Monday, April 12, 2010

Bob Cesca Nails Glenn Beck As "Dangerous Grifter"

Bob Cesca wrote a riveting article for The Huffington Post, pegging Glenn Beck as nothing more then a "dangerous grifter."
Glenn Beck is playing a character with a personality and a style that is laser focused at the souls of an intended audience. It doesn't take many minutes of viewing his television show to see that he's mashing up the most effective and successful aspects of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and '60s Bircher author Cleon Skousen, and filtering it all through the performance techniques of a televangelist. Listen to any random monologue by Glenn Beck and then watch some clips of televangelist Jack Van Impe. Both are master manipulators and (crazy aside) riveting speakers. They each nail their audiences with rapid-fire barrages of nonsense presented as dramatic fact -- so twisted and obscured that it begins to seem real and anything that might not seem entirely plausible, just have faith. After all, there are complicated drawings on a blackboard! Oh, and he cries. So he must be serious. (We learned last year that the crying is fake.)

This is all stuff that's been proven to resonate with (and utterly manipulate) certain American audiences who also willingly hand over their cash to obvious flimflam artists claiming to provide salvation. Glenn Beck is just pooling these techniques and applying them to American politics.

Instead of asking for donations, by the way, Beck just markets all varieties of crap-on-a-stick to his people. Beck has released seven books since 2007. Seven books in three years! Add to the mix three DVD releases and 26 compact disc releases. There's his subscription-only "Insider Extreme" website which charges $75 per year. There's a print magazine called "Fusion" (20 issues for $66). There are the obligatory t-shirts, mugs and other forms of cheap swag. All of this is heaped on top of a multimillion dollar Fox News contract and a syndicated radio deal worth $50 million over five years. Capitalism is one thing, but Beck is manipulating his audience to hand over their cash in exchange for swag that can't possibly be worth the price, considering the volume of his output (seven books in three years!). As the saying goes: how hard he prays depends on how much you pay.

One of the reasons why the network news media was generally, in decades past, kept separate from the ratings and profit-motive of entertainment divisions was that to cross these streams, so to speak, would lead to the corruption of the news, forcing it to be driven by what sells, not necessarily by what's true. And, it goes without saying that such a corruption of the news is inherently damaging to democracy.

To that point, Glenn Beck likes to say that he's the new Howard Beale, the tragic and suicidal anchor from the movie Network. He's not. In fact, Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay was a prescient warning about the rise of charlatans like Glenn Beck infiltrating the news media -- regardless of whether or not they're presented as "opinion journalists." Actually, Beck goes far beyond the scope of opinion journalism as well, and has settled in a danger zone where he incites easily-manipulated, often militaristic audiences based on theories and claims that don't hold up to even the most cursory fact-checking, say nothing of empirical reality.

In terms of his impact, Beck isn't Howard Beale at all. He's closer to Lee Atwater.

In the riveting, must-see documentary, Boogie Man, about the rise and fall of the infamous Republican political operative, it's revealed that Atwater once considered politics to be nothing more than a game. Professional wrestling. Atwater, we learn, would have been perfectly happy doing what he did for either political party. Republican or Democrat. It didn't matter to him. After all, it was just a game. A show. And he was really good at producing a hell of a show -- no matter how many lives he left in his wake.
Cesca goes on to blast Beck for his unwarranted attacks against Obama's deceased mother and grandparents, who on his program, Beck claimed, with no proof, to be Marxists. On Beck's program, he constantly attacked Obama's family, while simultaneously saying he was not disparaging them, only inquiring into Obama's past, but considering the inflammatory language Beck had used in the past to describe such political beliefs, it would be impossible to delineate between having a discussion and attacking a target, because for Beck and his audience, they are all in the same.

Cesca's assessment of Beck is completely accurate, and more people must become aware to his dangerous agenda. Beck knows this, and that is why he is constantly trying to discredit his critics, by either trying to dig up "dirt," or what he perceives and pushes to be condemning, or by simply dismissing the concerns of his critics with a laugh and a condescending remark. For example, just consider the ethical question between Glenn Beck's political message of economic collapse and the fact that his show features advertisements for a company that sells gold, and that Beck is also a paid spokesman for. Beck just laughed this off on his radio programming, making fun of the left for claiming he could manipulate world markets - although his audience would be ripe for pumping and dumping, he ignored the ethical question of promoting a product while attempting to present "news" that would seem to corroborate his advertisement's message.

The list can go on an on, but I think Cesca summed it up best. It is only a matter of time before Beck is realized for what he is, and hopefully, that time is soon.

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