Monday, October 18, 2010

Crazier Than a Fox

I'll make this relatively quick, because to be honest much of what I'm about to say isn't something that hasn't been said before by both myself and a hell of a lot of other people pathetic enough to spend most of their time quixotically fixating on the media.

If you've actually bothered to read Byron Williams's interview with either Media Matters or the Examiner, from start to finish, it's really a terrifying little snapshot of the paranoid psychopathy that's fermenting in the collective consciousness of the extreme right these days. Sure, Williams is as rat-shit crazy as they come, and in the end the responsibility for the act that landed him in the headlines and in jail -- that would be getting into a firefight with several California Highway Patrol troopers and injuring two of them -- is his to bear. But it's an absurd dereliction of reason to somehow claim that Williams's on-air idol, his indirect enabler and the man who essentially validated the paranoid fantasies in his head night after night, Glenn Beck, doesn't deserve to be forced to answer some very tough questions following the attack for which his message of an impending American Apocalypse was the impetus.

I've done my best to shrug off the far-right's rodeo clown prince, eschewing outrage in favor of poking all kinds of very appropriate fun at him. Beck's always been full of shit; his conspiratorial carnival barking shtick is little more than a means of making himself filthy rich. But that doesn't mean the amalgam of half-baked 1950s anti-commie, Bircher-Skousen lunacy that he regularly passes off as the key to America's secret history isn't bloody fucking frightening in the wrong hands. And there's simply no denying that the longer Beck negligently throws gasoline on a fire that's already dangerous -- the longer he amps up a far-right that's angry, unemployed, terrified of the change it's seeing all around it and convinced that it's losing control of its country -- the more "wrong hands" will potentially be created and incited.

And you know something? Fox News knows this.

Say what you will about Fox, it has at the very least a tenuous grasp on the notion of responsibility. It may be the country's biggest cannon of right-wing fireballs -- a 24/7 GOP talking points machine -- but above all it's a business. And make no mistake: Glenn Beck is bad for business. Sure, he's great for his own business; he knows how to hawk the crap that sponsors the Glenn Beck Inc. multi-media empire. But he's already cost Fox more than 80 sponsors, and although Fox notoriously likes to publicly flip off its critics and their impotent indignation, FNC management knows that the God-awful publicity generated by a CEO -- one targeted for assassination by one of Beck's rabid acolytes -- penning an open letter to the CEOs who throw money at Fox has the potential to hurt the network's bottom line. And that's what it comes down to: At some point, if it hasn't happened already, sponsors will begin to fear Beck's incendiary rhetoric but still want access to Fox's mammoth audience share -- and so they'll quietly demand that Ailes pull Howard Beale into a dark conference room and put the fear of God into him, or pay dearly.

Because the way it stands right now, Beck is the David Lee Roth of Fox News. There's the band, and then there's him -- and what's good for one isn't necessarily good for the other.

If this keeps up, if Beck continues to put on his "history" professor's glasses, scribble nonsensical conspiracy theories on his chalkboard and in doing so willfully and cynically stoke the paranoia of an admittedly small but heavily armed and very fucking edgy far-right, there will be a breaking point from which we won't be able to easily come back. What he's doing is wrong. And at this point, Fox News, for all of its intransigence when it comes to the demands of critics who expect it to behave and play nice, should do what even it knows is right -- and distance itself from Glenn Beck.

Do it before the inevitable happens.


The Christian Science Monitor/Did Glenn Beck's Rhetoric Inspire Violence?/10.16.10

The New York Times/"The Rage Won't End on Election Day" by Frank Rich/10.16.10

The Washington Post: "Conspiracy Theorists Find Validation from Glenn Beck" by Dana Milbank/10.10.10


Anonymous said...

Glenn Beck does Panama:

Yeah, we're runnin' a little bit hot tonight
I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off
You know what I'm sayin'
Ahh, you reach down put it between my legs n' ease the seat back

Anonymous said...

