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Beck Rally: A Great PR Stunt, But That's All It Was

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The industry of Glenn Beck is happy: those that own him in radio and TV. He had an absolutely great weekend when it comes to the media. His stunt worked. But what amazes me is why America sees it as anything more than that: a stunt.

I'm in radio. For 20 years I've had Program Directors, General Manager, Promotion Managers and yes, myself, coming up with ideas to get attention, ways to to get the show out in the community and get it noticed. In Los Angeles, two relatively obnoxious shock jocks are always holding rallies, and sometimes, thousands show up. But they're not covered in our news as political rallies; they're covered for what they are, radio station stunts.

So let's get this straight America: the rally in Washington, D.C. this weekend was a radio station stunt, a TV station prank, not a political movement of any kind. Those of you that showed were there to see your favorite celebrities, Beck, Palin, just like those that lined the red carpet at the other big event this weekend, the Emmy Awards. And the people leading the rally, Beck, Palin, Fox --they are opportunists saying what you want to hear to get attention to their cause: self promotion.

Because that's what this is about -- self promotion --not reclaiming America, returning it to any values, and certainly not about any kind of God. It was a successful act of self-promotion on the part of all involved, one that got to generate even more publicity by spitting in the face of those who remember a real movement, a real speaker and a real event that happened in that very spot 47 years ago that very weekend.

I'm not surprised it was all over the news. It's the end of August, a typically slow news time, where networks are looking for stories. And, the event was created by the media, so the media, of course, responds in kind. Many times my radio stunts get or got coverage, but we always had to compete with any breaking news. We'd never do a stunt in the middle of a huge news cycle unless the stunt had to do with that event. Never compete. Beck and his xenophobes don't have King, civil rights or any such nuisances on their radar, so to them, there was no competing event.

I am surprised of how the media treated the event. Again, it's a TV station or radio station stunt; like a Man Cow stunt, an Opie and Anthony stunt, a Karel stunt, a stunt by any other name. What it's not is a symbol of what's happening in America. Because if it is, thinking, educated people should consider leaving.

Part evangelical speech, big chunk theatrical display, the stunt did everything it should for the participants: their names are all over the news, Becks's show will have big cume (viewers and listeners) which generates in to ratings and all is well in the corporate world of radio and TV.

Our Constitution gives Beck and his ilk the ability to have a stunt on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And like a Pied Piper he led those who are strangely susceptible to his warped and bizarre tune. But it is just that, a tune, one he would change at a moment's notice if there were more in it for him, or the others involved. But just because someone has the right to such a stunt doesn't mean we have to play in to it or pay attention to it.

Am I impressed that 80,000 or more gathered to see their favorite host and a few other of their conservative stars? Nope, just Friday night I was at the Greek where thousands gathered to see Cyndi Lauper, and I've been in arenas where 15,000 people have gathered to see a Pop Princess named GaGa. People will show up to see things they like. Let's see Beck and his kind get those numbers on tour, like a GaGa or another performer. Gathering thousands is great, but don't pretend you speak for untold millions. (The 80,000 estimate is from CBS News which hired a firm to estimate the crowd).

Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are TV and radio personalities who pulled off a great stunt. The people that attended are dupes who actually believed the event stood for something and that there was a motive behind it other than profit. And the media that covered it as anything other than a radio or TV stunt have lost perspective on what, and who, in America qualify as a real movement versus flash mobs setup by multi-billion dollar corporations.

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