Host vs. Host: Limbaugh, Levin Pummel Beck

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Virtually unknown a year ago, Glenn Beck has rapidly risen to the top of the right-wing punditocracy. Witness his keynote address at CPAC, where the Fox News titan assailed Republicans and Democrats alike and called for a return to bedrock conservative values. Though conservatives bloggers were nonplussed by Beck's attacks on the right, most praised at least some elements of his speech.

Among those who didn't were two old-school conservative bulldogs: Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. The duo share a past (Levin often appeared on Limbaugh's program), a platform (both host intensely popular radio shows), and an aversion to Beck's equal opportunity takedown. And both swiftly retorted Beck's "divisive" attacks.

Mixing professional snark with personal concern, Limbaugh rebutted Beck and made his case for conservative unity.

To each his own. There are motivations for people who do what they do--and I, as a highly trained broadcast specialist, I think I know what's going on and why various people are doing what they're doing and taking positions that they're taking. But the best way to insure that Obama succeeds is to think that we need a third party. All the momentum that we've got going right now is just going to hit a brick wall if a third party starts, particularly on the basis that there's 'no difference between the two parties.'

Levin was more stern in his rebuke, coldly sniping that Beck must decide who he is: "a circus clown, self-identified, or a thoughtful and wise person." After warning Beck not to play "footsie" with the mainstream media, Levin ended his scolding with a stark request: "Stop dividing us."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.