He writes ‘em, sure, all his little friends do. But what I mean is that he reads them too, invites his favorite authors on his show and sells books after their appearances. It’s not just serious nonfiction and redemptive Oprah reads, either. Beck enjoys thrillers (especially if there’s a juicy government conspiracy involved, but that’s not a requirement) and other commercial fiction alongside the conservative Jeremiads you’d expect.
No matter what you think of Beck’s politics, and I think he’s so wrong there that he’s silly, it’s great to have another effective tv outlet for authors. As this piece points out, progressives don’t have the equivalent of a guy who can thunder on the air, “Buy this book,” and have the audience actually obey. The wimpy attitude is, this is the flip side of demagoguery; it’s not so bad if it’s for a good cause. But, vide Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. I cringe, as do most people, when Beck decides to hold a rally on the anniversary date of, on the same steps as, Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, thus desecrating the historic event as only a grinning galoot possibly can. (He claims, preposterously, that he was unaware of the connection during the planning stages.) But his audience takes him seriously, and if he says buy gold, they do. If he says buy books, they do that too. Let’s hope he doesn’t tell them one day to buy suitcase nukes.
Stewart and Colbert do a great job with authors: they are the rule as guests on these shows, not the exception. But they usually feature serious nonfiction, on both sides of the political spectrum, and though they can sell books (one I worked on, a very long book, went into multiple printings after George Lucas appeared on THE DAILY SHOW to promote it), they’re not in Beck’s league. Even more to the point, Beck is promoting reading as fun. That’s something that all little Obama-haters can take away – and if they get into the habit while they’re still young, they might even discover that there’s a whole wide world out there beyond the artificial reality of Fox News. Keep it up, Glenn: not only is reading a noble cause to champion, you also might actually be forming a few progressive minds along the way.