The Nation's Melber on the Beck-Brooks Fracas

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

The Nation's Ari Melber takes a look at the fight between Fox News' Glenn Beck and New York Times columnist David Brooks:

Perhaps we still do not understand the current Obama backlash.

David Brooks caused a small stir on Friday by arguing that conservative radio hosts are, paradoxically, a lot like well-behaved children. They are seen – splashed across magazine covers and endlessly profiled – but not heard, politically, since they do not swing elections.

"The talk jocks can't even deliver the conservative voters who show up at Republican primaries," Brooks observed, reminiscing about how McCain's media detractors could not stop him in South Carolina last year.

After the summer of townhalls and what's shaping up as the autumn of Glenn Beck, however, it is hard to see things through Brooks' bifocals. Besides, as the top conservative at the Times and an alumnus of Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, Brooks is peering out from within the conservative media ecosystem. He is, unavoidably, in direct competition for opinion leadership with the "talk jocks" he knocks. Which makes it especially odd for him to apply an electioneering metric to opinion media.

[…]

It is no accident that the two biggest forces countering the new President do not practice electoral politics. The opposition party may whither, but there is still the movement and the man. Both have the Obama administration's attention.

[…]

There were few signs for alternative policies, let alone the alternative political party. The same is true, naturally, for their leader.

Glenn Beck has a long list of concerns about the country's direction. Yet since Obama's election, his most successful efforts have focused on attacking members of the administration and (putative) allies. He is trying to stop Obama, not jump-start the mid-terms.

[…]

By his own count, Beck began assailing Van Jones on July 23 and continued for weeks, up until the September 6 resignation. Fox aired hundreds of segments on Jones. Congressional Republicans, however, were less interested. In the past 9 months, Jones' name has only surfaced on the floor of Congress in eight instances (according to the Congressional Record). Brooks argues, however, that "Republican politicians" follow Beck at every turn:

Everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it... They pay more attention to Rush's imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it's more interested in pleasing Rush's ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer's niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician's coalition-building strategy.

Melber's piece is well worth reading in its entirety.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, David Brooks
Show/Publication
The Nation
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