Radio/TV talker Glenn Beck finally has something in common with Barack Obama – both have been on the cover of Time magazine. Fresh from leading the charge that pushed Van Jones out of the Obama administration, Time concedes that Beck is having an impact, but it questions how much of his broadcast outrage is sincere and how much is driven by profits.
Political writer David Von Drehle begins by describing some of the people who showed up at a rally in Washington, DC to oppose the polices of President Barack Obama – stirred up fans of Beck. The writer says no one has a better feeling for the mood of Americans distrusting the nation’s leadership than Beck – “and no one exploits it as well,” he adds.
Von Drehle notes Beck’s background as host of a morning zoo program on an FM Top 40 station. Among other things, he’s described as tireless, funny, self-deprecating and a gifted storyteller. So, he’s able to connect with ordinary Americans. Beck himself has described his broadcasts as “the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment” – and the Time writer asserts that entertainment comes first.
So, Beck is having an impact. What Von Drehle wants to know is how much Beck and other broadcast attack dogs are driven to turn of the volume of their rants to make the cash role in. And, to be fair, he doesn’t limit that the right-wingers such as Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Von Drehle notes that Al Franken cashed in handsomely from the left – and then parlayed it into a US Senate seat.
Of course, the piece ends with Beck being compared to the fictional Howard Beale in the movie “Network,” who exhorts his TV audience to yell, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” So, he ends by questioning whether all this rousing of the rabble accomplishes anything. “Does their screaming ever lead to something better?”