Beck asserted that within three to five years his Blaze network would be poised to kill the nightly network news, because no one watches that anymore anyway. The nightly news does face new competition, but the Blaze is not it. The problem for Beck, and I'm really not sure if understands this or not, is that to truly threaten established news organizations his network would have to start doing reporting. And hey, maybe he plans to do just that! But right now that's not what the Blaze does.
I just clicked over to their site. Their top four stories were...a link to the New York Times interview, a link to a publicly available video of President Obama answering a question at a press conference, a link to a "chilling" YouTube video, and...a picture of a girl doing a headstand. This is the network that's going to bring down the evening news.
This gets at something fundamentally mysterious about Beck, and many other political media personalities. On the one hand, it seems that they're hucksters preying on their audiences. On the other, it often seems that they are genuinely clueless themselves, yet somehow keep raking in the money. One might think, for example, that if Beck really believes his network can compete with traditional news, his business empire will eventually crash owing to his absurd plans. On the other hand, maybe he has a different idea, a fundamentally personal idea, about what competing means. Even now, the network news that he claims no one watches vastly dwarfs his own audience. The difference is that no one at the CBS Evening News is operating it as a personal fiefdom and raking in tens of millions of dollars. Beck doesn't need to offer a comparable news product. His current blend of paranoia and random irrelevancies have made him a very rich man.
And then there's this, again from the interview:
Can we stop dividing ourselves? Do racists exist? Yes. Do bigots exist? Yes. But most of us are not. Most Americans just want to get along. Why can’t we do that? What has happened to us?This from a guy who once claimed to believe that President Obama is a racist. Again, it raises this perpetual question: what does this guy actually believe? In the end I suppose I come down on the side of "Glenn Beck believes in Glenn Beck." He believes in what will make him rich. But at a deeper level, few human beings are willing to consider themselves in such a negative light. I imagine that Beck believes whatever he happens to believe in the moment with genuine passion and, as he supposes, integrity. Yes, of course he is a fool and a liar and all the horrible things we're inclined to think about him if we fall into taking him seriously. But I think the more interesting angle is to consider how media personalities take on public personas and pursue their success in ways that are fundamentally injurious to their personal integrity, even as they don't admit it to themselves. The urge to sacrifice integrity on the altar of success is something that you're familiar with if you're human. Most of us just don't get rich doing it. I don't know if that makes us any better.