Sara Robinson in AlterNet has an interview with Alexander Zaitchik, author of Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance.
By Sara Robinson in AlterNet:
America has this long tradition of twisted, odd, widely beloved and yet darkly dangerous right-wing cultural impresarios that pop up out of our landscape like cultural tornadoes, leaving huge swaths of derangement and destruction in their wake. Aimee Semple McPherson. Father Coughlin. Joe McCarthy. Once in a while, when the cultural cross-currents intersect just so, they rise on the whirlwind, gather huge followings, and lead their followers on a furious high-velocity turn that blows across the countryside in desperate pursuit of a utopia only they can see. These maunderings are typically mercifully short and usually end in disaster, for both the people who started the storm as well as those who got swept away in it. And all is forgotten—until the next time.
The next time, in this case, arrived on 9/11/01; and the tornado took on the form of Glenn Beck. It only seemslike Glenn Beck has been with us forever. It's hard to remember a time when his endless rants weren't filling hours of TV time on Headline News, and more recently dominating everything else on FOX. But Beck was basically going nowhere fast before 9/11—the event that saved his failing TV career, turned this know-nothing showman into a leading political theorist, and catapulted him into the very eye of the far-right's always-churning cultural storm.
Who is this guy? A precocious former Top 40 deejay with a longstanding drug problem, no discernible book learning, and a mean streak a mile deep. A "morning zoo" radio host known for his ruthlessness in ratings wars, yet unable to keep any job for more than a couple of years. A Mormon convert who immediately gravitated to the farthest edges of that faith's orthodoxy. The hottest host on cable TV. And soon, if all goes according to "The Plan," America's next great spiritual leader, stepping boldly forward to guide the Tea Party faithful in a complete re-making of this nation.
It's high time somebody took a critical look at the full arc of Beck's character and career. That somebody turned out to be Alexander Zaitchik, who had already spent quite a bit of time covering the right wing. Zaitchik's book, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, hits the bookshelves this week. (Some of the chapters originally appeared as articles at AlterNet.) Besides being an engaging telling of Beck's personal tale, Common Nonsense examines Beck's character and motivations in a way that might help progressives get a better handle on who he is, what he means to do to America, and what we're really up against.
Read the rest by Sara Robinson in AlterNet.