GUEST COMMENTARY: Glenn Beck promoted a marketplace of opinions

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

This week has been declared by the American Society of News Editors as "Sunshine Week," a time to shine the spotlight on the rights of the people to open government and freedom of information.

One of the saddest days for the American press was when Glenn Beck got canceled on Fox News.

I made sure my face was in front of the television at 4 p.m. everyday to watch that silver-haired little man with the shiniest glasses I’ve ever seen spew what seemed to be over-the-top political commentary at me for an hour. For me, the fact that Glenn Beck could be on TV drawing incoherent diagrams on chalkboards and inexplicably breaking into tears is what makes this country great.

I'm talking about the First Amendment.

I didn't watch Beck because I agreed with him, per se. I watched because I agree with the American philosophy of an uncensored, unregulated free press. Sure, I believe I’m right and that my opinion matters. To silence someone else, no matter how outlandish, however, shouldn't be an option. The freedom forces us to be conversational with one another (although it may seem like rampant arguing) and, in essence, makes for a more civilized culture rather than a mass of brutes following the command of one.

A free press not only benefits its producers but also its consumers. Everyone not only has a right to opine but also a right to freely choose which voice to hear. You can decide to either be challenged by a different perspective or be affirmed in your own beliefs. People often say there are two sides to every story. Well, from those two sides spawns an innumerable amount of opinions. This creates an open forum for people to discuss, listen, debate, question and make informed decisions.

Would personalities like Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly be as compelling or thought-provoking if only one or the other wasn’t allowed to speak freely? Probably not. Then again, if we did live in a society that promoted one way of thinking, we probably wouldn’t know the difference, much less care. We need the marketplace of opinions open to us so we don’t close down progression.

Glenn Beck made me a more well-rounded, thoughtful person. Maybe it wasn’t in the way he was hoping (i.e. persuasion), but nonetheless he forced me to contemplate and question my beliefs. He is a crusader for the First Amendment in more ways than he knows and has effectively kept us from spiraling down into one of the horrible dystopias he so often prophesied. Thank you, Glenn. Your service was honorable. May you find solace in your cable network silence with Internet loquacity.

Kelsey Carroll is a journalism major with an emphasis in magazine design at MU. As she is a senior, most of her days are filled by counting down the hours until graduation in May. She comes to Missouri from the south suburbs of Chicago, raised by loving parents and annoyed by one younger brother. Her best friend is her slightly rounded black and grey tabby cat, Abbey.

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Bob Brandon March 13, 2012 | 8:41 a.m.

Ummm... The First Amendment doesn't apply to Fox News; it's not a government actor.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 13, 2012 | 1:43 p.m.

Glenn Beck is more than welcome to opine via Youtube or any other medium that doesn't mind him getting air time, but Fox News is a business and he works for them (or did). If they feel he's hurting their profits, then they can get rid of him.

Not letting Fox fire Beck would be akin to not letting the Catholic Church fire priests who support gay marriage/abortion. They have freedom of speech too, but as representatives of the church, the church can let them go if they feel these priests are hurting their image.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble March 13, 2012 | 1:48 p.m.

Beck was/is a peddler of lies, misinformation, propaganda, and inaccuracies. He is a polarizing sensationalist whose value was the ability to attract attention and money. His contributions to American media have been distortion, the undermining of fact, and the inflaming of rhetoric to the point of eroding communal discussion and cooperation. His success is a cautionary tale. (None of the above has to do with his personal politics, rather his abject failure as a responsible or profssional member of the media.)

The writer and Beck, of course, have the right to disagree. But no matter how much he entertained those who have formed a personal/emotional connection to him, he has harmed the public discourse.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 13, 2012 | 1:56 p.m.

Bob, I'm not sure that Kelsey was saying Glenn Beck had a First Amendment right to express his opinions on Fox News, but that Fox News had the First Amendment right to have on whomever they wish.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 13, 2012 | 2:37 p.m.

And then we have the bitter (because his ox has been gored to death),factless, insinuation and accusation laden, tirade of one, Kevin Gamble.

The "harm" Beck has done to the public discourse is seen only by those of this poster's ilk. More and more people no longer believe the progressive, liberal lie!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 13, 2012 | 3:05 p.m.

Kevin Gamble wrote:

"His success is a cautionary tale."

His success, and those of many like him all across the political spectrum, is tribute to how we crave sensationalism and hyperbole. News and opinion is not supposed to make one feel, it is supposed to make one think. It's not entertainment. Unfortunately, entertainment makes ratings more than intelligent, thoughtful commentary or dry, neutral news.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 13, 2012 | 3:54 p.m.

MarkF: Unfortunately, entertainment makes ratings more than intelligent, thoughtful commentary or dry, neutral news.

As with all entities, follow the money.

Ratings are worth gold. A good "gotcha" is worth even more gold and fame.

The media makes hay by following someone else's money.

But, of course, the unstated *media* agenda and fame, too. I wish they would admit that instead of the "we're above it all" posture.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 13, 2012 | 6:44 p.m.

Mr. Schultz:

Respectfully beg to differ: Ms. Carroll wrote: "One of the saddest days for the American press was when Glenn Beck got canceled on Fox News... I'm talking about the First Amendment..."
Whatever she is writing about, it's not about the First Amendment. She has confused the market power of the likes of News Corporation with the right of free speech. The two are related but not identical.

Fox News cut Glenn Beck loose when his opinions freely offered threatened the News Corp. bottom line. News Corp. also has the right to offer up whatever political views it can afford to present; it was not compelled to subsidize Mr. Beck's constitutional rights at a financial loss. And, even after cancelling his show, Mr. Beck continues to be heard in the greater Columbia area on KSSZ-FM/93.9 MHz. Apparently, Mr. Beck's First Amendment rights continue to fit nicely with Zimmer Radio Group's right to do business. And if Ms. Carroll continues to miss the intellectual stimulation of Mr. Beck's commentary, she is no more than a radio away.

No-one has prosecuted Mr. Beck - or Mr. Limbaugh, for that matter - for any opinion express on-air, and even the most liberal critics of rightist commentators agree that they has a right to find a forum for their views. But merely because Mr. Beck has a right to speak does not mean that he has the right to be respected. In fact, both Mr. Beck and Mr. Limbaugh have received the opportunity to experience the flip side of the First Amendment: when outraged by scurrilous comments, many Americans took advantage of their First Amendment rights to complain to vendors and merchants who bought advertising on their programs to encourage them to stop supporting his program with their ads. If Ms. Carroll is complaining about that particular exercise of constitutional rights, she should state so plainly.

(Although, to be fair to her, I highly doubt that she thinks that way...)

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 13, 2012 | 9:23 p.m.

When "media" means
Only what "makes money" then
It's pornography.

The critique is of
The corporatization of
The "public interest."

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 14, 2012 | 7:15 a.m.


Yesterday upon the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn't see him there at all!

- William Hughes Means (aka Hughes Means)

[Maybe that's how it is: no one is home upstairs. Such things do happen, you know.]

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 14, 2012 | 12:58 p.m.

A big "Howdy!" to
My cyber-stalker! You'll be
Relevant someday.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 14, 2012 | 1:24 p.m.

Apparently some possibly misguided souls who post here think I already am relevant. Are you?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 14, 2012 | 1:49 p.m.

You've stipulated
The application of the
moniker. "Howdy!"

(Report Comment)

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