Falling Out Of The Crazy Tree: Glenn Beck Loses Friends

“Please talk me out of the crazy tree, America.”
~ Glenn Beck, July 2009

It must be hard to be Glenn Beck. And not just because you would be perpetually burdened with nightmarish delusions of demons and communists conspiring against you. He must have abandonment issues on a grand scale. Perhaps it all goes back to having lost his mother to suicide when he was a teenager. His holiday story, “The Christmas Sweater” is largely centered on that relationship.

Exacerbating this problem, Beck is losing support from many of the folks he would ordinarily rely upon. For instance, Charles Johnson, the proprietor of the right-wing web site Little Green Footballs, just enumerated the reasons that he is parting ways with the right. Two of his top ten reasons explicitly cite Beck due to his support for anti-government lunacy, conspiracy theories, and hate speech. When you’ve lost LGF, you might really want to commence some serious self-examination.

Beck also lost Eric Burns, former host of Fox News Watch. Burns was a relative moderate on Fox News, which may explain why they fired him (watch your back, Shep). Burns has kept a low profile since leaving Fox, but now he opens up about his former haunt. And the first thing he wants to convey is his gratitude that…

“I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

Ouch! Burns says that Beck is “an embarrassment” and likens him unfavorably to some rather unsavory characters from the past: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and John Birch. Remember, these criticisms are coming from a former Fox News anchor. This is how far Beck has wandered from even conservative convention.

None of this, however, will phase Beck. He is confident in his confusion. He has knowledge that transcends the capability of mere mortals. He said so:

6:1) I’ve been talking for several years now – two in particular.
6:2) Because I know what our country is headed towards. I know the struggles that are ahead in my life and I know the struggles that are ahead in your life.
6:3) It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be good.
6:4) We are going to again transform the world. We are going to have a miraculous rebirth. Things are all going to change.
~ More Beckisms in The Gospel According To Beck

Glenn Beck sees our future. His omnipotent vision will shield us from harm. Or at least it will be good harm. But when he speaks of miracles, I wonder if he is aware that Hitler also campaigned on a message of rebirth. It is also interesting to hear Beck say that “we are going to transform the world.” When President Obama said before the election that “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” Beck replayed the comment over and over again, insisting that there was something sinister in it. The same is true for his declaration that “Things are all going to change.” When Obama says the same thing, it is cause to hoard guns and ammo and gold and our precious bodily fluids.

Beck must feel awfully alone. Along with those mentioned above, he has lost upwards of eighty advertisers. And more recently, the Harlem Gospel Choir backed out of performing with his theatrical release of The Christmas Sweater. He is rapidly becoming segregated from the world of rational thinkers. He is devolving into a cartoon of himself. He already admitted that he is just an entertainer, a rodeo clown, and a worthless loser. And he beseeches America to talk him out of the crazy tree. In this self-appraisal he has a comrade:

“I have been laughed to scorn as a prophet; for many a year my warnings and my prophecies were regarded as the illusions of a mind diseased […] I appear in the eyes of many bourgeois democrats as only a wild man.”
~ Adolph Hitler, September 1936

We would be wise to remember history. Beck’s friends may be falling from the crazy tree like autumn leaves, but Beck is climbing to ever-higher branches that can’t possibly sustain his weight. He is going to come down from the tree, but not because he was talked down. Perhaps that is what he means when he says that “It’s not going to be pretty.”

NYT: David Brooks vs. The Wizard of Beck

It took long enough. The evidence has been there for years. Somehow it has been inadvertently missed or deliberately ignored by most of the Conventional Media. But the truth has a persistent habit of elbowing its way into the public consciousness.

Today’s New York Times published an editorial by conservative pundit David Brooks that breaks news that most observant analysts have known for months or years: The uber-rightist blowhards on Fox News and talk radio are phony commanders of a tiny, but rabid assortment of fringe-dwelling followers. And the more they are appeased, the farther they venture from reality.

Brooks: “It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche – even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.”

Better late than never. The revelation that Brooks is boasting is simply the notion that it’s better to win at the ballot box than on the idiot box. Two months ago I wrote an article that illustrated just how contrary were the concepts of media and political success: As Fox News Goes Up, The GOP Goes Down. A month before that I published an article on how Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party. It explored in detail how the embrace of lunatics and their demented ravings, along with a misunderstanding of the television marketplace, was literally dragging the Republican Party down to some of its lowest historical depths:

Me: “The more the population at large associates Republican ideology with the agenda of Fox News, and the fringe operators residing there, the more the party will be perceived as out of touch, or even out of their minds.”


