Inside Media Matters warehouse office space Monday night, Democratic pundit Paul Begala was among the throng of guests whooping and hollering about the farewell of Fox News’ Glenn Beck. Begala is not timid — at one point he donned dark horn-rimmed Beck glasses and did his best dramatic impression of the host on a wild rant. “I am a rodeo clown,” he began. Media Matters founder David Brock also showed up. Less of a comedian, he spoke of the serious dangers Beck posed and ultimately, after a small degree of reluctance, later agreed to a few private media interviews on the fall of their nemesis.
“This is probably the largest crowd we’ve ever had at Media Matters,” said Brock, scanning the room of mostly twentysomethings with beer. Of his employees who helped topple Beck, he told the crowd, “They are tireless, tenacious and so so so so so smart. … Because of it, Glenn Beck is going to have a little more free time next week. The absence of Beck is not only a victory for us here, but a victory for civil discourse in our country.”
The room exploded into cheers and APPLAUSE!
This was their “Bye Bye Beck” blowout bash. The place was packed. Madonna blared. One thing was clear: Brock and the employees of Media Matters feel personally responsible for Beck’s demise. They couldn’t be more proud.
Begala publicly thanked Brock for having “the spine” to put Beck watch into place. Later he remarked on the strangeness of Beck’s “delusional” and “paranoid” conspiracy theories while admitting there is a real entertainment factor to Beck. “Sometimes it was riveting television,” he said. Lefty radio host Bill Press was also there to celebrate. He, too, feels invested in Beck’s fall and didn’t hide his gloating. “I have two words for Glenn Beck: Conan O’Brien.”
Monitoring Beck and all of Fox News has been no small feat. From 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. employees man the network in a “war room” in four shifts and this includes specific teams that focus on Beck’s three hour radio show and one hour Fox News program. “They are the reason this happened,” Brock said.
“We take it seriously,” agreed Todd Gregory, a Media Matters researcher as he drank a celebratory beer. “It really is our mission.” Does he hate Beck? “I would say that hate is an awfully strong word.” Gregory acknowledges he will miss Beck’s theatrics. Research colleague Terry Krepel also touted Beck’s performer skills. He thinks the host’s tears are real “to a certain extent.” He also thinks they’re mechanical — he knows how to turn them on and off.
Angelo Carusone is something of a Beck celebrity inside Media Matters. In July 2009, while in law school, he began monitoring Beck for a site called StopBeck.com. He came aboard the company in the winter of 2010. Put it this way: Carusone has been listening to and watching Beck for four hours a day five days a week for a very long time.
Which brings us to a weird reality. Some admit it, some won’t, but the anticipation of no more Beck is a real emotional loss for these progressive soldiers.
When asked if he’ll go through Beck withdrawal, Carusone laughs. “I’m sure I haven’t lost brain cells,” he said, when asked if watching so much Beck has had any detrimental effect on his brain. But when I wonder more seriously how he will feel without his daily ingesting of Beck, he looks suddenly nervous and says earnestly, “I’ll tell you off the record.” I tell him I don’t want to know off the record. He says I have to understand that he has spent four hours daily with Beck for years now. Yes, there are things he finds amusing, but more importantly he sees his “irresponsibility” and “indecency.” Ultimately he concedes an emotional component to no more Beck. “It obviously has an affect,” he said, disappearing into the crowd.
More from Brock…