Saturday, February 12, 2011

News From Glenn Beckistan

James Rainey, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times took a pretty healthy shot at Fox Rodeo Clown Glenn Beck and didn't miss the target.

We saw all the character traits from one figure looming over the Egypt story: the massive shows of emotion, the sketchy command of others' views, the megalomaniacal refusal to recognize facts on the ground. And, as always, the willingness to say and do anything to command the stage for one more day.

We speak not of Hosni Mubarak, but of that other master of manipulation and misdirection, Glenn Beck.

Why, yes. That pretty much gets it.

It's nice to see a mainstream media outlet note the madness emanating from that slice of the cable spectrum. It's not the earliest shot fired, but it is still an effective one.

Of course, that doesn't mean the end of Glenn Beck's career. He appears, after all, on Fox News Network. Just as importantly, however, he is currently just the loudest and most visible part of Republican's Might Wurlitzer, even if right now he is embarrassing the hell out of the party's regulars, as Media Matters pointed out:

But this is what happens when Republicans build an irresponsible Noise Machine that's designed to offend and designed to attack. What happens is that, in case of emergency, there is no 'off' switch that Bill Kristol and other suddenly concerned Beck critics can reach for. Same goes for Rush Limbaugh who, like Beck, has been mocking Egypt's freedom fighters and who also represents the voice of today's right-wing America.

Make no mistake, Republicans and conservatives have spent years fueling the Noise Machine. They cheered when it Swift Boated John Kerry and spent most of the previous decade portraying Democrats as terrorist sympathizers. And they feed off the Noise Machine's Obama obsession today and its attempt to paint the President of the United States as an illegitimate communist ruler. But with the Egypt idiocy, apparently Beck has finally gone too far for the Bill Kristols of the world. And as Time's Joe Klein reported, "prominent Republicans" have been complaining to Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes about Beck and the "potential" embarrassment he could do to the party. (Hint: It's a bit late to close that barn door.)

All of the pointing and laughing by the traditional media and by media watchdogs won't put an end to Beck's eschatological rantings. But there is something that might, something that might get the attention of his employers, something that's always important to them: the bottom line. And right now, Glenn Beck's bottom line is dropping like a rock:

Despite the continued dominance of Fox News, the fourth most-watched cable channel in Primetime -- that's cable channel not cable news channel -- Glenn Beck's ratings slipped in January.

A lot.

Year over year he posted the biggest loss of any cable news show averaging 1.8 million viewers, down 39% from January 2010. In 25-54 demo he dropped 48%, to 397,000.

Becks ratings have been struggling all month. And by struggling we mean he as been consistently below the 2 million total viewers mark. A first. ...

But it's probably also worth noting, just in the context of this January, that the month was dominated by hard news, in the form of the Giffords shooting.

Glenn Beck is many things but he is not hard news (nor does he generally attempt to be). And considering the nature of the news, perhaps it's not entirely surprising that viewers were clicking away for a while. Sometimes it's nice to be told the world is not ending.

And in the news business, which, alas, has become a business in this country, those numbers are damning.

There is a limit, and it appears that Glenn Beck may finally be reaching that limit.

One can only hope.

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