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Glenn Beck and the Useful Idiots at Fox News

15 April 2009

5:01 PM

15 April 2009

5:01 PM

David Frum is, once again, spot on. Writing about the ludicrous – and loopy – Glenn Beck and his fantasies of armed resistance against the Obama administration’s "fascism", Frum points out how useful Beck is to Obama (and vice versa) and how poisonous he and his ravings are to the future of the Republican party:

Beck is a comedian at bottom, and he does not want to incite anyone to do anything except stay tuned through the following commercial announcements. But if the Obama press team had consciously designed an Exhibit A for their coming campaign of defamation against conservative America, they could not have asked for anything better than what Beck and the Fox network have provided them.

In fact, one can already see the shape of the tacit deal between Obama and the Fox team. The conservative network’s ratings have jumped handsomely since Obama’s election, while liberal MSNBC’s have slumped. From a political point of view, Fox’s behavior may seem manifestly self-defeating. But Fox is a business, and from that point of view its behavior is perfectly rational.

What is irrational is the failure of conservatives and Republicans to perceive the divergence between Fox’s interests and their own. Republican leaders should have put a hundred miles between themselves and Glenn Beck the first day he began dwelling lovingly on the possibility of right-wing armed violence in the United States. It’s a little awkward to do so now: that would look like falling in step with the Obama administration’s contrivances. But party leaders should quietly urge anyone with an (R.) after his or her name to keep as far away as possible from this unwitting tool of Obama administration spin.

All true. Not that the GOP is in a mood to listen to reason at present, of course.

UPDATE: Mind you, the nutjobs on the left are just as bad, as Radley Balko reminds one.

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Show comments
  • THX1138

    Cabbie- I’m really busy today so can’t give the proper response your well thought out reply deserves, but I thought you might enjoy this.

    The 10 Best Political Videos You’ve (Probably) Never Seen

    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/politics/2009/04/the-10-best-political-videos-youve-probably-never-seen.html.

    BTW I was glad about post on torture and I’m very glad to see Cheney is pooing himself over the memo’s

  • Conservative Cabbie

    THX

    And don’t forget that following the GOP convention, McCain actually pulled ahead in the polls. He was even leading in states like Oregon and New Jersey. Sure, that was part of the convention bounce, but it does suggest that things were a lot tighter. It was only the dramatic economic collapse and McCain’s poor response to it that dramatically swung things in Obama’s favour. That won’t be there again in 4, 8 or even 12 years.

  • Conservative Cabbie

    THX

    “I’m convinced that Obama will BE re-elected in 2012”

    I think that’s likely too. Being able to monopolise the African-American is a huge benefit, America will probably come out of recession in the next four years and he will benefit from that (regardless of whether he is responsible for it), and he will also have the benefit of incumbency. The law of averages says that he will serve two terms, most Presidents do. Barring a terrorist attack or him being forced to put up taxes drastically to pay for his expolding debt, I certainly won’t be betting against him.

    “With independents approving of Obama by 56%”

    You are aware that it is with independents that Obama is losing his support the fastest?

    “Those Republicans who are left tend to more of the more vocal “wingnut” variety”

    This is just wrong. It is typical leftist propoganda, trying to paint the GOP as radicalised. Are you saying that 47% of Americans are wingnuts? Sure, the far right are the more vocal wing of the party with a prescence online, on radio and in the media, but don’t forget that it was John McCain, who the far right hated, who won the last primary. McCain was the more centrist candidate and yet he won the primary comfortably.

    “Obama has won the battle for the centre.”

    He is a unique candidate. It doesn’t mean that the next Democrat will win that battle.

    I’m not going to deny that the GOP are in a bad place, but that’s just part of the normal cycle of politics. The 70’s/80’s Democrats will tell you that, as will the Labour party of the 80’s or the recent Tory party. Your initial argument was that the GOP were “dying out” and there are just no “facts”, stubborn or otherwise to back that up.

    The GOP is a party of diverse values. Social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, paleo-conservatives and big business conservatives. This diversity of opinion means that division within the ranks can be a serious problem. However, it also means that when they can fashion an accomodation, there is a huge base of support.

