A year or so back, I was on the road somewhere and flipping through the channels on the TV in my hotel room when I came across a new FOX show featuring Glen Beck. I watched for a few minutes and while I didn’t agree with what Beck had to say, I thought he was measured, reasonable and even thoughtful.
Fast forward to just a few nights ago. We recently got a new cable provider (we traded Direct TV for AT&T) so I didn’t know where my favorite channels were. I was surfing through all the new channels (who was it that said men don’t watch what’s on, they watch what else is on?) when I again came across Glen Beck. But this time he was a fire-breathing dragon, gesticulating and gyrating like a crazy man. If I hadn’t seen the FOX logo onscreen I would have thought he had become a Pentecostal preacher and was speaking in tongues.
What happened to change Beck from the mild mannered conservative I had seen to the raving lunatic I was watching? Believers would say it’s his ire at the goings-on of the Obama administration but I think that’s naive.
Being the sharp pitchman that he is, Beck realized that the audience FOX attracts isn’t interested in a calm, measured response to the news. Instead, the party of Limbaugh and Palin has sunk to the lowest common denominator and feel they have to pander to the basest impulses of their most rabid viewers. Regardless of what this precipitous drop in standards ultimately does to the party, it increases Beck’s viewership and explains his meteoric, though ironic, rise.
It’s not ideology, it’s marketing, plain and simple.