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The Beck Week That Was; Just Another Manic Thursday

Reported by Guest Blogger - March 24, 2010 -

Guest blogged by Aunty Em

It was just a small item buried near the bottom of the year-end column I wrote about Glenn Beck and his eponymous tee vee Conspiracy Calvacade. It didn’t take a Kreskin to guess the self-professed Rodeo Clown would, “find a new target to smear with lies and distortions [each week]. As each new target is acquired this year, another organized group will begin to howl in righteous indignation. Eventually, Big Mouth Beck will say something so outrageous, so off-the-wall, so ridiculous that a “Dump Glenn Beck” movement will coalesce and pick up steam.” The prediction was based on previous history, of which he insists we learn.

Less than 1/3rd of the year 2010 has passed and the list of Beck’s targets just grows. This week we’ll look at just two of the more recent.

Beck’s Christian Kerfuffle has had more than a week to stew and percolate now. The reason it’s worth mentioning again is because there are two separate time frames at work within this cultural war. Beck, the rest of the cable news media, and the Blogosphere all operate at the speed of light. Christians tend to get The Good News on a weekly basis. They talk to their fellow Congregants mostly on Sunday. They hear from their pastors and priests generally one day a week. It’s only natural there would be a time-lag between Beck’s comments and righteous indignation. The tide of anti-Beck only seems to be increasing as more Sundays pass in front of the pulpits. Here’s just a small sampling, considering the sheer volume of people and publications that want to weigh in on this topic:

Glenn Beck Puts on ‘Mask of Christianity’ While Betraying the Teachings of Jesus

Churches react to Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck Keeps 'Social Justice' Debate Alive

"Bringing The Hammer Down": Glenn Beck Doesn't Speak For The Mormons I Know

Viewpoint: 'Social' refers to the interaction of living things, not to Glenn Beck's 'communism'

Opinion: Flee the Gospel according to Glenn Beck

Beck just wrong to reject ‘social justice’

Leading the fight from the beginning has been Jim Wallis, one of the first to challenge The Beckosity in print. Wallis had the audacity to suggest debating Beck over whether “social justice” are truly the secret code words for Communism and Nazism. Both Ellen and Alex have accurate takes on The Beckinator’s threats aimed at Wallis, but some of Miss Ellen's words bear repeating.

Standing at his chalkboard, dotted with photographs of some of Beck’s usual targets, he said, “How about Jim Wallis? He’s the latest.” Beck gave one of his mocking, villainous laughs before sneering, “Oh, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim.” He then promised that he’d do “a whole week” on “YOU with your spread the wealth, social justice nonsense. It’s Marxist. And you can hide behind all the sweet words now but after 30 years, America will know. I mean, they figured Jeremiah Wright out. Which, by the way, I think you are really kind of like Jeremiah Wright on sedatives. Jeremiah Wright, Marxist.”

This merely highlights his hypocrisy, throwing his words into high relief. Week after week, Glenn Beck tells us all he wants is debate on the issues and that he’s having a conversation with America. What happens when one actually asks for a debate, some dialogue, a chance to refute some of the bullshit he’s spreading? You’d be wrong if you said he forwarded Wallis the secret number to The Red Phone. Instead, thin-skinned Beck went on one of his more offensive offensives—and this time against a man of peace. Less known is that these attacks on Wallis mid-week came after he had already demonstrated the Christian principle of turning the other cheek. On March 15, 2010, he wrote on HuffPo:

I thought Beck's rather extreme and misguided comments needed a response, but I did not attack him personally; nor will I.

In fact, on Friday, I sent Glenn a letter proposing that the two of us sit down together and have an open and public discussion on what social justice really means and how Christians are called to engage in the struggle for justice. I said, "let's make this a civil dialogue and not engage in personal attacks on each other -- which is never helpful in trying to sort out what is true. So let's talk about the heart of the matter."

Well, on today's Glenn Beck radio show, I got a response that disappointed me. Glenn Beck said:

“So Jim, I just wanted to pass this on to you. In my time I will respond -- my time, well, kind of like God's time, might be a day, might be a week to you, I'm not sure. But I'm going to get to it in my time, not your time. So you go ahead and you continue to do your protest thing, and that's great. I love it. But just know -- the hammer is coming, because little do you know, for eight weeks, we've been compiling information on you, your cute little organization, and all the other cute little people that are with you. And when the hammer comes, it's going to be hammering hard and all through the night, over and over...”

