RightWatch: I Will Miss Glenn Beck

In my new role as The Root's monitor of right-wing activists, the frequent crier's departure from Fox News will make my job more difficult.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

He preached that America stood on the brink of an apocalypse orchestrated by a shadowy alliance of liberals, an emerging new Islamic caliphate that seeks to control the Middle East and, of course, the Jews. He falsely described financier George Soros as a “bloodsucker” who, as a teenager during World War II, had helped Nazis “send the Jews to the death camps” in his native Germany. He likened Reformed Judaism to Islamic extremism.

And then it got worse. Wrote Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, whose book Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America is the seminal study of Beck’s fearful ascent:

“This vile turn for Beck reached its logical extreme two weeks ago, when he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ‘accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.’ “

Such rhetoric — and a growing backlash from corporate advertisers who withdrew as much as $40 million in commercials — seems to have finally gotten to be too much even for Fox News, which decided to pull the plug on Beck’s program months before his contract expires in December.

The press release announcing the decision says that Fox News and Beck will continue to work together on unspecified television projects, but that, as Milbank points out, may just be window dressing. Though it is reported that Beck dreams about following in the footsteps of Oprah Winfrey by starting his own network, there’s a chance that his days as a regular corrupting presence on the airways are over.

But is that a good thing? Media Matters, the left-leaning watchdog group that takes credit for sparking the corporate boycott of Beck’s show, seems to think so. So does Milbank, who wrote that “the influences that undermined Beck are doing the same to other purveyors of fear,” such as Bristol Palin’s mom. But I’m not persuaded.

Beck’s demise not only will make it harder to know what his crazy fans are thinking but will also open up a vacancy that Fox News can fill with equally vile right-wing propaganda wrapped in more respectable packaging. That’s not exactly progress. So, like Beck, I’m going to shed a Vicks-assisted tear for his departure from the airwaves. I’m going to miss him.

Jack White is a frequent contributor to The Root.

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