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Glenn Beck, another cable-TV demagogue in a field crowded by zealots from both the right and the left, signed off his Fox News show this week in a typical show of propaganda-driven bile that appeals to the hate and fear of the ignorant.
Beck’s bitter final telecast summed up his rise and fall in the slag-heap of partisan hyperbole that passes for news nowadays, a sign-off ending two years of self-aggrandizement and shameless self-promotion that highlighted the danger of putting a madman on the air.
Surrounded by bulletproof glass and accompanied by a bodyguard, Beck claimed his departure from Fox TV — a decision of the network, not his own — comes because his show became “a movement” that “doesn’t belong on TV.”
Beck is right about one thing: He doesn’t belong on TV. In fact, he doesn’t belong in a civilized society but — sadly — what the cable networks showcase as “news” doesn’t belong there either — be it the right-wing ravings of Fox or the left-wing lunacy of MSNBC.
Fox booted Beck because he became a danger — even for a so-called news organization that pushes a singular point of view. MSNBC showed left-wing loudmouth Keith Olbermann the door for pretty much the same reasons: He became a liability no longer worth the high-maintenance hand-holding,
While Beck and Olbermann represent different ideologies, they are similar entertainers in a business where flash supplants substance and slant replaces fact. Both see themselves as bigger than the networks that gave them exposure. Beck moves on to GBTV (the immodestly-named Glenn Beck TV Network that will deliver his bile via webcast) and Olbermann nows delivers his five-nights a week shoutfest from the Al Gore-backed Current TV, a small operation with a miniscule audience.
While both are gone from the cable mainstream — if such a mainstream actually exists — they will still have their cult-like followers who worship at their feet and buy into every opinion as if it were truth from the heavens.
Both remain demagogues but they are — at least for now — demagogues with much smaller podiums. Yet both remain dangerous and must never, ever, be counted out.