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Glenn Beck, Time and Media Matters [Updated]

Here's what you do: First read Jamison Foser's Media Matters excoriation of my close friend David Von Drehle's piece in Time about Glenn Beck. The headline is "How Time magazine enables Glenn Beck's lies."

Now read Greg Mitchell's piece in HuffPo. He makes the same point. And no doubt you can find similar pieces all over blogworld.

So, at this point you're sure it's a puff piece, and an example of all that's wrong with the media.

Now read the actual article by Von Drehle.

What you think?

Here's what I came away with: Glenn Beck is a demagogue. He's also something of an actor. Some would choose the more pointed word of "fraud." He's a Top-40 radio DJ who saw an opportunity for reinvention. Had there been more money in being a Left-wing shouter, he'd have become that person instead.

Another word for Beck that comes to mind is "charlatan."

That's how I read this piece. I don't know Beck, of course. But the article suggests that Beck isn't quite the crackpot, paranoid person he pretends to be, but, sensing the riches that can come from ranting, is brilliantly playing a role. That role is the one originally written by Paddy Chayevsky -- the Howard Beale character in "Network."

This is an elegant take-down of Beck. After reading this, I wouldn't believe a thing he ever said.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I'm close pals with DVD and have been for a quarter century. So I'm inclined to rush to his defense. But it seems to me the shrill attacks on the Time profile merely confirm Dave's point about the political climate. Could he have been harsher on Beck? Sure. He could have pulled out the sledgehammer. Instead he used a scalpel. Dave's method is vastly more effective.

Why did Foser hate this piece so much? Well, maybe because one of the targets of Dave's story is Media Matters itself. Which Foser doesn't bother to note.

Von Drehle:

"[T]here are ancillary industries feeding on the success of Beck and others like him. Both left- and right-wing not-for-profit groups operate as self-anointed media watchdogs, and one of the largest of these -- the liberal group Media Matters for America -- has a multimillion-dollar budget. Staff members monitor Beck's every public utterance, poised to cherry-pick the most inflammatory sentences. (Conservative outfits do the same for the likes of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.) These nuggets are used in turn to rev up donations to political parties and drive ratings for the endless rounds of talking-head shows."

The broader theme here is the monetization of divisiveness. Von Drehle is saying that when you try to figure out why there is so much rancor and paranoia you need to follow the money.

Many of us have wondered why America is so polarized. Answer: Because polarization pays.

How can we trust each other, though, when the integrated economy of ranters and their delighted-to-be-outraged critics are such a model of profitability? A microphone, a camera and a polarizing host are all it takes to get the money moving. Because audiences have been so widely fragmented by the new technology, ratings that would have gotten a talk-show host canceled in the late 1980s create a superstar today. (In 1987 comedian David Brenner bombed in syndication with about 2.5 million viewers at midnight -- which is roughly what Fox, the leading network for political talk shows, averages in prime time.)

"Extreme talk, especially as practiced by a genuine talent like Beck, squeezes maximum profit from a relatively small, deeply invested audience, selling essentially the same product in multiple forms. The more the host is criticized, the more committed the original audience becomes. And the more committed the audience, the bigger target it presents to the rant industry on the other side of the spectrum. A liberal group called Color of Change has organized an advertiser boycott of Beck's TV show -- great publicity for the group and a boon to Beck's ratings."

Von Drehle's conclusion:

Whether channeled by a playwright on the left or a talk-show host on the right, anger and distrust can be dramatized and monetized. But do they ever really go anywhere?

The trouble with this prophecy is that we never find out what happens to the people watching Beale. Do they stay mad forever? Does their screaming ever lead to something better? Does the rage merely migrate, sending new audiences with new enemies to scream from more windows? And if the time comes when every audience is screaming, who, in the end, is left to listen?

Your thoughts welcome. Rants tolerated. Umbrage embraced.

[About crowd estimates: I was at the rally Saturday and there were gobs of people. The estimates on the blogs seemed -- as DVD notes -- to precisely track the ideology of the bloggers. Sure the estimate of 2 million people was, as I have noted more than once, preposterous, and a lie. Some websites even ran a photo from a much larger Promise Keepers rally in 1997! But the liberal bloggers were pushing a 30,000 number as I recall. The 70,000 figure is much closer to the truth, but the real attendance could have been higher than that. As I expected, it turns out (see PolitiFact) that the 70,000 figure was never anything like an official estimate.]

[Update: Great comment by Ivansmom in the Boodle this morning that says what I was trying to say, only betterer:

I read DVD's piece as Joel does - a pointed, intelligent and not at all flattering dissection of Beck, with a larger and important point. "Follow the money" is always good advice and it is refreshing to see it so well displayed here.

What's interesting is that the cited writers apparently completely failed to read DVD's piece as I did, as Joel did, or as I assume it was written to be read. DVD used subtlety and a bit of humor to prove his point, and this was apparently either lost on his critics or simply not acceptable. I tried to finish Foser's piece, I really did, but the tone was too tedious for me. I did read Mitchell's piece. He begins with the premise that, when writing about a phenomenon such as Beck, only "hard facts and harsh truths" are permissible. While the DVD piece had some hard facts, and some truths as well, the tone was neither harsh nor haranguing. In fact, that might possibly have played into DVD's point.

Which is more effective [que es mas macho]? To profile a public figure by stridently insisting in strong language that the figure is simply a liar and probable ideologue, or to infer that the figure often lies, doesn't believe anything he says himself, and deliberately preys on the fears of others in order to enrich himself?

I would have thought the latter was the more effective strategy. I'm sorry that Foser and Mitchell, and presumably their supporters, can't see that. I think it would be more useful to tell a Beck fan that he made $23 million last year by encouraging fears he doesn't seem to share, than to just call him a liar.

]

[Update: Jamison Foser responds at Media Matters.

In Jamison's last graph he brings something I wrote some 20 months ago that Media Matters very legitimately criticized (actually I don't think it required any criticism since it was a nasty liltle sentence on its face) and which I regret writing. Media Matters has never been harsh or unfair to me at any point (possibly because no one gives two turds what I have to say anyway, but let's not contemplate that). Not mentioning a previous criticism from 20 months ago isn't the same as not mentioning that the piece you're critiquing takes a direct swipe at your organization. So that's a false equivalence, Jamison.

Jamison also asks me three questions. The first he then answers for me (because, um, I already answered it in the blog item -- no, there weren't a million or two million people, that's ludicrous). So let's go to #2 and #3:

"2) If not, how can it possibly be responsible journalism to pretend that those claims are just as valid as far more accurate estimates of 70,000 -- and to falsely suggest the lower estimates came from "liberal" sources?
"3) Why should anyone ever trust a reporter who treats obvious falsehoods better than he treats the truth?"

I'm glad you brought this up. Rather than using the 70,000 figure to represent a "liberal" point of view, it would have been better and more accurate for Von Drehle to have used the 30,000 figure -- which Media Matters was pushing on Saturday . The point, though, is the the same, and very valid: We live in a time in which it is harder and harder to find a purely objective point of view, even for something like a crowd estimate. (Here's what Jamison wrote Monday: "As Eric noted yesterday, The Post put Saturday's roughly 30,000-person rally on the front page.")]

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 18, 2009; 8:48 AM ET
 
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Comments

"He's a Top-40 radio DJ who saw an opportunity for reinvention."

The Rush Limbaugh Playbook word for word.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

JA, I kinda think this piece would have been more effective with the print version of bleeping out ****'s name, since as with all trolls, he thinks any attention is good.

And frankly, DVD was monetizing his crticism of monetizing discord, no?

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I read that Time piece yesterday without noticing it was written by von Drehle. I invested the article with my preconceived notions about Time, coming away thinking that Time was merely trying to cover both sides and appear neutral. At least it didn't get my back up, so it must have been reasonable. Must go re-read it knowing the author.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | September 18, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Whether Beck and Hannity and Coulter and Limbaugh and their ilk are sincere ideologues or cynical greedheads really doesn't matter much because the results are the same- an ever increasing reservoir of inchoate rage and pent up frustration. We've already seen a doctor killed in his church by an anti-abortion zealot. We've seen 3 cops killed in Pittsburgh by a man afraid his guns would be taken away from him. What's next? Firebombs in ACORN offices? Attacks on the President and his family?

Posted by: kguy1 | September 18, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I don't have a lot of respect for Media Matters. My good friend Mo MoDo is on their mailing list and many of their issues are a little histerical and overblown. They've even attacked (and forced an apolgy out of) Joel before.

http://mediamatters.org/research/200801080007

If you follow the money, they have strong ties to former Clintonistas and are openly partisan. I could swallow some of their more hyperbolic rantings if there were some even-handedness to them.

The problem is that liberal pundits (including Al Franken) have too much respect for facts and truth to be as flexible with the facts as most right-wing airwave bloviators.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

"the monetization of divisiveness."
I love that! You gotta have that as the title for your next article on politics.

Nice work on Mini-Rex in this morning's paper, btw.

Posted by: wiredog | September 18, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Ai chihuahua... Someone's watched far too many showings of "The Great Train Robbery," methinks:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/opinion/18fri3.html

*SIGHHHHHHHHHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

This is very interesting. I read DVD's piece as Joel does - a pointed, intelligent and not at all flattering dissection of Beck, with a larger and important point. "Follow the money" is always good advice and it is refreshing to see it so well displayed here.

What's interesting is that the cited writers apparently completely failed to read DVD's piece as I did, as Joel did, or as I assume it was written to be read. DVD used subtlety and a bit of humor to prove his point, and this was apparently either lost on his critics or simply not acceptable. I tried to finish Foser's piece, I really did, but the tone was too tedious for me. I did read Mitchell's piece. He begins with the premise that, when writing about a phenomenon such as Beck, only "hard facts and harsh truths" are permissible. While the DVD piece had some hard facts, and some truths as well, the tone was neither harsh nor haranguing. In fact, that might possibly have played into DVD's point.

Which is more effective [que es mas macho]? To profile a public figure by stridently insisting in strong language that the figure is simply a liar and probable ideologue, or to infer that the figure often lies, doesn't believe anything he says himself, and deliberately preys on the fears of others in order to enrich himself?

I would have thought the latter was the more effective strategy. I'm sorry that Foser and Mitchell, and presumably their supporters, can't see that. I think it would be more useful to tell a Beck fan that he made $23 million last year by encouraging fears he doesn't seem to share, than to just call him a liar.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Oh dear jeebus now you've done it. Run for the bunker! It's every man (woman, child, service animal, whatever) for himself!!

INCOMING!!!!!

(And here I was peaceably minding my own business, expecting that any moment we would receive a haiku from either wilbrodog or DNA_girl using the words raptorex, spandex, Fedex, phisohex, Dan Brown's codex and Tex-Mex all in the same 17-syllable haiku. Or maybe a Billy Joel parody I dunno. But lordy, not this.)

(This could be a bad one, like that scene in War of the Worlds where all those flaming meteors rain down on earth.)

*putting on my tin foil battle beaver and girding my loins with nomex-lined tin foil armor so I can go read all those links Joel posted*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

mudge,
Make sure you wade through all 1,326 comments on the HuffPo piece.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

My take on Beck has always been that he seems like a 1980's televangelist in new millenium pundit clothing. Reading the article in Time seems to back this up.

Posted by: chibbs2000 | September 18, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Slipped into the article was this little mention; "(...a libertarian and) living with ADHD."

Now, to me this is often code for "a grownup who got a scrip for speed from a doctor willing to bend some definitions."

It doesn't take a genius to know speed and paranoia go together like fried chicken and biscuits. Nor to recall past examples of the odd power of speed-fueled crazies to gather slack-jawed acolytes by the bushel basketful.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 18, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Wiredog, thanks. Always great to see you in the boodle.

Ivansmom I loved your comment and have plunked it into the kit.

Posted by: joelache | September 18, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

And in other wonderful breaking news...

"Court Strikes Down Regulations Limiting Campaign Fundraising by Nonprofits"

*SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom,
Ricardo Montalbán. Always.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Thanks, Joel! I am all undone. [Blushing]

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I have never watched Beck but I have seen clips from his show. It is clear to me that he is acting (badly) and, as I’m far from a genius, I don’t understand how people don’t see through him. The only explanation I have is that there are an awful lot of stupid or intellectually lazy people out there.

I’ve been reading Charles Pierce’s new book “Idiot America.” (Which I highly recommend as it is very much on-Kit.) In it he quotes Professor Andrew Cline of Washington University in St. Louis who came up with a set of rules for modern American pundits.

Never be dull. 2. Embrace willfully ignorant simplicity. 3. The American public is stupid; treat them that way. 4. Always ignore the facts and the public record when it is convenient to do so.”

