The Venerable Smokestack alerted me to this breaking news about Glenn Beck’s new line of 1791 Supply & Co blue jeans. Don’t try to understand that name or you’ll tear your hippocampus. The 1791 part refers to the year the Bill of Rights was ratified. It definitely does not refer to the year Louis XVI and his family were captured at Varennes-en-Argonne while trying to flee the French Revolution. Beck hates revolutions that do not have “American” or possibly “faith” in front of them. It’s the whole reason he invented blue jeans in the first place.
We won, you guys. Glenn Beck announced yesterday that he will not renew his existing contract with Fox News, meaning that the network will stop airing The Glenn Beck Program and Old-Tyme Conspiracy Hour sometime between now and December. The news is startling but not surprising. Reports have swirled—swirled!—regarding Fox executives’ displeasure with Beck, whose show has lost 300 advertisers and 40% of its ratings share since the salad days of late 2009. It appears that the same principle applies to Fox viewership as applies to the nation: the more people know what Glenn Beck is talking about, the less they buy it. The bad news is that he may purchase his own cable channel—in order to, and I quote, “extract more value” from his fan base—but the interesting news is his and Roger Ailes’s mutual attempt to hide their contempt for each other. “I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News,” Beck said in a statement yesterday. Ailes quote and uncharitable analysis after the jump.
Deductive reasoning isn’t just a tool for curing polio and making accurate models of the solar system; it’s also a great way to alienate yourself from like half the population. One can only imagine the joy of the first caveman who combined two truthful propositions to synthesize a third, and the disappointment/rock impact he felt when he tried to explain it to somebody else. The problem with logic is that it works best on those people who are most likely to arrive at valid conclusions themselves. Its effectiveness diminishes as you deal with unprincipled or prejudiced people—sorry, “common sense” people—and drops to near zero when you get to people who prefer standing outside and yelling stuff. Basically, logic convinces least where you need it most, like if Raid killed bugs in direct proportion to their intelligence. This week’s link roundup starts out with some sweet victories for logic, then watches logic return to its role as depressingly aging gatekeeper. It’s also got Glenn Beck telling us which major religion the Antichrist will probably belong to so, you know, look out for that.
Yesterday, on his radio show, Glenn Beck announced that he had conducted an email exchange with Sarah Palin regarding the public response to Jared Lee Loughner. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link. “Sarah, as you know, peace is always the answer,” Beck said he wrote. “I know you are feeling the same heat, if not much more on this. I want you to know you have my full support.” One hopes, for Palin’s sake, that he is already lying at this point, and that she does not have to field creepy emails from Glenn Beck every Monday morning. Regardless, Beck claims that two things happened next. First, he recommended that Palin hire some bodyguards or something, “because an attempt on you could bring the Republic down.”* As Emily Post reminds us, you should always conclude any letter of support by speculating on what would happen if the person you’re writing to were assassinated. Second, the response he claims to have gotten from Palin is so baffling, so obstinate in its thwarting of sense, that it is the subject of today’s Close Reading.
We’ve expended more than a few words around here trying to fit Glenn Beck into history—as an heir to Father Coughlin, for example, or more broadly as a populist in the mold of that Great Commoner, William Jennings Bryan. We’ve also tried to fit Beck into history the way you fit the cat into a carrier before taking him to the vet, trying to map his peculiar understanding of the American narrative or at least figure out where it come from. Those two lines of inquiry may just converge on the John Birch Society, as this interesting overview in the New Yorker suggests. Props to Mose for the link. In June, after Beck made a presentation on Communism in America, an essay on the John Birch Society website praised it as “the ultimate in complete agreement between the Beck and JBS presentations of American history.”