“Kind of like God’s time?” Oh, jeez!!!

The timing of these exchanges are important as to what was said. First Wallis suggests a dialogue. Beck retorts by threatening Wallis with Thor’s Mighty Hammer. Later in the day Wallis pens the above, in which he also asks, “Why is the idea of a civil dialogue such a threat to Glenn Beck? Glenn, let us please not resort to threats and attacks. To repeat, I have not and will not attack you personally, and I repeat my invitation to a civil dialogue on what social justice really means. Since you were the one to raise this issue and start this whole discussion, I just want it to end in a better and more civil way.”

WWGBD? Attack with more threats? Attack with more invective? Attack with more McCarthyite smears? “I hold in my hand…” Of course, that’s why Beck was in Full-On Rage Mode by the time Ellen and Alex reported on him. Wallis has already been threatened with the hammer and he didn’t even flinch!! He must be made of sterner stuff. In fact, Wallis demonstrated more Christian values in that one post than Beck has in his entire broadcast career. The outrage!!! What’s amusing is that Beck could have just let it die because, as has been proven time and time again, his audience would never know what he left out. But, like Bill O’Reilly before him, Beck has never been able to allow an attack, even if it’s not really an attack, go unanswered and ratcheted-up to the nth degree.

However, it was still one of those magic tee vee moments when The Beckerhead showed absolutely no self-awareness at all. On more than one occasion he’s brandished his baseball bat, alluding to “Chicago politics.” On March 17, 2010, he tied SEIUS’s Andy Stern, to the “sleeping with the fishes” scene from The Godfather. Yet, look who is using threats and mob tactics to take on Wallis. “If you don’t play ball, we’ll smear you,” Beck is telling Wallis. “You’ll never work in this town again.” As I write these words it’s another Sunday and word of this idiocy will no doubt spread further, despite Becker trying to walk-back his original comments. This will be a fun spat to continue to follow.

The other spat that will be fun to follow also has elements of the ongoing Mob Wars after Fox News Channel’s Roger Ailes showed up unexpectedly at the Fox Washington bureau to remind Faux Noise henchmen (and women) of the pledge of Omerta they took. Ailes' visit followed a terrific take-out by WashPo’s Howard Kurtz called "A Network Divided: The Glenn Beck Factor." Fair use prevents me from quoting it all, but one juicy tidbit reads:

With his celebrity fueled by a Time cover story, best-selling books, cheerleading role at protest rallies and steady stream of divisive remarks, Beck is drawing big ratings. But there is a deep split within Fox between those -- led by Chairman Roger Ailes -- who are supportive, and many journalists who are worried about the prospect that Beck is becoming the face of the network.

By calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a "cancer," Beck has achieved a lightning-rod status that is unusual even for the network owned by Rupert Murdoch. And that, in turn, has complicated the channel's efforts to neutralize White House criticism that Fox is not really a news organization. Beck has become a constant topic of conversation among Fox journalists, some of whom say they believe he uses distorted or inflammatory rhetoric and that undermines their credibility.

Using just enough unsourced quotes, Kurtz paints a picture of a struggle for supremacy within the Fox News Empire and the disgruntledness of the other Fox minions, I mean, employees. Which prompted the Ailes visit and more mob talk from The Big Boss of Bosses, “I was brought up to defend The Family. If I couldn't defend The Family I'd leave. I'd go to another family.” Left hanging in the air was the unmentioned realization of how most Crime Families get rid of those who talk. And, just to make sure staffers got the message, Ailes added a gratuitous reference to firearms, “For the first time in our 14 years we've had people apparently shooting in the tent, from within the tent.”

Even President Obama seemed to acknowledge something shady going on over there when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Fox News “the scene of the crime.”