The right-wing media follow these rules and reaps the rewards both monetary and in ratings. They feed lies and exaggerations to their followers who swallow it all whole without bothering to look closely at any of it. I admit to leaning to the left but I will listen to and ponder any valid argument from the other side. I do not, however, suffer fools, so when logic and rationality are absent from the argument, I tune out immediately.

Pierce lists three premises of Idiot America. “ Anything is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings or otherwise moves units. Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough. Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.” Sadly, these seem more true with every passing day lately.

Posted by: badsneakers | September 18, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Do people actually want to hear the truth nowadays? Personally, I would much rather have my ears tickled.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | September 18, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Doggy bodysuits:
Rex becomes shamed Raptorex
In fur and spandex...

http://wilbrodog.blogspot.com/2007/12/ive-died-and-gone-to-heaven-and-its.html

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Wraptorex...

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Great Kit and characteristically brilliant

Do you think that anyone who idolizes Beck is even going to read this article, never mind give it a fair hearing? This is when things get scary.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 18, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Oooh. Nicely done Ivansmom!

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 18, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

You can pretty much tell when a CNN "personality" is getting ready to bolt to Fox. It's a makeover and happens suddenly, just like the new haircut and suddenly spackled skin when they get made-over for HDTV. Beck was fairly normal at first on CNN, seemed very personable and reasonable and not too fringe-y. Then he and his agent made a decision, apparently, and I think he only lasted another three months before he jumped.

In my opinion, Lou Dobbs was ready to switch over two years ago. Perhaps his landing-pad is just not ready yet at Fox. Or maybe they don't want him. I think CNN would be happy to see him go.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | September 18, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Achenbach's loyalty to his friend is certainly impressive. But it blinds him entirely to what the Time cover really is: an appalling apologia for one of the most disgusting people of our time.
Here are some of the things von Drehle says about Glenn Beck:

* He is the hottest thing in the political-rant racket, left or right. A gifted entrepreneur of angst in a white-hot market.
* A man with his ear uniquely tuned to the precise frequency at which anger, suspicion and the fear that no one's listening all converge.
* Beck is 45, tireless, funny, self-deprecating, a recovering alcoholic, a convert to Mormonism, a libertarian and living with ADHD.
* He is a gifted storyteller with a knack for stitching seemingly unrelated data points into possible conspiracies — if he believed in conspiracies, which he doesn't, necessarily; he's just asking questions. He's just sayin'.
*Beck describes his performances as ‘the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment’— and the entertainment comes first. "

Is this really the work of a man with “a scalpel?”

Von Drehle doesn’t even mention how many conservatives feel humiliated by what Beck does.
Here’s what ex-Bush speechwriter David Frum wrote last week:
"Glenn Beck is not the first to make a pleasant living for himself by reckless defamation. We have seen his kind before in American journalism and American politics, and the good news is that their careers never last long. But the bad news is that while their careers do last, such people do terrible damage...We conservatives are submitting our movement to some of the most unscrupulous people in American life. This submission disgraces conservatism, discredits Republicans, and damages the country. It’s beyond time for conservatives who know better to join us at NewMajority in emancipating ourselves from leadership by the most stupid, the most cynical, and the most truthless."

When a former Bush speechwriter is smarter than a Time magazine cover-writer, we know what the state of mainstream journalism really is today.

Charles Kaiser
http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/blog/time-magazine-loves-glenn-beck-again

Posted by: cbrdgbk | September 18, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that you highlight ivansmoms' comment. Personally, I don't want reporters to make inferences. I want reporters to report the facts and let ME the reader make the inferences.

Why did DVD leave out the fact that Beck has lost 62 advertisers -- 50% of his advertisers -- as a result of Color of Change's boycott? The boycott was what put Van Jones in Beck's line of fire, as Van Jones founded Color of Change.

And since Beck's signature piece of rabble-rousing is the 912 Project, how can DVD justify leaving out Beck's famous statement on his radio program in 1995: "You know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year."

DVD's equating Dem claims of 30k v. 70k attendees with 912er's claims of 70k v. 2M attendees is just absurd.

Posted by: truth2 | September 18, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

cbrdgbk, I don't think it's a matter of Frum being "smarter." It's a different perspective on the same thing. DVD basically paints Beck as a charlatan; Frum adds the spin that conservatives selling out to (or buying into) the charade dimishes their positions.

*applauding Ivansmom*

Posted by: Raysmom | September 18, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Brain cramp - meant to say 2005. Sorry.

Posted by: truth2 | September 18, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, journalism isn't supposed to be opinionated, cbr.

That's the problem today-- we have too many opinion flying about to the point that those shock jocks just seem to be an extreme on a continuum rather than the demogogues that they are.

I have little or no interest in Beck. That he and other loudmouths are destroying the image of conservatives in America is of no doubt. The key is not to whine, but provide a strong counterimage, a platform, values, a clear message.

Good luck.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

And in the "You Really Needed a Study?" Department, from the home page:

"Politicians' Tweets Self-Promotional, Study Finds"

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, Joel. I know that DVD is your friend. And while I agree that there are some valid criticisms of Foser's piece, I think Foser was much more correct than he was wrong. I think he was specifically correct in many of his critiques of specific single sentences in the DVD piece, such as the DVD use of "uncomfortable truths," which is immediately followed by a list of three or four things that were NOT in fact "uncomfortable truths" in any way shape or form.

Yes, I agree DVD used a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer. Yes, I agree that the specific use of which type of tool to use (to continue the metaphor) is a valid consideration, but no, I do not think the scalpel was the proper tool here.

I want a writer to use a scalpel when he is performing delicate surgery, examing fine, subtle nuances and calmly assessing closely reason arguments. I want him to use an effing sledgehammer when I want him to drive a large stake through the heart of a vampire.

I don't think Time is the proper venue for a finely and delicately nuanced assessment of Beck. I don't think many of its readers are looking for fine, delicately nuanced scalpels of analysis. I don't happen to think one deals with people you and I both agree are flaming, lying charlatans by dispatching them with scalpels. In this case I think the only way to effectively deal with them is precisely with the sledgehammer. Make the case in the simplest, starkest terms, and pound the SOB into the ground, so he can live to work his evil another day. Don't just antiseptically remove his appendix, which he doesn't need anyway.

Too many mixed metaphors. Beck makes $23 million being Glenn Beck. A scalpel will not appreciably alter that.

There is also plenty of room for an interesting discussion about the usefulness of truthtelling versus entertainment. Joel, you wrote, "After reading this, I wouldn't believe a thing he ever said." But c'mon, you didn't really believe much of anything Beck said before the DVD piece, did you? God, I hope not.

Whether people "believe" Beck is just as irrelevant as whether people "believe" WWF wrestling is "real." "Truth" has nothing to do with it, and both Beck and WWF make millions of dollars in a way I would regard as basically false. WWF probably does no great harm to the culture, but Beck *does* do it harm.


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Joel, thanks for reading. Only, you seemed to have missed the biggest problem with your close friend's article. He failed to actually say Beck lied about anything. Like last week's crowd size. Beck said 1.7 million people; you say that's clearly wrong -- but your close friend didn't. He portrayed it as a perfectly valid estimate -- just as valid as the "liberal" estimates of 70,000.

And that's false, by the way -- as you well know, the 70,000 (or "tens of thousands") estimates came from media, DC FD employees, etc -- not just "liberals."

So: How is it responsible journalism to portray Beck's obvious lie as no less true than "liberal" estimates that aren't really from liberals and that, by your own assessment, are "much closer to the truth"?

Oh, and by the way: If you're going to act all outraged that I didn't disclose DVD's passing mention of Media Matters, maybe *you* should have disclosed the fact that Media Matters criticized *you* for saying Hillary Clinton needs a "shock collar" for when she gets "screechy"? I mean, since you're all about disclosing these things ...

More: http://mediamatters.org/blog/200909180014

Jamison Foser

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Come on, that line was funny.

Joe Wilson needed a shock collar himself, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Foser,
I actually linked to the Media Matters piece upthread. You guys have dossiers on dozens of people. I don't think there is a pundit on earth that hasn't hit your enemies list at one time or another for going slightly off-reservation, so the full disclosure is a bit of a moot point. For Joel to have only made the list once is a shocking oversight on your part.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Joel was also part of the left wing media that generated the "tens of thousands" estimate. I'll take his word for it over Michelle Malkin's hearsay.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"Beck: The Dirty Lying Liar and the Dirty Lying Lies He Tells. Dirtily."
That would have been a much better article. Or at least headline.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 18, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The pro-wrestling metaphor is particularly apt. The true-believers are unbendable. No amount of scoffing over the conveniently clueless referees or the pre-staged props is going to convince a genuine fan that it's all staged. You have to go after the broad middle that can be still swayed by gentle ridicule and/or dispassionate analysis. Tirades just tune people out and play into the hands of the demagogues because it feeds their paranoid conspiracies if everybody really is out to get them.

Far better to just draw back the curtain and let everybody have a good look at the Great and Mighty Oz.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Here's the third of the three Google ads my page is showing:

"Glenn Beck Autograph
Autographed books by Glenn Beck With Certificate of Authenticity
www.premierecollectibles.com"

I just love "certificate of authenticity." The irony just never stops, does it. (And I'm sure no one would ever forge a certificate of authenticity.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt: Part of drawing back the curtain is saying "No, there weren't 2 million people at the rally." Von Drehle didn't do that. Just as bad: He falsely portrayed the 70,000 estimates as coming from liberals rather than nonpartisan observers.

Von Drehle didn't draw back the curtain; he pulled it tighter.

As for Achenbach's failure to disclose MM's criticism of him: I don't really care; I prefer to discuss the merits of DVD's piece (a discussion Achenbach is ducking.) But he fails the disclosure standard he set for me.

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I know, yello. But here's the thing: deluded pro wrestling fans do no harm. They wander around and love their heroes and hate their villains and go home a drink a beer, and all's right with the world. Deluded Glenn Beck fans, and all their ilk, are *not* harmless: they vote, they hold marches, the influence (nitjob) politicians and they elect Michelle Bachmans. This is why a Glenn Beck needs to be sledgehammered, not merely scalpeled.

--

Unfortunately, Foser's "shock collar" rejoinder a minute ago is completely off the point, and just sank his entire argument. Wilbrod's right: the shock collar line was a joke line, not part of a serious political discourse. (I didn't much like it or agree with it, but I recognized it as a throw-away line.)

I agree with Kaiser's 12:38 and truth2's 12:47.

Gotta be some lunch around here somewhere...

*wanders off*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I love you like a vastly older brother, but I disagree with you. Foser, I disagree with you, too, but I don't know you from a hairy wart on my backside. Not that I would draw a parallel between you and a hairy wart; I'm just sayin'.

The sledgehammer approach is great for baldly stating truth, facts, observable reality, and other objective things. People who are addicted to a rational view of life will appreciate that approach. But by contrast, the people who most need to hear the truth would immediately declare it to be "liberal lies and propaganda" (because of the well-known liberal bias of reality) and feel even more confirmed in their beliefs. The only way that you can get people to actually think about whether their preconceived notions are accurate is through subtlety and the methods of, essentially, satire -- let the audience buy a reasonable proposition and then slowly disclose what that "reasonable" proposition entails. The scalpel technique is not appreciated by the people who think Beck is wonderful; but then, they don't need to appreciate it in order for it to work.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Nobody gets mad when people talk like Beck on Smackdown! and Jerry Springer. Same old stuff, same audience. The man to put an end to it will be a great man, a man by the name of Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.

Posted by: steveboyington | September 18, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Cryin' Becky seems to be on the lazy writing side too. I understand his books are mostly quotes and other pre-written material.

I like the article in Salon I linked to the other day about Beck's Holy Scripture, "The 5000 years leap". Beck is obviously too busy to write his own book'o lies so he adopts a book'o lies that has been thorouhly discredited more than 25 years ago. The author of the book, Skousen, never had credit at all having been considered a nut job all his history-writing life by professional historians. Ans so this rubbish becomes the blueprint of Beck's 912 movement, almost 30 years after being published. I think there is a joke played on Beck's followers in there somewhere. I suspect the loveable scoundrel gets his cut from the publisher and/or family of Skousen as well.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/16/beck_skousen/print.html

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 18, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

JWF,
By focusing on the Attendance Big Lie, you are missing the forest for the trees. Inflating the numbers at the Million Teabagger March is the least salient aspect of his schtick.

