Monday, January 17, 2011

Bigotry will destroy Glenn Beck before porn or paranoia

On a brisk Connecticut morning in November, Glenn Beck mastered the art of multitasking by simultaneously praying to God, reading from Psalms, and thinking (a difficult enough task unto itself) about all of the conspiracies his left-leaning critics might create in order to ruin his reputation, get him fired, and destroy the wonderful "fusion of entertainment and enlightenment" he provides to the American masses on television and radio every week.

Thinking aloud during a Nov. 12, 2010 radio program, the 46-year-old talk-show mogul explained that he is not into drinking or drugs (having overcome both addictions in his 30s thanks, in part, to Mormonism). Then he said this:

I—uhh—you know—I'm not—I'm not into ch—I'm not even into—I was going to say I'm not into child pornography. I'm not only not into child pornography, I'm not into pornography. I'm not into any of it.

If his critics hadn't previously thought to capitalize on Beck's real or imagined struggle with pornography, they did after he stuttered his way through this awkward on-air denial. Why diffuse arguments that aren't being argued? Why defend allegations that aren't being alleged? Why offer unsolicited defenses against invisible attackers?

Some might say he was covering his tracks and preparing his faithful, if ever-dwindling audience for an onslaught. Others might say Beck is a porn addict.

I say Beck is finally starting to believe all the fearmongering, the paranoid prattle and the anti-government right-wing conspiracies he spews daily on TV and radio.

As unfortunate as it may be for those who hoped and prayed that Beck had a kiddie porn dungeon in his multi-million-dollar mansion, it turns out that the Beck backlash has nothing to do with his allegedly non-existent porn addiction. His fall from radical right-wing grace will not come from personal problems but from the anti-Semitism, racism, and general bigotry from his own mouth.

From news reports last week:

Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), a charity that campaigns for social change, delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to Fox News Thursday demanding that talk show host Glenn Beck get the pink slip.

The petition began in November, according to, after Beck hosted a three-segment program on philanthropist George Soros, whom Beck accused of ushering fellow Jews into the gas chambers as a 13-year-old boy and stealing their land.

Beck also made headlines last week when New York's WOR (710 AM), "one of the city's two biggest talk radio stations" announced it was dropping Beck's program due to poor ratings.

And these are only the most recent efforts to undue Beck's chokehold on sanity.

The website began in July 2009 as a non-profit effort to "(hold) Beck accountable for preying on racial anxieties, employing vitriolic rhetoric, propagating sexism and disseminating willful distortions."

The goal – to persuade sponsors to stop advertising on Beck's programs – has paid off. According to The New York Times, Beck has lost about 300 sponsors since StopBeck began:

His show now averages two million viewers, down from a high of 2.8 million in 2009, according to the Nielsen Ratings. And as of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck's show (up from 26 in August 2009).

The Nielsen ratings for 2010 put Beck at 2,248,000 average viewers, but StopBeck has continued contacting sponsors directly and requesting that they discontinue their financial support of the vitriol Beck contributes to the national dialogue.

According to a Jan. 10, 2011, update, Beck's United Kingdom program has been running without ads for nearly 11 months because of these efforts.

Beck's conspiracy theory of how progressives are trying to ruin his reputation and "take him out" with a smear campaign on his character have proven mere products of his own paranoia. Devotees of the self-described "progressive hunter" should rest assured there is no such pornography conspiracy, although it is possible that one is in the works considering the prevalence of the subject in Beck's broadcasts.

This is the guy, after all, who coined the terms "common-sense porn," "conservative porn," and "Chris Christie porn" after frothing at the mouth over the New Jersey governor's rant against the education system and the prevalence of bad teachers.

This is the guy who acted out a potentially Oscar-winning orgasm on live radio after airing a clip on Sept. 4, 2008 of Sarah Palin, who was railing against the evil emperor of the Senate, Harry Reid:

Yes! Yes! Stop for a second. When she started to say this stuff, man, it was downright – it was conservative porn. This is as close as you get, yeah, thank you. Thank you! Oh, yeah. Now play the rest of that clip.

In a repeat performance on May 24, 2010, Beck once again came close to staining his Jesus jammies during an interview with Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, during which O'Reilly was offering some rather flattering feedback about Beck's occasionally accurate political hunches:

Keep talking, man. This is like porn to me... This is like Bill O'Reilly porn. Keep talking, Bill, keep talking.

This is the guy who titled the transcript of his Jan. 8, 2009 radio program, "Porn, yes... NYT no," and asked, "What's the difference between porn and The New York Times? I don't think there's any difference. Tell me, you read The New York Times; you read pornography. You feel dirty after doing both, don't you?"

Those who have experienced the wholly encompassing power of addiction know how easy it is to fall back into it. Beck is one such person, having struggled with and successfully overcome alcohol and drug addictions earlier in his career. So when Playboy magazine published an opinion column titled, "Why Glenn Beck is a Symptom of What is Wrong with America" in its November 2009 edition, it was not surprising that the rightly-guided Beck wouldn't even look at it – wouldn't even read the "hit piece" against him – for fear of the wandering eye and the successive gateway drug-like plunge into the depths of a (repeat?) pornography addiction.

He gave a quite vivid, even heartfelt description of how "deadly" porn addiction can be:

It's no longer like it's a magazine that comes, it's now the Internet and it's just a wormhole and you just start going down into this wormhole and you don't get out and before you know it, you know, the husband is downstairs at 2:00 in the morning spending, you know, a couple of hours online and then the whole relationship with the family just changes. And before you and it just gets worse and worse and worse. It's really dangerous stuff.

This is also the guy who described the TSA machines at airports as "porn scanners":

The enhanced patdown was created as an alternative option to the porn scanner. Remember a few weeks ago, none of us wanted to go through the porn scanner. So they decided, well you don't have to do that. We'll pat you down. You get the porn scanner or you get felt up.

This is the guy who mused during a March 8, 2010 program, "I don't know if I bought kiddie porn or what's going to happen now, but it was a great movie." He was talking about the Roman Polanski film, The Ghost Writer.

And this is the guy who, as recently as Jan. 13, 2011, couldn't help including porn stars in his letter to Americans after the Tucson shooting.

I challenge all Americans, left or right, regardless if you're a politician, pundit, painter, priest, parishioner, poet or porn star to... denounce violence...

All of this is to say that Beck doesn't have, never has had, and never will have any sort of obsession with or addiction to pornography.

To insinuate that he does is cheap, baseless, and dishonest – because everyone knows bigotry will destroy the Beck legacy long before pornography does.

(Cross-posted from Muddy Politics.)

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