In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, writer Mark Liebovich metaphorically held his nose long enough to spend some quality time with Fox News host Glenn Beck. The resulting profile, which will appear in the upcoming issue, doesn’t tell us a whole lot we don’t know about the mediavangelist. He’s a paranoid Mormon doomsayer who relates to his audience through his own tale of recovery and fallibility, basically, and uses a profound performing talent to win the fevered trust and ardent admiration of a certain demographic. And he makes a lot of money. That we pretty much knew, and Liebovich covers this ground amply. But that doesn’t mean the profile’s no fun — on the contrary, watching the way Liebovich steadily undermines his subject is quite entertaining!
Early in the piece, we talk to Beck’s high school theater teacher, the man who actually taught Beck to perform. Ironically, Liebovich allows him to deliver probably the most scathing critique of Beck’s act:
Then we get this anecdote about how people don’t realize Beck is an actual human being:
Hard to offer sympathy when you put it that way. Then there’s much talk about how Glenn Beck didn’t go to college, but is teaching people history:
Cretin. We can assume, from this telling, that probably none of those other so-called “historians” went to a real school, either. Well, maybe they went to the University of Phoenix. Online.
In fact, we can’t really trust anybody in this piece:
So, yeah, don’t believe all the people who say Beck is being genuine — they are probably a plant. Look, for example, at the laughable things he does to try to make his fans happy and feel good about themselves:
Beck walked around the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in anticipation of a “Divine Destiny” event he would host the next night … Free tickets to “Divine Destiny” were triple hot, like the concert passes Beck used to give away to the 23rd caller on the Morning Zoo. People lined up outside in hopes of getting tickets … “Are you the first in line?” Beck asked a man with a crew cut and wispy beard from Fayetteville, Ark.
“Yes, sir,” the man said.
God, what a moron. Not Glenn Beck, but that guy. You should probably feel sad for him, that he would get a kick out of seeing a television personality he admires, and maybe for getting excited to be given a gift by him. Later, while walking by a line for another Beck event, we see this transpire:
Honestly, where do they get these people? It’s like they cherry-picked the most maudlin examples of his fans to make them seem ridiculous. Except everybody knows, that’s what all Glenn Beck fans are like! So New York Times readers definitely shouldn’t take them — or him — seriously. These people probably won’t even be able to find their way to the voting booth in November!
Being Glenn Beck [NYTM]