Glenn Beck, laughingstock

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Well, it's not like Michelle Malkin didn't try to warn him.

On his radio show yesterday, conservative blogger Malkin and Beck got into an extended tiff because Malkin didn't think it made sense for Beck to devote his entire Fox News show to his Eric Massa interview. It's true that Malkin based her case on political considerations. (i.e. Why give a Democrat that kind of attention?) But whatever her rationale, it turned out Malkin was giving Beck really good advice.

Of course, he ignored it. (Click on the audio here and listen to how Beck became increasingly annoyed when somebody like Malkin dared question his judgment.) Beck knew what he was doing, thank you very much. He'd personally talked to Massa on the phone, and devoting an hour of cable TV time to him was exactly the right thing to do.

Well, in one sense, Beck was right, because yesterday's colossal flop might just make television history. It might go down as one of the most pointlessly absurd -- and yes, truly unwatchable -- hours in cable news. Last night, the snickering had already reached epic levels. And with the can't-watch-TV performance, Beck most likely took the Massa issue off the table for Republicans, since the whole story now looks more like a comedy than an actual scandal.

And yes, Beck today is a national laughingstock. But honestly, is anyone surprised?

In my column this week, I noted this characteristic about today's unhinged, anti-Obama right wing, which Beck so perfectly personifies [emphasis added]:

Consumed with Obama Derangement Syndrome, 'wingers literally cannot help themselves. Just this weekend, one prominent, albeit unhinged, right-wing site branded Obama as "suicide-bomber-in-chief." They've removed all sensible filters, which means the crazy talk flows 24-7.

It's that complete lack of common sense that led Beck to think Massa would make for interesting TV for an hour. The odds that a 60-minute interview with a resigning congressman would make for great TV were never above 5 percent. And the odds that it wold be a catastrophic failure always hovered around 20 percent. But narcissist Beck, ignoring broadcasting common sense, plowed ahead anyway.

Question: Did anyone on Beck's staff try to talk him out of this daffy idea? Recall that recently Beck's senior producer, a longtime Fox News exec, was unceremoniously shown the door. And I know industry chatter was that Beck didn't want the guy around and that Beck doesn't think he needs somebody outside of his very tight clique overseeing his show.

Well, last night, Beck found out he was wrong. And Beck found out what happens when you program cable news without any commonsense filters. And last night, television viewers saw what happened when narcissism rules and there's no adult supervision on a cable news set.

Result: Glenn Beck becomes a national laughingstock.

UPDATED: From the sad-but-true category is the realization that Beck's Hindenburg performance last night will probably do more damage to his reputation, at least among Beltway scribes, than the endless falsehoods and vicious smears he's launched. Why? Because last night, Beck was guilty of the deadliest media sin of all: producing god-awful television.

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