I think you could make a strong argument that Glenn Beck is among the most famous Mormons in America, certainly at this point up there with Mitt Romney and Harry Reid. His Fox news show is tearing up the 5 p.m. Eastern hour (not traditionally a good time slot), his radio show is among the top five (and perhaps top three) nationwide after Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. And he’s written several books that have done quite well.
The Bloggernacle has already passed judgement on Glenn Beck, and, in short, we hate him. See here for one example and here for another. See the links and comments on T&S and BCC for practically daily examples.
I’m not interested in this becoming another post where everybody points out how much they hate Glenn Beck. That has already been done. Repeatedly. Instead, my question is: can and should Mormon intellectuals find anything redeeming in his hysterical, populist style? Can we acknowledge the value of his muck-raking journalism, which has gone out of style with other media? How about his defense of the Constitution and his promotion of non-partisan politics (he is not a Republican, by the way, but calls himself an independent leaning toward libertarian)?
NOTE TO COMMENTERS: If you want your comment to stay on this post, you will refrain from comments telling us all how much you hate Glenn Beck. We already know most Mormons on the Bloggernacle hate Glenn Beck. Your opinion has been noted. We get it. You hate Glenn Beck. If, however, you have something substantive to add, your comment may remain at the discretion of the person who wrote this post. Them’s the rules, if you don’t like them, go read something else.
So, now that we all understand the rules, let’s consider this article. The article points out that there is an ongoing debate among conservatives as to whether we should embrace Beck or not. The point is that he is highly unpopular among conservatives. It is worth pointing out that I have heard “traditional” conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others express that they hate him just as much as your average liberal at FMH. So, hating Glenn Beck is an area of rare bipartisan agreement.
Let me also point out that I find his style off-putting. He is very loose with facts and figures. I don’t like the writing at the chalk board. I don’t like how often he puts “air quotation marks” around his statements. I don’t like his promotion of Cleon Skausen, whose rantings on politics are about 50 years out of date.
BUT, and here’s the rub. Glenn Beck is doing some excellent work that nobody else in the media is doing. Van Jones had no place in an Obama administration — or any administration — and I’m glad to see him go. The NEA’s promotion of the president is definitely inappropriate. Overall, I think the Sept. 12 marches and the tea parties are good things, although I agree that there are some occasional crazies who make anti-tax, pro-Constitution protesters look bad. But hopefully thinking people can agree that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” as the left used to say during the Bush years.
As a former journalist, I take very seriously the role of the media in challenging those in power, whether it be a Democratic or Republican administration (or even, on a local level, the mayor or city manager). For those who think the media has always had a liberal bias, I have news for you: go back and read the coverage of the Clinton administration. The mainstream media really took it to the Clintons, and it was a good thing, because it helped President Clinton become a better president over time. I welcomed the fair coverage that challenged Pres. Bush as well.
But virtually all of the challenging of Pres. Obama — or a large percentage of it — is coming from one news organization, Fox, and that’s not a good thing for anybody. Much of the media has abdicated its responsibility to challenge the powerful, and that has opened up an opportunity for people like Glenn Beck.
So I praise Glenn Beck in this small area — he is an old-fashioned, muck-raking journalist bringing up uncomfortable questions and challenging those in power. For those who wondered, yes, he did criticize Pres. Bush — often. Did he criticize him as much as Pres. Obama? No, not nearly as much. But he has determined that he disagrees with Pres. Obama more than Pres. Bush. But please, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that Beck is some kind of Republican flak. You are sorely mistaken. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity? Definitely Republican flaks. Glenn Beck? No way.
I’d like to close this post by reminding people of Glenn Beck’s tribute to President Gordon B. Hinckley. Please view this video. By all accounts, Glenn Beck is a loyal Church member who is trying to do his best to represent the Church in a positive way. I disagree with Harry Reid politically just about as much as I can, but I still would welcome him with open arms if he were to walk into my ward one day. The same applies to Glenn Beck. I hope you would have the same attitude.