    Finally, I want to talk about the youth vote you are so keen to trumpet. When did the youth of America start to become liberalised? It was the 60’s. So why didn’t this lead to the death of the GOP and a glorious period for the Democrats? After all, that’s what you are suggesting is going to happen now. It’s because, as people get older, they become more conservative in their values. As a ‘youth’, they have little in the way of responsibilities or wealth and can afford to be idealists. But as they get older, they get jobs, buy houses, get married and have children. Idealism plays second fiddle to protecting what’s yours and historically, the GOP have represented that sentiment, either through lower taxes or more assertive foreign policy.

    The GOP have a long way to go. It may even be 16 years before they are back in the Whitehouse, but they will recover. Of that I have no doubt.

  • THX1138

    Cabbie- Firstly a good post..

    I’m not going to get into trading US TV ratings & demographics and polls too much I know they are your forte so in the most part I’ll yield to you. I would like to make some longer term points on why I believe the US is trending Dem

    What I would say about TV ratings however is that the under 30’s increasingly get their news & info on-line and as Obama and his Silicon Valley friends has shown great skill in using the Web I think the future propaganda battle is going to increasingly swing on-line and therefore in the Dems favour.

    Those identifying themselves as Republicans do now form only 24% of the electorate, the lowest showing in a very long time and far lower than at the start of Bush’s term, Bush has been the best possible recruiting Sgt for the Dems. Those Republicans who are left tend to more of the more vocal “wingnut” variety whose death-throw rantings will further alienate independents. An Obama presidency causes a vicious downward spiral for the GOP as Fox & Rush et all get angrier and angrier to chase the literally dying pool of hardcore Republicans in desperate attempt to boost ratings this will in turn, turn off sensible minded independents even further.

    The Latino vote has been a disaster for the GOP take a growing family orientated , Catholic pro life, hard working constituency like Latino’s a natural hunting ground for the Republicans you would have thought and they blow it. Bush giving in to the wingnuts on immigration and the amnesty & McCain shoring up the Repub base in him home state with regular visits to the loony gun toting minuteman, Latinos knew what really motivated the Republican party race and them not being not being the right race.

    Elections are won in the centre and you find that a huge 70% of independents believe Obama is best placed to address the deep problems the US faces and huge majorities believe that the Bush economic crisis will take a long time to fix are not impatient for results.

    With independents approving of Obama by 56% and Republicans approving of Obama by 29%. With independent support more than double the Republican support and closer to the massive Democratic backing, Obama has won the battle for the centre.

    Maybe the Republican Party will rise again but I’m convinced that Obama will BE re-elected in 2012

    To quote Mark Twain

    “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable”

    Not sure if that quote helps either of our arguments!!

  • ndm

    — NRO’s The Corner is full of intellectual, extremely sensible writers.

    Whatever. The reason the NRO blog is called the Corner is that its writers have painted themselves into a corner some distance from reality.

  • Conservative Cabbie

    ndm

    Andrew Sullivan has only a passing relationship with conservatism, which to be fair, is more than his relationship with either being sensible or moderate.

    How exactly does comparing Bush with Hitler make him moderate? How does obsessing about Sarah Palin’s gynaecological history make him sensible? Being a moderate conservative and questioning the modern direction of conservatism is a legitimate calling, but engaging in histrionic abuse and pandering to the base prejudices of of the bigoted left are not worthy of a so-called conservative. Like the racist who uses the preamble “I’m not a racist but…”, Sullivan precedes any anti-conservative rant with “I’m a conservative but…”. The man is a fraud.

    NRO’s The Corner is full of intellectual, extremely sensible writers. You may question their politics, but you can’t question their intellectual acuity.

  • ndm

    — There are a great many sensible, moderate conservative commentators who see what his game is, while also recognising that people like Beck are primarily in the entertainment business, and connect with a minority of Americans (although having left-wing morons dominating the entertainment business didn’t work out too badly for Obama did it?)

    We want names.

    I can think of only two mainstream sensible, moderate conservative commentators – Andrew Sullivan and Ross Douthat. Sullivan thinks Beck is insane, and here is Douthat:

    — they’ve brought various wacky extremists out of the woodwork (you know, like Glenn Beck)

    So, Mike, let’s see that list of a “great many sensible, moderate conservatives who see what his game is.”

  • THX1138

    Cabbie so glad you’re back, civlised debate at last… I’m going out but will be back with a detailed rebuttal tomorrow.

  • Conservative Cabbie

    THX

    “Ndm is correct the Fox News audience is in it’s mid 60’s”

    You take a fact like the above and then deduce from it that my “side is quite simply old and dying out.” However, you seem to be ignoring some rather important facts.

