Actually, Beck Calms the Lunatic Fringe
With O'Reilly and Olbermann, lets wingnuts 'let off steam'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 19, 2009 9:32 AM CDT
Glenn Beck, in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Mike Mergen, file)
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(Newser) – Glenn Beck infuriates many liberals, but they should really be thanking him: His rhetoric tempers fringe sentiments and prevents violence, writes Reihan Salam for the Daily Beast. Talking heads like Beck and Bill O’Reilly “take unspoken anxieties very seriously,” giving voice to a “small and alienated minority,” he contends, arguing that they have “done more to keep Americans safe than 10,000 public service announcements.”

Watching Beck “through the eyes of a crank, you get a very different perspective,” Salam marvels. For example, he asked the first Muslim congressman to prove he wasn’t with “our enemies”—a question “impossibly gauche” to urban ears. “Beck, however, is speaking for members of his audience who really want to know,” Salam notes. “Without Beck and O'Reilly and even Olbermann, how exactly would these people let off steam?”