“Republicans are riding the coattails of Fox News as if it were representative of a booming conservative mandate in the electorate. They are embracing Fox’s most delusional eccentrics. This is leading to the promotion of similar eccentrics within the party. Which brings us the absurd spectacle of the network’s nuts interviewing the party’s pinheads.”

I could even go back to May of 2007 when I wrote The Cult Of Foxonality™ Part I, that argued that Fox viewers had become more attached to the network than to the Republican Party or conservatism.

So Brooks is joining a rather recent parade of pundits who are stepping back from the wacko contingent. Last month the American Enterprise Institute’s David Frum took a swipe at the “reckless defamation” practiced by Glenn Beck. Frum advised that it is beyond time that conservatives begin…

“…emancipating ourselves from leadership by the most stupid, the most cynical, and the most truthless.”

And Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs warned of

“…further marginalization of the GOP unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.”

However, as Brooks appears to have attained enlightenment, he sadly slips back into pundit-speak that betrays his lack of insight. In lamenting the egotistical self-promotion of the ranting class, Brooks blames Democrats for their endurance:

“They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters. And they are aided in this endeavor by their enablers. They are enabled by cynical Democrats, who love to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P.”

What Brooks fails to grasp is that Democrats aren’t enabling Limbaugh, Beck, et al. They are anchoring Republicans with the dead weight of these TV and radio clowns as a means to define an otherwise personality-less party. It isn’t an accident – it’s a strategy. Just as Brooks recognizes that the association of media nutcases with the party is harmful, he should figure out that that is precisely why Democrats are encouraging the association.

The most profound observation in the column was Brooks’ assertion that the problem for Republicans is that “They mistake media for reality.” That is undeniably true for the Party as well as for most of the media. In fact, it is an even bigger problem that the media mistakes itself for reality. And the consequences are devastating for both the practice of journalism and for democracy.

[Purchase FreakShow stickers at Crass Commerce]

Addendum: Neal Gabler has an outstanding editorial in the the Los Angeles Times that addresses these same issues: Politics as religion in America. Highly recommended.

Even Conservatives Think Glenn Beck Is Nuts

To most liberals and Democrats (and Americans), it goes without saying that Glenn Beck left sanity behind a very long time ago. His Acute Paranoia Revue, now daily fare on Fox News, is a testament to just how damaged the human brain can become when not given proper care.

Beck has distinguished himself by fantasizing about strangling Michael Moore and calling everyone who believes in global warming a socialist. But that just skims the surface of his sickness. Since landing at Fox he has devolved further into that bleak void of mindlessness than experts thought possible. Earlier this week a guest on his show lost consciousness on the air. Perhaps he was afraid that Beck might douse him gasoline and set him on fire, as he pretended to do to a guest last week.

Now, the master of the “Fear Chamber” is starting to arouse alarm in his fellow conservatives. Beck’s fixation on imagery that associates President Obama with Communism and Fascism (an ideological impossibility), along with his exhortations to rise up, fight back, and put a stake through the heart of the vampires in government, is making some devoted right-wingers decidedly nervous.

Charles Johnson runs a website called Little Green Footballs. For many years it has been regarded as one of the Internet’s most rabidly rightist destinations. But here is what Johnson is saying about Beck and Fox News now:

April 7: This turn toward the extreme right on the part of Fox News is troubling, and will achieve nothing in the long run except further marginalization of the GOP-unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.

April 15: They’ve taken a real turn to the hard right, and Glenn Beck, I think, is kind of riding that wave. I don’t know if he’s necessarily going to incite violence, but I do think it’s irresponsible. It kind of drags down the discourse to a level that I, for one, am not comfortable with.”

April 16: [re: Beck] as if being an alcoholic, weeping, ranting, creationist talk show host who idolizes John Birchers and Ron Paul is a real accomplishment […] Glenn Beck is a punk.

Beck seems to be getting spooked by his own rhetoric. He has begun making plaintive pleas to his viewers to dissuade them from acting out violently. He even held up a photo of Martin Luther King as he called for a peaceful overthrowing of the tyrants that are bent on destroying America.

What do you suppose gave him the impression that he needed to dial down the crazy on his audience? Do you think he is the sort of fellow who would succumb to criticism from lefties that he has been to reckless? Do you think he is afraid that the Department of Homeland Security might label him an extremist? Or is it more likely that he was admonished by his bosses who, while in agreement with his rants, are more worried about civil liability should the network be linked to a McVeigh-ish loner who shares Beck’s delusions?

Whatever. You know that when the proprietor of Little Green Footballs gets twitchy standing next to you, it is fairly certain that you have exceeded your quota of cuckoo.