There were 45 thousand references on the Google and AOL search engines to the Reverend Al Sharpton's "Reclaim the Dream" March in Washington DC the day after he staged it. There were more than 32 million entries on the Google and AOL search engines referencing Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally the day after he staged it. Beck's name has soared so high there was even preposterous talk of a Beck-Palin presidential ticket in 2012.
This is heady stuff for a PT Barnum, carnival barker, talk show huckster. But Beck didn't climb to his Olympian media and public perch solely on Fox Network hype, personal shuck, corporate money, and conservatives' new found love affair with him. Beck got a huge rocket launch to that perch by the steady drum beat of Beck bashing by liberals, Democrats and the Left. He shrewdly figured out that the best way to get your name out there, and then quickly grow it, is to do and say something, anything, that's so outrageous that you'll infuriate the critics. They have been more than willing to aid and abet Beck's rise to the top by keeping up the attack. The "Restore Honor" rally was the best and most dramatic example of how a huckster can turn jeers into ratings, and con tens of thousands to trek to DC to hear his patchwork Elmer Gantry message of God and redemption.
But long before the rally, Beck displayed his unique talent for massaging, manipulating, and cajoling the Beck haters into action against him. The formula was simple. Say something so ludicrous and laughable such as "President Obama is a racist" and the pack is off to the races to pillory him for saying it. And then they'll spend countless hours trying to prove that Obama is not a racist. Beck got exactly what he wanted, and that is thousands talking and writing about an inanity, and through the back door dignifying and even legitimizing the stupidity. The result was attention, attention, and more attention, ratings, ratings, and more ratings.
The Beck bashers have learned nothing from attacking Limbaugh and the Fox Network. The thing was that the more you bash, savage, pick at and ridicule a media outlet or a gimmicky talk show host you do what ad people, P.R. flacks, agencies, and sponsors drool over, and sink a mini-king's ransom into. That is to inflate, hype, and pump up a product. The product is Beck.
The Limbaugh fiasco was the first big tip that when the right side talk gabbers are suddenly transformed into a public punching bag the predictable happens. President Obama found that out. He played into Limbaugh's hands the first month he took office when he tried to scare GOP House reps away from him by warning them that they wouldn't get much out of the White House by clinging to the talk show gabber. Obama then watched in horror as Limbaugh's ratings soared through the roof. The affiliates that carry Limbaugh's syndicated show were in delirium at his ratings explosion. Limbaugh instantly saw the goldmine in the backdoor endorsement from Obama and mined it for all it was worth. He hasn't looked back since.
The attack made Limbaugh a near mythic figure to millions, put terror and a stiffened spine into GOP self-doubters and conciliators to oppose any and everything that Obama proposes. It even swelled the number and stiffened the spine of Red Dog Democrats to do pretty much the same. It gave the legion of Obama baiters and loathers a fresh stockpile ammunition to blast him on the airwaves, in chat rooms, websites, and even more despicably in race baiting cartoons, emails, and Facebook and Twitter posts.
Beck is Limbaugh all over again with one difference. He has a movement on the ground behind him. He can now turn out bodies on command to do his bidding. He's no longer simply a talk show hustler. He's a dangerous political demagogue. He can thank Fox, the GOP, and the corporate backers in part for that. But he can thank in equally great part the promotion he got from the legion of Beck haters that bought his con and have done much to make him the flavor of the day on the media and national scene. They're still buying it. The Beck bash has worked undreamed of wonders for him.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
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