Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Whether you love him, hate him, or just wish he’d go away (my position), it’s hard to deny that Glenn Beck is one of the most intriguing figures in American public life. Yesterday, the New York Times Magazine ran a long (8,077 words!) and interesting profile of the media personality/history teacher titled ” Being Glenn Beck .”

The article isn’t entirely fair and certainly not sympathetic (it is, after all, the NYT ). But if you have any interest at all in the man some describe as a post-angry Oprah, you’ll find it utterly fascinating.

However, for those who don’t have time to read it all (it took me 67 minutes), I’ve selected ten choices passages to give you an idea of what you’re missing:

1.   . . . as [Beck] said in July of last year, “Everything that is getting pushed through Congress, including this health care bill,” is “driven by President Obama’s thinking on . . . reparations” and his desire to “settle old racial scores.”

2. In the middle of his analogy to me about his own personal crash and the country’s need to heal itself, Beck looked at his publicist with a flash of alarm about how I might construe what he was saying. “He is going to write a story that I believe the whole country is alcoholics,” he said. And then he went on to essentially compare his “Restoring Honor” pageant at the Lincoln Memorial to a large-scale A.A. meeting.

3. Beck’s staff and loyalists love to compare Beck with Oprah Winfrey . . . . As Winfrey does, Beck talks a great deal about himself and subscribes to the pop-recovery ethic.

4. [Beck’s office] is spacious, sun-filled and arrayed with family photos, books and a yellowed copy of The Boston Post with the headline “Woodrow Wilson Is Dead.”

5. [Beck] tells of walking into a bookstore and loading up on books by a hodgepodge that included Alan Dershowitz, Pope John Paul II, Carl Sagan, Nietzsche, Billy Graham and Adolf Hitler. “The library of a serial killer,” he called it.

6. [Beck] wanted to marry, and she agreed, but only on the condition that they find a religion together. They shopped around, attended services and eventually settled on Mormonism — inspired in part by Beck’s best friend and radio sidekick, Pat Gray, who himself is Mormon. Beck, who was brought up Roman Catholic, has called his faith “the most important thing” in his life.

7. Beck fashions himself a kind of self-teaching populist for the Internet age. His characteristic chalkboard lends his show an air of retro-professorial authority, despite the fact that Beck did not attend college and says that before Sept. 11, 2001, “I didn’t know my butt from my elbow.”

8. Several people at Beck’s events described themselves as “students of history” or “historians.” When I asked one if he was affiliated with a school or college, he said: “Yes. Glenn Beck University.”

9. “I wrote Sarah Palin a letter last night about 2 in the morning,” Beck said on his radio show in September. “And I said: ‘Sarah, I don’t know if I’m doing more harm or more good. I don’t know anymore.’ ”

10. [Beck’s] most animated attacks on Obama in the days after the “Restoring Honor” rally were over his take on the president’s religious convictions, which Beck called “a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it.”

Read more . . .

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles