The Triumph of the Conservative Underground

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thomas Frank, journalist and author of What's the Matter with Kansas?, explores the conservative counter-culture movement in America, and its unlikely leader, Glenn Beck. His article "The Triumph of the Conservative Underground," in the December issue of Playboy magazine, traces the rise of Glenn Beck from his early days as a comedian to his place as the conservative voice in America.


Thomas Frank

Comments [28]

gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan

@25: "[Frank's] book '...Kansas' was an arrogant judgemental dressing down of decent middle american people..."

that's the strategy the "geniuses" on the New Left have pursued since the 1960s. obviously, it's been working brilliantly.

"When gov CONTROLS entire industries like GM& the Banks, yet these industries maintain the appearance of private ownership: this is one of the cardinal features of FASCISM."

i think that is more akin to Syndicalism, a distant cousin of Fascism.

regarding this administration, the notion that one's country is no more exceptional than, say, Greece barely qualifies as patriotism, much less Fascism.

Nov. 26 2009 11:31 PM
gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan

Thomas Franks continues to maintain that the problem isn't the policies he supports (or the economic disaster Allende created), but rather an American propensity to "red-baiting".

if "reds" are his solution, i prefer the problem.

Nov. 26 2009 11:12 PM
MP from Queens

It is more than obvious that Bernanke and other macro economists failed in monitoring the economy as did Greenspan during his tenure; What did we get out of liberal capitalism? huge private and government debt; People are disoriented and cannot trust the government as of now --it is a normal reaction. I wonder where Geithner heard that there is more confidence, maybe more confidence in the markets but not at the Main Street. Obama does not have good economic advisors to this date. Summers, Geithner and Bernanke should have been out of "public service".

Nov. 26 2009 06:54 PM
mike f` from NJ

Few people are as ignorant and misinformed about our political landscape and economics as Thomas Frank. His book "...Kansas" was an arrogant judgemental dressing down of decent middle american people who have been mislead and hookwinked by a government. Glen Beck is tapping into a deep mistrust of gov that is very american. For instance Ben Bernanke was completely wrong about his assessment of the economny before the financial crises and now someone like Geithner says " by every measure people have more confidence now a year later"
Our gov is in full propaganda mode, people are mistrustful. Mistrust breeds cynicism & paranoia.
When gov CONTROLS entire industries like GM& the Banks, yet these industries maintain the appearance of private ownership: this is one of the cardinal features of FASCISM. Thomas Woods is astonishingly ignorant of history and basic economics.

Nov. 26 2009 07:28 AM
hjs from 11211

Michael P

"what's wrong with that?"

have u ever been to latin america or africa?

we aren't suppose to have a class system but we do.

Nov. 25 2009 03:20 PM
Michael P

hjs from 11211

. . . and what's wrong with that? If someone works hard to get rich is rewarding. If someone is a crook and get rich, put him to jail, but taking from the rich and giving to the poor is communism. And who decides who is rich and who is poor? Government? Thank you, I went through that already. I am out.

Nov. 25 2009 02:35 PM
Michael P

I have a question to your guest: does he admire Mao Tse-tung?

Nov. 25 2009 02:24 PM
Tigersfan from Brooklyn

There have always been crazy people at the fringes of the culture, that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that Fox News; a cable channel that wants to be taken seriously as a news outlet gives this guy a platform night after night. It bothers me that people with the power to communicate with millions people can be that irresponsible and give a bull horn to such an obvious demagogue.

Nov. 25 2009 01:51 PM
MP from Queens

We live in the time of huge crisis; Obama inherited enormous problems that were not only caused by demographics or liberal long term believes. Conservatives left a mess behind; It would take a long time to clean up at home and overseas. Huge deficits are a heavy burden for the nation and they have to be dealt with. I am surprised at the level of isolation that some conservatives live in. They have no touch with reality and the world we live in. The world does not turn around us. Sadly we continue with our arrogant believes. We cannot blame liberals or Obama for our own ignorance.

Nov. 25 2009 01:07 PM
hjs from 11211

Michael p
it's VERY clear to me what going on.

the rich get richer!

Nov. 25 2009 01:04 PM
Michael P

As a guy who lived 40 years under a communist regime, and 25 years in USA, I am perplexed when I hear someone, as your guest, releasing statements (even in Playboy Magazine) that says that the truth is what he thinks is the truth. You guys here in America do not have the knowledge, the culture, and the experience to really understand what is going today in this country (unfortunately). Thank you.

