From The New Yorker's November 23 profile on Glenn Beck:
If you sensed something of a quiet spell about ten days ago, a lull in the usual media storm, it may have been owing to the fact that Glenn Beck, the energetically hateful, truth-twisting radio and Fox News Channel talk-show host, was absent from the airwaves for a week, to have his appendix removed. A few days after his surgery, he made it clear, via his Twitter feed, that he hated just watching TV, which is, of course, the terrible fate of those of us who don't have talk shows. ("I know how U feel. Watching the news & knowing wht I say 2 my tv makes no difference," he wrote. "I cnt wait 2 giv U wht I think has bn going on.") By the middle of last week, he was back, breathing fire about Obama's response to the Fort Hood shootings.
A headline at the top of Beck's Web site announces what he thinks he's selling: "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment." If by this Beck means that his product is radioactive, he's got that right. We can only hope that its toxic charge will fade over time. But that seems unlikely. At the end of the Elia Kazan-Budd Schulberg movie "A Face in the Crowd," the Arkansas opportunist and petty criminal who has been repackaged, by a radio broadcaster, as a guitar-playing professional hayseed called Lonesome Rhodes (played brilliantly by Andy Griffith), and who has been consumed and ruined by fame, shows his true colors when he bad-mouths his audience over an open mike. The nation abandons him, and, as the movie ends, he's shouting, unheard, into the night. These days, because of the Internet, it's not so easy to get rid of a demagogue. Long after Beck leaves radio and TV, his sound bites will still be with us.