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That Was The Beck That Was - The End Of An Error

Reported by Aunty Em - July 1, 2011 -

President Gerald Ford described it best. Watch:

However, that’s where the parallel ends. For one thing, Watergate was shorter—from the break-in to Nixon’s resignation—than was Glenn Beck’s tenure on Fox “News.” However, to be fair, they may have racked up an equal number of lies—or as they liked to say in the Nixon White House, “previous statements were inoperative.” Glenn never went that far, though. He never apologized, and never retracted. He never made corrections, no matter how many times it was proven that he was not just mistaken, but so far off that he was living on another planet.

While his last show was highly anticipated, it proved to be a bit of a low-key disappointment. No Bette Midler sitting on his desk singing to him. Beck didn’t find the one-armed man. Nor did he wake up in bed with the wife from his first series, having dreamed the while thing. And, while you might think it’s silly to make comparisons like this (and it is), Beck’s final show reveled in the conventions of televised endings, while at the same time he tried to pretend he didn’t care about such stuff.

In one of the most bizarre segments of Beck’s last show he tried to compare himself to Jon Stewart by saying they were competitors. Never mind the fact that Jon Stewart is a comedy show and Beck’s was a comedy show only unintentionally. And, let’s also forget that Beck did an hour-long show and The Daily Show only lasts half an hour. Beck thinks he was superior because he did 21 minute monologues while Stewart’s monologues last only 6 minutes. Beck also brayed his superiority by pointing out that Stewart has a team of writers while Beck only had two. No, really. He said that. Watch:

Video courtesy Media Matters

Maybe if Beck had more than 2 writers, he would not have made so many mistakes. Nah! Most of the ‘mistakes’ were intentional. He pushed out lies about George Soros, Van Jones, Anita Dunn, President Obama, Woodrow Wilson, Nazis, Progressives, Liberals and a litany of other perceived enemies of the state. Deliberate lies and deliberate smears.

However, in his last show Beck confirmed one of my long-held contentions that he is emotionally stunted and still acts like a teenager with his big “fuck you,” poke-in-the-eye attitude. When he reminisced about his wonderful props, like the chainsaw and the bunny, he said, “I will admit I only do things like this to hack the left off.” No shit, Sherlock. I had that one pegged from the very beginning. It’s time to grow up, Glenn.

While Beck wants to pretend his ratings weren’t in decline, he also wants to maintain the illusion he wasn’t fired from the Fox “News” Channel. Credit where credit’s due: His exit was one of the most carefully stage-managed retirements in all of tee vee. By doing it this way Fox “News” doesn’t have to admit it made a mistake by putting him on the air and Beck can walk away without his dignity in tatters. But, it’s just silly to maintain, as he did, that the proof he was not fired was the fact that his last show was live. Watch:

Video courtesy Media Matters

It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that there was someone in the control room whose finger never left the 7-second button during the entire hour, just in case Beck vitiated whatever behind-the-scenes agreement carefully worked out with Roger Ailes.

Yet, even as Beck claimed he had always been breaking the conventions of television, he was still holding fast to those conventions with his very last show which, at times, seemed more like a greatest hits clip show, ala Cheers. While that’s to be expected on a final broadcast, it was unexpected for one who wishes to pretend they are unconventional.

And, even on his last show Beck demonstrated he can be severely fact challenged.

Beck has always maintained that he is a student of broadcasting and even named his company Mercury Radio Arts in honor of Orson Welles. That’s why it was so odd to hear Beck’s comparison of himself to Jack Parr. Calling Parr the original host of the Tonight Show, he said that he would emulate Parr as someone who left television, never returned, and never looked back. While he was right about Parr’s retirement, he was totally wrong about Parr being the first host of the Tonight Show. That would be Steve Allen and there’s not a single talk show host currently working who does not pay homage to Allen’s groundbreaking segments during the Golden Age of Television. Even Johnny Carson, who held the Tonight Show chair the longest and is the person most closely identified with it, has admitted that several of his ‘bits’ were direct steals of segments first created by Steve Allen. Carnac the Magnificent was just Steve Allen’s The Answer Man with a cape. You would think that Beck would know who was the first host of the Tonight Show or, in the alternative, would have spent the 20 seconds it would have taken to use the Googalizer to confirm.*

At the very end of the show there was a screamingly funny mistake—the kind of mistake that will live in infamy—the kind of mistake that undercuts so much of what Beck has maintained all throughout the years. But, before we get there let’s describe the end of the show. My editor Ellen and I disagree about this moment, so first here’s her take: Final segment actually tasteful and a bit touching. Beck didn't cry (though he sounded a bit choked up). He took something (looked like a trophy) he had brought with him to Fox, raised the blinds on the windows, said good-bye and the camera panned in on the names of all the behind-the-scenes people written on the chalkboard.

The trophy was actually a vintage, non-working, microphone mounted on a stand, but that’s neither here or there. Personally, I thought the segment was maudlin—which, admittedly, isn’t necessarily the wrong tone to strike for a final show. However, to me, it came off like Beck, the consummate student of television, had studied many different show endings to determine what might work best for his show. Then he set out to create his own little Mary Tyler Moore moment, without the laughs. And, while the ending was postcard perfect for his audience, it was also the point that we were presented with the single biggest mistake Beck has ever aired. On the chalkboard, with the names of all the behind-the-scenes people, the name of Beck’s company was misspelled. Watch for yourself:

Video posted online by Fox “News” Insider

Nothing sums up Beck’s entire tee vee career better than that one single mistake among the legions of mistakes and lies he’s perpetrated over the years. Bye bye, Beck. Don't let the screen door hit you where the good Lord split you.

* I am also a student of television, especially early comedy. I didn’t need Der Google for this paragraph and, brave writer that I am, have not gone back to fact check it. Maybe that’s Beck’s biggest problem. He thinks he knows more than he really knows. When I “think” I know something, I look it up. When I truly know something, I have no need to confirm my knowledge.