Tears of a Clown

It had been rumored for months a parting of the ways was coming between Fox News and goofy Glenn Beck and this week they made it official.  Beck will be ending his program this fall after being done in by following a year of rapidly declining ratings that had plunged by 50 percent and over 400 advertisers demanding their commercials not be broadcast during Beck’s show.

At his peak, Beck was pulling down $32 million a year, made the cover of TIME and had organized a mammoth rally for conservatives in Washington D.C. in 2010.  Beck will continue to his popular radio show, despite being dropped in the Philadelphia and New York markets. ,Don’t feel sorry for Beck.  He’ll be fine.  With him and crazy uncle act off  nightly television the rest of us will be too.

The tipping point for Fox which put up with Beck’s peddling of paranoia was when he started to display a nasty bit of tolerance for anti-Semitism and began trafficking in it himself.  Dana Milbank of the Washington Post explained the series of events that made Beck’s departure inevitable.    

He spun a conspiracy theory in which the American left was in cahoots with an emerging caliphate in the Middle East. And, most ominously, he began to traffic regularly in anti-Semitic themes.

This vile turn for Beck reached its logical extreme two weeks ago, when he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.”

Griffin’s Web site dabbles in a variety of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including his view that “present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order.”

A month earlier, Beck, on his radio program, had described Reform rabbis as “generally political in nature,” adding: “It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way.”

A few months before that, he had attacked the Jewish billionaire George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, as a “puppet master” and read descriptions of him as an “unscrupulous profiteer” who “sucks the blood from people.” Beck falsely called Soros “a collaborator” with Nazis who “saw people into the gas chambers.”

Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes enjoy pounding on Soros on the various block of Fox evening programs, but Beck upped the ante to slime the liberal billionaire as a self-hating Jew who cooperated with the Nazis.  That’s a mistake too big even for Fox to overlook.  Then again, what were they expecting?   Let loose a wild dog to bite everyone you consider an enemy and he may turn and bare his fangs to you when you try to put a muzzle on him.

Glenn Beck will act as if he jumped. He wasn’t. He got pushed. 

The lesson to be learned from The Misadventures of Mr. Beck and his Chalkboard of Doom comes from the film Tropic Thunder:

Kirk Lazarus: Everybody knows you never go full retard.

Tugg Speedman: What do you mean?

Kirk Lazarus: Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, ‘Rain Man,’ look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sho’. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, ‘Forrest Gump.’ Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain’t retarded. Peter Sellers, “Being There.” Infantile, yes. Retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don’t buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, “I Am Sam.” Remember? Went full retard, went home empty handed…

This is a lesson Beck never learned.  He did not have an “off” switch and the doom and gloom became relentless.  You can get away with being crazy as long as you’re entertaining.  That’s why you have people throwing good money away with $100 tickets to Charlie Sheen’s Violent Tornado of Truth tour.  It’s when you start going to dark and creepy places even those who used to laugh with you start nervously backing away from you, you’ve crossed a bridge too far.

Odd behavior brings people in.  Disturbing behavior chases them off.

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