Massa's Bizarre Glenn Beck Flame-Out

Understanding the strange full-hour interview

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The great saga of Democratic Rep. Eric Massa's political implosion was expected to hit its peak on last night's Glenn Beck show. The much-heralded full-hour interview was eagerly anticipated by conservatives who expected that Massa, after accusing the White House of conspiracy and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel of being "son of the devil's spawn," would reveal any number of damaging truths about the Democrats. The media eagerly anticipated another meltdown in a long series of Massa meltdowns.

But the show was much more benign--Massa took full blame for his decline--and much stranger. Massa brought photos from his Navy days, which Beck described as "look[ing] like an orgy in Caligula" and refused to show on-air. Visibly agitated that Massa refused to accuse President Obama of a global communist conspiracy, Beck ended the show (which he had begun by mocking Emanuel) by apologizing to his audience for "wasting their time." What on Earth happened? The Atlantic's Chris Good summarizes the program here. The first of the four clips is above. The final three parts of are at the bottom of the post.

  • Beck's Greatest Foe?  Time's Michael Scherer says only Massa could truly challenge Beck. How? By being a better victim. "Massa had come on Fox to out-Beck Glenn Beck. Armed with the very same weapons — a deep sense of victimhood, outrage at the powers that be and remarkable personal candor — the representative delivered a dizzying confessional," he writes. "But in Massa, Beck found a sort of liberal doppelgänger, a mesmerizing train wreck of a man who was impossible to undercut in the classic fashion."
  • So Much for New Conservative Hero  The Washington Post's Dana Milbank chuckles, "The right's romance of Eric Massa was off to a messy start." He explains, "The Beck-Massa affair was a case of two political extremists who have gone so far in opposite directions that these strange bedfellows have wound up on the same mattress." Massa, like Beck, opposes the current health care reform plan, but unlike Beck he says it is because the plan does not go far enough.
  • 'Take Off Those Tinfoil Hats, Folks'  The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder calls the appearance an "(unintentional) gift to the White House." When Massa insisted he was forced out by his own actions and not by the White House, "Beck's night ended there. His lip curled up. Then Massa used the platform to (a) look a little crazy (b) defuse a conspiracy theory that he helped to create and (c) lambast Beck a bit for his own overstatements."
  • On The Hierarchy of TV Implosions?  The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza calls it "a landmark moment in the annals of televised political implosions." He asks the big question: "where does Massa's rambling rant that included -- among many other things -- repeated mentions of tickle fights, a chest x-ray used as a prop and a series of personal attacks on White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel rank among the best/worst implosions ever?" Cillizza sets up a poll--seriously--asking which televised scandal is "best/worst." (Governor Mark Sanford is currently besting Massa two-to-one.)

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