Welcome to the "fear chamber" or "doom room," home to Fox News Channel's political commentator and television news host, Glenn Beck.
Beck has become a media phenomenon. The radio DJ-turned-television host has attracted a remarkable following, resulting in a popular radio show, three New York Times best-selling books and a television program that has made him the object of scorn and praise alike.
No scripts or teleprompters seem to be necessary in the "doom room." Beck's off-the-cuff, extemporaneous and emotive style have rocketed his 5 pm, EST, television news show on the Fox News Channel to the third-most-watched cable news show running over all.
If the medium of television has the unique ability to capture viewers' attention, then for better or worse, Glenn Beck has mastered the medium. And as the ratings make clear, audiences find his show to be compelling, entertaining and engaging.
What exactly makes Glenn Beck's show so appealing to his fans?
Like Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes in Elia Kazan's 1957 film A Face in the Crowd, Beck has a special knack for captivating viewers via the medium of television. In fact, Beck emulates Rhodes' offhand, improvisatory approach and charismatic ability to draw in audiences.
Utilizing his storytelling ability, one that is often couched in high humor and was honed during his years in radio, Beck has managed to create an informal, opinionated and seemingly spontaneous program. But Beck's unrehearsed modus operandi often lands him in hot water. For example, commenting on the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Beck claimed on-air that President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white culture." He also accused the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of operating concentration camps in the U.S., which turned out to be inaccurate.
Beck's approach to news, which he describes as the "fusion of enlightenment and entertainment," has garnered mixed reviews. Some viewers perceive Beck's outbursts as bold, truthful rants that need to be part of the public dialogue. Others, however, view his harangues as unwarranted, incendiary ploys to attract attention and alienate certain groups.
The appeal of Beck's program has a lot to do with his down-to-earth, self-deprecating demeanor ("You've never met a more flawed guy than me," he insists). Bill