His words reach about 30 million people a month, and though his detractors both left and right seem to number at least as many, the wildly successful populist Glenn Beck shows himself to be "cheerful and affable" in responding to his critics in a lengthy profile in the Wall Street Journal. In the interview, Beck insists he's not a conspiracy theorist, not an opportunist, and not a journalist.
So what is Beck? A "commenter and entertainer," he says—and a freedom-loving libertarian, and a recovering alcoholic who found his calling in talk radio only after bottoming out badly. Beck likens himself to Howard Beale from the movie Network, while enemy Keith Olbermann compares him to the Andy Griffith character Lonesome Rhodes. But there's one key difference between Beck and the likes of Beale and Rhodes, interviewer James Taranto notes: In this era of cable TV and audience segmentation, Beck preaches mostly to the choir—as does just about everyone else.