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Fact-filled and to someone who likes to deal in facts - a bit depressing
on July 19, 2010
My title says I found this book is a bit depressing. It's depressing because after showing all the ignorance, not to mention out-right lying, that goes into numerous Glenn Beck pronouncements, the author, Alexander Zaitchik, is forced to admit that Beck is not going to smarten up or disappear anytime soon. Beck's schtick makes too much money and gets too much press and gives Beck too much a feeling of omnipotence and power.
Two people can look at the same set of facts, and come to different conclusions. Of course. But as Zaitchik illustrates, Beck pulls stuff out of the air and uses it as if it's a fact. I want to review Zaitchik's book, itself, and not just write an opinion piece on Beck (because boy is that another review). So, speaking about this book instead of about its subject matter, I must say that Zaitchik's detail is excellent. As a non-fiction book, it has extensive footnotes and you always know from where he got his information. Though you can tell Zaithchik is not a Glenn Beck fan, there is no unsubstantiated ranting (in the manner of, oh, Glenn Beck) - rather, you're told when, where, what and how.
I found the detail fascinating and I took pages of notes while reading this book. I came away with these main points:
1. Beck was into personal attacks while he was a drug-addled drunk DJ, and cleaning up his drug habit has not cleaned up his attitude towards demonizing in the harshest terms anyone who disagrees with him. This includes what Beck considers cute stunts. During the Terry Schiavo uproar, a local newspaper columnist disagreed with Beck's view. So Beck said on his radio show that he'd like to "murder" the man, and gave out the columnist's phone number, address and email address on the air. The columnist was inundated with death threats. If you don't think this is a big deal, imagine your daughter or your wife picking up the phone to have an anonymous voice threaten to kill you.
2. It may only be a matter of time before someone kills someone in the name of Glenn Beck. Beck knows this - in his 2009 book "Common Sense", in at least three places Beck reminds his readers to not use violence. (The publisher's lawyers probably had a hand in that.)
3. Beck is a royal-class con man. Four times he's asked listeners to send him money so he can continue to spread the conservative word, and every time his listeners send this man money just because he asks. The last time he raked in $450,000 - personal money, it didn't belong to the station. Beck brags that he can cry on cue, there's taped interviews where he admits this.
4. Beck is trying mightily to deny it now, but you don't have to go that far back in his professional history to find some really ugly stuff. After so many people working so hard for so many years to blunt the effects and acceptability of racism, Beck has made it OK for his audience to be proudly racist. Before him, a woman might actually be ashamed to carry a sign with a picture of a black man (Obama) with a stuffed monkey stapled next to it.
I'm reviewing from the "Advance uncorrected proof".