11.19.2009

What to do with Glenn Beck

When Glenn Beck first got a show on CNN Headline News, I was a fan. When his Fox News show started, I was a fan. Then Glenn jumped the shark. He became a parody of himself. He went so over-the-top and goofy that he became a joke.

The problem is that he is an undeniable media star. Despite being in a horrible time slot he pulls better ratings than everyone on cable news except for Bill O'Reilly. The substance of his commentary - in terms of the dangers of ever-expanding government - is more often than not correct, but his style often makes any salient points irrelevant.

Charles Murray, writing for the American Enterprise Institute has a great take on the "Unbearable Paradox of Glenn Beck:"
I don’t really want to shut him up. I want him to change. Take those enormous talents and make all the arguments that he can legitimately make. Keep the cutesy gimmicks (I understand that we’re talking entertainment here), but have an iceberg of evidence beneath the surface. Fox is making so much money from the show that it can afford the staff to do the homework.

Absent that change, and I’m not holding my breath, let me suggest to my colleagues who want a better public policy debate that we’ve got to avoid the if-I-were-God fallacy. It’s not in our power to decide whether Glenn Beck’s show continues. He will save the Republic or fail to save it whatever we do. All we can do is be honest about what we think. I’ll go first. I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it. What Beck does is propaganda. Maybe propaganda has its place, but let’s not kid ourselves. Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann are brothers.