BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you've been eagerly consuming news stories about the powerful billionaire Koch Brothers, exposés of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the JP Morgan Chase debacle, the critical upcoming recall election in Wisconsin, and the Republican Party's increasingly weird War on Women, you probably haven't been thinking much about Glenn Beck; at least not since last summer when he was let go by Fox News.
Since Beck has seized the title of the "busiest man in show business" from Ryan Seacrest, it may behoove you to allow him back into your life!
Writing in the May issue of Vanity Fair magazine, journalist Todd S. Purdom warns that "just because he may have fallen off your radar" since his glorious days at Fox, "doesn't mean that millions of faithful listeners don't still harken to his every dog-whistle warning."
Not only does Beck's plate runneth over with all sorts of politically polarizing schemes and undertakings, so does his bank account, which, as Forbes magazine has pointed out, hovers around the $40 million-a-year mark.
Vanity Fair's Purdom points out that at 48 years old, Beck has had a colorful, to say the least, career: He "has been a teenage misfit; an amateur magician; an alcoholic and a pothead; a Catholic turned nonbeliever turned Mormon; a twice-married father of four; a top-rated radio talk-show host; a New York Times best-selling author in four genres; a polarizing, tearful television talking head; and a multi-media, multi-millionaire entrepreneur, now with his own online magazine and web TV show."
And while his current status as host of an online web TV show may not seem like much, Beck still holds court for millions of faithful listeners to his radio show -- carried on about 300 U.S. stations -- and viewers of his Internet-based GBTV. Beck comes in at #9 in Talkers Magazine 2012 Heavy Hundred. The Talkers list is based "upon a combination of hard and soft factors," including "courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness," according to the magazine.
In the realm of the entrepreneurial, Beck is forever on the speaking circuit, and recently turned his attention to publishing a series of E-Books.
In Benton Township, Michigan, speaking to a "packed crowd" at the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan in the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center, Beck told the audience to step up and fight for small government and choose between "profound evil and profound good."
Beck's E-book venture will re-write, re-edit, and expand upon author Chris Stewart's book series The Great and Terrible by "blend[ing] Middle East politics, techno high jinks, and end-of-the-world action, while cutting the references to Mormon scripture and gospel beliefs" in the hope of reaching a wider audience," The Atlantic Wire recently reported.
According to Purdom, Beck has built new studios in suburban Dallas -- after leaving Manhattan for what he claimed was security reasons - and has initiated "a nonprofit venture called Mercury One, which aims to fix America ‘one town at a time' by connecting volunteers with organizations that need manpower." Beck also has developed "a patriotic line of American-made logo-wear called 1791; "a reality series [called] Independence U.S.A., about a family preparing to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania"; and "a new weeknight Web TV show."
His Web-based TV channel started off with about 250,000 subscribers -- now grown to 300,000 -- "paying between $5 and $10 a month for access, generating annual revenues that some experts believe could eventually top $100 million."
And in keeping on with the old, Beck devoted part of a recent broadcast to resuscitating the Obama as leftist narrative by focusing on Obama's campaign slogan "Forward," which, according to Tiffany Gabbay, writing for Beck's Web site, The Blaze, "is code-speak among Marxists." Gabbay pointed out that "Beck reviewed the roots of President Obama's leftwing ideology and those who have served as his inspiration - from far-left radical Frank Marshall Davis to Bill Ayers and his father, Tom."
Beck's affinity with Christian Zionism and for Israel's right wing
One of Beck's most enduring projects is his alliance with Christian Zionists, apocalyptic End Timers, and right-wing Israelis as he goes about "supporting Israel." Last August, he hosted three controversial rallies in Israel that culminated with an event in Jerusalem called "Restoring Courage."
Beck, who often hosts guests that push various versions of the End Times on his radio programs, claims he is a friend of both Israel and the Jewish people. However, on his radio show in February of last year, he blasted Reform Judaism - a major movement among American Jews. "It's almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way," Beck said. "Radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. ... When you look at the Reform Judaism, it is more about politics."
Among those accompanying Beck on his Israel trip was End Times preacher Mike Evans, who is forever advocating that the U.S. take a much more muscular response to Iran, and Pastor John Hagee, founder of a multi-million dollar Texas ministry and a leading Christian Zionist. Hagee was outed during the 2008 presidential campaign when a video surfaced showing him delivering sermon several years earlier that maintained God had sent Hitler to hunt the Jews, forcing them to go to Israel. The video caused Senator John McCain to repudiate Hagee's endorsement. Last July, Beck gave the keynote speech at the Washington Summit for Hagee's Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
Last year, Michelle Goldberg, a senior contributing writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, and the author of The New York Times bestseller Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World, reported Beck was "working closely with David Barton the GOP operative and conservative revisionist historian, on the "Restoring Courage" events. Goldberg pointed out that "donations to the event are being channeled through Barton's Wallbuilders organization."
And what Beck, "a full-time pre-millennial prophet predict[or]" is holding court about these days, according to Purdom, is the coming crash, "if not the end of days, at least something like a new Dark Age, with a collapsing global financial and political system and an onslaught of Evil Forces that will require and every-man-for-himself mind-set to survive."
Purdom pointed out that "Beck's stream-of-consciousness spiels - fluid and florid and leaping from idea to idea and attack to attack with chaotic abandon - often wind up sounding like some sort of Moog mashup of American political rhetoric's greatest hits."
Conservative historian Ronald Radosh put it another way: "One of his problems is teaching as he learns something, speaking out on a subject before he fully knows different interpretations and before he has had a chance to evaluate a subject thoroughly."
Regardless of whether you consider Glenn Beck a factually challenged demagogue, a purveyor of historical myths, a panderer to fear of the Other, dismiss him as Borat without the irony, and/or appreciate his entrepreneurial savvy and envy his vast audience, he is going to be around for awhile. And for that, the millions of people who listen, watch, pay for, and absorb his assorted utterances, are grateful. And they vote.