The Oligarhy of The Stupid
Keith Olbermann is mad as hell about Glenn Beck’s role in demonizing Van Jones and Beck’s upcoming jihad against Cass Sunstein. But instead of just grousing about it, Olbermann is ready to fight fire with fire:
I don’t know why I’ve got this phrasing in my head, but: Find everything you can about Glenn Beck, Stu Burguiere, and Roger Ailes…
No, sending me links to the last two Countdowns with my own de-constructions of his biblical vision quality Communist/Fascist/Socialist/Zimbalist art at Rockefeller Center (where, curiously, he works, Comrade) doesn’t count. Nor does sending me links to specious inappropriate point-underscoring prove-you’re-innocent made-up rumors.
Tuesday we will expand this to the television audience and have a dedicated email address to accept leads, tips, contacts, on Beck, his radio producer Burguiere, and the chief of his tv enablers, Ailes (even though Ailes’ power was desperately undercut when he failed to pull off his phony “truce” push).
This becomes necessary after this in order to prove various cliches about goose and gander, and to remind everybody to walk softly and carry a big popsicle, and most particularly to save this nation from the Oligarhy of The Stupid.
I admire the hell out of the sentiment, but I question the value of any practical application of dirt dug up on Beck. After all, wasn’t a certain porcine Bush administration water carrier, war cheerleader and railer against lazy welfare queens and crack-heads revealed to be a draft-dodging, drug-addicted Dominican sex tourist and hypocrite of the first order? And did he not afterward garner the largest radio contract in history?
Yes, he did. Face it, Merkins: the bad news is that a solid percentage of us—maybe 15% to 20% or so—are drooling morons and nutty conspiracy theorists who will believe any absurdity—no matter how ridiculous the purveyor—as long as it flatters our prejudices. This group, therefore, is easy to mobilize.
Another percentage of us—probably comparable in size to the drooling moron contingent—carry our own cultural baggage, preconceived notions and conspiracy theories but are mostly capable of abstract thought and reasoned analysis. We can be mobilized too, but for this sector, the motivating message generally cannot be captured on a bumper-sticker, which is a persistent disadvantage for outreach beyond the core group.
The remaining 60% or so is somewhere in the middle and is susceptible to catchy messaging from either side. Here is where the battle lies. Uncovering dirt on Beck won’t affect this group, because they generally don’t pay attention to him anyway.
As the example of draft-dodging, drug-addicted Dominican sex tourist and hypocrite of the first order Rush Limbaugh suggests, no revelation about Beck can hurt him with his core constituency. Have you ever watched his show? The clips you see here are pretty representative of the general fare: Beck is plainly nuttier than a squirrel turd and constantly on the verge of an on-air meltdown. (I suspect a good portion of his audience watches just to see that when it finally happens, like NASCAR fans who watch races solely for the thrill of the crashes.)
Beck’s core audience doesn’t recognize crazy when they see it, probably because they see it in the mirror every day. So digging up dirt on Beck probably won’t accomplish anything. As RR commenter Allan observed yesterday, Beck can be taken down by attacking him where he’s most vulnerable: his profit margin:
We must hit them in the pocketbook. We must force their firings and resignations and remove them from positions of power and influence. We must destroy them. That is all they understand, and until they stand in the burned-out shambles of their careers and their livelihoods weeping for all that has been taken away from them, they will not have been properly dealt with.
Word. Beck went after Jones with both barrels because Jones’ former organization, The Color of Change, successfully dislodged a slew of Beck’s advertisers. While it’s disappointing that Beck had a hand in collecting Jones’ scalp, the larger lesson is that Beck attacked because he was motivated by fear.
And it wasn’t fear of an Olbermann viewer digging up an old YouTube of Beck dancing on a pool table in a honky-tonk in a wetsuit and strap-on washing down a handful of Oxycontin with a tequila shot. It was fear of revenue loss.
Beck’s audience may temporarily increase because of the hullabaloo surrounding boycott activities. But if Fox can’t capitalize on the increase by hooking reputable sponsors (i.e., not ExtenZe), there’s a limit to Beck’s value to Fox. They won’t continue to fund his deranged circus out of the goodness of their hearts. To paraphrase Emilio Barzini in The Godfather: after all, they are not communists.
Speaking to his relatively small core constituency of fellow crazies and bigots, Beck likes to intone “We surround them,” implying that the nutters who hang on his every word make up the majority. But the fact is, they don’t.
No one surrounds anyone. The core elements of each side, right and left, flank an amorphous middle that dwarfs their numbers. The middle behaves like dithering chickens in a coup, susceptible to loony Chicken Littles like Beck and his ilk only when the squawking reaches a certain level outside the Chicken Little chamber that is The Glenn Beck Show and similar venues.
Target the Squawkmeisters’ revenue stream, and you’re addressing the problem. A boycott of Fox News advertisers in general wouldn’t be a bad idea. Someone call Van Jones. Maybe he could organize it. I hear he’s looking for new opportunities.