On Sunday, Glenn Beck appeared on the CNN show, Reliable Sources, and once again did one of his sort-of mea culpas. He noted among other things that "When you live your life 5 hours a day on live television and radio you're going to say stupid things."
I applaud anyone who acknowledges mistakes. And I include Glenn Beck in that, for all that times within the past year when he's publicly done so. The problem is how disingenuous most of it appears to be, the standard Glenn Beck woe-is-me give me a hug victim tour, though without the tears. It's like a guy who makes a heartfelt apology for being rude and creating a bad example to society for having spit on the sidewalk, all the while leaving out that he just robbed a gas station and shot up convenience store.
In fairness, it's true that when you're on radio and TV for 5 hours a day live, you're more likely than most people to say stupid things. What's also true is that there are a lot of people on radio and TV for 4-5 hours a day and don't say one-tenth the stupid things in a month that Glenn Beck would sometimes say in an hour.
And when they did say those stupid things, the ones who were most actually sorry would generally acknowledge it and apologize a day or two later, not wait years when it was convenient and self-serving. Mind you, better late than never. That's provided that you mean it. And it's just hard to sense that Glenn Beck does.
After all, while supposedly regretting the "stupid" things he said, it turns out that Mr. Beck not only said these stupid things, but didn't actually even mean to be hurtful in the first place, he explained when discussing the divide today between Democrats and Republicans. No, he said, you see it was just "unintentionally" that he added "to the situation we're in right now."
Mr. Beck has a different definition of "unintentional" that most people. Including those who write dictionaries.
While Glenn Beck would like people today to think these he just made a few random, thoughtless turns-of-an accidental phrase only because he was on the air for so long, that has next to nothing to do with what he long got slammed for.
Organizing and promoting his messianic events for months like his "9/12" mass revival meeting in Washington wasn't an unintentional slip of the tongue.
Devoting a full hour to disgraced Democratic Congressman Eric Massa and heavily promoting how the appearance would blow the roof off an Obama White House scandal -- that wasn't simplly an unintentionally stupid thing to say. It was a planned programming decision. "The Democratic Party is out to destroy this man," Glenn Beck ominously shook in near mortal terror to his audience. "The future of the republic is at stake," he intoned, horrified. "This is a moment that will change the course of the nation, possibly."
And 10 minutes into the broadcast, it was clear that not only the republic wasn't at stake, but that he had absolutely nothing, and the only thing at stake was Glenn Beck's program. The full hour broadcast was so empty, despite all the very intentional over-hyped promotion build-up, that even Glenn Beck did what Glenn Beck never did, most especially back then -- he actually said he was sorry on air, in real time. "I think I've wasted your time," he shook. "I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time. And I apologize for that."
None of that was unintentional. Nor conveniently referenced in his heart-felt Reliable Sources appearance. Unintentional? It was the point!
Time and time and time and time again Glenn Beck would wheel out his chalkboard and make intricate diagrammed connection proving the evilness of the anti-white hatred conspiracy that was Barack Obama. That wasn't unintentional, it was written in the script.
It wasn't a mistaken phrase when Glenn Beck said, "I didn’t think I could hate victims faster than the 9/11 victims… And when I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up!’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining. And we did our best for them." It was a theme he repeatedly pounded.
It wasn't unintentional that, because he was on the air live for so long that he just accidentally let slip out, ”I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. … No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out. Is this wrong?” He slammed Michael Moore all the time.
But no, years later what's the best that Glenn Beck could come up with that was stupid and unintentional that he said? That he called Barack Obama a racist. "Of course" he shouldn't have done that.
You think? And it only took him years to figure that out. Swell, fine, good for him. But then, "of course," it wasn't just that he was being unintentionally divisive when he merely called the president just a racist. The problem was when he said that the President of the United States "chose to use his name Barack for a reason — to identify, not with America — you don’t take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical? Is — really? Searching for something to give him any kind of meaning, just as he was searching later in life for religion.” No, you have a pretty good idea what you're saying when you say that. Most especially when you say it regularly.
Calling the president a racist was the good part for Glenn Beck. It was all the destroying America, Kenyan, radical garbage that wrapped the hateful viciousness in a warm, protective, comfortable package for his viewers, pandering relentlessly to their racism that was the issue.
And in the end, the remarkable thing is that, according to Glenn Beck, it wasn't even Glenn Beck's fault. It was those very viewers and every one else in America who is now so divided. Because Glenn Beck just didn't realize the effect it would have. "We are much more fragile than I thought," he told Reliable Sources.
Not realize the effect? The man build his career counting on it!
More fragile than he thought?? This was the man who turned crying on cue into a cartoon, circus art form, weeping before the nation at the unintentional drop of a hat.
Again, to be clear, there's a part of me that admires that Glenn Beck has been going around apologizing for saying stupid and hurtful things. But when a con man waves his left hand in the air in warm greeting so that you don't pay attention to his right hand picking your pocket -- before he takes out a led pipe to whack you in in the head out of pure spite, there's a line where admiration comes to a screeching halt, and you realize it's worse than you thought. Because he's just trying to whitewash away the very, very bad actions and horrible memories in hopes that you'll think he's just a victim and will really just love him.
Unintentionally, of course.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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