Time hits newsstands tomorrow with a familiar face on the cover and the question, "Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?" But instead of a hit piece, the article itself offers a fairly benign profile of "the pudgy, buzz-cut, weeping phenomenon of radio, TV and books." Limbaugh and Hannity are still juggernauts, "but it is Beck—nervous, beset, desperate—who now channels the mood of many on the right," writes David Von Drehle. "He is the hottest thing in the political-rant racket, left or right. A gifted entrepreneur of angst in a white-hot market."
Drehle runs down Beck's endless litany of fears—"one-world government," Obama's "hatred for white people," commie symbols at Rockefeller Center, etc—and notes his penchant for on-air tears and his abiding love of old-time radio theatrics. "As melodrama, it's thumping good stuff. But as politics, it's sort of a train wreck—at once powerful, spellbinding and uncontrolled." So is he bad for America? The profile doesn't exactly answer the question, though it pooh-poohs the lucrative "extreme talk" industry in general and ends with another query: "If the time comes when every audience is screaming, who, in the end, is left to listen?"