The Glenn Beck Phenomenon
He is a recovering alcoholic. He is an atheist turned Mormon. He is a conservative-libertarian, a student of history, an entrepreneur, a business man, a comedian, and a cry-baby. Yes, he is Glenn Beck.
Perhaps no other person in the realm of news and entertainment has so enthralled conservative America. Beck’s unique personality has a little bit of everything – he is wildly sarcastic, humorous, self-educated, remarkably intelligent, deeply emotional, and passionate about defending liberty. This combination of character traits, which brings both entertainment and enlightenment to listeners and viewers, has made Glenn Beck a natural leader in the quest to return America to the path of moral and fiscal responsibility. Naturally, his methods of achieving those ends are unprecedented and as eccentric as his personality.
Beck left FoxNews last summer in pursuit of his next entrepreneurial experiment -“GBTV.com-” an internet-television network. Despite claims that Glenn left Fox for bad ratings, the facts show that the Glenn Beck Program was getting over 2 million views on a regular basis at 5:00pm. The move to start his own subscription-based internet network came out of his desire to escape the confines of traditional media, which more often than not restricts program content and overlooks the main issues of the day. At GBTV, Beck has continued proclaiming his message of constitutionally limited government, teaching history lessons, and talking about faith. On his internet network, Beck has more freedom and flexibility to talk about the issues he feels important. In addition, he has an entire two hours to conduct his program. He often says, “When I first announced I was leaving Fox, I said be careful what you wish for, because you will pray for the day I was on only for an hour. Now it’s two hours, and we are going to be very active.”
Beck’s audience has shrunk considerably since his transition to GBTV, but in relative measurements, his new internet experiment has shown remarkable success. In the first month of GBTV (September of 2011), the program reported over 230,000 subscribers. That number continues to grow. Beck is not worried about the reduction in size of his audience. He has repeatedly said that he is ready to move his movement beyond couch-potato anger and undirected frustration and toward action that is genuinely positive. “GBTV is not a noun, it’s a verb,” he says. This action-based model of Glenn’s program has manifested itself even in his early days at Fox. He created the 9-12 Project which continues to connect people all over the country who have a mutual interest in returning to basic American principles and values. Also, he has single-handedly coordinated two major events around the world: Restoring Honor –which drew literally hundreds of thousands of people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. – and Restoring Courage which took place in Israel. His newest project is called Restoring Love, which will take place on July 28th, 2012 in the Dallas Cowboys football stadium. It will be a weekend long event, culminating with a great day of service in the Dallas community. All participants will travel to the city to do voluntary community service in order to put their conservative principles of private charity into practice. Over 60,000 have already signed up for the event. You can sign up, donate, or read more about Restoring Love here.
In addition to GBTV, Beck has seemingly constructed a multimedia empire. In this respect, he can truly be respected as a futuristic business man and a daring entrepreneur. Glenn hopes to transform the way people can get their information. He is targeting conservatives who are skeptical of partisan cable media – especially young people who are constantly get their news and information from the internet. Among his media pursuits is TheBlaze.com –a news site dedicated to reporting the real news (which just so happened to cover the article of one of TCC’s own: Cristine Rousselle’s “My Time at Wal-Mart…”). Beck has also launched a non-profit charity organization Mercury 1, which is funded by, among other things, a new clothing line called 1791. Essentially, Glenn is trying to fundamentally transform the way individuals receive their news and translate that energy into political, as well as charitable, action.
He has also led an intellectual revolution within the conservative movement. This differentiates Beck from other popularizers of the conservative message. Beck has taken a much deeper interest in history and has been the most outspoken in the need to return to first principles. Every history book he recommends seems to make its way to the New York Times Bestseller list, including George Washington’s Sacred Fire, The Five Thousand Year Leap, American Progressivism, The Road to Serfdom, as well as the several books he himself has published. Though I hesitate to say it, Glenn seems to have become the Oprah of the conservative movement.
As a regular viewer of Glenn’s show and an occasional listener to his radio program, I can personally attest to the inspiring impact he has had on many young conservatives. He provides not a political dogma or a rigid ideology to follow, but a set of practical principles and values rooted in the Judeo-Christian heritage and grounded in the American idea of religious and civil liberty. He constantly urges his viewers to pursue the truth, even challenging them not to trust him and to do their own homework instead. I have taken him up on that offer. I supplement my school work by burying myself in books. I teach myself history, I read my Bible, and I have connected with my first principles. It is a never ending process, but I have Glenn Beck and others like him to thank for starting me on my journey to self-discovery.
It will be interesting to see how Beck’s new internet-network phenomenon will play out in the months and years to come. It will be even more intriguing to see if his newly won freedom and independence in the media world will translate into political action as Tea Partiers, conservatives, and libertarians all continue to be inspired by this man’s words of wisdom. But has he always says, this country’s problems won’t be solved at the ballot box in November. The fight for liberty requires eternal vigilance. Nevertheless, it is clear that Glenn Beck’s message of faith and liberty is surely not dead, and will be around for the Left to hate, mock, and ridicule for a long, long time.
Alan Groves :: Hillsdale College :: Brentwood, Tennessee :: @AlanGroves2