Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is the Left's Demonization of Glenn Beck Good for America?

Time Magazine has an excellent analysis of the Glenn Beck phenomena as this week's cover story. Lead writer David Von Drehle and the Time reporters are remarkably "fair and balanced" in their coverage of Glenn Beck and his appeal to a large and largely disaffected portion of America.

The article is hardly a "puff piece" as some on the left have claimed. The magazine cover photo alone portrays Beck as a clown or even a mad man, not a business or political leader or a intellectual icon.

Still, Joseph A. Palermo, writing over at
The Huffington Post is outraged. He calls David Von Drehle's article "a clinic for journalism students who wish to learn about faux balance, false equivalencies, straw men, and omissions of important facts."

While I'm not going to get in between Palermo and Von Drehle, I feel the real story here is the lefts virtually insane obsession over Beck and his fellow conservative talk show and television personalities. This preoccupation that verges on fixation is unhealthy for the critics, the left wing progressives and maybe for all America.

This obsession is so wrong and so misplaced on so many different levels. First, by concentrating their fire on personalities like Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and (curiously) Bill O'Reilly, they miss huge opportunities every day to focus on issues and ideas and the real personalities that shape today's policies. Some blogs and even television shows devote nearly 100% of their space (or airtime) to demonizing these personalities.

By writing and blogging and talking all day every day about Beck and Limbaugh, progressives actually give them immense power. Beck's popularity and importance and audience size are all fueled by the constant and generally misplaced (and often completely false) attacks by Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and the bevy of Hollywood Glitterati writing over on Huffington.

Indeed the efforts by progressives to get advertisers to stop advertising on the Beck Telecast on Fox have only increased Beck's popularity and viewership. While similar boycotts have, in the past, actually cost personalities their jobs, it has increased Becks popularity and strengthened his position at Fox.

As a side note, President Barack Obama's boneheaded move to exclude Chris Wallace and Fox New Sunday from his Sunday barrage of appearances to promote his Health Care Restructuring is the absolute worst public relations decision ever made. He has done more real damage to his agenda by this lame and schoolyard childish insult than he can possibly gain by his appearance on the other five programs. President Obama seriously needs new advisers!

Back to the topic. By concentrating their fire on Beck, opportunities are missed to actually promote the progressive agenda. While Beck spends his time and ammunition on issues, programs, ideas and philosophies, the (not very) credible personalities on the left spend their time whining about Beck and O'Reilly.

Even the Democrat Party has fallen into this tragic trap.

As Beck observes at the end of this clip, doesn't the DNC realize he's not running for office?

Such attacks only increase Beck's power and popularity. Worse yet, the ad above displays the DNC's complete ignorance of Beck and his stand on the issues. Beck was and is extremely critical of President Bush and especially Bush's use of CZARS. The ad itself ends up promoting Beck and his position!

Worst of all, when progressives demonize a personality, they blind themselves to both his appeal and his position on important issues. If you put on colored glasses, you blind yourself to what's actually happening. Once you've put a Glenn Beck in a corner, you feel safe in ignoring everything he says. This ignorance is always at your own peril!

Rather than simply ridicule Beck, progressives ought to try to understand why his ideas resonate with millions of people. They aren't all nut cases or whack jobs. They have genuine concerns, good ideas, real problems and valid and important points of view. Turning Beck into the enemy won't ever change any one's mind. Posing good, valid and well thought out counter positions on the issues might.


Unknown said...

Maybe there is no valid and well thought out counter positions on Becks issues? It sure seems that way on progressive blogs. If someone, for instance, invokes a point Rush has made the counter is always "he is fat and takes drugs."

Meanwhile the ratings for Fox and Rush have gone through the roof. Look at the Best Seller list, its dominated by conservative slant books.

Your so right on this. Progressives cannot seem to get past attacking the person .vs. countering the idea.

Vigilante said...

Wizard, I find myself giving you more and more credit everyday. I share your misgivings with Keith Olbermann: mostly his style, but some of his content. And I do think it's possible of overdose on Rush and Glenn. Both are basically entertainers. The only caveat I would leave is that it's important to have a paper trail record of what they actually say; it may become critically important later.

However, I have to stand by Rachel Maddow: she is a national treasure. And, as far President Obama's avoidance of Faux News? Why, I think he's been very well-advised to avoid squandering any energy or time on that audience. Why should he be casting pearls among swine?

Anyways, as I said at the outset, I'm upgrading you from 33% to 50%. I wish I were trending as well as you are!

Vigilante said...

Of course, I meant "swine" only in the journalistic sense. Note this: A Fox News Channel producer has been caught in a behind-the-scenes video rallying the crowd during last weekend's 9/12 protest in Washington. Faux News is basically in the movement business as opposed to the journalistic business.

Vigilante said...

I have posted, for your reading displeasure.

Unknown said...

Vig, your posting's really hammered home Wiz's point home.

You have nothing to counter, other then demonize a personality?

Oso said...

It's my observation that those on the left tend to question liberal personalities viewpoints on the issues more than those on the right will question conservative personalities viewpoints. This is based on small groups of friends and coworkers so may be wrong and entirely subjective.

Nevertheless,proceeding with possibly flawed logic,there seems to be a kind of cognitive dissonance with the Beck listeners which allows them to simultaneously believe that Obama is in bed with Wall St and also a socialist, or a socialist and a fascist.

People have a right to believe whatever they want,and your point about the left obsessing on these people is well-taken. However many of the Fox/Limbaugh listeners are so intent on spreading their beliefs and very vocal in the criticisms as well as highly inaccurate-and it really gets old. I can only stand so much "you ACORN lovers just keep drinkin' the koolaid that liberal media feeds you".

I'm a reader,pretty much anything Kevin Phillips writes and rarely listen to any media other than the occasional YouTube of an Olbermann rant so I may have missed the same type of inconsistency on the liberal end,and I'm sure there are considerable numbers of obnoxious liberals around too.

I'd be happy to hear your thought on this.

cosmiccowboy said...

Thursday night Obama is on Food Network doing a "throw down" with Bobby Flay.
Next week he's on the Travel Channel with Samantha Brown.

Bob Keller said...

Oso - It is a pleasure to have you stop by and comment. I've read many of your comments on other blogs, so I know you are more knowledgable than you admit. I trust your judgement.

Your point is accurate. In my experience Glenn Beck is a populist. His attacks are scattershots against the vast (and generally undefined) "them" and "those guys."

But the folks who watch Glenn, listen to him and like his are much smarter than you think. They see his inconsistencies and either overlook them OR they pick and chose from his lectures like patrons at a giant Chinese Buffet.

It's easy to call Beck a fool. Beck is such an easy target.

But we make a giant mistake to think the vast army of disaffected American's are fools, for they are not.

Oso said...


I hadn't thought about the "Chinese Buffet" gambit.LOL !

It's easy to pick and choose and concentrate on issues that concern you,I certainly did that by supporting Ron Paul.

I did so strictly because I am against the wars,in a moral sense rather than for tactical or economic reasons.RP was antiwar in a Libertarian way,but was outspoken about it and that was good enough for me.I looked the other way on almost everything else he stood for.

Thanks for pointing that out.

As to your last sentence,I suppose as I'm looking at them and seeing fools,they are looking back and seeing an elitist.

Both wrong.

Stella by Starlight said...

Lee, If someone, for instance, invokes a point Michael Moore makes, the counter is he is a progressive porcine. I'm requoting Fox/Faux news on this one.