    1. While Fox has the slightly older demographic, MSNBC which I think we can agree is the spokes channel for your so-called young and invigorated party has an average viewer age of 57 (interesting that ndm forgot to tell us that isn’t it?). This has nothing to do with political demography, just that young people don’t watch cable news.

    2. The last Gallup poll had 18-29 year old support for John McCain at 33%. Guess what the support amongst the youngest demographic group in 1992 for George Bush was. Yup, 33%. So tell me again how that means that the Republican party are dying out.

    3. You cite the latino vote as evidence that the GOP are on the way out whilst ignoring the fact that hispanics have always been closely aligned with the Democratic party. The thing is though, their support for either party does change. Again, taking Gallup’s last pre-election poll, hispanic support for McCain was at 20%, almost exactly the same as the hispanic support for Bob Dole at 21%. Was that also proof that the GOP was dying out? Hardly, considering that only eight years later, hispanics were voting for George W Bush at 44%. And if as you say, hispanic approval for Obama is at 73%, but he was getting 74% of their vote, doesn’t that mean that his support amongst hispanics is waning.

    4. You cite Republican identification being only 24% as further evidence to support your theory. Guess what? Again the facts don’t support your theory. Between 1974 and 1980, Republican ID hovered between 22 and 24%. And yet, since 1980, the GOP has only been out of the Whitehouse for 8 years.

    You cannot take one election, taken during an unpopular war and the mother of all recessions and conclude from that “my lot” are done and dusted. In American history, both the Democrats (post civil-war) and the Republicans (post depression) have effectively “died out” at the Presidential level. And yet, on both occasions, they have bounced back eventually to their most dominant periods. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “reports of my (sides) demise are greatly exaggerated”.

  • Mike

    I’ve just noticed elsewhere that you’re a huge admirer of Andrew Sullivan, who by some distance is the most hate-filled, dishonest, narcissistic, hypocritical and conspiracy obsessed of all the ‘mainstream’ bloggers.

    I won’t waste my time trying to reason with you in future. My mistake.

  • Mike

    Alex, you need to start reading people other than Frum on the American right.

    In case you weren’t aware, Frum just set up a new website which he’s desperate to promote, and to that end he’s been happy to suck up to the overwhelmingly Democrat-supporting mainstream media by badmouthing Republicans. He engages in hyperbole and insults while condemning others for the same, and he’s happy to trade his principles for appearances on national talk shows. Frum was getting one or two comments on each post before he started launching attacks on Rush Limbaugh and other commentators; now his traffic is growing nicely.

    There are a great many sensible, moderate conservative commentators who see what his game is, while also recognising that people like Beck are primarily in the entertainment business, and connect with a minority of Americans (although having left-wing morons dominating the entertainment business didn’t work out too badly for Obama did it?)

    It’s Frum who’s the useful idiot here.

  • UK Libertarian

    “Ndm is correct the Fox News audience is in it’s mid 60’s and the Rush the “Big Fat Idiots” listeners average is 67 and with only 24% of the American electorate identifying themselves Republicans, your side is quite simply old and dying out.

    In comparison Obama has a 75% approval rating with the under 30’s”

    In fairness, the public education system has been systematically brainwashing children to believe in liberal ideas for the past quarter-century or longer – both in the US and the UK. I remember my HS Modern Studies teacher about five years ago, who used to go on lenghty rants about all things left-wing, until one day I interrupted him to point out his rampant partiality, then politely explained why I was in favour of the death penalty (the topic he happened to be harranguing us on that day. He stared at me in horror at the sudden realisation that the project to raise a new generation of rampant liberals had been partially unsuccessful.

  • THX1138

    Hi Cabbie been on holiday look’s like I have missed a great scrap, unsurprisingly I think you’re wrong

    “So what you’re saying is that mature people with life experience under their belt make Fox their channel of choice. “

    The great Ben Fold Five nailed your typical Fox News Viewer

    “Your Uncle Walter’s going on and on
    ‘Bout everything he’s seen and done
    The voice of 50 years experience
    He’s drunk, watching the television”

    http://tinyurl.com/aeafob

    Ndm is correct the Fox News audience is in it’s mid 60’s and the Rush the “Big Fat Idiots” listeners average is 67 and with only 24% of the American electorate identifying themselves Republicans, your side is quite simply old and dying out.

