No, You're the Demagogue!

Glenn Beck and Frank Rich escalate their pundit war

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In yesterday's New York Times, Frank Rich slammed Glenn Beck as a "demagogue" who preaches "crazy-quilt cosmology" and "lunatic conspiracy theories." He warned Republicans against embracing Beck's brand of lunacy. "The real economic grievances lurking beneath the extremism of the Beck brigades can do damage to both parties," he wrote. "The more the party is identified with nasty name-calling, freak-show protestors, immigrant-bashing (the proximate cause of [Joe] Wilson's outburst at Obama) and, yes, racism, the faster it will commit demographic suicide as America becomes ever younger and more diverse."

Rich's column is the latest salvo in a long-running feud with Beck, a full-on pundit war that began this year and quickly took off. Beck, a frequent critic of the Times, has made Rich a top target. Will Beck return fire on tonight's show? A quick rundown of the previous skirmishes:

  • Glenn Beck, January 8, 2009: "I think you can't make the case against it because what's the difference between porn and the New York Times? I don't think there's any difference. Tell me, you read the New York Times; you read pornography. You feel dirty after doing both, don't you?"
  • Frank Rich, April 18, 2009: Rich calls Beck a "rising-star demagogue."
  • Frank Rich, June 13, 2009: "This homicide-saturated vituperation is endemic among mini-Limbaughs. Glenn Beck has dipped into O’Reilly’s Holocaust analogies to liken Obama’s policy on stem-cell research to the eugenics that led to 'the final solution' and the quest for 'a master race.' After James von Brunn's rampage at the Holocaust museum, Beck rushed onto Fox News to describe the Obama-hating killer as a 'lone gunman nutjob.' Yet in the same show Beck also said von Brunn was a symptom that 'the pot in America is boiling,' as if Beck himself were not the boiling pot cheering the kettle on."
  • Glenn Beck, June 14, 2009: "Just read F.RichNYT hatchet job on Oreilly and Me.They can't wait for the 'emergency' to shut opposing voices down. Remember: MLK/Ghandi."
  • Glenn Beck, June 15, 2009: "What people need to keep in mind is that some people in the fringe groups are CRAZY. If you want to target Fox News, feel free, but it's misguided. Again, is Frank Rich responsible for the Muslim killing the service personnel in Arkansas? He's talked about how bad our soldiers are? No, he's not."
  • Glenn Beck, June 23, 2009: "The New York Times has been involved with some gruesomely awesome journalism over the years, I mean gruesome stuff and their coverage of the year has done a great job of playing right into their self‑inflicted stereotypes." ... "This is why people hate the New York Times. They wonder why isn't any body reading our paper? Why are we going out of business?"
  • Frank Rich, August 1, 2009: "Their ranks were joined last week by Glenn Beck, who on Fox News inexplicably labeled Obama a racist with 'a deep-seated hatred for white people,' presumably including his own mother. What provokes their angry and nonsensical cries of racism is sheer desperation: an entire country is changing faster than these white guys bargained for."
  • Glenn Beck, August 28, 2009, quoting Rich and others: "Is it reasonable to ask the question — based on these clips — do they think that a good portion of the American people are the enemy? They are such a danger we need a civilian national security force as well-funded and well-trained as the military? That's who they think the enemy is and, once again, the media has it completely wrong. So who is the real enemy?"
  • Frank Rich, September 20, 2009: This is right-wing populism in the classic American style, as inchoate and paranoid as that hawked by Father Coughlin during the Great Depression and George Wallace in the late 1960s. Wallace is most remembered for his racism, but he, like Beck, also played on the class and cultural resentment of those sharing his view that there wasn’t 'a dime's worth of difference' between the two parties.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.