Saturday, September 12, 2009

Glenn Beck: Wally George Writ Large?

I don't know if any of the few readers I have know who Wally George was or not. He was a decidedly local personality in the Los Angeles area, his show Hot Seat was carried by a local Anaheim station and frequently focused on issues specific to Orange County, CA. To get an idea of the style and tone of his show, you need to know this: he accused tv hosts like Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer of ripping him off.

George was a 'conservative pundit', if by such a phrase one means 'reactionary bigot out to get as much attention as possible.' Orange County consists of the six most conservative congressional districts in California and local politics are frequently flavored by racial and economic tensions more commonly associated with the Deep South than California. George's show format consisted of inviting a single guest for an interview. Generally, that guest would hold policy positions that most liberals would consider extremely moderate. The guest would be bombarded by abusive questions without being allowed to properly answer and would be accused of 'socialism' without any grounds given for the charge.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Glenn Beck.

Beck is engaging in George's hectoring, abusive tactics and is equally guilty of not giving his targets the opportunity to directly reply to his charges. In one sense, Beck is worse than George. Wally George at least had his targets on his show. Glenn Beck is not that brave.

Beck, like George, enjoys a home court advantage that is hard to match. George had a local tv show in the most conservative county of what was, in the 1980s, still a conservative state. His audience was predisposed to accept any attack on 'liberals' as valid. Beck, on Fox News, enjoys a national audience equally pre-disposed to sympathize with any attack against any member of the Obama Administration.

If the administration had the sense to simply ignore Glenn Beck, this might not be a problem. Unfortunately, it has not done so. The resignation of Van Jones and the reslotting of Yosi Sergant into a new job have created the idea that the administration gives some credence to Beck's charges.

Witness this comment on HuffPo:

"Beck is starting to grow on me. I don't think the govt would be making so many changes if there weren't credible things behind them. I looked around over the past week and I realized that nobody else is reporting on some of these things... yet the govt is still making changes based on the evidence he's showing (by that i mean videos, clips, etc., not what he babbles about).

van jones - down
nea - busted
acorn - dumped by census, fires employees

im sure there are similar people in GOP,,, but why isn't anybody pulling out the video evidence, etc.?"


"Its too bad that 1 man must do all of the investigation and research that we should expect from the MSM. Sorry state of affairs I would say for journalism in our nation. Go are doing courageous work that noone else in the MSM has the cahones to do! The others are still trying to figure out how what to make of that tingling feeling running up their legs!"

These are comments on Huffington Post, not on HotAir or The Other McCain Blog.

Beck is coming very close to giving himself the kind of influence in national politics that George enjoyed in Orange County politics: the influence of the rabid McCarthyist who offers nothing and attacks anyone who does.

Do we want someone like Beck wielding that kind of influence?

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