Countering his appeal to people that like books with big pictures and short words is far trickier. Screaming 'it wasn't two million people, it was *only* 70,000' is grabbing his tar baby while tossing him into the briar patch. You can't fight him on his terms. He has to become an object of ridicule like Morton Downey, Jr. and Geraldo Riveria before him. Some of that is playing the line and giving enough rope instead of just chumming the waters.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

The breathtaking thing about Von Drehle and Achenbach is their proud indifference to the facts. Achenbach doesn't attempt to rebut a single factual claim made by Von Drehle's critics, and Von Drehle announces up-front, in a statement that is thematic for his story, that the truth isn't even worth considering. To Von Drehle and Achenbach, the interesting thing about the crowd estimates is that they differ by ideology - not whether one estimate is more accurate than another.

I'm really rooting for the Post in a difficult economic time, but only because I believe it still has many reporters who want to report facts, in context.

Posted by: politicalfootball | September 18, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt, I'm asking a very simple question:

What is the justification for treating the clearly false and the true as equally credible claims?

Actually, a couple more:

What is the justification for falsely portraying 70,000 as the estimate of liberals?

Even if those two things can be justified, why are they *preferable* to telling the truth?

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Kaiser is completely off the mark. Every single line of DVD he quotes is completely factual and rather d@mning in a far-less-than-faint praise way. That Beck thinks the portrait is flattering is one of the best arguments on how effective the commentary really is.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

truth2, if Beck said that in 1995, I would *really* be impressed with the man.

Seriously, as I've said many times, the universe as we know it - or expressed as best we can in the form of mathematical equations - derives from forces in opposition as they slide from one imbalance to another, creating heat, energy, and eventually, money.

I think Beck has found a profitable niche, by creating enough heat/light/energy to be noticed through the art of manufacturing intellectual and emotional friction to some, and sympathetic energy for others (see: this past Saturday's rally). He's found forces in opposition and is managing them to his advantage.

Eventually, like all systems that rely on high consumption and output of energies, it may be overcome by entropy relatively quickly unless it's throttled back a bit to a more sustainable -- and less energetic level.

In the meantime, Beck can take the money he's generating from the friction and put it in his pockets with both hands. Hopefully he has asbestos gloves.
[No word on who's tailoring the Emperor's New Asbestos Pants for him.]

bc

Posted by: -bc- | September 18, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

One of the things that galls me is this attitude reflected in DVD's article about "letting capitalism work". And that woman, Ms. Frankowski thinking that if capitalism was allowed to work her mortgage wouldn't be under water. HELLO!! Rampant capitalism is what got us into this recession. Capitalism is to economic policy as democracy is to government - they are both the best of a number of bad options. Anybody who's paid any attention to our history in the 19th century (I know, I know, no one gives a da*n about anything that happened before 2000) knows the economic devestation that occurred as a result of the various financial panics that occurred. Imagine what we've been going through now happening maybe every 10 years instead of every 70. It's the same thing with the health care debate. "They" say, no public option, keep the government out of the health business. But, oh, don't mess with my Medicare!

I have yet to see or hear constructive options on the health care debate coming from the GOP/right. All they carp about is it costing too much and the government shouldn't be in the health care business. Well, do you have a better idea? Their (in)actions simply just support the status quo. The "markets" will solve our problems. Well, if you can't afford to get into the "market" (those 30 to 45 million uninsured), you just don't deserve coverage. You can be one of those who expire prematurely every 12 minutes.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 18, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed in the Time article not because it's obvious that Beck is promoting lies, half-truths and distortions, but the article failed to explore how dangerous this demagogue is to a democratic society. We do not need another McCarthy era.

As for the terrible equivalence between Media Matters and organizations on the right, if the Post did their job and ever challenged the 'facts' coming from Fox, there would be no need for Media Matters.

Fox is main news outlet for conservatives and shapes the view of 30% of Americans in this country. Don't you think it's worthy of the Post to know if they are getting factual information.

Posted by: Muley63 | September 18, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Fox (or for that matter, any media outlet) will only give what its audience wants. Most folks don't want facts. They want entertainment and reassurance. There are places that give facts. The fact-based people will seek those out. Fox News is far from the bogeyman it is portrayed by some. If it were so all-powerful and destructive, why is its party of choice in a shambles? if conservatives think Rush or Beck will lead them BACK to the promised land, they are full-on morons.

Have confidence in reality. Ignorant people will not win. They may make strides, but they will ultimately be shown as incompetent buffoons. The rest of America will see to that. Always.

Posted by: steveboyington | September 18, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Because a claim of 2 million is so prima facie absurd that it isn't even worth arguing. Getting all wonky with density counts and fire department estimates plays into his hands. It makes him a martyr rather than a ridiculous charlatan.

Speaking of which "Fears Of A Clown" is such a genius turn of phrase that I am going to steal it shamelessly and repeatedly.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me which "liberal bloggers" were saying that there were 30,000 people there. I read all the big ones, and everyone was saying 70K (and also saying it was a respectable turnout).

My problem with the TIME piece is that DVD's article gives false equivalence between the likes of Beck and say, Keith Olberman. Is Olberman partisan? yes. Does he lie and make up facts out of whole cloth. No.

Facts are facts. Saying, "right wing sources reported the number at 1 million" without context (i.e. FALSE) is just wrong. Yes the left is partisan, but pretending that ANYONE on the left is out there peddling BS and falsehoods like we see from Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh on a daily basis is nonsense.

Posted by: fourlegsgood | September 18, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

nelson here. have some time today.

i did read dvd's piece yesterday. i know dvd is a close friend of yours joel. and i thought he did a good job of taking beck down.

but i did struggle with some of the "fair and balanced" portions -- trying to balance left-wing partisanship with right-wing. dvd had a sentence that mentioned about liberals yelling about "brownshirts" at town hall meetings and protest. i read pretty extensively in the liberal blogosphere. i haven't come across that term (that doesn't mean it hasn't been used).

and i do think there is a very real difference between glen beck's demagogic, fact-free rants and actual people bringing actual guns (and assault weapons) to rallies -- one of them carrying a sign with the well known jefferson quote about shedding the blood of tyrants.

ditto with the guy carrying the assault rifle in phoenix -- whose preacher had the day before the rally (obama was speaking) had prayed for obama to die of brain cancer.

yes, the left can get hysterical. but i really think sometimes that striving for the "fair and balanced" angle in journalism can gloss over important differences between one side and the other.

i have not heard of any left wing activists wishing death upon glen beck, or even rush. i may be ignorant on this point, but i haven't heard any examples of the "pro-obama" opponents hanging john boehner in effigy at town hall meetings (they may be hanging max baucus in effigy soon though!). i'm sure there are examples of bad behavior coming from the left.

keith olbmermann is definitely a partisan. yet the most he does is get too melodramatic in his "special comments," or declare people "worst persons in the world." i haven't heard him demagogue or try to scare people without a full command of very real facts. yes, he only has people on his show that share his point of view. but the are mostly respected people who deal with facts. partisan, yes. absolutely. but responsibly so.

the democratic national committee is restraining itself from the whole "race" thing (thank god, what a minefield.) michael steele is going to town with it.

limbaugh is now advocating segregated busing to protect white children from black ones in "obama's world."

i feel this is similar to when journalists used to talk about the bush administration's verbal "tics" with truth on issues like wmds and torture -- and present these as just one side of a "debate." as in "david kay says we were 'all wrong' on wmd. cheney says kay is an idiot." cheney's statement was given the same weight of truth as david kay's. this is an example, of course -- and perhaps not a correct one, but i hope my drift is clear.

all of this said, i'm glad that beck is finally getting some mainstream scrutiny.

Posted by: shellinelson1 | September 18, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

yellowjkt, you write "Because a claim of 2 million is so prima facie absurd that it isn't even worth arguing."

That isn't actually a response to my questions, but I'll note that Von Drehle did not treat the claim as "prima facie absurd." He treated it as though it were just as valid as the 70,000 estimates, which he misleadingly described as coming from liberals.

That's lousy journalism, no matter whose close pal he is.

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I had red Von Drehle's piece without seeing anything much exceptional about it. I had long assumed that Lou Dobbs' current persona had been invented because it pays, and expected the same of Beck.

I was creeped out by Zaitchik's piece in Salon, which gives the impression that Beck may actually take some ultra-superduper-wacko right wing stuff seriously, or at least think the stuff will be profitable. Or Beck's simply 'way nuttier than I'd supposed:
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/16/beck_skousen/

Meanwhile, "The Informant!" is a marvel. Who woulda thought to have Marvin Hamlisch do the music? Now to figure whether to watch "9" or "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs". The latter seems to have been farmed out to the second-string reviewers, who seem to think it's wildly funny.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | September 18, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt -- respectfully, in the real world, the claim of 2 million at the rally is absurd. but many, many people listen exclusively to beck and limbaugh. if they are told that 2 million people were there -- and that the sources that are saying it was only 70,000 are the government and the media (all of whom they believe is in the tank for obama) they'll believe beck and limbaugh.

just look at the birther statistics. this is also prima facie absurdity -- to believe that obama is not a citizen of this country. yet polls show that a large minority of people in the gop do believe this.

there are people in this country who also believe that obama is (take your pick) a socialist, fascist, communist, czarist (confusing the communists with those they replaced), etc. some people believe the myth that their children are going to be herded into re-education camps (courtesy of michelle bachmann). death panels are also an absurdity. yet people believe this.

facts are stubbornly ineffective when it comes to whipping up fear and loathing.

Posted by: shellinelson1 | September 18, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, DVD was too subtle for me. The article came across to me as more excuse than explanation, especially as it tends to equate the motivation of those telling lies on the right and those telling the truth on the left as doing what they are doing just to make a dirty buck. But then, I'm not that smart anyway.

I tend to agree with kguy1, cbrdgbk, badsneakers, and Mudge. (Gosh, can I be that familiar with the formibable curmudgeon6? I don't even know who you are.)

Posted by: gwollberg | September 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Where did I hear recently that there are a number of conservatives who watch Stephen Colbert because they think he’s one of them? Generally, the people who buy into Beck and the rest don’t do ‘subtle.’ If you want his fans to understand that he’s full of it, you need a more direct approach and even then I bet most of them would still believe the lies because it conforms with their view of the country, warped as it may be to most of us.

Posted by: badsneakers | September 18, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Jamison, welcome to the boodle! And everyone else who might be new.

Uh, that Hillary line -- not my best moment. Not sure what got into me.

I have responded to Jamison's response up there in the kit.

Posted by: joelache | September 18, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

nelson,
Love your 1:53. Just perfect. Fighting bold face lies with just the unvarnished truth is an uphill battle, but it's the right way to play it. That way your credibility and dignity stay intact. Lies travel around the world before the truth can put on its pants.

Nothing will convince a Birther that Obama isn't a Kenyan communist Manchurian candidate and nothing will convince a Becker there weren't a million people. In primitive minds, any number over seven is 'many'. Arguing 'facts' with that mindset is a fool's errand akin to teaching a pig to sing. If they are working from emotion, work that angle. Make them laugh at him rather than scream with him.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Nelson, great to hear your voice again.

Posted by: joelache | September 18, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"Another word for Beck that comes to mind is 'charlatan.'"

I beg to differ. Glen Beck is a carnival barker. Now, there's nothing wrong with being a carnival barker. They have their place in our culture and to a certain extent in our economy.

It's just that I would be embarrassed to admit that I get my information from a carnival barker.

But that's just me, I guess.


CowTown

Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Whew! Somebody said they agreed with me and I had to back up the whole Boodle to remember WTH it was I said. Fortunately I still agree with myself after more than three hours (not always the case).

Posted by: kguy1 | September 18, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like ya'all have sour grapes, because the newspapers are dying off and new media are thriving. Heck, Joel, weren't your bosses at the Post just caught pandering and selling influence in a pay-for-access deal to connect lobbyists, reporters from the Post, and Obama cronies? I mean, Gad!, the frauds are in your own media house.

Posted by: Cthulhu3 | September 18, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Check out Joel's update that specifically addresses some of Foser's comments.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

nelson! Great to see you - hope you're doing well. And great comments besides.

I have to go with those who think DVD should have been less subtle. I don't mind if Glen Beck gets rich, but if the country is destroyed, or even if health care reform goes nowhere - that is a different story. I'm truly afraid of something like Hitler's Germany happening here, or of assassinations. Maybe that's unfounded - I hope it is - but I find Glen Beck and Rush and their buddies on Fox noise truly dangerous. And I'd like to see that pointed out more forcefully.

Posted by: seasea1 | September 18, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Way to change the subject, "Cthulhu3." Wow, never seen someone do that before.

CowTown

Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Jean-Pierre!

