As you know, I've rarely said much about Glenn Beck the last couple of years* but I felt I should note the passing of his show on the Fox News Channel, which ended its meteoric rise and fall earlier tonight. After writing a book that dealt extensively with Beck's role in the rise of the Tea Party movement, I should have something momentous to say, but I don't. I already euologized Beck in this piece, after all.
I would remind you that even though Beck's political influence was, in my opinion, significant, that was all just a by-product of what it was really all about...
The Benjamins, as I noted in this excerpt from "The Backlash":
But Beck and Palin are merely at the top of a broad pyramid of entrepreneurs -- an ever-swelling list that ranges from emailed-crazed peddlers of "Impeach Obama" T-shirts and bumper stickers or "tea bag" jewelry, to televangelists and conspiracy DVD merchants, to the sellers of a growing list of survivalists products like "heirloom seeds" in indestructible canisters and backpacks full of freeze-dried foodstuffs.
The Selling of the Tea Party 2010 has happy and willing accomplices in the likes of Beck, radio's nationally syndicated conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and online media like the far-right WorldNetDaily, where the editorial articles and rants about the looming collapse of American civilization blend seamlessly into advertising pitches for marked-up gold coins or cheesier products. In the case of his controversial advertiser Solutions From Science, there's no evidence that Beck is directly aware of the sponsor's past problems with the feds, his Hugewadsofmoney.com website, or consumer complaints.
But on a gut level, the political messages and the product shilling clearly share a low common denominator: Raw, unvarnished fear.
The story of Beck's advertiser Solutions from Science, and its "survival seeds," and its website Hugewadsofmoney.com, is pretty amazing. Plus for ambitious readers there's a bonus reference to Anthony Weiner.
So read it, and then get out and enjoy the July 4 weekend. I know I will. And I'll see you again on Tuesday.