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Look Who’s on the Cover of Time

In a Time magazine cover story, on newsstands tomorrow, David Von Drehle asks, “Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?” The article is a primer for those who don’t know Beck, and a refresher for those who’ve flocked to Beck in the last few months. Beck, however, does not give a new interview for the piece.

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The TV Host

He is a gifted storyteller with a knack for stitching seemingly unrelated data points into possible conspiracies – if he believed in conspiracies, which he doesn’t, necessarily; he’s just asking questions. He’s just sayin’. In cheerful days of yore, he was a terrific host of a morning-zoo show on an FM Top 40 station. But these aren’t cheerful times. For conservatives, these are times of economic uncertainty and political weakness, and Beck has emerged as a virtuoso on the strings of their discontent. Rush Limbaugh, with his supreme self-confidence, holding forth with “half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair,” found his place as the triumphant champion of the Age of Reagan. Macho Sean Hannity captured the cocky vibe of the early Bush years, dunking the feckless liberal Alan Colmes for nightly swirlies on the Fox News Channel.

The Brand

In June, estimators at Forbes magazine pegged Beck’s earnings over the previous 12 months at $23 million, a ballpark figure confirmed by knowledgeable sources, and this year’s revenues are on track to be higher. The largest share comes from his radio show, which is heard by more than 8 million listeners on nearly 400 stations – one of the five biggest radio audiences in the country. Beck is one of only a handful of blockbuster authors who have reached No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller lists with both nonfiction and fiction. His latest book, “Arguing with Idiots”, will be published this month, and if things go as expected, it will be the third No. 1 with his name on the front published in the past 12 months.

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