Nelson!


hsroth the other day, Cthulhu today, we'll have ourselves a lovecraftian weekend.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 18, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I, too, extend my huzzahs to Ms. Nelson for her post(s). Ivansmom (of course), too. And Sneaks, you too. How's the house painting going?

Someone, I think, needs to be charged with the duty to go find Cassandra and see if she is alright. If I lived closer, that would be me. Hoping Martooni is feeling better, too.

Posted by: -ftb- | September 18, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

That was Cithulu? I'm surprised. I always assumed Cithulu would be able to focus on one topic and either respond to it or change the subject openly without conflating two different things.

Of course, I've always thought Cithulu had mysterious powers. Perhaps this was just an example of the creative use of language. Remember Calvin: someday we can make language a complete impediment to understanding.

Hi Nelson!!!

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Two points. First, we have fallen into the trap of the false dichotomy, the two false choices. It's no one's fault, but it occurred when Joel set up the scalpel versus sledgehammer metaphor, which presents the two most extreme types of argumentation and/or writing. And then it subtlely reinforces itself because the topic is an extreme rightwinger like Beck, who is being contrasted with a doppleganger on the left, say, Michael Moore, or Foser's group, or whatever (which are in fact false examples of the "far left or the anti-Becks, because they are not nearly so extreme on the left as Beck is to the right, but no matter. The false choice has been reinforced.)

But in fact, as I'm sure we'd all agree if we examined it closer, is that these things are *not* dichotomies. Within the metaphor, there are a whole range of tools between the tiny, scalpel with it's razor-sharp one-inch blade, and the big, rough unsubtle 10-pound sledgehammer on the other. There are paring knives, butcher knives, switchblades, dirks, daggers, swords, broadswords, cutlasses, guillotines, and morphing over into blunt instruments we can start with tack hammers and work our way through balpeens, carpenters' hammers, mallets, mauls, etc., until we come at last to the noble sledge.

So yes, it is really a continuum of tools, and switching over to magazine writing styles and approaches, yes, that too is a continuum of methods and approaches, not just the choice of two.

The second main point. Nowhere in the discussion about the Time article nor in the discussion of tools, whether metaphorical scalpels, swords, skewers, mauls and sledges, or in types of magazine articles/newspaper stories/journalism in general is there ANY intent to try to disuade the hardcore rightwing that their hero is a villain. It cannot be done; it is a fool's errand and a mug's game. DVD wasn't trying to do that, and I'm reasonably sure Foser has no such expectation, either, that if DVD had written a "better" profile anything would have been accomplished viz. "converting" the right into suddenly seeing Beck for the jerk he is. Just was never in the cards. So Tim, your 1:27 is largely disposable (while accurate).

more

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Amazing how so many people who have not listened to Beck, can not show where he has misrepresented important facts, and are unaware of his significant revelations about current Washington politics, talk to one another at length about their insight into Beck and his motivations.

Posted by: mlmgcs | September 18, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Joel: thanks for quoting my questions, but, um ... well, you didn't actually answer them. Oh, and that 30,000 figure? Guess where it came from?

Answer here: http://mediamatters.org/blog/200909180014

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

As Pelosi said yesterday (and I hardly ever quite her), people like Beck will sit back in his chair and drive well intentioned (to their ilk) but ultimately stupid people (to all) to do terrible things. It is only a matter of time before some gung-ho gun nut raises his high powered rifle on the President to "save this country".

Then Time can truly pat itself on it's back for giving valuable ink on this despicable man. And you JA can be proud that you came to your pal's rescue.

Let me put it this way - 90% of the right wing nuts who would buy Time and read it just for this article will think their leader has arrived. The rest might come away thinking like you do - as a putdown piece.

Either way - Time's run out in my house.

Posted by: Pillai | September 18, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Media Matters and the Huffington Post?

There are two non biased opinion sites right there.

You lost me at that point. Come back when you get legitimate mainstream opinion sites.

Posted by: UGADawg | September 18, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"He's (Glenn Beck) also something of an actor."

Rather an understatement, but the problem is how many actors stir up the emotions of people who are, to say the least, ignorant by calling the President of the United States a Communist, a Socialist, a Marxist, a Racist and a threat to our Constitution and it's freedoms.

If this is all just entertainment as his website suggests, then why is it wrong for someone to have set up the website:

GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com

simply as entertainment?


Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | September 18, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

@badsneakers:

"I have never watched Beck but I have seen clips from his show. It is clear to me that he is acting (badly) and, as I’m far from a genius, I don’t understand how people don’t see through him. The only explanation I have is that there are an awful lot of stupid or intellectually lazy people out there."

There are a lot of people who will believe you, no matter how preposterous the statement or how bad your acting, as long as you're telling them what they already wanted to hear.

Posted by: jamshark70 | September 18, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I prefer a bat'leth, but Johns Hopkins students seem partial to samurai swords:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bal-sword-killing0917,0,16472.story

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

2

A magazine article, or indeed most any piece of journalism, broadly speaking has two main aspects to it.

First and I would argue foremost, it's largest framework consists of simply laying out a body of facts, a series of truthful statements and perhaps observations, all of which are presumed to have a high level of sincerity in their presentation. (Yes, the might accidentally be "wrong" facts, or mis-observed notions, or whatever, but they retain the idea of good faith recitation. Nobody is deliberately trying to fool anybody. In theory.)

The second major aspect is argumentation: the idea that the magazine piece or profile or story has an "idea" or "theme" or "argument" to advance. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Perhaps the idea is simply to explore some aspect of the human condition (Weingarten's superior Great Zucchini piece, or his violin virtuoso article). Perhaps it is to entertain. Perhaps it aims to convince us of something, that Glenn Beck is a charlatan, say, or that we should try to stop global warming, or that some dance fad is sweeping the nation (it isn't), or that Celebrity X has lousy taste in boyfriends. Whatever.

But in no case of argumentation writing is there the expectation that you will (a) convince everyone or (b) convince the hardcore opposition. So discussion of whether so-and-so's article will convince the enemy to roll over and surrender is really just pointless. It's not on the agenda, and is a time-waster.

What you first have to ask is, "what is this article trying to do?" then you have to answer that question satisfactorily, and then you can ask, "Did it accomplish those aims?"

So what was the Glenn Beck article trying to do? What was its argument (proposition, theory, notion, theme)? Did it accomplsih that (those) aim(s)?

more

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

There is a scene in the Eiger Sanction where Clint Eastwood's climbing coach, when they have reached the top of the butte, offers him a beer. Clint, astounded, asks "you mean you hauled beer all the way up here?" Coach says, no, you did, and retrieves two beers from his pal's backpack.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 18, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, mlmgcs, here are a few examples from Mr. Kurtz's column this morning:

"On a slow news day, Beck fears that the Rockefeller family installed communist and fascist symbols in the public artwork of Rockefeller Center . . ."

or, how's this:

"He tells his viewers that Obama's volunteerism efforts are really an attempt to create a 'civilian national-security force that is just as strong, just as powerful as the military.' "

and let's not forget Beck fulminating about Obama's "czars" even though many of them were approved by Congress and some are filling posts created by the Bush Administration.

So, no "misrepresentation" much? Or, perhaps these are "important facts?"

Perhaps you can explain, mlmgcs?


CowTown


Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, no surprise, Front Page Alert...

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, mlmgcs, here are a few examples from Mr. Kurtz's column this morning:

"On a slow news day, Beck fears that the Rockefeller family installed communist and fascist symbols in the public artwork of Rockefeller Center . . ."

or, how's this:

"He tells his viewers that Obama's volunteerism efforts are really an attempt to create a 'civilian national-security force that is just as strong, just as powerful as the military.' "

and let's not forget Beck fulminating about Obama's "czars" even though many of them were approved by Congress and some are filling posts created by the Bush Administration.

So, no "misrepresentation" much? Or, perhaps these aren't "important facts?"

Perhaps you can explain, mlmgcs?


CowTown


Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey ftb, glad you're feeling better. Housepainting is back on track after a two day weather delay. Good to hear from you Nelson!

Just read Foser's blog item and I think Joel's choice of the word 'shrill' was apt. Good grief, we're all on the same side here, can we stop picking nits?

Posted by: badsneakers | September 18, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Joel: It's cute that you've discovered the concept of "false equivalence." Maybe you'd like to re-read Von Drehle's article with that in mind?

False equivalence is one of the fundamental flaws with his article: He falsely equates estimates of a million marchers with estimates of 70,000.

He equates the level of paranoia and vitriol on the right and left. He equates Glenn beck with Keith Olbermann (of whom I am no great fan, but who is nowhere near Glenn Beck) -- then, later, admits he doesn't base that on actually watching Olbermann. http://mediamatters.org/blog/200909180007

Do you really not see the false equivalence in his treatment of crowd estimates?

Jamison

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow... did you actually refer to Glenn Beck as a charlatan? I mean, I agree. We need less Glenn Beck and more facts although, heavy sigh, he is giving the people what they want...

I am however awaiting for the inevitable arrival on this comment board of his fan club who will verbally smack down anyone with the temerity to call out Mr. Beck.

Nice piece though. Haven't read the Time article... comes in the mail tomorrow.

Posted by: jenzinoh | September 18, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

3

This is where the question of "effectiveness" comes in. I suspect one of the things Foser is disappointed about -- and I agree, because I too am disappointed about it -- is that DVD is guilty of "not writing the article we wanted him to write," which is to say, Foser and I both would have wanted DVD to eviscerate Glenn Beck, to have exposed him (not subtely) for what he is, and to have delivered a serious wound to him and his $23 million empire.

I probably shouldn't speak for Foser, so I'll just speak for myself: I would have wanted DVD to eviscerate Beck not because I like grand guignol, but because I believe Beck is (in a non-religious sense) "evil," that he does harm, and that any otherwise ethical method that reduces or eliminates his influence in society is a Good Thing, a Positive Value, a Win for the Good Guys. And the DVD piece didn't give me that. To me (and to Foser?) it was simply a missed opportunity. DVD hadf a free shot at an easy target, and could have accomplished what I perceive to be some "good." And he didn't do it.

Not only did he not do it, he did basically what Foser and others say: he delivered essentially a puff piece, using too many positive adjectives: "brilliant entertainer" -- who gives a *&^% if he's a "brilliant entertainer"? I don't give a damn if he's a "brilliant entertainer" or not. So is Limbaugh, and they can both go to hell.

Which is why I agree that Foser was much more right than he was wrong. Sure, DVD didn't write the article we wanted. And therein lies the problem.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Look - Glenn Beck is no Gandhi. Truth is not all that important to Beck - in fact he experiments with falsehoods/exaggerations and yes, false equivalences, to see what sticks with his audience. And he finds that they do indeed believe an awful lot.

About the crowd - why is it so hard to understand that it is in Beck's interest to blow up the count sky high, since he is the one who called the event together. It is that simple - it is his credibility as a messaiah that is at stake.

Posted by: Pillai | September 18, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Joel is the perfect antedote to Glenn Beck. While Beck is whipping the mobsters into a frenzy, Achenbach can lull them back to a nonviolent slumber by lecturing. I heard him speak a few years ago on George Washington at an Eastern Shore college. Big yawner. I think there were about 12 people in a lecture hall meant to sit 150. I never knew that you could actually anesthetize people by speaking until I attended this event.

Posted by: Cthulhu3 | September 18, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Beck found some schtick that works and is making millions off the sheep who bleet in unison to his every word.

He's a huckster, a flim flam man, a three card monte dealer and a charlatan rolled into one.

Sadly, Beck is just the latest in a long line of posers: Limbaugh, Fallwell, Robertson, Dr. Laura, McCarthy, Coughlin and the rest.

they all want to make you afraid of it and they want you to think only they have the answers.

Beck will soon enough be a washed up flavor of the month.

I expect we'll see him on "Dancing With the Stars" or "Survivor" or some other reality show soon enough.

Posted by: stephenrhymer | September 18, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

My apologies for the double post. I wasn't trying to spam the Boodle. Honest, I wasn't.

Spam the Boodle. That sounds funny.


CowTown

Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Major kudos to two comments upthread... the one that referred to Glenn Beck as a carnival barker... well said.

And also the commenter that pointed out that Beck and Limbaugh's minions don't do subtle... spot on!

Posted by: jenzinoh | September 18, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

It'd probably have helped if you had known whom George Washington was before you attended that speech, Cthlu.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I raised the Beckicane double flag back in the last boodle 10:47 this morning. I'm surprised it's only gale force so far.

If I were mischievous, I'd go post a link on RedState just to stir the pot.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey Achenbach,
Here's a SIMPLE solution for you:
If you want to know the real Glenn Bech, then why don't you just call him on the phone and talk to him personally... maybe go to lunch with him.

