The Glenn Beck conundrum

Beck is right; we should be more skeptical of the media, including him.

Jennifer Bissell

âÄúLOVE YOU GLENN BECK!!! You always tell the cold harsh truth. Keep shedding light in the dark corners that Washington elected officials want to keep hidden. Continue to show us how ObamaâÄôs secrets are connected, from crooked Obama to his crooked friends; Valerie Jarrett, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, Rhashid Khalidi, Van Jones, Rev. Wright, the list goes on and on. FOX NEWS is the ONLY non-propaganda news agency. LONG LIVE FOX NEWS for without it, we are living behind an iron curtain as East Germany did for years.âÄù This comment posted by âÄúTruth2UâÄù at Katie CouricâÄôs interview with Glenn Beck exemplifies the sort of danger he holds. He has a particular sector of audience members that seem to eat up every word he says as fact. Many of his viewers extol him as a prophet and assign him such infallibility. Even on the back of his new book, Arguing with Idiots, he flaunts his audienceâÄôs unquestioning faith by highlighting his critics: âÄúGlenn Beck is a half-informed radio blowhard.âÄù – Vanity Fair; âÄúGlenn Beck is an idiot.âÄù – Discover Magazine; âÄúOnly in his wildest dreams could an actual suicide bomber hope to do as much damage to this country as Glenn Beck does every day.âÄù – Keith Olbermann. Still, even with the criticism, his fan base is stronger than ever. This month his book debuted as a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller and has remained in the second slot for the past three weeks. Last year, according to Forbes magazine, Beck made approximately $23 million off of his expanding media empire. His radio program has an audience of 8 million listeners, and his television show has roughly 3 million viewers. These numbers arenâÄôt too surprising. Beck is honestly entertaining. His diatribes are well-delivered, energetic and engaging. Plus, heâÄôs kind of funny. However, BeckâÄôs substance and content is wildly based in convoluted, wild-eyed nonsense. I feel like he must dream up some of the reports he gives, or else he just isnâÄôt thinking. Last week he claimed progressives were trying to strip AmericanâÄôs of their rights, calling them âÄúslave ownersâÄù and âÄútyrants.âÄù This summer, Beck said that Obama was a racist, with a âÄúdeep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.âÄù Then, during the Couric interview I mentioned earlier, he refused to define what he meant by âÄúwhite culture.âÄù Many of his followers have flocked to his group, the 912 Project. He says the project is founded in the unity Americans felt the day after Sept. 11. Yet the project brings little unity at all as its mission is to âÄútake back the control of our country.âÄù Within the nine principles and 12 values, there is a general theme of us, the people, versus them, the government. The principles display exactly the sort of disconnect Beck encourages. Principle four: âÄúMy spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government;âÄù Principle seven: âÄúGovernment cannot force me to be charitable;âÄù Principle nine: âÄúThe government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.âÄù This leaves me to wonder how these followers think they can have unity when they refuse to acknowledge or collaborate with their own body of self-elected representatives. IâÄôm curious how this âÄúnon-political movementâÄù plans to run the government once they do take back control. Beck appeals to people who are angry for angerâÄôs sake. They are people who revel in the exhibition of instant skepticism, but ironically are never skeptical of Beck himself. Take for instance BeckâÄôs recent attack on ObamaâÄôs push for volunteerism. To Obama, this is an idea based off of strengthening not only individuals, but also communities and efforts for economic recovery. Enter Beck. Last week the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a Hollywood charitable organization, arranged a weeklong television event where networks highlighted volunteerism in hopes to inspire Americans to volunteer regularly. It is true that TV has an eerie amount of control over our society. It is also true that this particular action by the entertainment industry followed suit with the presidentâÄôs call to action. What is not true, and what Beck focused extensively on, is that the media is a fourth branch of government being used by Obama to brainwash the nation. Beck criticized Obama for encouraging volunteerism. He, of course, connected it to communism. Then he went on to argue that Obama has the media in the palm of his hand, relating it to MaoâÄôs China again. âÄúObama controls the message through the media he holds in his pocket, or in his little hand. And soon, if you disobey, heâÄôll just go [Beck slaps his hand].âÄù Here, the commentator attacked a genuine effort to incite progress. Obama didnâÄôt directly ask the media to do this event; they did it on their own. Connecting it to communism, and feeding upon a shallow, generational fear of many Americans, was unfair. Did Beck ever think that he too controls the message? By doing so he turned potential volunteers into skeptics. His words not only furthered a tradition of apathy, but also bolstered negativity. Beck does this compulsively. He incessantly guarantees to readers that he is not a journalist. Sure, he has no formal training as a journalist and didnâÄôt even go to college, but he still is a public figure on a news station, and he should be held to higher standards. His words influence millions; that is no excuse to take advantage of his unquestioning audience. Jennifer Bissell welcomes comments at [email protected]