From Stern and Imus down to Beck: A modern nation cant run on dumb. That said, we strongly recommend Salons superb biographical series about kooky talker Glenn Beck. Click here.
Everything Beck says isnt wrong (more tomorrow). But a great deal he says is exceptionally dumb, or just crazy. Salons biographical articles, by Alexander Zaitchik, help show where Becks brand of dumb comes from. In Zaitchiks deeply depressing portrait, Beck is at heart just a drug-addled morning zoo jock, applying the dim-witted attention-grabbing techniques he learned on local Top 40 radio in the 1980s. Though you should also read this earlier piece by Zaitchik about the man who changed Glenn Becks life. This is what happens when dumb turns political.
Zaitchiks articles place Beck in a context we have discussed before. At one time, there were rules about who was allowed near microphones, at least on the national level. During The Age of Murrow, you simply werent allowed on the air (on a national level) if you were exceptionally dumb, very nutty, or blatantly fake and phony. But then, the democratization of media! First, we let Howard Stern on the air, then we decided to make room for Imus. Now, the process of dumbing-down has extended all the way down to Beck.
Hes on the cover of Timefor good reason.
We once had rules, enforced by priestsby an elite comprised of people like Murrow. No, that wasnt a perfect system. But now, the democratization of media has given us a loud, inane, morning zoo jocka man by the name of Beck. And we have no national press corps which is willing to apply old standards to such low-grade practitioners. For many years, Times David von Drehle was a major figure at the Washington Post. To see him roll over and die for Beck, just read Jamison Fosers piece. Just a guess at the motives behind von Drehles nonsense: Time wasnt willing to offend new readersnew readers drawn to the magazine this week by their love for Glenn Beck.
Those articles at Salon are very important. But in the comments, note how many liberals insist that Salon shouldnt be publishing them! If were going to call Beck dumb, what must we say of ourselves?
A modern nation cant run on dumb. Your nation is in major trouble.
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PART 3Tomorrow: We didnt like our results again. Part 3 tomorrow.