Glenn Beck loves every minute of the Beck bash. In recent days he's gotten a rock star mob welcome in South Carolina and Washington. He'd get the same fan mob turnout in dozens of other cities that he chose to travel to. His ratings have soared through the roof. He's even made the reigning King of TV right side chatter O'Reilly nervous. Beck is simply the hottest ticket item on the national scene now, and for that he can thank progressives, liberal Democrats, and through the backdoor, President Obama.
None of them learned a thing 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. In this case the product is Beck.
The Limbaugh fiasco was the first big tip that when the right side talk gabbers are twisted into a public punching bag the predictable happens. Obama played into Limbaugh's once pudgy hands in January when he tried to shoo GOP House reps away from him and then watched as Limbaugh's ratings soared to the sky. Radio affiliates that carry Limbaugh's syndicated show were in ecstasy at his ratings sky rocket. Limbaugh quickly saw the goldmine in the backdoor endorsement from Obama and mined it for all it was worth. His ratings haven't dipped a digit since then.
Worse, 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 massive and fresh stockpile ammunition to blast him on the airwaves, in chat rooms, websites, and even more despicably in race baiting cartoons, emails, Facebook and Twitter posts.
Beck is Limbaugh and Sarah Palin all over again. His mug is plastered over major magazine covers and he's the topic of incessant chatter in news columns and features. The goofball satire and inane pummeling of him by Jon Stewart and the bevy of comics has inflated his image and worth even higher. The Palin attack analogy is just as fitting. The more hammer blow political shots, SNL and late night comic running jokes, and Party (both) regulars slough her off, the higher her star has risen.
There's now a Palin sighting everywhere. The haplessly inept former Alaska governor and VP candidate is a media hot ticket item; a multi-millionaire; and a rallying point for millions of Christian fundamentalist, rightside zanies and disgruntled GOP conservatives who detest Obama's policies. Even more incredible, she's the populist front runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
Beck, like Limbaugh, Palin and Fox, is grinning from ear to ear at his new found ratings bonanza, swelling bank account, and media and fan adulation. And why wouldn't he? The Beck bash has worked wonders for him.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.
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