CNN, the network that is presently struggling in third place in the cable news field it once dominated, has published an interview of Glenn Beck that sets a new standard for obsequious pandering. The article is not much more than a promotional vehicle for Beck’s new media enterprise and fails to disclose that two Beck employees currently work for CNN (Amy Holmes and Will Cain).
The article’s lede concerns Beck’s announcement that he is folding his GBTV web video unit into his web tabloid site TheBlaze. The author, Steve Krakauer, makes little mention of Beck’s vulgar rhetoric and conspiratorial delusions, instead describing Beck euphemistically as “a man full of complexities.” The only complex that can be associated with Beck is his Messianic one. He also doesn’t bother to offer any analysis of whether the merger is the result of rapid success, as Beck claims, or due to poor performance necessitating a merger to reduce costs.
Krakauer takes Beck’s claims of his alleged success at face value. He repeats estimates for subscriber numbers without attempting to verify the claim or inquire as to whether they are actually paying for the service. GBTV offers free trials for new subscribers, but does not reveal how many subscribers are paying or how many cancel after the free trial expires.
Then Krakauer gets into some truly puzzling territory when he permits Beck to assert his brand of fairness and balance. Krakauer cites what he calls the “clear non-Beckness” of TheBlaze, and lets Beck complete the picture by saying that “If you just look at the comments section, there are people who read the Blaze all the time but hate my guts.” Why that would surprise anyone is beyond comprehension. The Internet has a wide open, frontier ethos that allows everyone access to everything. It stands to reason that Beck’s adversaries would visit his site, just as Tea Partiers show up at the DailyKos. That is not evidence that TheBlaze is independent of Beck, just that it is online. And Krakauer’s next example of Beck’s alleged impartiality is no better. He cites an incident when TheBlaze criticized a fellow conservative:
“[O]ne of the most memorable and talked about series of articles on TheBlaze.com was a meticulous debunking of the James O’Keefe NPR videos, which claimed to show an NPR executive denigrating the Tea Party, that ran on an Andrew Breitbart-associated website.”
Indeed, TheBlaze did publish a detailed breakdown of O’Keefe’s slanderous hoax. But what Krakauer leaves out is that Beck was not acting out of any sense of journalistic integrity. He and Breitbart were engaged in a bitter feud at the time, with each alleging the other was a backstabbing phony. That may have had something to do with Beck’s takedown of Breitbart’s protege. However, Krakauer uncritically lets Beck get away with portraying himself as even-handed, but misunderstood:
“I think that’s people forgetting who I was and what I was saying when I was on CNN before Barack Obama. […] Nobody ever, ever gives me credit for the times I’ve said on the air ‘the president is right on this, did this right’ or ‘the media is unfair by trying to say this about the president,’ or ‘the right is unfair.’ I bet I do that at least once a month.”
That’s just revisionist history on Beck’s part. He was broadly criticized for his dishonest and hateful rhetoric on Headline News. And, of course, it was that very rhetoric that got him his job at Fox after CNN ditched him. And the reason he doesn’t get credit for commending the President is because it occurred so rarely and only between accusations of fascism, socialism, racism, and threats of destroying America.
Astonishingly, Krakauer writes without any sense of irony that “Beck isn’t outwardly supporting either of the two major candidates in the 2012 election.” If he believes that he’s ready for the guys in white suits with the butterfly nets to take him to the friendly asylum in the country with the barbed wire fences. Does Krakauer think for a second that Beck would consider supporting the man he characterizes as a Stalinist bent on assuming tyrannical control of the nation and executing all resistors? Beck may not have endorsed Romney in so many words, but he has stated explicitly that America cannot survive another four years of Obama. So who do you think he’s supporting?
The article concludes with Krakauer gifting Beck with a closing statement that makes him appear to be some sort of visionary:
“We are on the threshold of something I think is as powerful as the Industrial Revolution was, except this one will happen in a very short period of time.”
Really? The threshold? Sorry but this revolution began at least twenty years ago. And many true visionaries were (and are) way ahead of Beck. The only thing Beck has done is to post web videos and publish an online tabloid-style news site. That has been done so much it’s almost passe. Every brick and mortar television station and newspaper has been doing it for years. Where’s the innovation? Saying his unoriginal venture is on par with the Industrial Revolution is like saying that starting a new blog today is on par with Gutenberg. Never mind that millions of bloggers have been doing for years.
This puff piece appearing on CNN is in line with their recent editorial direction. They have been heading ever more determinedly toward a Fox-Lite state that has done nothing for them but land them in the ratings cellar (a condition I wrote about just a couple of weeks ago). It’s a sad state of affairs for both CNN and the viewing public who would be better served by an honest, professional news provider than another megaphone for right-wing propaganda.