you and apologize for saying, 'No, he wasn't.'"...

Step Two:  An invigorating full-body massage on the (now-defunct) Charlie Rose Show.  Easy-peasy.   Low hurdle.  No risk.  Wear a soccer-dad sweater and ramble about Both Sides and your deep regret and how we each need to focus in the beam in our own eye and yadda yadda yadda.

Step Three:  Now that it was in the wind that Glenn Beck has a story to tell, find a credulous Liberal media person who would give him a nice, friendly, slow-ball interview on behalf of a major Liberal publication.  Enter Ana Marie Cox (check) who would interview Beck on behalf of The New York Times (check).
Glenn Beck Is Sorry About All That
And the published interview, while brief, has everything you would expect it to have.

Both Siderism:
Beck:  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 the next guy who was elected president offered hope and change, but all a lot of people saw was that he, for a while, wasn’t wearing a flag pin. They 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?
Saccharine remorse:
Cox: You’ve admitted that you were part of the problem that paved the way to Trump — you’ve expressed regret, for example, for calling President Obama a racist — but I see your role in all of this as a bit more than just “a guy who insulted the president.” 

Beck:  I could excuse it, 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.
And, of course, more Both Siderism:
Cox: You’ve certainly been directly complicit in the mainstreaming of a conspiratorial way of thinking about our politics. I see the conservative media sphere, in general, as having created a hothouse atmosphere, where there’s this idea that everyone is out to get us.

Beck:  I don’t think that’s fair. The first time I ever really heard that kind of serious talk from anybody was about there being a vast right-wing conspiracy out to get us. We both play that game; we’ve done, on the right, the same thing that we accuse the left of doing...
Step Three:  Now that Beck had convinced a Liberal media person hungry to land her story at the New York Times to flick a little Liberal media holy water on him instead of showing him the door Nick the Bartender style --

--  he could start peddling the story of his soul-searching to other Liberal media outlets.

Suddenly, hey look who's on New York Public Radio!
Glenn Beck: A Changed Man? 
Now, Beck claims to be a new man. For the past few months, he has been on a sort of mainstream media apology tour, talking with Vice, Charlie Rose, MSNBC, and the New York Times to pronounce himself chastened and call for partisan reconciliation. Bob speaks with Beck about the sincerity of his new apologetic, introspective persona.
Hey look who's on Samantha Bee's Liberal Teevee Show!
Watch Samantha Bee and Glenn Beck Ally in the Fight Against 'Trumpism' 
In the spirit of the holiday season, Samantha Bee and Glenn Beck are putting aside their differences in the name of a cause that is near and dear to both their hearts — fighting “Trumpism.”
Hey look who's writing about Glenn Beck being on the Samatha Bee Liberal Teevee Show!
Who will be the Glenn Beck of the left? Glenn Beck! 
There’s a nifty little bit at the start of Samantha Bee’s recent Full Frontal interview with Beck—who I am now legally obligated to write is “woke”—where Bee and Beck argue whose audience would be more disappointed in their meeting...
And so on (from The New Yorker):
Glenn Beck Tries Out Decency 
After the pundit watched Michelle Obama’s speech about Trump’s treatment of women, he rethought some things.
And so forth (from The Atlantic):
Glenn Beck’s Regrets

His paranoid style paved the road for Trumpism. Now he fears what’s been unleashed.

And so on (from the Washington Post):
Glenn Beck wants to heal the America he divided — one hug at a time 
The so-called liberal media are preaching the good news about Glenn Beck in unison: He is redeemed! “Glenn Beck Is Sorry About All That,” the New York Times says. The New Yorker announces that “Glenn Beck Tries Out Decency.” The Atlantic catalogues “Glenn Beck’s Regrets.”
And now?

From The Washington Examiner:
Glenn Beck dons MAGA hat: I will 'gladly' vote for Trump in 2020

Conservative firebrand Glenn Beck appeared to have a change of heart about President Trump on Friday, vowing to vote for him in the 2020 presidential election.

“I will vote for him in 2020! Gladly!” Beck said on his radio show. The longtime NeverTrump pundit donned Trump’s signature red “Make America Great Again” hat. Beck pointed to the media's negative coverage of Trump for spurring his decision.

Beck directed a message to the president: “I will tell you — the things that you have done as the president are remarkable! Remarkable!”..

And from the heart of Beck's own dying media empire:
Glenn Beck: Here’s the real reason the left is coming unhinged, ‘You are winning’

As for me, I do believe in redemption.  No kidding.  But I believe it is impossible to get there via what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace":
Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Take the "Jesus" out of it, and the moral exercise is still valid.

First comes confession.  Then repentance.  Then atonement.  Then forgiveness.

And so far, virtually every Never Trump Republican has failed to clear even the first hurdle.  Like Walter White, they're always ready with a facile excuse for why they spent their entire adult lives serving Team Evil (Spoilers!)--

-- and why they may go right back to doing so once the Age of Trump is over.

And besides,the Libtard Media made them do it.

And besides,  everybody does it.

And besides, in all the decades they spent deeply involved in Team Evil leadership and politics -- working in the Republican Party's political meth superlab cranking out poison and madness and ruin -- they swear never had any idea what was really going on inside the Party, or any inkling of the catastrophic damage their Party was doing.

Which is all bullshit.  They knew all along, because how could they possibly not know?  They went along with it all along because they wanted to.  Because they are clever, perceptive men and women who made choices.  And now they would very much like to skip right past the part where they pay any price for those choices, an instead keep the media sinecures they carved out for themselves during their Team Evil days, and maybe add a book tour where they about their journey.

Because working for Team Evil your entire adult life does deep and lasting damage.  It ravages the soul.   And finding your way back from that begins with the kind of ruthlessly honest self-assessment which most Never Trumpers are simply incapable of.  Even here, in the middle of Middle America, with life-long Republicans I know and still talk with who are obviously, uh, queasy at rise of Donald Trump, their role in the long, sordid history of their party that got them to this place is not a subject they are willing to discuss.  At all.

Instead I hear what you all hear.  That "both sides" share the blame equally.  That the country is strong enough to handle a bad president because "we lived through both Obama and Dubya didn't we?"  And they wish Trump would just stop with the Tweeting.  When I begin, very calmly and without saying "fuck" even once, to gently deconstruct one talking point, and then the next, and then the next, and things get quiet and quickly the subject is changed to soybeans or the Cubs or these kids today.

So I don't really care how many of my Liberal allies -- hungry for affirmation and anxious to toss out cheap grace like Mardi Gras beads -- fling themselves drunk-prom-date-fashion at the nearest Never Trumper whenever they hear anything that sounds like validation.
Live and be well, but that's not for me.

Because I am not interest in their fucking journey.  In fact, I am not interested in anything they have to say until I start hearing something like this coming out of their mouths (Spoilers!)

Behold, a Tip Jar!


bowtiejack said...

You are good, man. Great stuff!

And not that anybody asked but on the late passing of Saint George Herbert Walker Bush- Willie Horton? Lee Atwater?

Bob Garfield said...

Suddenly, hey look who's on New York Public Radio!
Glenn Beck: A Changed Man?

You present OTM's interview as another example of the "liberal media" being suckered. I strongly suggest you actually listen to the piece or read the transcript, which (rather famously) confronted Beck with the phoniness of his stunt and his history of depraved conduct. I also strongly suggest you take care of whom YOU are accusing of complicity. Such carelessness serves you poorly.

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