Media Matters: Glenn Beck explains why he should be fired

This week brought the release of Glenn Beck's kind-of-anticipated novel, The Overton Window. Based on early previews and trailers, all indications were that the book was not going to be an award-winning work of fiction. Ultimately, nothing could have properly prepared us for how monumentally terrible it would end up being.

This week brought the release of Glenn Beck's kind-of-anticipated novel, The Overton Window. Based on early previews and trailers, all indications were that the book was not going to be an award-winning work of fiction.

Ultimately, nothing could have properly prepared us for how monumentally terrible it would end up being.

Ignoring the author(s) for a moment, The Overton Window is, quite simply, a failure as a piece of fiction. The book is billed as a “thriller,” but it is mind-numbingly boring, with pages upon pages spent rehashing long-winded, anti-big government sermonizing thinly disguised as “dialogue.” It is filled with plot holes, inexplicable character motivations, tired clichés, characters who are introduced out of left field only to conveniently advance the inane plot, other characters that exist for no apparent reason, and characters we are supposed to like who say things like "don't tease the panther."

But as we detailed earlier this week, you don't have to take our word for it. The press outlets that weighed in on Beck's book were equally unkind (with one notable exception). Time's Alex Altman labeled the book a “plodding read” with a “half-baked plot” and noted that Beck “doesn't have the writing chops to carry skeptics through the sermonizing.” Washington Post book critic Steven Levingston declared that the “silly” language of the book exceeded the “often ... laughable prose” found in the thriller genre. And in comments that enraged Beck, Levingston stated that “radical readers may take the story's fiction for fact” and that the book is “an extended call to arms, a rallying cry to [Beck's] angry foot soldiers long stirred by his rantings on Fox News.”

Beck lashed out at Levingston several times and eventually resorted to personal insults, writing on his Facebook page that Levingston “soooo clearly wants to be an author, but, it seems, he just doesn't have the talent.”

As we pointed out, much like The Overton Window itself, this comment was brimming with unintentional comedy.

As Beck himself indicated, he was apparently such a talented novelist that he required three co-contributors to do the work of putting “the words down” and making it “good to read in that format.” And while most everyone thought that co-contributor Kevin Balfe didn't succeed in his task of making the book “good to read,” Mediaite really enjoyed the book. Surely by coincidence, Steve Krakauer's positive review arrived on the heels of his "exclusive interview" with Beck.

While promoting the book -- and in both the author's note and afterword -- Beck repeatedly discussed how the book was supposedly a work of “faction,” which he defined as “completely fictional books with plots rooted in fact.” Beck has tried to thread the needle about his book both being a novel and something that could potentially be prophetic. In the author's note, Beck wrote that the book takes place at a time in history “very much like the one we find ourselves living in now.” As we detailed, this is true, insofar as the world of The Overton Window is eerily similar to the fantasy world of conspiracy theories Beck fearmongers about on both his TV and radio shows.

For most people, the release of an almost-universally mocked novel would probably mark the low point of their workweek. Of course, this being Glenn Beck, there is some competition for that title.

In the “jaw-dropping hypocrisy” category, Beck expressed outrage at an ad released by Republican congressional candidate Rick Barber that featured the line, “Gather your armies.” Beck savaged Barber, whom he labeled a “dope” and “one of the dumbest people” he has seen. Perhaps Beck has an explanation for why his frequent use of revolutionary language to characterize political debates, including discussing forthcoming “rivers of blood,” is more acceptable.

And while Beck likely won't quit his day job, he certainly seems to think he should be fired. On his show on Monday, Beck stated that if he “get[s] out of control and start[s] leveling baseless charges that can't be backed up,” he would be “fired.”

We helpfully responded with 18 baseless charges Beck has made on Fox News that did not get him fired.

On the bright side for Beck, he no longer has the dubious distinction of being the only conservative media figure to mock President Obama's 11-year-old daughter in the past month.

Rush Limbaugh celebrates his lavish wedding by mocking hungry children

This week marked the return of Rush Limbaugh from a short vacation, during which he celebrated his fourth traditional marriage.

