Glenn Beck's well of ridiculous was deep and poisonous before he launched his Fox News show, but the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States -- and the permissive cheerleading of his Fox News honchos -- uncorked the former Morning Zoo shock jock's unique brand of vitriol, stage theatrics, and hyperbolic fright, making him an easy choice for Media Matters' 2009 Misinformer of the Year.
When he wasn't calling the president a racist, portraying progressive leaders as vampires who can only be stopped by "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers," or pushing the legitimacy of seceding from the country, Beck obsessively compared Democrats in Washington to Nazis and fascists and "the early days of Adolf Hitler." He wondered, "Is this where we're headed," while showing images of Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin; decoded the secret language of Marxists; and compared the government to "heroin pushers" who were "using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state."
Like his predecessor, Beck spat on scruples, frequently announcing his goal to get administration officials fired. He increasingly acted not as a media figure, but as the head of a political movement, while helping to bring fringe conspiracies of a one-world government into the national discourse.
And he all too frequently helped to set the mainstream media's agenda.
Crooks and Liars has done our fair share of covering Beck's insanity as well if you've got the stomach for it. Hats off to Dave for managing to stomach him night after night for the better part of our coverage, and to the folks at the invaluable Media Matters who not only monitor his television show, but his radio show.
I'm reminded of Al Franken talking about the interns he hired to help him research his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them and that they were complaining to him that having to watch Fox was making them physically ill and Jon Stewart watching Sean Hannity and waiting for him to apologize for his show's "mistake" airing the wrong protest footage and saying it wasn't worth it to have to sit through the entire show to finally see the apology at the end of it. Franken interns and Jon Stewart -- any of us that monitor Fox News and especially Glenn Beck can definitely relate.