Last Tuesday, Rep. Eric Massa (D-Mars) destroyed himself on Glenn Beck's broadcast. For the past week, the media has had a continuous field day with Mr. Massa. From claiming a dire White House conspiracy to "It's all my snorkeling fault" mere days later, he crashed faster than a Toyota Corolla.
Ten minutes into his interview with Rep. Massa, you can see on Mr. Beck's distraught face that he's got nothing. Okay, in fairness, 30 seconds into most Glenn Beck interviews, he's got nothing. But on this, he knew he had 50 more barren minutes to fill, and proceeded to implode, trying to pull empty air from his butt. It was the biggest meltdown on live TV since Geraldo Rivera found Al Capone's vault empty.
Eric Massa was so disastrous that it brought compassion from the most unlikely places. "I never thought anything would make me feel sympathetic towards Glenn Beck," Arianna Huffington said on CNN. "But having to interview Eric Massa for an entire hour made me really feel for him."
No doubt she was laughing inside. But outside, even a warm, gentle chide is unwarranted, because it put the focus on Eric Massa. And the real problem isn't Eric Massa. It's not whether Eric Massa is a goofball. It's not, as many people later questioned, whether Eric Massa is gay.
The real problem is Glenn Beck.
Glenn Beck didn't have to interview Eric Massa. He chose to, actively. In fact, after Rush Limbaugh trumpeted Massa the day before, even he tried to warn Beck off the interview the next day when more news made clear that Rep. Massa was a train wreck. Anyone with a lick of common sense could see that Eric Massa was looking pathetic. Yet still, Glenn Beck went ahead.
And importantly, Glenn Beck went ahead because he was trying to demonize the White House. He wasn't playing the Journalist who thought he had an incredible scoop on his hands. Glenn Beck is to journalism what Cheese Whiz is to haute cuisine. Glenn Beck was doing everything he could to discredit the Obama Administration and smear the Democratic Party with scandal.
This is no hyperbole. Lost in the ridicule of Eric Massa are Glenn Beck's own words promoting the interview:
"The Democratic Party is out to destroy this man," he intoned in his most ominous voice. "The future of the republic is at stake," he shook. "This is a moment that will change the course of the nation, possibly."
That's what Glenn Beck was out to prove. For an hour. Never mind that he had nothing. "Nothing" is the soul of Glenn Beck's relationship to reality and the truth. For an hour, with nothing, he was unrelenting. Begging for dirt -- literally, talking about shoveling dirt. For a full hour. Trying and pleading to the bitter end to extract corruption, some corruption, any corruption he could smear the president with.
For an hour.
And for an hour he had zero. For an hour, he had a goofball joining him at the table. For an hour, this man who Glenn Beck put on to discredit President Obama, the Administration and the Democratic Party had nothing more than suggesting sailors tickled each other in the Navy.
Glenn Beck had n-o-t-h-i-n-g. And yet he dared recklessly to insist "The Democratic Party is out to destroy this man." And "The future of the republic is at stake." And "This is a moment that will change the course of the nation, possibly."
And he had nothing. And didn't care. Didn't try to find out first. Because finding out the facts and reality first don't matter to him. Just terrifying his audience, slamming others and dividing America is all that matters. That, and selling gold for his sponsor.
This should not have come across as a surprise to anyone. After all, this is the man who claimed that 50,000 people at a Washington rally was 1.7 million, based solely on information from "the University of I Don't Remember."
Last Tuesday was a one-hour version of who Glenn Beck is. His thoughtless, mean-hearted supporters will defend him. But last Tuesday, he and they were laid bare for what they are. And their defense is as empty as Eric Massa.
At the end of his broadcast, Glenn Beck almost welled up (again) to offer his regrets.
"I think I've wasted your time," he whimpered. "I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time. And I apologize for that."
Actually, there are few minutes of Glenn Beck when he hasn't wasted our time. Empty, cruel lying is always a waste of time. But oddly enough - and here is the irony - this was probably the first hour when Glenn Beck didn't waste our time. Because this was the first time when Glenn Beck exposed himself openly for what he is. This is the first time the Emperor Glenn Beck showed even his supporters that the demagogue had no clothes.
The disastrous hour Glenn Beck spent with Eric Massa was not a disaster for Mr. Massa. He was clearly a joke before that. The disaster was all Glenn Beck's. A dangerous, divisive, empty, cruel, out-of-control puff of air.
And at last, as Joseph Welch famously scolded a finally-disgraced Joseph McCarthy 60 years ago, we all see clearly that Glenn Beck has no shame.
Flush with holier-than-though swagger, you almost half-expect him to tell people to leave the Catholic Church and join instead the Church of Glenn Beck.
Oh, yeah, right, he just did. Gee, go figure.