Rush picked up on Tuesday where he left off before the hiatus: by politicizing the BP oil spill and absurdly suggesting Obama “want[s] this disaster” so he can push cap and trade.

On Wednesday, in the wake of Obama's Oval Office address about the spill, Limbaugh followed Beck's lead by mocking Malia Obama. He imitated her voice and, foreshadowing Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP, said things like “Daddy, did you shake down BP yet?” It takes a special kind of blowhard to manage to mock children more than once in a single show, but as he's proven time and again over the last couple of decades, it's a mistake to underestimate Rush Limbaugh's ability to be mind-bogglingly offensive.

Discussing an AOL News report that children “face a summer of hunger” because they had previously relied on “free or discount cafeteria meals,” but will no longer be getting them because school is out of session, Limbaugh declared that “a summer off from government eating might be just the ticket” to curbing childhood obesity. Taking it further, he stated that children “starving to death out there because there's no school meal provided” is “one of the benefits of school being out.”

Apparently unfamiliar with the idea of parents not being able to afford to stock kitchens with food, Limbaugh condescendingly told hungry children to “try your house” in order to find food, then suggested McDonald's food as an alternative. According to Limbaugh, if all those “options” fail, “there's always the neighborhood dumpster.”

If Limbaugh ever addresses these comments, he'll say that he was either taken out of context or claim he was just tweaking the “drive-bys” with his “satire” about people relying on government assistance. He even punctuated the transcript of this segment on his website with the following image:

Haha -- stupid starving kids can't even find food in their kitchens! Good one, Rush.

As we documented, mocking hungry children was only the latest salvo in Limbaugh's ongoing war on the poor. In fact, Limbaugh frequently makes light of the plight of the poor and derides the programs designed to aid them.

During the health care reform debate, Limbaugh devoted several segments to ridiculing people who couldn't afford health care. For example, he called the story of a woman who wore her dead sister's dentures because she couldn't afford her own the “sob story of the day” and further mocked the woman's plight by saying, “So if you don't have any teeth, so what? What's applesauce for?”

And while Limbaugh spends much of his time attacking those less fortunate than he -- including hungry children -- he will always stick up for those he sees as the true victims in our society: huge, irresponsible corporations.

Sorry about that, BP

This week brought the much-anticipated congressional hearing about BP's role in the oil spill with company CEO Tony Hayward.

Leading up to the hearing, conservative media rushed to BP's defense, lecturing Obama for supposedly unfairly “demonizing” the company. These defenses largely revolved around the $20 billion account negotiated between the Obama administration and BP, designed to pay for damages related to the spill. Apparently, the idea that BP would be responsible for paying damages in the Gulf was too much for conservative media figures to take sitting down.

Stuart Varney called the account “Chavez-like,” and the right-wing choir sung in harmony that the escrow account amounted to a “slush fund.” These conservative defenses of BP set the stage for Wednesday's hearing with Hayward. GOP Rep. Joe Barton got the ball rolling on the congressional grilling ... by apologizing to BP.

Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported:

“I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) during a hearing on Thursday morning with BP's CEO Tony Hayward." I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown -- with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, which has no legal standing, which I think sets a terrible precedent for our nation's future."

“I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize,” Barton added. “I do not want to live in a county where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.”

Barton eventually apologized for his apology and specifically for his use of the word “shakedown.” Conservative media figures apparently found the use of the term wholly appropriate and have since reached a consensus that the escrow account amounted to a “shakedown.” Among those agreeing with Barton's initial assessment were CNN's Erick Erickson, Jim Hoft, Newt Gingrich, Laura Ingraham, Limbaugh, and The Wall Street Journal. Expect that list to grow significantly over the next few days.

Conservatives didn't reserve their vitriol for the escrow account. They also claimed that BP was being “persecuted” at what they labeled “Stalinist,” “witch trial” hearings.

According to conservative media figures, the only thing worse than unleashing one of the worst environmental disasters in history is being held accountable for it.

This weekly recap was compiled by Media Matters' Ben Dimiero.