Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Paul Waldman: what Beck says is "completely insane"

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On Countdown with Keith Olbermann on September 29th, 2010, the host invited Paul Waldman from the America Prospect and co-author of Free Ride: John McCain and the Media to address the NY Times Magazine article, "Being Glenn Beck."  Waldmann claims that what Beck is saying "is completely insane." The Review contacted Mr. Waldman and asked for an elaboration on this.

Glenn Beck Review: "In my analysis of Beck's more crazy assertions, I have used the word "absurd." Could you parse this out for me? If his arguments are insane, then that would suggest that he is insane; and I don't believe that. Leaving behind for a moment his motivation for making insane/absurd statements, what makes you argue that they are insane and not just absurd? Is it not possible that what you're calling "completely insane" is for the most part just ignorance expressed in his paranoid style?"

Paul Waldman  "I think you can say something insane without being insane. But I don't think it's just ignorance - there's a certain kind of nuttiness required to believe in some of the conspiracy theories and ideas he spouts (and I wouldn't take it as a given that he necessarily believes them!)"
"nutty" rodeo clown or deranged commentator?

In an interview with the author of Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, Alex Zaitchik, Stop Beck activist Angelo describes Beck as "clearly deranged." The Review queried Stop Beck to ask if he would elaborate on that.

StopBeck: "Deranged is the appropriate descriptor for Glenn Beck, not insane.  If he was insane, it would greatly reduce his level of personal responsibility.  He's not insane.  He might say things that sound insane, he might behave in a way that seems insane, but I would never argue that he's insane.  But, he is deranged."

Beck is "nutty," "deranged," and says things that are "completely insane." These views from the left are not particularly surprising. What is interesting is that Beck's followers don't see this. In True Enough, Farhad Manjoo describes biased assimilation as how "people tend to interpret and understand  new information in a way that accords with their own views."(1) If Beck's followers believe what he says and do not hear the "insanity" that his detractors hear, then either millions of people have views that are deranged or the conservative media has truly created an alternative universe that seems to be part of the same one Beck's critics belong to; but it is not. This bifurcated reality makes the plot line of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1964) seem rather tame by comparison.

Update 10/07/10: In his new book, Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America, Dana Milbank writes in the Introduction, "Beck has essentially created a parallel universe for his viewers." Beck's is a mad, mad, mad, mad universe.

Before more people start swallowing Beck's crazy truthiness, 
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1) True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, Farhad Manjoo, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2008, p. 150.


Anonymous said...

No Beck critic mentioned in this article is qualified to ascertain Beck psychological condition.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

True. Waldman was not talking about Beck's "psychological condition." Angelo was, and you're not in epistemological position to know if he's qualified or not. You simply don't know his qualifications.

I believe that Beck is a megalomaniac, but I don't assert this with discipline because I'm not qualified. It sure seems like he is.

That he's a certifiable liar doesn't seem to sink in with people like you though.

Anonymous said...


What education, life experience or degree qualifies Beck to rewrite history and lead the hunt for "evil progressives who hate our country?"

He walks, talks and quacks like a duck, I fell qualified to call him a "duck."

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Your point is well taken. It doesn't take a specialist to hear something said by someone and realize that it sounds "completely insane." If Beck says things that sound "completely insane" often enough, then derangement seems like a fair assessment. However, the more I read, the more I understand that Beck is just parroting the dumb ideas of Skousen.

I stand by my conclusion: Beck's narrative has created an alternative universe. There, he's quite sane. From the adult world most people reside, he comes off as deranged.