Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Beck: Stop Looking at My Past.

Every time I think this ridiculous man can't get any more insane, he proves me wrong.

He now sits on national television claiming not to be a journalist or a clown but stating that he's appearing as a private citizen. It simply doesn't get any whackier than that. He's sitting on television in a show bearing his name and claiming that he is not a public figure. He would no doubt argue that he was not elected to high office and that's why he objects to people examining his past. However, the prurient interest his employer, Fox News, has in the lives of other people not elected to public office - Britney Spears? - quickly dismantles that distinction.

Beck here fulminates that articles are examining his past, including the disgraceful assertion that his mother committed suicide, in three pieces on Beck's past carried on-line by Salon.

And that charge does appear to have merit, until one reads the articles in question. For when one reads them one finds that the person who first put forward the notion that Beck's mother committed suicide was Beck himself.

As Beck would later relate to millions of his listeners, his mother's drowning was no boating accident. It was a suicide, he claimed, explained in a short note written on that fateful dawn and left on the mantel. And he said it happened in 1977, when he was 13, not 1979, when he was 15 (even though newspaper obits and government records confirm that a 41-year-old woman named Mary Beck died in Puyallup in 1979.) In fact, Beck's first wife had never heard of Mary Beck's alleged suicide until years after they married, when she heard her husband discussing it live on the radio.
So, he is being disingenuous when he claims here that it is talk of his mother's death as a suicide which upsets him, as that is a narrative which he alone introduced.

No, what's upsetting him - as he sets out to claim that Fox News is the "Alamo for Truth" - is that the picture one gets when reading this entire tale is not exactly a pleasant one.

What's revealed is his pettiness and his blind ambition. His willingness to say anything to get people to notice him and pay attention. He is the ultimate ratings junkie; he doesn't care if he's hated, he simply cares about his numbers. And the pretence that he is the little guy "simply asking questions" is a method of disguising his ignorance and a tactic which he developed early in his talk radio career.

A few minutes later, toward the end of the first hour, Beck shifts gears. After expounding on war and peace with the certainty of someone who has spent a life thinking about these things -- and not imitating Muppets between Bon Jovi songs -- he swivels into a disarming Socratic stance of admitted ignorance. It is a move that would play a large role in his future appeal: the average guy who tells you the way it is, then shrugs innocently and says, "But what do I know?" The transition is obviously unpracticed, and it jars, but for the first time in the show, Beck's words ring true.

"I don't have a stinking answer to save my life," he admits. "I don't know what's going on."

One of the reason I think these articles have genuinely angered Beck is not for any of the reasons which he is stating, rather it is because these articles do a very good job of exposing the vacuousness of the man. And it's also the fact that he is using the same methods today that he used back then, only now he is pretending that he is exposing corruption, when in fact he is simply drawing attention to himself with the same horrible neediness which he displayed back then.

The undisputed high point of Beck's tenure in Baltimore was an elaborate prank built around a nonexistent theme park. The idea was to run a promotional campaign for the fictional grand opening of the world's first air-conditioned underground amusement park, called Magicland. According to Beck and Gray, it was being completed just outside Baltimore. During the build-up, the two created an intricate and convincing radio world of theme-park jingles and promotions, which were rolled out in a slow buildup to the nonexistent park's grand opening. They then went to Kings Island in Cincinnati to record their voices over the sounds of a real theme park. On the day Magicland was supposed to throw open its air-conditioned doors, Beck and Gray took calls from enraged listeners who tried to find the park and failed. Among the disappointed and enraged was a woman who had canceled a no-refund cruise to attend the event.

"They never told a soul what they were doing," says Sean Hall, the B104 newsreader. "I didn't know until the morning it aired. People just drove around in circles on the beltway for hours trying to find the place. And that was exactly what it was supposed to elicit."

So, he had people driving around for hours trying to find something which didn't exist... simply to get their attention. It didn't matter that he was, literally, leading them down a blind alley, what mattered was that they were listening to him. This same cheap trick is carried on today when Beck searches for Fema camps which he can't find and therefore can't disprove. And, indeed, one can find it in Beck's tea parties where lots of people take to the streets in protest but can't actually agree what it is they are protesting about.

But the other thing which must embarrass Beck about these articles is the picture of a cruel and vindictive little man which emerges:
Today, when Beck wants to illustrate the jerk he used to be, he tells the story of the time he fired an employee for bringing him the wrong pen during a promotional event. According to former colleagues in Baltimore, Beck didn't just fire people in fits of rage -- he fired them slowly and publicly. "He used to take people to a bar and sit them down and just humiliate them in public. He was a sadist, the kind of guy who rips wings off of flies," remembers a colleague.
And the worst story of all concerns what Beck did when a rival radio jock's wife had a miscarriage:

A couple days after Kelly's wife, Terry, had a miscarriage, Beck called her live on the air and says, 'We hear you had a miscarriage,' " remembers Brad Miller, a former Y95 DJ and Clear Channel programmer. "When Terry said, 'Yes,' Beck proceeded to joke about how Bruce [Kelly] apparently can't do anything right -- about he can't even have a baby."

"It was low class," says Miller, now president of Open Stream Broadcasting. "There are certain places you just don't go."

So, there are many reasons for Beck to be very angry about the publication of these articles, for they reveal him in an utterly horrible light; and, indeed, they highlight many of the techniques which he continues to employ to this day.
"He knew how to get attention - how to get people talking about him."
Whether he's calling Obama a racist or putting up those stupid charts which make dubious links which no-one can quite understand, Beck doesn't care. His entire goal is ratings and he has discovered that ratings can relate directly to outrage. So he is outrageous, he says what no-one else will say simply because he needs people to look at him.

He comes across as utterly pathetic and a little sad. And I think it is that fact which annoys him far more than any claims about the suicide of his mother. After all, that's a claim which he started.


This is the perfect example of the fact that Beck will say anything to get attention. Here he argues that the corruption behind the "done deal" - which is Chicago getting the Olympics - is the "biggest story in American history". And he talks of a Pulitzer for anyone brave enough to uncover it.

Days later, he celebrated the fact that Chicago did not win it's Olympic bid, without mentioning the fact that his entire corruption theory had actually been utterly disproved.

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