Don't you just love it when people say, "I don't know him (someone that I am gossiping about) but, ..."

Posted by: EvreeMan | September 18, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

curmudgeon6,

I don't mind that DVD didn't write the article I would have written, or the article I would want him to write

I mind that he lied to his readers (claiming 70,000 was the estimate of liberals) and drew a ridiculous false equivalence between that and the claims from Beck and others of 1-2 million in the crowd. That's *terrible* journalism. It's dishonest. And I have yet to see anyone seriously defend it. Achenbach hasn't even tried.

And I mind that he omitted many of Beck's most extreme comments, while (again) drawing equivalence between left and right.

Von Drahle failed his most basic requirement: To be honest. His portrayal of the crowd size estimates was not honest.

I'm not asking that he write the article I would write, or that he eviscerate Beck. I'm asking that he be honest.

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

He was boring, Wilbrod Gnome. It really is that simple. Washington's dreams and schemes for a canal to connect the Chesapeake with the Ohio River were grand and fascinating. Achenbach didn't make it so. If he can't take the criticism, don't write books and hit the lecture circuit.

Posted by: Cthulhu3 | September 18, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"If I were mischievous, I'd go post a link on RedState just to stir the pot."

C'mon, let's have some fun! There should be plenty of brie and baguettes in the bunker, no?


CowTown

Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes the irony is just too rich. Muley63 posted (in part):

"I'm disappointed in the Time article not because it's obvious that Beck is promoting lies, half-truths and distortions, but the article failed to explore how dangerous this demagogue is to a democratic society. We do not need another McCarthy era."

Um, isn't the fact that "it's obvious that Beck" is selling lies, half-truths, and distortions in order to injure a democratic society, actual proof that DVD did exactly what needed to be done? He presented a healthy set of unprejudiced evidence about Glenn Beck, allowing the man to damn himself.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Properly citing sources is an important point.

I'd like to see a lot of people taken down for forgetting to cite their "facts" came out of their a**es.

The figure quoted was actually a fairly valid figure being bruited about. That day, I originally heard 25K, then a bit more.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

CowTown, you know that if you keep spamming the boodle you'll go blind.

Posted by: joelache | September 18, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Regarding arguing over the facts vs. "facts":
(1) debating the precision or accuracy of the crowd estimate is playing Beck's game -- it gives repeated opportunities to say "a whole lot of people showed up." The fact that 70,000 people is tiny for an event drawn from the whole U.S. is not plainly obvious. Arguing the issue is making Beck's point for him. He can disavow the actual number and claim "aw shucks, I only know what I read". The fact that 70,000 is far more realistic does not increase the number of people who can avow it from certain knowledge (zero).

(2) the claim that Joel does not confront any of the criticism of DVD is obviously false. It's in the bracketed bit about crowd estimates. What is not clear is why that relatively small issue should assume such iconic importance. Beck himself does not claim it as a result of his own efforts, therefore he can elude blame for its accuracy or lack thereof, while claiming that "some sources say" -- implying that these are the secret truth-tellers who are being stifled by the MSM.

(3) Half-truths are the secret to selling the big lie. What Beck sells is that he may be wrong in the picky details, but "true" in overall conception.

(4) I no longer argue facts with "conservatives" (if they were actually conservative, they would be dedicated to verifiable evidence for all policy decisions). For every "fact" shown to be false, or inflated, or half-true, another can be fabricated instantly, "showing" that the central thesis is "true." Since each fabricated fact comes from the same central principle, I'm not sure they even perceive that they have been shown to be lying; I think they see it as dwelling unnecessarily on mere details.

(5) Facts are not, in fact, the point. The point is an interpretive framework. The reason Beck and his ilk can nimbly jump from "fact" to "fact" as you knock them down, is because they can discard each "fact" as being off-topic and not central. To defeat them, you need to introduce new facts.

By showing that Beck is an extremely rich man who makes his money off playing his audience for suckers; by showing that Beck knowingly and consciously manipulates his audience; by showing that HE knows that what he's saying isn't true; then you are in a position to show that the whole interpretive framework is false. If you already know this truth, then DVD's article will seem insufficiently satisfying. If you do not yet know it, then this approach is probably the only thing that will awaken you to reality.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Foser sez: "He equates Glenn beck with Keith Olbermann (of whom I am no great fan, but who is nowhere near Glenn Beck)"

WTF? I don't know about Foser personally, but Olbermann is practically the patron saint of Media Matters. I'd be surprised to find that there isn't a MMFA intern assigned to transcribe each and every Worst Person Ever as it airs.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Way to go after the author, "Cthulhu3." Another novel tactic.

Any chance you'll address the feature of the day?


CowTown

Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Fly buzzes in here
Making Z'es sound easy
In its whine. I snore.

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Don't take my word for it:

http://mediamatters.org/search/tag/keith_olbermann

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

On a regular basis, Glenn Beck represents as true things that are patently, verifiably false. The article in Time may have been accurate, but it didn't represent the full truth and that's why it deserves to be lambasted.

As an example, imagine an article on Jayson Blair that mentioned the various topics he reported on while at the NY Times and his new career as a life coach without mentioning that he regularly made s**t up.

Beck represents himself as a newsman. Fox News represents him as a newsman. Yet he regularly falsifies information and fails to perform the most basic checks into the legitimacy of the information he disseminates (see e.g. the claims of 2 million people at the recent rally in Washington which he falsely attributed to a university whose name he claimed not to be able to remember at the time; there was no university and the number was off by a magnitude of 20 or more).

Is Glenn Beck bad for America? Yes. Because he holds himself out to be a newsman and proceeds to lie and misrepresent the news without a care as to its accuracy. Your friend's article never points that out and that's what makes it a bad article.

If your friend wanted to write a good article, he would've written one about how Glenn Beck, and Fox News as a whole, comprise the return of an old, dormant scourge known as yellow journalism. That article is still waiting to be written. Gather up the lies, the false experts, the trumpeting of minor, inflammatory stories as major news, and all the other garbage and sling it together. It would practically write itself.

Posted by: mbmclaughlin | September 18, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"debating the precision or accuracy of the crowd estimate is playing Beck's game"

There's no debate. Beck said 1.7 million people came. That's false.

Saying a falsehood is false is not "playing Beck's game." REFUSING to say a falsehood is false is "playing Beck's game."

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, CowTown, to focus on the feature of the day: The first crowd estimate was way off by 10 or 20 percent. I think it was more like 8 or 9 people who came to the Achenbach lecture.

As far as the issue of Beck's whipping people into a frenzy with his rhetoric and lies, I suggested a real solution: let Achenbach address these crowds of loonies. We do not need to resort to tear gas and water cannons when he can put 70,000 plus people to sleep by speaking.

Posted by: Cthulhu3 | September 18, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

New Valium rival--
Joel Achenbach in a bottle
Millions sleep daily!

-Wilbrodozzzzzz-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Cthulhu3 said: "... bosses at the Post just caught pandering and selling influence in a pay-for-access deal to connect lobbyists, reporters from the Post, and Obama cronies?"

Excuse me, sir! They were caught *planning* to sell influence. Totally different.

Regarding my 1:27 to Mudge and Jamison: I admit, it's kind of disposable. But it enabled me to sling a totally unfair, heartless, cruel and baseless insult towards Jamison, while maintaining a Beckian distance to claim that the obvious interpretation is just an unfair misinterpretation.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

We've barely cracked 100 comments. this is a zephyr of a Beckicane, really... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

You're right, Tim, publishers and journalists colluding to "plan to sell" access and influence is no great offense to journalistic ethics. Heck, you can't get arrested for it if you haven't done it! Like, you can "plan" to sell drugs, "plan" to commit a crime, "plan" to commit treason, and if you get get caught, no one can prosecute you...right?... Uh, duh, wait a minute...Doh!

Posted by: Cthulhu3 | September 18, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Boodle asleep now
Joel Achenbach works faster
than Jack Daniels, dawg.

-Wilbrodozzzzz-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Yeah...whatever happened to getting 300 comments in a day? Home page link AND the Media Matters link, can't we do better people? Calling all lurkers!!!!!

Posted by: joelache | September 18, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

You're right, Scotty, and I thank the various guests for what has been by and large a civil discussion. *Looking at Cthulhu3 over the tops of my half-glasses*

If I knew who Glen Beck is I might have something on topic to say, but I don't, so I don't.

So instead, I will just say that it is a lovely late-summer afternoon, and Himself's birthday. This calls for grilling in a big way.

Posted by: Yoki | September 18, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The list of facts that Beck has misrepresented remains remarkably short and most are opinions, commentators disagree with, not facts. If most major news outlets were held to this standard...well you get the idea.

Posted by: mlmgcs | September 18, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Cthulhu3, I'm sorry you didn't like my lecture at Washington College but just so's you know it's very hard to be dazzling with an audience of, as you put it, 8 or 9 people. But I've had fewer! I've had three. I've had two. I've had one -- yes, one. And I've had zero -- which at least was fodder for an article.

Posted by: joelache | September 18, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lache, *double snort* at your 3:37.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 18, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Not everybody views the article as a puff piece:

http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2009/09/dinosaur-media-smears-glenn-beck.html

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Then there's the other Beck, who's latest album, "One Foot In the Grave," has received little critical notice. How come the Liberal Media isn't following this?


CowTown

Posted by: jp1954 | September 18, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Delirum tremens
Dream voice speaks of Great Ideas
Boodle slowly wakes...

-Wilbrodogzzz-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt: Gateway Pundit said 2 million people were at the rally. Von Drehle referenced Gateway Pundit, but politely omitted that lie. Gateway Pundit should probably be grateful, not upset.

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I once gave a Family Science Night talk prepared for 300 or more, to an audience of 4 (including a five year old -- who fell asleep). If I had known in advance that nobody else would be showing up, I would have given a far more scintillating presentation for the one girl who was really in the target audience (her working-two-jobs-mother-from-5:00AM-to-7:00PM took time off work to bring the family), by just sitting down with her and going over my subject and answering every little question for her. It is extremely hard to be fired up for a tiny audience.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what would be more shocking to my system... being whisked away by aliens and being strapped to a table next to a cow and a box of pancake mix and being probed OR having to read any more of this super serious hair splitting about Beck.

Joel, if I send you a $10 gift certificate to your favorite coffee shop, could you please create and post a new kit?

How about addressing the problem of un-mowed median strips?

I am afraid of becoming emotionally scarred by this kit.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Hard working dog rises
Licks emotional scars clean;
Continues licking...

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Kit on killer bunnies
that ate Monty the python
Would be the ticket!

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

From Chuthulu3: "I never knew that you could actually anesthetize people by speaking until I attended this event." Echoing Wilbrod - What does this have to do with the discussion at hand? So what if Joel isn't a sparkling speaker. It doens't diminish the weight of the facts at hand. This whole discussion really takes us back to the entire issue of what the MSM is supposed to be and do. Somehow, some time after Cronkite left the air, we began losing the center. News started becoming entertainment and facts started becoming pliable. We are now getting to a place where the majority of the folk are only listening to the news they want to hear, from self-proclaimed media types who spout THEIR facts (or what they think passes for facts). Now everyone seems to think that if it appears on the internet, it must be real. Even the White House has gotten stuck in this game with the story about the guy who was supposed to have died because his health insurer cancelled him. Turns out the speech-writers got the story off of Slate, but they didn't vette "the rest of the story".

I think I'm beginning to feel like Weed. Let's talk about something like cats that get a drink by soaking their head in the faucet stream and then licking the run-off.

Posted by: ebtnut | September 18, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Joel, your confession has humbled and shamed me. But lambasting Beck is like throwing rocks at the side of a barn. It's too, too easy. What about all the dreck that is pumped out by the trendy lefties and never fact-checked, never called to the carpet, never put up for any scrutiny before it winds up on a ten thousand blogs, ginning up a million more? The Florida votes stolen, the fact that all conservatives and traditional Christians are racists (Garofalo), the myth that AIDs was created to kill African-Americans... I can go on, but I'll make my point. People such as Beck combat this filth all the time, sometimes they even win (Van Jones).

Posted by: Cthulhu3 | September 18, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I was struck by Evreeman's suggestion of lunch with the "real" Glenn Beck because it so completely misses the point. Neither Joel nor anyone else here is particularly interested in Mr. Beck's true nature or his social skills, only his onscreen words and actions and the effects that these have on his followers. Glen Beck may be a fiend, he may be a sweetie. I don't care! I just wish he would be factual and consistent. Here's his famous statement during the Gates Arrest Flap-

"I'm not saying he doesn't like white people," Beck said. "I'm saying he has a problem. He has a -- this guy is, I believe, a racist."

There are lots more examples believe me.

Posted by: kguy1 | September 18, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Pass on my birthday greeting to Hisself, Yoki.

My friend Mo MoDo is doing their best to drum up some pageviews.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Himself should have a fine day, Yoki. I wish I could join y'all right now.

As it is, I'm ready to hoist anchor and go sailing back to reality.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

JWF1 says "there's no debate". Of course there's a debate. In the universe of reality, there's also an actual verifiable answer, which tends to win debates. Unfortunately, we are not in reality, we are in the Glenn Beck universe, where there is no such thing as verifiable truth apart from political interest. Weirdly, the people who claim to dislike ivory-tower academics most of all, are the people buying the deconstructionist notion that "reality" is consensual and non-objective. Which is why it is foolish to waste time arguing with Glenn Beck's "facts". It means he has successfully distracted you from the big picture, the fact that his entire conceptual universe is nonsense.

Posted by: ScienceTim | September 18, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

OK, JWF, you didn't want DVD to eviscerate Beck; my apologies. DVD is a political journalist, and Beck (and Limbaugh) for all this smoke and BS about them being "entertainers" and having radio DJ backgrouns, blah, blah, blah, are operating exclusively in a political environment.

And here's why I'm disappointed:

Edward R. Murrow, a journalist, took out Joe McCarthy by delivering a mortal blow with a single 30- or 60-minute TV show, and then Joe Wilson (the "real" Joe Wilson) came along and delivered the coup d'gras and cut McCarthy's throat (metaphorically) with a single 10-second sound bite. (He had it coming.)

Woodward and Bernstein, two journalists, effectively took out a sitting U.S. president. (He had it coming.)

Walter Cronkite, a journalist, effectively took out the Vietnam War with a single one-hour broadcast saying, "I don't think we can win in Vietname."

Tina Fey, not even a journalist, effectively took out Sarah Palin, in a pair of 10-minute skits, one of which did nothing more than quote Palin's own transcript.

DVD is a political journalist. He presumably (but I need to qualify this) had the opportunity to effectively take out Beck, a political figure who has it coming. DVD didn't take the shot. (The qualification is we don't know how much latitude DVD had, what his desk editors said/did, how much he was edited, etc. But DVD's name is on the piece, though I'm sympathetic to the idea he may or may not have been somewhat restrained by the desk/mgmt. We'll probably never know.)

My point: when you get a chance to take the shot on a bad guy (were're still operating within the metaphor here here; I'm speaking purely in terms of journalism), do it. Pull the trigger.

This was possibly a Murrow/McCarthy moment. It hung fire.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I remember first hearing Beck around 9/11. While definitely right-leaning, he however did have some centrist points.

It seems that train left the track right around the Terry Schiavo times. Having worked around the talk radio realm the last 25 years on-and-off, DVD's is the first article that exposes this truth.

Furthermore, you will rarely hear a talk-radio station (where Beck began his bidding) with balance. There's a programming philosophy much like music radio stations:

Listeners listen to the radio for heavy rotations of songs which they like to hear frequently and sing along to. That's why playlists are so short. The talk-radio programming philosophy is listeners listen similarly... they want to hear what they like to hear and regurgiate it regularly. That leads to ratings... but more importantly, money.

It's very much similar to why we love to eat at McDonalds so much. It's not good for us, but we love to eat it because we know what to expect... and it appeals to our basest taste temptations.

Posted by: TheTruthPlease | September 18, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Non Sequitor Alert:
The CW is showing "Motel Hell" tonight! If you have a taste for cannibalism, black comedy, and Rory Calhoun (and who doesn't?), be sure and catch this classic. "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters."

Calhoun was infinitely more interesting as a character than as an actor. Blackmailers once threatened exposure of his criminal past- he did teen time for car theft- so he publicized it himself. When his wife filed for divorce and named 79 "other women", he complained that she "left more than half of them out."

We now return to our regularly scheduled Beckapalooza.

Posted by: kguy1 | September 18, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Now I must admit that I have been entertained by a Joel Achenbach lecture without falling asleep, but I do want to say that anyone who could write the comment at 3:37 PM has got to keep a few people awake.

Posted by: -TBG- | September 18, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the aspects of the crowd estimates apparently worth worrying about are which one is nearest the truth, and which one came from the most "objective" source like the fire department.

DVD's point is simply that partisans on either side have such wildly divergent views of reality -- 2 mil is almost 30 times 70k! The actual size of the crowd doesn't matter at all.

Then he discusses why such different views persist rather than coalescing into a consensus. Money.

Posted by: Jim19 | September 18, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I used to wonder what it must have been like to live in Sarajevo (after seeing the town as it was shown on TV for the ‘84 winter Olympics) when Yugoslavia came apart at the seams. Now we may get to see for ourselves. I hope not, but I worry. Thanks to people like Beck (our Milosevics) who stoke ethnic fear and old rivalries with demogagueotainment. Money or power, it doesn't matter what the resource is, something or someone will find a way to exploit it for their own benefit. Life will find a way to fill every niche. Using the scared and the true believers and dragging the rest of us along for the ride. Can a nation hold against its edges, when the edges are pulling so hard?

Off topic, if anyone is grilling this weekend, I recommend an incredible sauce using pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. You can find it at http://www.tasteasyougo.com/2009/04/fiery-pomegranate-sauce.html. We made it with pomegranate-blueberry for a steak last weekend, it was so good we used it on chicken breast yesterday. Plate-licking good. (I think it would make old shoes edible.)

Posted by: km2bar | September 18, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I didn't know I could see so much hate speech in one place.

Coming from the left.

Posted by: dakotadoug83 | September 18, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

This oracle is presented because it is, after all, Friday
http://modernhumorist.com/mh/0107/simulatron/simulatron.html

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 18, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Guess you missed the rally last weekend, huh?

Posted by: kguy1 | September 18, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Heading out. Everyone have a good weekend. Shana tova and ketiva ve-chatima tova to members of the tribe (you know who you are) beginning at sundown.

Better hurry up and look at this wikipedia entry before it gets fixed. If this isn't the weirdest thing going, I don't know what is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosh_Hashanah Look at the table of contents, too.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 18, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

is it sdakotadoug83 or ndakotadoug83?

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

surely the lesser one, weed.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | September 18, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Leave Shirley alone, please.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 18, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mudge that some of this criticism boils down to a complaint that DVD didn't write the article they wanted to read, and now Joel hasn't written the piece they want to read about the article that wasn't what they wanted to read. [Deep breath] This is not unusual, but it also isn't very constructive criticism. Foser and Mitchell appear to have made creditable efforts, themselves, to write the responses they preferred to the article that wasn't the one they wanted to read. Having done so, Foser (whom I had not encountered before but who appears to be intelligent and literate) at least doesn't seem inclined to move past that. We're discussing a different article here.

It is fascinating to see that most of the irritation in the posts is not out of Remote Beckistan, but from the Anti-Beck Universe. That is, not so many people defending Beck (at least not yet) as people mad that he wasn't properly exposed as the scion of evil.

I completely agree with ScienceTim regarding the validity of Beck's "facts" and futility of challenging what are, essentially, his own terms. Far better to challenge the terms themselves.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Coherence alert. That last sentence was intended to say that, rather than challenging Beck's "facts", which are infinitely malleable as pieces in his arsenal, it is better to challenge the terms on which his arguments are based. If, as ScienceTim points out, his worldview is based on a false premise, then that is the thing to challenge.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

'scuse me? Did someone actually criticize Joel for not being scintillating when faced with a depressingly small crowd. Please. A lesser individual would have abandoned the effort and headed to the nearest bar.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 18, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Just want to share a great line from John Oliver on last night's Daily Show (we're watching via Tivo right now)...

"Afghanistan is the gold standard for quagmires."

Posted by: -TBG- | September 18, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

HNY to you, too, Mudge.

Posted by: -ftb- | September 18, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

May I follow km2bar off topic to food with a stupid thought, but one that maybe someone might like.

Once and a while I go off the 'eat the right food' reservation and make a steak and cheese sub which I usually put on the best buy at Safeway... a sourdough baguette (if they have a bakery).

Well, I had some steak and cheese and lettuce and tomato cut up along with some vidalia onion that I had grilled for the subs. Just had the grilled onion and the rest in a salad and it was absolutely wonderful.

I have gotten to the point that I can't enjoy raw onion in my salads unless they are super special, not the industrial type you get today. BUT, grill them and they are great. In fact, as km2bar said, grill and also you can grill almost any veggie and it makes for a great salad.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom... Olbermann mocked Beck when he made his crowd size statements saying live that the 2 million figure actually came from a University Professor who specializes in crowd estimates ... he was from the University of I can't remember.

Then again, that could be a real place because I really never believed that there was an IUPUFW, either.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

שנה טובה

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

There is so much humor here!!!

Steve Benen of Washington Monthly and others have funny stuff about Congressman Brady's letter of complaint about the Metro system.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_09/019981.php

Clearly, the Congressman doesn't ride the metro on Saturdays. The system is packed with tourists. There is absolutely no room for signs, effigies or even tea-bags.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

HA HA HA!!!! Tea-baggers complaining about the inadequacy of a public service!!!!

In writing!!!!

The audacity of stupid.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

jkt, I am impressed. I am wondering if you can say anything you want with a different character set or even different language here in Joe Lache land. I suppose that you could swear up a blue streak with Cyrillic.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

There weren't enough public transit availble to allow real Americans to protest the intrusion of the feds in medicare and big gunmint in general? Daggambit. At least Mussollini made the train run in time.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 18, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

It seems that many of you are so busy constructing elaborate theories about how best to combat Glenn Beck that you're missing the rotten journalism happening right under your noses.

Forget about Glenn Beck for a moment, please (he has never been my focus.) Can we all agree that an essential quality of a news report is honesty?

Don Von Drahle failed to meet that standard, right off the bat, with his description of the crowd size estimates. It seems we all agree on that, as I don't believe anyone has yet contested that point.

Joel Achenbach apparently thinks it's fine that Von Drahle was not honest about the estimates.

I think that dishonesty renders everything else about the article moot. The article cannot -- it should not -- be trusted. If someone misleads you about the source of an estimate, and pretends that conflicting claims about whether the moon is made of green cheese are equally valid, you shouldn't trust anything else they say. They aren't being honest.

Many of you seem to agree with Achenbach and Von Drahle that truth and honesty are irrelevant. I obviously don't agree, though it is just as obvious that your point of view is quite common in America's newsrooms.

(And yes, I recognize that the truth is not always clear. That is not the case here. It is clear that there were not millions of people on the mall last weekend. Achenbach has said as much.)

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

SCC *in bulk*. I amaze myself some days.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 18, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Er, "David" Von Drahle, of course.

Posted by: JWF1 | September 18, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

It's easy to me who glen beck is...he's the perfect companion to sara palin. Ladies and gentleman I give you mister and mrs. trailer trash. Beck is such a terrible actor, the actors on the old Land of the Lost tv show put him to shame.

Posted by: kubrickstan | September 18, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to bring that up JWF1 but aren't you a bit too obsessed about the size of the "crowd" of the becker?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 18, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey JWF, this isn't journalism, this is a boodle. Joel, has been doing this for a long time. If you disagree with him, you can write your own kit about it. You can come here, but this isn't rotten journalism.

This, is an ART FORM.

You will never get me to agree with you on any such claim, not at least, while Joel is buying us all beers every Friday night.

No, I need to run, otherwise, I lose my seat.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Hello boodle! Rejoined the living in time for this? Beck makes my flesh crawl. Not sure what I think about DVD's piece- suffered a bit from a reach for "balance" where there is none (crowd estimates) the rest was either stuff we already know and loathe him for, or know and love him for. Thankfully, I spend most of my days with people who would say "Who?" if I asked their opinion of Beck.

Boodling from my new ubuntu Dell mini. It's going to take some getting used to.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 18, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Weed -- I can actually swear in a great many languages. There is a wonderful song by two Swedish celebs from the 1970s (when I was living there) -- and I hope I have it on CD (*note to self -- must look*) so I can get the lyrics and reproduce them here (*note to self -- establish "fair use" re: copyright*). Funny as {expletive}. Really, really funny. Well, if you know the language.

Posted by: -ftb- | September 18, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Weed -- meant to say that the aforementioned song is nothing but swearing in Swedish. And Nordic swearing has to do with the devil and such. Nothing like the vulgarities in English. Although, they know "those" words, too. And "those" words aren't as funny as the others.

Posted by: -ftb- | September 18, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

TRUTH is what makes Beck so successful.
or its the greater part of it the other smidge is his perfect comedy timing.

i enjoy his ability to know when to be serious and just the perfect timeing to inject the amusement of some things. he's fantastic.

BECK FOR PULITIZER!

no one does it better. and with results, i might add.

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | September 18, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

BECK 'Um!!!

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | September 18, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

JWF... I'm sure you noticed that we dont' stay on topic for long during the day. In fact, this is one of the most "on-kit" boodles we've had in a while.

You may not have noticed, if you're just visiting this space for the first time, that we have some pretty good back-and-forth going on here daily that almost always is courteous, respectful and usually pretty darn friendly.

But most of us get tired of beating a dead horse. It's better here to state your case carefully and clearly once and let folks soak it in. When someone decides to glom onto a subject everyone else has let go of, their posts are usually skimmed over quickly or just plain scrolled past.

Posted by: -TBG- | September 18, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Wish I'd had time to get this in earlier...

'Mudge is going to put **** in the same shootin' gallery with McCarthy, Nixon & Vietnam???

I mean, really now, Palin MIGHT qualify as one of the slow-moving, worth 1/2 a point kind of targets in that rogues gallery, but ****??? Leave him over at the Whack-A-Mole...

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

A Pulitizer sounds like something you'd buy off a late-night-TV advertisement.

Posted by: -TBG- | September 18, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh, one more thing and then I'll quit boodle-hogging...

Great line from the link weed posted to the Steve Benen Washington Monthly column...

"The conservative lawmaker described this as a bad thing. Local officials, Brady said, should have made 'a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit' to the public.

Read that sentence again and replace 'transit' with 'health care coverage.'"

Posted by: -TBG- | September 18, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

TBG ... many kisses.... ain't it ironic!?

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

ftb!!! Look forward to a listen.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Brady, by the way, voted against the metro budget. He voted against transit-targeted stimulus money.

He's a "I approve of services when I need them" type of guy.

Really, really, REALLY ironic.

Posted by: russianthistle | September 18, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

The appeal to fear is a persuasion strategy to motivate people to engage in a particular behavior by scaring them, rather than informing them.

• Most of us don't realize when we are making decisions based on emotion, and not basing a decision on a rational process.

• Fear redirects our thinking away from rational processes in assessing the claim and the evidence for the claim (which are rarely provided).

• Appealing to fear is powerful because it directs our thoughts away from careful considerations of the issue at hand and towards a plan of ridding ourselves of that fear, rather than assessing the evidence for or against the issue.

Antigone of Sophocles: "All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only sin is pride."

Posted by: aaronkarmin | September 18, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

By the way, African-Americans don't need anybody to tell them whether someone is playing the race card. Glen Beck, working on a network thats determine to undermine President Obama is one of the most prolific opportunist out here. He's making a huge profit for his self, his network, and his immigrant boss who was recently granted American citizenship, that he out lasted a racist comment that he made about President Obama. Rush seeing the same opportunity is now pushing a white boy being beaten on a bus by black kids story... Limbaugh who is running a close second to glen will sell his soul for money and first place. Now all we have to do is wait see what hannity comes up with. Their fan based don't get it. It's all about "the benjamins." They could care less about the people. Now run and get the next book. I think its glen's turn.

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 18, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

By the way, African-Americans don't need anybody to tell them whether someone is playing the race card. Glen Beck, working on a network thats determine to undermine President Obama is one of the most prolific opportunist out here. He's making a huge profit for his self, his network, and his immigrant boss who was recently granted American citizenship, that he out lasted a racist comment that he made about President Obama. Rush seeing the same opportunity is now pushing a white boy being beaten on a bus by black kids story... Limbaugh who is running a close second to glen will sell his soul for money and first place. Now all we have to do is wait see what hannity comes up with. Their fan based don't get it. It's all about "the benjamins." They could care less about the people. Now run and get the next book. I think its glen's turn.

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 18, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

All the conservative hype can best be understood with a bit of background on
dissonance - an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

The theory of dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Beck's audience avoids dissonance w/selective exposure. They do not seek out information that might be contrary to their existing views.

If you expose yourself to discrepant information, you will probably produce inconsistencies which will lead to dissonance, which will lead to mental work.

To avoid all this trouble, people "selectively expose" themselves to information when possible. That is, they will seek out things they agree with, but will avoid things they disagree with.

Posted by: aaronkarmin | September 18, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

aaronkarmin, really like your 7:05 post, and the quote is fabulous.

We had a little family incident(s) where fear got the better of us today, your descriptions of how fear interferes with rational thinking is very timely.

I have only seen a few clips of Glenn Beck, I am trying to keep it that way.

Posted by: dmd3 | September 18, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Foser, the man's name is David Von Drehle. Now I am not a journalist, being a lowly retired public servant, but I do recall that getting the name right is a cardinal rule in journalism.

Since I don't watch television, being one who prefers the printed word, I cannot comment on Mr. Beck or his ilk. He doesn't sound like a person who would appeal to the policy wonk in me. So I will continue to pass on his observations.

Posted by: slyness | September 18, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

For all the mindless robots. If you think Fox News had your best interest at heart than why on a night when the President was to suppose to make his case, did fox news air "So You Think You Can Dance" instead. Was it a money thing or was healthcare not that important. I writing a book too. So don't buy glen's, rush's or hannity's. This one time buy my book. Its called, "Hoodwinked by a Fox NetworK" or do you like this one better, "Televison for Dancing Dummies On Medicare, A Socialist Program "

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 18, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

For all the mindless robots. If you think Fox News had your best interest at heart than why on a night when the President was to suppose to make his case, did fox news air "So You Think You Can Dance" instead. Was it a money thing or was healthcare not that important. I writing a book too. So don't buy glen's, rush's or hannity's. This one time buy my book. Its called, "Hoodwinked by a Fox NetworK" or do you like this one better, "Televison for Dancing Dummies On Medicare, A Socialist Program "

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 18, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

As I see it, Jamison Foser is misreading DVD's piece so that he can make the point he wants to make. Not only does this demonstrate DVD's point about the divisiveness of the media, it illustrates another mechanism that pushes things apart. The subtlety of DVD's article is easily misinterpreted by those with a predisposition towards one extreme or another. I think that this influences writers to be more specific and explicit for fear they are encouraging misunderstandings by being less direct. As a result, we see fewer nuanced articles, and hear fewer moderate voices.

I am also curious as to what were Foser's and Mitchell's reactions to Congressman Joe Wilson's moment. I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but I think it is sort of relevant here. Time magazine is not some blog, it is not a partisan periodical, it isn't, with all due respect to CBS, 60 Minutes. As a matter of decorum, Time magazine is not a place where you going to find the in-your-face kind of calling out that Foser and Mitchell demand. It isn't a place where you yell "You lie!"

I happen to think that the Time article is very well done. I think it takes a special kind of talent to smile and shake a man's hand while making it clear you think him a buffoon, and Von Drehle is clearly up to the task. I've fantasized about a Murrow and Friendly kind of opposition to the Beck'Limbaughs, maybe the answer is Achenbach and Von Drehle?

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | September 18, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

TKinTexas wrote:
Dear petergray17: If a TV show pushes a single theme day after day, does it not seem intentional to you. Fox is a business. I'm not an expert on Beck for sure, but arguing health care is reparations for slavery, he is selling racism. His employers at Fox do audience research, and keep him because his audience and Fox's is buying it. But by all means explain the Beck's argument on the merits. I'm listening.


TKinTexas,
Well, what happen? I'm listening too.

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 18, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

The problem with these new media blogs is that they are full of snot-nosed kids running around telling everybody else what they are doing wrong. There used to be such a thing as dues-paying where it took some experience and expertise to be able to trashmouth a veteran for a reason other than he didn't say what you wanted him to say. Or that he isn't as vested in your little partisan vendetta/crusade and perhaps is trying to illuminate a deeper truth.

Not that this is directed at any journalistic anklebiter in particular trying to drum up some pageviews by taking cheap fratricidal shots at people on a much higher deck of the Titanic known as contemporary journalism.

To quote Foghorn Leghorn, "Go away kid, you're bothering me."

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Our little feud has made Romenesko:

http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=45&aid=170360

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

lostinthemiddle,
I like the way you think. Have you been around here before?

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Thank you. You know I have been on wapo for a while, but somehow I missed the boodle until recently. I'm glad to be here now, though.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | September 18, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Trust me, l-i-m, we're not always so earnest.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I used to be flotsam in the Gene Pool, so not-so-earnest is right up my alley. Don't get me wrong, I like earnest, too.


He's a swell fellow.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | September 18, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes we're frank, too.

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 18, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Blue of September
Flowers line streets; friends under trees
Chat with strolls, not trolls.

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Irving Kristol, father of both Bill Kristol and neoconservatism has passed away. WaPo has a rather detailed obituary.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/18/AR2009091802514.html?nav=igoogle

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

You must not laugh at me, darling, but it has always been a girlish dream of mine to love a man named Ernest.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

In my continuing drive to offend each and every boodler by ridiculing their state of residence, Wonkette linked to this rather dismal portrayal of the public school yoots of Oklahoma.

http://www.ocpathink.org/publications/perspective-archives/september-2009-volume-16-number-9/?module=perspective&id=2321

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Would requiring every mentally capable defendant in court to learn how to pass a citizenship test count as cruel and unusual punishment?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Would requiring every mentally capable defendant in court to learn how to pass a citizenship test count as cruel and unusual punishment?
Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 9:20 PM
__________________


For the teacher, it would.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | September 18, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

The beauty of the system is that you could have jailhouse citizenship teachers, too.

But wait... that'd still be cruel, nevermind.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | September 18, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Robot teachers?

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | September 18, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

What's interesting is for all the whining about Beck, claims of defamation, claims of lies, is nobody can actually can point to *something* that he said that is a lie.

I mean, it should be trivial and obvious. And yet, I see people making adhominum attacks against Beck, but it never rises to the level of "he said X about Y which clearly isn't true".

I agree with somebody earlier who said that much of what Beck does is an act. But he doesn't seem to lie. He seems to take facts and basically pound the podium with them.

As to the idea that folks like Al Franken are any different, they aren't. Al Franken is a comedian and he's even playing a part in congress. Great, we've elected worse. Al Franken even lies when it suits him too. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1581824807/ref=cm_rdp_product

I think the outrage from the press is because Beck gets better ratings than the mainstream media.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | September 18, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

He said the President has a deep-seated hatred of white people. I say that clearly isn't true.
Does that "rise to the level" enough?

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | September 18, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Ombudsman, a lot of the outrage from *me* stems from Becky calling our president a racist who hates white people. I don't watch him, so I only hear the occasional outrageous lie. Like that one.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | September 18, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Googling "glenn beck lie" is a pretty good place to start.

Here's one:
http://www.oliverwillis.com/2008/04/04/how-conservatives-lie-glenn-beck-edition/

Here's a whole Yahoo answers page devoted to the topic.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090801235203AAgK2ig

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I have been a boodle-lurker for a long time, but lack the wit to two-step... Still, in the hallowed tradition of the best couch-potato(e) quarterback, I protest the on-topicness of this boodle.

Without adding in a single useful point, I think I shall rant a few more times at the abysmal seriousness appearing on a Friday evening.

Posted by: iamweaver | September 18, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

As Bob Dylan sang: " Something is happening, and you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones, err Achenbach?"

Posted by: edgar_sousa | September 18, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's some Friday evening fun:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyS-7hHElsc&feature=related

When you've said Buuuudweiser, you've said it all!

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. Beck said there were 1.7 million people at the Teabagger thing last weekend. Was that a lie or did he just exaggerate?

Posted by: badsneakers | September 18, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

iamweaver... excellent, and very witty, rant. You seem to be a fine two-stepper.

I hope you find, like the rest of us, that once you've hit 'submit,' you're pretty much hooked.

Posted by: -TBG- | September 18, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

This just in from Howard Kurtz:

Glenn Beck says the Time cover story was fair. Just in case you were wondering.

http://twitter.com/HowardKurtz/status/4093949707

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

U2 concert footage showing the spider from mars stage.

http://interscope.com/artist/player/default.aspx?meid=5120&aid=596&utm_source=gupta&utm_medium=SEM&utm_content=crazytourversion&utm_campaign=jbU2

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

freakishly on topic today, and still not over 300 comments, sorry JA
welcome strangers and lurkers
ftb-how you feeling?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 18, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

iamweaver, funny and welcome to you and the other new posters.

Reading another one of my favorite bloggers I noticed a link to Baconnaise, perhaps he is a secret lurker.

Posted by: dmd3 | September 18, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, iamweaver, I'm gonna ignore your fine rant just for a sec. And I'm almost never on-kit.

