Finally, Glenn Beck really will get to feel a little like Martin Luther King -- because he is free, free at last, God almighty, free at last. Unfortunately, our long national nightmare ... is probably just switching to a new phase. He
April 8, 2011

Finally, Glenn Beck really will get to feel a little like Martin Luther King -- because he is free, free at last, God almighty, free at last.

Unfortunately, our long national nightmare ... is probably just switching to a new phase.

He explained to his audience yesterday on Fox that he was leaving his regular show there because, gosh, he had to have his arm twisted in the first place just do it:

BECK: When Fox was generous enough to offer me the time at 5 o'clock, I originally didn't take them up on it. I turned them down. One of the reasons was I didn't want to -- I just -- didn't wanna do this. I hated doing it at the other place. This place is sweet! -- in comparison. But I also knew -- believe it or not, anybody who knows me in my real life as everybody -- wee little Erin will tell you too -- I avoid confrontation like nobody's business. Unless I am forced. But it also -- I don't like it.

But -- sometimes you have to stand. I took the job two years ago because I thought I had something important to share. I really thought if I could prove my case -- that something wicked this way was coming -- something in America was wrong, America would listen. And they have.

What noble guy. Brings a tear to your eye and puts a swell in your heart, doesn't it?

Beck's removal from the Fox daily lineup really is, as David Brock puts it, "A victory for civil discourse". (Media Matters, by the way, has put together a list of the 50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Has Said.)

And it was overdue. As George Zornick at ThinkProgress explains:

Beck entered the year without one-third of his earlier audience. Only months into his show, advertisers began deserting his program, and pressure by liberal groups resulted in a loss of nearly 300 advertisers during the course of his show.

Last month, Fox News officials told the New York Times anonymously that they were “contemplating life without Mr. Beck.” The Times also reported that “[m]any on the news side of Fox have wondered whether his chronic outrageousness — he suggested that the president has ‘a deep-seated hatred for white people’— have made it difficult for Fox to hang onto its credibility as a news network.”

That seems like a reasonable concern.

Beck, meanwhile, is actually in a bizarre defensive-gloating position, telling his radio audience this morning:

BECK: Let me just tell you something. Liberal left -- let me make a prediction. ... One year from now, you on the left will be crapping yourselves so much -- you haven't, you haven't crapped in your pants as much as you will in a year from now, as you did since you were a child. Maybe more. You'll be making -- you'll crap yourself more than when you were a baby! And you will find Jesus. You will suddenly find religion and you will be kneeling at some altar lighting candles every day praying to Jesus that Glenn Beck would please just do 5 o'clock on the Fox News Channel.There's my prediction.

Alexander Zaitchik, who (as the author of Common Nonsense) should know, forward his own speculation about Beck to Dave Weigel, who thinks Beck will do the Oprah thing now:

I'd be careful about comparisons to Oprah, who has a scale of resources, commercial appeal, and popularity that Beck never will. But he'll remain active and ambitious and his projects will continue to be controversial from time to time. He's been too much guilty-pleasure fun as a pinata for his critics to completely ignore him. But now that he has a shrunken media footprint, I think a lot of people will go on a much-deserved Beck Vacation, and maybe never return.

Moving forward, I see him turning into a sort of hybrid-figure, part Limbaugh, part Breitbart, part Pat Robertson, maybe a little Ben Stein on the documentaries front. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that his days as a heavy, constant presence in the mainstream conversation are over. Whatever media shape-shift he's about to perform post-Fox, he's a greatly diminished national presence for those who aren't "Insider Extreme" members at Which is a blessed, blessed thing.

I wish I could be so optimistic. My own hunch, as I described it yesterday:

[L]ook for him to become Alex Jones on steroids. Which means that someday we probably CAN figure on watching the armed FBI standoff from the GlennBeckian Cult Compound someday down the pike.

Beck has been the leading figure for the Tea Parties this year, and he is certain to be out leading them in the trenches next year too -- probably organizing more Lincoln-Memorial-type rallies, and maybe doing a national tour promoting Tea Partyism. Along the way, he'll be gathering more cult followers and establishing them as an outside-politics force.

He's not going away, that's for sure. But we don't have to watch him mainstreaming his extremism to an audience of millions every day any more, either. And that's a real victory all by itself.

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