    In comparison Obama has a 75% approval rating with the under 30’s and a 73% with Hispanics by far the most important and fastest growing demographic.

    The dirty little secret of conservative talk Radio and Fox news is that they had their highest ratings under Clinton and their lifeline was an Obama victory with no one to attack they loose their raison d’

  • Roy

    Useful idiots or no at Fox News it’s more than we get from the UK. An undisguised program with opinions and news as they see it. Is this to be despised? Anyone speaking up loudly for policies of the right? The free enterprise system that has stood the test of time and brought prosperity to the western world? Standing for what they see as the wrong moves by Obama and the takeover of a majority of the media to the tentacles of the left? Along with an undercurrent of malicious propaganda perpetrated by the indoctrinating neighborhood groups where Obama himself sprang from?
    Fox News might not be the epitome of socialist radicalism or even a diluted part of it, but what a stream of fresh air compared to those under the thumb of distant or unreliable ideologies, pandering to those who would see us sanitised to their way of thinking.

  • UK Libertarian

    I’m curious to know what precisely is wrong with the concept of popular resistance to aspects of the Obama administration’s policies? the Obama/Geithner/Pelosi axis of extremism is exactly the kind of European-style tyranny the framers of the Bill of Rights and Constitution had in mind when they made it implicitly clear that the people had the right to protect themselves against infringements on their personal and proprietal rights.

  • Anna

    Funny thing-Glenn Beck isn’t even Republican. He’s not democrat. A little advice for Alex Massie that I’m sure his sevevth grade English teacher would agree with, “know what you’re writing about before you write about it”.

  • Michelle

    David Frum is irrelevant. And just what ‘armed’ resistance are you talking about??? Liberals are into the hallucinogenics again. Tsk, tsk.

  • Erasmus

    First, David Frum is a dork. Fox News routinely beats CNN and PMSNBC is the ratings night after night. Glenn Beck is entertaining. There is no organized Republican Party anymore, therefore no official spokesman for or against. There are a few of us nutters who do weird things like work, pay taxes, obey laws, really silly things you know. Did I mention that David Frum is a dork?

  • Richard Friday

    I enjoy watching Glenn Beck, but who is this Alex Massie that you speak of?

  • elixelx

    Alex, DO, PLEASE PLEASE DO, write about this–if you dare!–noting especially words like
    “fraudulenta” and “artificio” and “Juguete” and don’t forget to include the context and the nuance!

    http://es.noticias.yahoo.com/9/20090416/tes-la-fiscalia-se-opone-a-la-querella-c-61bd63d.html

    “La Fiscal

  • TDK

    Since anything remotely controversial always gets recorded and posted on YouTube, perhaps Mr Massie can prove his case by linking to the relevant YouTube videos of Mr Beck.

  • elixelx

    What happened to my last comment, Alex?
    Didn’t you like being told you are an incontinent parrot s*itting and sqawing on the narrow shoulders of the Frums of this world?
    Polly is crackers!

  • Conservative Cabbie

    ndm

    So what you’re saying is that mature people with life experience under their belt make Fox their channel of choice. A fine endorsement, nice one! Because there is no other way to spin the fact that CNN is a ratings disaster and Fox makes MSNBC look pathetic in comparitive ratings. All the top Fox shows beat Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s top show.

    Anyway, I see the National Barack Channel is bailing out Blagojevich with a contribution towards his pension. It’s nice that the left in America look after their own.

  • porkbelly

    CC – personally, give me Ted Nugent and Chuck Norris over David Frum anyday. Frum is a professional harrumpher with all the passion of a bowl of lint.

  • cherie79

    I would love to have a version of Fox News here. At least they let anyone of any opinion on and let them speak, more than I can say for our one sided TV news. Sky isn’t too bad but the BBC and Channel 4 are beyond redemption. You should differentiate between opinion broadcasters like Bill o’Reilly and Sean Hannity and excellent news programmes like Special Report. I think it was Charles Krauthammer who said Rupert Murdoch found a niche market – half of America. Fox is by far the most successful of the cable news programmes. I think the TV news here should be freed up as there is no balanced coverage just a single mindset that permeates: pro EU, Pro Labour, pro immigration, pro multi culturism. I don’t know if it is conscious but it is certainly there.

