Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Does Glenn Beck Really Matter?

I will admit, there was something alluring about Glenn Beck when he burst onto the national scene. Part of it was the fact that he shredded the mainstream media like and F-5 tornado in a trailer park. Part of it was his unapologetic religious nature. Part of it was his ability to see connections that would otherwise escape notice. But then, he got stale. Not stale like bread left out overnight, but rather the kind of stale that comes with a steady diet of the same thing over and over again. The kind of stale that says "toss some meat into the mac 'n cheese tonight ma ... come on, live a little!" Glenn became two things that will doom anyone in media. He became formulaic, and apocalyptic.
He became formulaic in that no matter what the issue was, there would be three things in his radio/TV programs. First there would be analysis of it. Then there would be some joking around by his radio sidekicks. Then on TV, Glenn would do his teacher routine on the chalkboard. He constantly used the radio and TV programs to push exclusive content on his website. Occasionally he would drop a topic and move on so abruptly that I started to wonder if he was straying into territory where there might have been exclusive online content that he didn't want to divulge for free.
Worst of all, he became apocalyptic. Everything was the end of the world, that God just HAD to judge America for this that or the other thing. The moral depravity of the nation had eliminated out most favored nation status with the almighty and now we were going to have to pay for it. We were hanging on by a thread over the pits of hell and someone was greasing the rope between our fingers. Other talk show hosts, even invented a term for when they were in a fit of pessimism, they were feeling "beckish," they would say.
His radio show was shedding listeners faster than Facebook is shedding subscribers, and his TV show was losing sponsors even faster. It is pretty sad when the ad space on a cable TV network starts to become dominated by internal ad buys instead of actual bill-paying sponsors. What does this mean for poor, beleaguered Glenn Beck? It means that this is the perfect time to see if people will PAY to see him do the exact same bit that people used to watch for free.
Beck's show was consistently one of the top-rated shows on the Fox News Channel, but if he truly believes that all of those viewers will follow him to GBTV, his subscriber-based web enterprise, I fear the Beck will have another mystery to sketch out on his chalkboard.
I tuned in the first time when Beck first came to Fox News Channel. I watched sporadically for a while. I turned him off for the last time during the whole 'I'm going blind' drama. I don't knock the fact that he genuinely has health issues. I know many people who do. What got me was seeing him talking about his vision issues, and then blowing it off an segueing into a discussion of Democratic Party political dirty tricks saying something along the lines of 'I don't know why I am going blind, but there is one thing I do know, the democrats will do anything to win an election.' Grab the remote, point and click. Buhbye Glenn Beck. Hope all of your other business ventures can feed your family, because GBTV will never provide you with the comfortable life that you have become accustomed to with the nice fat Fox paychecks.

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