***

When one watches Glenn Beck as obsessively as I do, certain patterns emerge. I have begun tracking some of these to determine whether it’s indicative of a larger pattern, an anomaly, or just a case of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle at work. Lately, I have been fascinated by The Beckereeno’s moods. There are days when he is almost sedate, or as sedate as he can be. (The Stern clip above is a good example.) Yet there are times when there is no question he seems more manic. The tumble of words, and conspiracies, come faster than ever. The louds seem louder and the quiets seem quieter. The hands, ever demonstrative, appear to swing more wildly—more like a windmill. These are also the same days he seems to veer much farther away from his official posted transcript than on other days. When Jon Stewart does one of his Beck imitations, he’s channeling this Manic Beck I am tracking.

So far, I have not found any rhyme or reason to these manic days. None have been Manic Mondays. Two recent examples have both been Thursday shows, if that’s significant. I hope you will watch the entire shows to help me determine whether I’m onto something. The first was March 11, 2010. There was a point during his show, according to my notes, I asked, "Where's Rexella?" because Beck seemed to be talking as quickly, and as incomprehensibly, as her husband and co-host, televangelist Jack Van Impe.

March 18, 2010 was another such show on which he moved around—from topic to topic and all over the set—like the Energizer bunny on speed.

In tracking these days I’m trying to determine whether Thursdays always correspond to a change in his meds. In a self-revealing interview with Ty Pennington he admitted,

“I started taking something called Vyvanse. It's a new drug, and it has -- if I may point out my staff knows when I'm not on ADD medicine. True or false? I called Chris Balfe when I was on tour and he was -- and he's our president of our company and I said, you know what, I just realized something, I'm off my medication and that's why all of this stuff is going on in my head. And he said, Glenn, you're telling me like this is a surprise? I was on the other side of the country. I hadn't seen him in a week. And he said, 'Glenn, day one every member of the staff called and said, could you please get Glenn back on his medication?' Because I was keeping people up at 3:00 in the morning going, no, no, wait, wait, wait, I got a better idea.”

Health Central tells us, “Vyvanse has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for children six years old to twelve years old,” which sounds about the right emotional age for Beck. Further, we’re told, “Afternoon doses should be avoided because of the increased risk of insomnia.”

Lately he’s talked a lot about being awake reading in the middle of night. Who knows? Maybe he’s off his meds entirely.

Health Central also says, “Some children and adolescents with ADHD show aggressive tendencies and when taking Vyvanse should be monitored to make sure aggression is not intensified or increased. Stimulant medications have not been shown to cause aggression or increase aggressive tendencies, however, care should be taken to monitor possible complications.”

Nothing says aggressive more than threatening The Holy Wrath of Beck’s Hammer on Jim Wallis (see above).

If you notice a pattern to Ben Gleck’s moods, please let me know. I am trying to graph this behaviour.

To be fair: Last Thursday’s show (3/18/10) might have had The Beckinator more excited than usual because it had a LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE!! However one (okay: me) wonders whether, after the hour ended, the audience felt a little cheap and used. As near as I could tell they were just another prop for Beck. He never went to the audience. The audience never asked a question. The only presence of the audience that I remember was the applause coming back from the commercials—at least those still appearing in the show.

Previously, when Beck has had an audience, he would sprint around the studio getting audience responses or questions. It was charming; kind of like a Bizzaro Donahue Show. If the only reason for the audience was to provide applause for Beck, then it comes off more like a Bizzaro Merv Griffin Show. The only thing missing for me was the presence of Miss Miller.

Also, to be fair: As the week progressed Beck just seemed to become more and more unwrapped overall, as the Health Care Reform vote loomed closer and closer and it was looking like Progressives would take the day. Which may be why he used the vast Faux Noise Home Audience as props all week. Starting March 15, 2010, at least, the network ran promos for Beck-o-Lounger’s clever new way to prerecord his Friday shows, “Ask Glenn Anything.” He assured us we could, er, ask him anything. As near as I could tell*, he never took a single question on Friday. You might want to write to him at askglennanything@gmail.com and ask him why.

With all my love,

Aunty Em

*Recently my Big Name Cable Company put me through what they laughingly call a “digital migration.” During Friday’s show I would lose signal off and on for several seconds at a time. While I kept watching, it was very disjointed. While it’s possible he may have read questions I missed, certainly the two full segments found on the Fox News site had no home viewer questions.