Remember, first and foremost Glenn Beck sees himself as a showman and he’ll stop at nothing to boost ratings.
Beck is a swing-for-the-fences kind of guy, and so far he’s generally connected, delivering impressive short-term spikes in his audience. But just like a product that goes on sale too often, there’s a limit to the number of swings Beck can take before he cheapens the value of his broadcast.
Well, Rush Limbaugh is a showman too and he’s done very well, very, very well his medium over a period of twenty years. Not considering that example, Lewison suggests that Beck’s “career will look like that of Morton Downey Jr., who exploded onto the scene in the 1980s, imploding before the decade was out.”
Maybe Beck’ll be another Limbaugh, but I doubt it. Here’s why. I pretty much agree with Beck and love the reverence he shows for the founders and their ideas. So, naturally, I should love his show. But, whenever I try to watch, I find myself, well, turned off. He’s a little too over-the-top. If he turns this conservative off, he’s probably going to antagonize people of a more moderate persuasion.
Limbaugh, by contrast, has a self-deprecating humor that Beck lacks. The latter just isn’t as funny as Rush. In fact, he seems a lot angrier. Rush may be portrayed as angry, but whenever I’ve listened, he always seems to be having fun. I don’t get that sense from Beck.
That said, anemic though Beck’s ratings may be (in Lewison’s book), he’s head and shoulders ahead of the competition. In his time slot, he attracts twice the audience of his competitors on other TV news networks. . . . combined.