Nov. 25 2009 01:01 PM
TJ from NYC

Listening to liberals talk to one another is quite funny if nothing else.

Nov. 25 2009 12:53 PM

actually there is no point in being "angry at glenn beck" is the appetite of millions of americans FOR glenn beck that is so disheartening.

if so many people did not tune in to his show every day he would be just one more homeless paranoid mentally ill guy wandering around on the street ranting and raving. instead his show has high ratings and he lives in luxury. Many many people like what he has to sell.


Nov. 25 2009 12:51 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

I believe it was June 20th 2008, if anyone wants to check out the race baiting WNYC broadcasts from NPR’s Scott Simon.
His basic message was Obama is racists because Democrats were calling out Republicans on the increasingly racists tone of the 2008 presidential campaign. And, Obama should be lauding McCain for adopting a dark skinned child and bringing her into his white family’s house.
This wasn’t FOX, it was NPR.

Nov. 25 2009 12:50 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

I don’t see the point in getting upset with Beck on Fox for calling Obama a racists when Scott Simon did the exact same thing on NPR’s Weekend Edition on WNYC.
Glass houses... Glass houses.

Nov. 25 2009 12:43 PM
hjs from 11211

so they're just cashing in on the angry white guy. got it

Nov. 25 2009 12:41 PM

some of some of adam smith's views would probably strike beck and his fans as hopelessly liberal and (ironically) some of paine's views would probably as horribly socialistic.

Nov. 25 2009 12:41 PM
Chriss from NJ

"I don't know anything about his background, but you can't believe it anyway."

This guy knows nothing about Beck's background or his religion.


This guy is in his corner.

He cannot see, or attempt to understand the other side.

The other guy is the devil.

(Waiting for the next segment......)

Nov. 25 2009 12:37 PM
j from b'klyn

the comparisons between Obama and hitler always seemed ludicrous to me in that hitler was definitely known not to be a big fan of minorities in general.
and as for a liberal conspiracy - the right always said gov't doesn't work, so how would it all of a sudden start to work well enough to have a conspiracy? seriously
and Dan just on the phone, i had a friend that proved what you said, and talking her up out of her inferiority complex was a major task. Took a couple of years, but she eventually understood that I considered her a better person than the right wing ever did. Thanks for that call, Dan.

Nov. 25 2009 12:27 PM
Chriss from NJ


Glen Beck is coming.

Jeez, this guy/subject sounds like a liberals looking for another evil conservative boogeyman.

FoxNews/Rush/Beck/Palin/Tea Parties--


... I'll be tuning into to Rush until the next segment....

Nov. 25 2009 12:26 PM
Andrew B. from New York City

Oh please, stop blaming the deficits on the Republicans allegedly "spiting" the democrats.

It is nothing to do with partisan warfare.

These are long-term demographic trends.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid- an aging population- let's get real.

Nov. 25 2009 12:23 PM
JK from Midtown

oh come on moderators, you guys deleted my comment about the glen beck internet meme raping and murdering a young girl? that led to a monumental free speech decision and is satire at its best.

Nov. 25 2009 12:18 PM
Henry Carrier from Brooklyn

The best analogy to Glenn Beck is fictional - the character from Network - his listeners are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.

By the way, many of his advertisers pitch gold.

Nov. 25 2009 12:15 PM
JK from Midtown

didnt glen beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990? hehehe.

Nov. 25 2009 12:14 PM

In my experience glen beck taps into a large segment of the american population. i personally know people who watch his show with almost religious intensity and feel he speaks for them.

Considering his tearful comparisons between obama and hitler, among many other completely outrageous tirades....It is a very sad commentary on this country that people can relate to this paranoid "populist".

Nov. 25 2009 12:11 PM
Euro Poof

What happened to Rush?
Now I hear of GB rather than Rush. I would like to hear a definitive, reasonable explanation on why Rush is off the (NPR, anyway) radar, given his exclusive prominence through the election and even the months afterward. It feels like a memo went out saying, ixnay on the USH Ray, Now we have to fix on this new guy, Glenn Beck.

Nov. 25 2009 12:09 PM
Leon Freilich from Park Slope


For liberal Democrats

It hurts to have to snipe

But sadly it must be said

Hope turned out to be hype.

Nov. 25 2009 11:06 AM
Gabrielle from brooklyn

I'm curious to know if Glenn Beck has an historically analogous counterpart. As a religious minority in this country, I'm concerned about scapegoating and the power of euphemisms.

thank you,

Nov. 25 2009 10:39 AM

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