  • Wilhelm

    I love the way ndm gives off stats to give the impression that he knows what he’s talking about .
    Meanwhile back on planet earth, on NBC clownish buffoon Keith Olbermann rants and raves and Chris Mathews squeeks ” a shiver runs up and down my leg and I feel tingly all over when Barak Hussein Obimbo speaks . Ho Hum.

  • Wilhelm

    This coming from a man with a silly hair style.

  • ndm

    No story on Fox News is complete without taking into account the demographic skewing of its audience. A report in Variety last year reminded us:

    — Among ad-supported cable nets, the news nets (along with older-skewing Hallmark Channel, Golf Channel and GSN’s daytime sked) sport the most gray, with Fox News Channel’s daytime and primetime skeds the absolute oldest, clocking in with a median age above 65. Youngest nets are the daytime skeds for Noggin and Nickelodeon, with a median age under 10.

    The median age of the Fox News audience is 65. The tearjerk, Glenn Beck, is on at 5PM Weekdays when the average American is still at work.

    Fox News benefits from other parts of the media taking it seriously and reporting on it as if it were much more influential than it actually is.

  • Conservative Cabbie

    “But party leaders should quietly urge anyone with an (R.) after his or her name to keep as far away as possible from this unwitting tool of Obama administration spin.”

    “All true. Not that the GOP is in a mood to listen to reason at present, of course.”

    In the interests of due diligence, I decided to look at Glenn Beck’s guest lists going back to the start of the year just to see how much the GOP were playing into the hands of this “unwitting tool”. If Alex Massie’s unresearched rant is to be believed, the whole GOP leadership has trotted through that show. In fact it was 3. Three Republicans of any note have been guests on his show. Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. I’m not going to include Ted Nugent or Chuck Norris, I’m sure even someone as ‘balanced’ as Alex Massie will acknowledge that they aren’t representative of the GOP leadership.

    No wonder Alex wrote “in praise of Andrew Sullivan”, he mirrors his obsessional bigotry of conservative America. And is there any surprise that we get his devotion to Sullivan the day after Sullivan links to Massie?

    Another non story here. More Sullivan mirroring!

    Sorry, on double checking, I noticed Jim DeMint has also been interviewed by telephone – yup, they’re falling over themselves to get on his show.

  • De Rigueur

    Can you really be surprised, Alex, at what you call the ravings of conservatives? Holding a Tea Party? Quelle surprise!

    They’re exactly the equivalent to the onslaught of Anti-Bush propaganda and hate blogs put about during the election last year.

    Get a life, as they say dear boy. And a hair cut!

  • Stephen Burrows

    Beck’s discussions of the Bubba Effect that I’ve seen on You-Tube don’t seem any different to the Summer of Rage that our own police have been ‘fantasising’ about.

    I don’t think it’s going to happen, but that doesn’t make Beck beyond the pale just for talking about it.

  • David

    It’s like those sad sacks in the UK in the 80s who liked to pretend Thatcher was a dictator (while, obviously, opposing her moves to combat real dictators).

  • David Williamson

    I watch Beck’s show most days, but seem to have missed his call for armed insurrection. He is in favor of Tea Parties, which are a little different (though, no doubt, the distinction will be blurred by Obamabots and the Useful Idiots at the Speccie).

  • ndm

    Among all the brouhaha about Fox News one thing nearly always forgotten is that its audience represents only a very small part of American society.

    Variety reports:

    — Among ad-supported cable nets, the news nets (along with older-skewing Hallmark Channel, Golf Channel and GSN’s daytime sked) sport the most gray, with Fox News Channel’s daytime and primetime skeds the absolute oldest, clocking in with a median age above 65. Youngest nets are the daytime skeds for Noggin and Nickelodeon, with a median age under 10.

    Glenn Beck is on weekdays at 5PM which tells us something about his audience – the average American is working and not watching Glenn Beck. I love the motto for his show “The fusion of entertainment and enlightenment.” I’ve seen more entertaining candles.

  • elixelx

    Alex, your name really should be POLLY, as your only opinion is a imitative squawk as you regurgitate while defecating (yep! both ends at once!) on the shoulders of others!
    Where is your own opinion of Stewart, or Olbermann, or Snow; these must be genuine newsmen, eh, just like your own unworthy self?
    Scree! Polly is quackers! Scree! Polly is quackers!

  • elixelx

    “All comparisons are odious” Don Quijote de La Mancha….
    …but not half as odious as a man who steals the opinions of his betters…

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