This kind of underscores my feeling that Rupert Murdoch becomes less scary when you accept the fact that every decision he makes is base soley on profit. It leans Conservative because that offers him a better business environment, but I believe FoxNews exists first and foremost because he saw a marketshare he could exploit, and did it. The thought is almost...almost comforting.

VOTAR said...

"His name is Dr. Rockso.
He's the Rock n' Roll Clown.
He does cocaine...

...I'm afraid that's all we know."

Withnail said...

So Glen Beck is David Lee Roth? I guess that makes sense. But does this mean that Bill O'Reilly is Sammy Hagar? Is Sean Hannity Eddie Van Halen? I guess I could see Shephard Smith as Michael Anthony.

...I could do this all day.

Mike Huckabee is Gary Cherone.

SteveR said...

I'm still waiting for Beck's Jack Lucas "fuck" moment.

Web Dunce said...

I think Beck will remain at FOX for a long time to come. Today I was perusing the Mohegan Sun web site to prepare for a business meeting tomorrow and came across the Bold and Fresh Tour. Beck and O'Reilly are "performing" there on 10/30 - same day as the Sanity Rally in DC. Anyway, out of morbid curiosity I checked the link. They have shows planned for a nation wide tour well into 2011 and most of them are sold out! $130 a pop for tickets. I kid you not.

The Bacon said...

From the Media Matters article

"From the Santa Rita Jail, Williams opens up about the websites he frequented, the broadcasts he listened to, and the "evidence" of "sabotage" he "uncovered" that eventually led him to target Tides."

This guy may well have snapped with or without Beck.

But back to the blatant double standard.

All Gore has made shit tons more money than Glenn Beck using exactly the same method (fear), only with even greater hyperbole.

Beck just says the country is in danger, Gore screams that the whole planet will be destroyed and we are all gonna die.

Both lie through their teeth...see Gore's hockey stick.

Neither believe their own bullshit. See Gore's campus of McMansions and transoceanic flights.

Yet somehow Beck is responsible for the actions of Williams yet Gore isn't responsible for the actions of the guy who took over The Discovery Channel offices?

Chez said...

You really think you've found an equitable comparison there, don't you Bacon?

The Bacon said...

There are no truly equitable comparisons in life, but I do think the situations share a lot of similarity.

Obviously, Beck's body of work is pretty much get-rich-liar-fearmonger whereas Gore has done other things in his career. However, the lying, hyperbole and demonization that Gore has done with the global warming business is very similar to what Beck's schtick is about.

FYI (and you can edit this out) I have no idea why sometimes Google let's me be Steven D Skelton and sometimes it insists on me being the Bacon. I'm pretty certain you've figured out both are the same guy. I just didn't want you to think I was trying to disguise myself with my other moniker.

Chez said...

Regardless you're a smart guy who at least thinks things through. I appreciate your opinions even if I don't always agree with them.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you've recognized this already but there is an old Kids in the Hall sketch that resembles Beck to a point that is downright eerie. From 1994

Keith Olbermann recently had Foley on his show to talk about the strangeness of the similarities. It's also on youtube somewhere. A true case of parody being indistinguishable from the real thing.

CNNfan said...

The Bacon said, "FYI (and you can edit this out) I have no idea why sometimes Google let's me be Steven D Skelton. and sometimes it insists on me being the Bacon. I'm pretty certain you've figured out both are the same guy. I just didn't want you to think I was trying to disguise myself with my other moniker."

Glad you didn't edit out The Bacon, aka Steven D Skelton, and no offense is intended to them. Nearly everyone has multiple accounts. It's easier to create a new account than it is to recover a password.

Perhaps the main reason New Media is not a threat to Old Media, is that New Media is fatally flawed running on an old filing cabinet style technology from yesteryear. The fudge factor is the only thing gigantic about social networks measuring the size and composition of their audience. What good is a virtual non-relational audience of dozens or hundreds or thousands, which in real life is a relational audience of one?

Currently New Media lacks the elegant solution, Old Media has such as the Nielsen ratings audience measurement system, which is a relational system that accurately measures each telecast minute in US households. A relational solution does exist today for New Media. However it is cost prohibitive and reserved for encrypted secure protocols such as credit card processing.