Wow. People really don't like Glenn Beck or Bill Maher. Is it possible to like anyone?

Wow. A lot of people really don’t like Glenn Beck or Bill Maher. I have learned that over the past couple of days. After my last post “I am Glenn Beck and Bill Maher’s Love Child”, a lot of the comments seemed to focus on the men themselves and not the words they say.
This reader reaction makes me wonder…could there ever be a media figure that people actually trust? Does everyone in the media universe have an agenda or act as a puppet for some unseen power? Can there be any voice that truly speaks “for the people”?
Let me see if I can explain myself better. Our parents grew up with the trusted voice of Walter Cronkite. We have been told that everyone watched him report the news every night on CBS, communicating to the American people everything from the Kennedy assassination to the Vietnam conflict. I don’t know whether to blame it on naivety or ignorance, but the American public in the 1960’s seemed to trust the news reporters of the day. When I took a media history course in journalism school, we discussed the perceived trustworthiness of news reporters in the early days of TV & Radio. Ironically, the media went to great lengths back in the day to cover Presidents’ indiscretions and political corruption…they even protected Hollywood entertainers from bad press…but, yet, the people seemed to trust their media sources. The big 3 network newscasts and the major city newspapers were all perceived to be reliable sources of information.

And there was Woodward & Bernstein. The Watergate story seems to be the real turning point in American journalism history, revealing agenda-driven journalism on a national stage. Yes, they were investigating a major crime committed by some very powerful people, and that story needed to be told. But, the question is…did Woodward & Bernstein go after Nixon because they were journalists wanting to expose the truth or was it because they were big liberals who hated Nixon’s politics?
Now, let’s fast forward to today. Do journalists want to speak truth and inform the public or are they all agenda driven? Is Glenn Beck a true champion of the Constitution or some “neo-con pretending to be a libertarian constitutionalist”? Is Bill Maher a puppet of the socialist elites who hate America?
Could it possibly be these guys are just regular people with strong opinions who happen to have a national stage on which to share their thoughts and ideas? Are they just looking to make money, and simply saying things that are going to win ratings and cause controversy?
As a GenX libertarian with a Journalism degree, I can honestly say I can’t name one news reporter or anchor on the national stage that I trust. Wait, I do like John Stossel. He seems to understand the Constitution and the concept of our Republic. He seems to read between the lines of Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, and Conservatives and see that our country is fighting an ideological war. He has followed the money in a lot of his reporting. But, I could be totally wrong about it. I guess I’ll never really know.
I’m not sure this person could ever exist. Too many people are way too cynical. Plus, after working in TV news for a few years, I can tell you that it wouldn’t be easy. Corporations own the mainstream media and have for a while now. That was orchestrated by our politicians over the past few decades. If you try to do anything that challenges the powers that be or the advertisers that pay the bills, you will lose your job.
But, as I write this blog, I am participating in the new media frontier: the Internet. And, just like the early days of TV & Radio, a lot of people naively believe a lot of things they read on the web. Obviously, that isn’t the right approach to finding correct information. You can’t believe everything you see, hear, and read. You have to ask questions. You have to know how to make your way through all of the crap. The question is, how do you know what’s crap? How do you know what information sources to trust?
Can someone truly be an honest voice for a free people and make it to the national stage?
I was just wondering.


  1. Negative comments are not necessarily reflective of prevailing views.

    It's just the nature of the beast. People are going to be more spurred to comment because they hate Beck or Maher. They'll point out some of the thing the two have said or done in the past that have been hostile to liberty, critical of Ron Paul, etc.

    They're free to do so, and it's understandable. But I don't think those people represent the silent majority of this movement. The most vocal are almost always the most extreme and not necessarily the rank and file.

    Beck and Maher are far from true libertarians, regardless of what they say. I can't disagree with the substance of many of the critical comments. But the venom and motivation behind those comments lacks context.

    Simply put, if not Beck/Maher, then who? Which popular talk show host do you prefer? Which primetime opinion anchor is better?

    The most vocal critics of Beck/Maher have no real answer to that. In their view, we should just stop trying to educate the American people through the media/popular culture. Forget the fact that Beck/Maher probably spread 5 times the good information about issues we care about than bad, they say.

    In short, they'd rather demonize everyone. They'd create a desert and call it peace.

  2. If you are wondering why there might be so little trust in media (and public figures in general), check out the theories of Neil Howe and William Strauss (they wrote "The Fourth Turning"). their generational cycle theory explains why public trust waxes and wanes and why it is at such a low right now.

  3. Seriously? You're justification to trust Glenn Beck and Bill Maher is because our parents trusted their untrustworthy journalists in the 60's? Glenn Beck is a neo-con posing to be at the forefront of the tea party. It's called controlled opposition. Also, when his suggested method of handling the Ron Paul supporters back in the '08 race was to round them up and shoot them... yeeeeah. Afraid I'll pass. (I'm sure he was taken out of context or was "kidding"). Also, Judge Napolitano has proven to be an amazing tv host on Fox Business and unlike Beck does not have a record of flopping or making harsh comments about people that may or may not get on his nerves.

  4. I never said I trusted anyone. I was asking if it was possible. Thanks for the comment!

  5. In Cronkite's time there was far more competition and local diversity in news media, so there was a strong incentive to be a reliable, trustworthy and comprehensive news source. Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 into law under the pretense that it would foster MORE competition in the market. Instead, it allowed the gross corporate consolidation in the media, not only within the same medium, but across media types. Companies could own TV stations, radio stations, magazines and newspapers all at the same time. Witness the rise of Murdoch's News Corp.

    With media now existing as an oligopoly serving shareholders, the main driver is profit. Smaller investigative news organizations have been bought up, downsized, and consolidated into a handful of large ones. The perspective is not filtered through the local lens anymore. We have corporate infotainment instead of the real news from the era of Woodward and Bernstein.

    Clinton was the best Republican president we ever had.

  6. I was in an Intro to Communications class in 1996 when this bill was passed, and I remember my professor saying...this bill will change the media as we know it forever.

    Boy, was he right.