Creeping Out to Beck

Despite my criticism of Rush Limbaugh, I discern his strengths and understand his appeal. Sean Hannity bores the hell out of me, but I’m sure his audience includes a lot of intelligent, decent people.

What really troubles me is Glenn Beck. I know he’s attracted some ridicule on The Daily Show, certain blogs and even among other Fox News hosts, but somehow it seems insufficient. Every time I see a clip of his show I feel as though I’m watching a surrealist dystopian epic where the protagonist, prisoner in a world he no longer recognizes, gazes horror struck at the television. Forget the substance of what he is saying, or his rhetorical style. He could be agitating for The Graeme Wood Quarterly or demanding that his viewers fund my blog on California’s best burrito joints near surf spots and I’d still be freaked out by his schizophrenic, paranoid, Willy-Wonka-on-uppers affectations.

Or at least I assume he’s just pretending (about his demeanor if not his views). I understand why he might do that. Look at the ratings he gets. What I don’t get is… why that drives ratings. You’ll see conservative pundits and bloggers go to the mattresses for Rush, defend Hannity, and even on occasion defend Ann Coulter. I’ve yet to come across anyone who defends Beck… and yet astonishing numbers of people are tuning into his show every afternoon.