I came to know Glenn Beck when I was on his CNN Headline News show often, including going to New York during the primary election season in 2008 with Republican Amy Holmes. His show offered me an exclusive contract as a CNN analyst, which I turned down, in order to appear on other networks.
I do have a confession to make--and not because he offered me a paying gig--I rather liked him and respected his intelligence, his wit, his passion for reading widely, and not always reading from talking points from the RNC. He had a healthy ego, but then there are few in this profession who don’t. He was bombastic and over the top frequently, like the time he kept stuffing his face with chocolate cake on air during Super Tuesday! I admired his overcoming drugs and alcohol and taking responsibility for his actions on his family. I found him personally generous and tolerant of staff with views other than his own.
I have another confession--I very rarely watch his show on Fox--I’ve become tired of the yelling and screaming coming from all directions. So though I follow the rants and the comments and the press accounts, I don’t tune in very often.
I wrote a piece condemning him for calling the president a racist and thought he should recant and apologize. Maybe the rally at the Lincoln Memorial would be a good opportunity. I thought it was admirable that he was one of the first to recognize the mistake in the Shirley Sherrod case, but he should have severely criticized the involvement of his network and the character assassins who generated the hysteria.
I worry that his style and his ego and his lack of impulse control will provide for a very negative and counterproductive event at the Lincoln Memorial today. Having “shoot from the lip” Sarah Palin certainly won’t help either and this is a crowd looking for red meat, not common sense, thoughtful, and reasoned dialogue.
My hope is that this will be less akin to Father Coughlin or Joe Pyne, the ‘60s combative TV talk show host (“Go gargle with razor blades” he screamed at his opponents), and much more representative of the rally for civil rights I attended as a young boy that August day in 1963.
I remember the spirit of hope, the uplifting music, the smiles, the well dressed audience, respectful and ready to open up a nation to racial equality and tolerance. I remember being so caught up in the flow of a crowd that truly believed they could “tame the savageness of man” and achieve a world where the “content of our character” would be paramount and maybe, just maybe, one day we could even elect a black president.
That is the spirit that should be on stage with Glenn Beck. But I doubt it will.