Mudge, you asked this afternoon, "who gives a *&^% if he's a "brilliant entertainer"?" You also argued that what he does is harmful and worthy of stronger refutation. If he weren't a good entertainer, then he wouldn't need to be refuted, because he wouldn't have the audience through which to do harm. It seems to me quite a strong criticism to say that someone is cynically using extraordinary talent to enrich himself at the expense of the public good.

Good holidays to you.

Posted by: -bia- | September 18, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't really like the word "refutation" there. "Condemnation," maybe? Anyhow, you get my point.

Posted by: -bia- | September 18, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Howdy iamweaver! I applaud and appreciate your point. However, yellojkt forces me to stay sort of on-Kit for this comment. I don't know if you know it, yello, but the link you gave - ocpa - is to the far-right conservative think tank hereabouts. They're the ones who constantly are telling us how public school is bad (like we're alone in that), our taxes are too high (not in the state comparison charts), the gummint spends too much money (see previous parenthesis) and too many people work for state gummint. That is, theirs is not an objective view, nor is it designed to be. Kinda like Beck, only with college degrees and fancy words. Re: the schools, I think some of these ocpa guys support "school choice" because they think it will kill public schools. They're not fans.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

backboodling reveals ftb is already on the mend, good to see

Mudge-a gin and tonic would be great if you are still willing to fax one

toodles boodle and sweet dreams

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 18, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

vaya con queso, y'all, fondue and buenos gnocchis. Hope to see iamweaver and other new posters again.

Posted by: Ivansmom | September 18, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom-don't they call them "gummint schools?"

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 18, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

"A few months ago, a lady dropped her infant on its head in a parking lot. For some reason, everyone in the parking lot turned to look at me as if they expected me to do something. In the heat of the moment, all I could say to reassure the mother was, 'It's ok, when I was little my mom dropped me on my head, and now I'm an engineer.'"

I knew there was a reason I read Scott Adams's blog.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 18, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Say what you will about this sack of excrement. You must still admit that when Beck is with a million of his devout listeners, he's always the smartest guy present.

Posted by: dfc102 | September 18, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, and perhaps remarkably, I cannot find the wherewithal to become worked up over Beck.

Some wags suggest that politics and theatrics go hand-in-hand, that successful politicians have facilities not only as orators but as showmen/women, and actors who rise to the top of their profession require political skills in the business sense and with exercise of their craft.

It seems to me that Beck has found his niche, giving people what they want.

If asked, would he consider being Palin's running mate in '12?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | September 18, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

This is all a diversion plot, sheeple! We are being invaded by aliens from 55 Cancri f!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/55_Cancri_f
They decelerated into Jupiter and the atmosphere of Venus! It's all been classified! WAKE UP, AMERICA!

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 18, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

hawking blatant lies
does not a messiah make
though fools follow him
their reward will be ashes
alas, of our promised land

Posted by: DNA_Girl | September 18, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

For your weekend diversion and entertainment, I've invented a new game called Racist or Crazy? I've taken twelve of the most outrageous signs from the 912 march and ask you to rate whether the sign is racist or just crazy (You can't pick both, racist is crazy by definition).

http://livebythefoma.blogspot.com/2009/09/racist-or-crazy.html

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom,
I knew you would have the straight scoop. I suspect many students give deliberately stupid answers to tests they don't care about.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 18, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

r

Posted by: Boko999 | September 19, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

I doubt Beck is a racist. I'm sure he has numerous minorities that work for him. I just wonder if their correct federal taxes are being paid and how he evades the minimum wage laws.

Posted by: ccates | September 19, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

ccates, I think racists can have black employees. Ask Scarlett O'Hara.

At my last temp job a few weeks ago (they're scarce) I was struck by the odd dichotomy of the small manufacturing company. The setup was offices in front, and a warehouse at the back. There was one (1) black employee in the office section. Most of the warehouse employees were black. There were two employee kitchens, with an adjoining door. The one in front was for (you guessed it) the office employees. The one in the back was for the warehouse employees. They had their own coffee maker, fridge, etc. Separate and almost equal. I didn't comment on it, but the part of me which used to be 20 and passionate and loudmouthed feels bad about that.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | September 19, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and hi Boko!

Posted by: Wheezy11 | September 19, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Yello, I tried that OK Civics test on my 14 yr. old, newly in high school. She missed about 1/3 of them, which surprised me. I remember quizzing her on most of those things just last year for test prep.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | September 19, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

So much for many meaningless rants this evening! I got distracted compiling songs for a retreat this weekend - fortunately, I keep thousands of windows up and eventually was reminded of this one. I would add the Budweiser song to my list, but I'm not sure it fits in with the "follow God" theme...

Despite the regular on-kit commenting today, I still find respite here from most of the ranty-blogness of the other WaPo forums (I'm no Latin student, but shouldn't that really be "Fora"? Must ask my latin-geek friends!). Even when discussing Mr. Beck (who truly does seem to kill the headlights and put it in neutral - I know, it's trite - but true!) I find it hard to let my blood pressure spike here. That's either depressing or satisfying.

Posted by: iamweaver | September 19, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

You must have a really snazzy computer to be able to keep a lot of windows open, iamweaver. I am forced to make small fires out of dust bunnies and combings from my pets to turn tiny turbines to create the electricity to run my small netbook, one window at a time.

Going too far?

Posted by: Wheezy11 | September 19, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Boko! Avast, matey! Arrrrrr!

Posted by: seasea1 | September 19, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

I think I forgot to say this earlier, but L'shana tovah, y'all!

Posted by: bobsewell | September 19, 2009 3:17 AM | Report abuse

Hey Boko!

Posted by: rainforest1 | September 19, 2009 3:26 AM | Report abuse

ylojkt - re: 'You must not laugh at me, darling, but it has always been a girlish dream of mine to love a man named Ernest."

I've had a volume of the collected Wilde sitting around forever that I'm now working through quickly. Finished "Dorian Gray" two days ago, am giggling my way through "Being Earnest" now. Seen 'em, thought about 'em, never carefully read 'em until now.

Posted by: bobsewell | September 19, 2009 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Arrrrrr, iamweaver, avast ye, me hearty lurker!! *dancin' a Grover hornpipe atop the crow's nest*

Aye matey, 'tis that most excellent o'Boodle holidays...

Me beauty has fair skies and the wind at her back as she makes for home today!!

Arrrr, where's me blasted coffee???

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2009 5:20 AM | Report abuse

Yarrrr... Great as taday be, methinks I'll avoid singin' like this on me retreat..

And fer those a ya that go that way - Ahoy Vey, me hearties!

Posted by: iamweaver | September 19, 2009 6:23 AM | Report abuse

*LOL* VERY good, iamweaver!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Good, iamweaver, very, very good! Welcome to our merry little band, please post often!

You're up early, Scotty, is the bachelor life getting to you?

Posted by: slyness | September 19, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Getting-the-place-ready-for-her-return is getting to me, Slyness... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Aha! No sympathy needed, then. Good luck with the housecleaning.

Posted by: slyness | September 19, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

I've got the dynamite and jackhammer ready, Slyness, I'm good... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Small drama at denizen's this morning-no effing coffee in the house. I know a coffee pusher that opens at 06:30 though so it wasn't that bad. The shakes have stopped and I was able to turn the 'puter on in no times.

Boko!

It's one of those 1-day weekend, it'll be a busy one.

The listening|watching|reading public is so dispersed today there won't be another Murrow or Cronkite "moment". It the days of 2 TV network it was possible to have instantaneous concensus, not anymore in this 200+ channels cable\satellite world.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 19, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

SCC I obviously need more coffee.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | September 19, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

weaver of windows
of songs and hearty wit (aye!)
all welcome gifts here

Posted by: DNA_Girl | September 19, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Boko nice to see you post, was beginning to worry about you.

Cassandra, Martooni a check in from the two of you would be reassuring as well.

Another beautiful morning here.

Posted by: dmd3 | September 19, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Aaar boodle! Mr. F, newly freed from his long imprisonment, has already plundered Granny's donut shop and we are plotting a raid of the Farmer's Market before escaping to our northern hideout.

Ouch, the St. Paul Pioneer Press calls the new production at the Guthrie "The Impotence of Being Earnest." Runs through Nov 8 if any boodlers would like to attend with me some time in late Oct.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | September 19, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Stratford also had a production of "The Importance of Being Earnest", the NYT review,'

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/theater/reviews/26earnest.html?hpw


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S6DhG5pwsw

Love that play.

Posted by: dmd3 | September 19, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

'Arrrrgggghhh. Shiver me timbers. Fer ye newby swabs, 'tis Talk Like a Pirate Day (http://www.talklikeapirate.com/) aboard this here shipwreck of a blog, so avast. And like that.

Welcome, iamweaver. You show signs of great promise. Regarding the plural of forum, it is "forums." Not all Latin words taken into English retain their Latin endings (and even when they do, they usually don't do it correctly). We usually use stadiums as the plural, and on the rare occasion when someone uses "stadia," is sounds prissy and pretensious (which it is).

We do still use media as the plural of medium when talking about things like television, newspapers or whatever, as well as things like painting supplies. However, the one exception are fortunetellers: two or more of them are mediums, not media.

Of course, you are probably aware of the huge, raging debate over "data." It is a matter of solid fact that about two-thirds of all (American) language experts consider data to be an acceptable collective singular, while about one-third do not. The hold-outs tend to be in the scientific and academic communities. The GPO stylebook that I use at work (by fiat) allows it; the APA does not.

"Agenda" is dead wrong from the git-go. It is presumed to be a singlur and two of them would be agendas in English. But the proper Latin singular is agendum, but you never hear anyone ask to have an item put on this week's agendum.

Latin seems to be the only language whose loans words into English people seem to think require their "proper" Latin plurals. Nobody ever argued that the plural of dachshund in English ought to be dachshunden. What's the "proper" French plural of croissant? Hell if I know.

(The whole Latin plural debate is screwed up from the start, anyhow, because those Latin endings people argue about only apply to nominative and accusative case [which are always the same]. Where is it written that the plural of datum is always data? Because it isn't. Properly speaking, in the phrase "an analysis of the data shows that..." it actually ought to be "an analysis of the datorum shows that..." if people want to get all bent out of shape (shapus bentorum) about proper word endings.

Alrighty then!! Time to go walk the plank (Tempus est plankorum strollio fugit).

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | September 19, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The plural of croisaant be "calories," ya scurvy 'Mudge ya!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Oh and 'mudge, this is the best I could do...

Codex: Spandex rubs
Raptorex; Fedex Phiso-
hex or be Tex-Mex

Posted by: DNA_Girl | September 19, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Arrrrr, mateys, it be blasted difficult to vaccum wi'a pegleg...

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 19, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Mudge you may need to repost that over at the next kit...sorry to hit everyone with a surprise Saturday microkit but I thought it was just as well to move onward...

Posted by: joelache | September 19, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I guess, in the end, the only important question is: Do we want to solve our problems or simply to justify that we are angry about them? We have to have trust, and to do that, we must make ourselves trustworthy. There are irrefutable truths.

We have budget deficits. The economy is in the tank. The effect of unemployment, underemployment, and miserable wages will have - in the short term and for the future - a far greater ill effect on our power and spirit as a nation than will the way we solve the problems. It is true that depending on our recent leanings we will feel "bitten" by words or acts of players on the stage. But as long as we allow those "hurts" to deflect us from our real goals, we will suffer - individually and as an American society.

Pres. Obama won the executive office this time. He is pointing to areas in our economics, diplomacy, and world relations that need remedy. We were told long before last November how he would tend to look at that, and by majority, we gave our trust to him to set us on that course. In the middle of the Second World War, the American public didn't say: "Nah, we don't want to do this any more." Then, the public largely bent to the task and supported the President and Congress to bring the work to a conclusion. Our challenges today are no less great, and perhaps more so.

It seems to me that we have more in common, we Americans, than we have in difference. To any other nation, we are one nation, not a left half and a right half. Our fortunes rest in the same basket, so to speak. Others will watch our example; it is time to be a leader of the free world by how we act in crisis. If we allow those seeking monetary gain by keeping us divided to succeed, we lose. Why not show our true character by finding out how we can unite?

Posted by: Jazzman7 | September 19, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"This is an elegant take-down of Beck. After reading this, I wouldn't believe a thing he ever said."

This is where you lost all credibility for me, Joel. You admitted that you don't know Beck, but wouldn't believe anything he said based solely on one article written by a friend without any further research. It shows a lack of wisdom. Why should I pay attention to the rest of your article?

Posted by: roostercharmer | September 20, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

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