Glenn Beck — the conservative political commentator once largely known for promoting conspiracy theories — was on Anderson Cooper’s show last night to discuss Stephen Bannon and the alt-right. What happened was this: Anderson Cooper attempted to normalize Stephen Bannon — “How can he be anti-Semitic if Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are Jewish?” — and Glenn Beck pushed back forcefully. He called upon Anderson Cooper not to normalize Stephen Bannon.
Indeed, looking like Howard Beale a week after coming out of his “We’re mad as hell” epiphany, Glenn Beck spoke of how important it is not to call everyone on the right a racist because it diminishes the real racists, like Stephen Bannon, who has empowered white nationalists through Breitbart. Beck’s message to Cooper is basically this: Sure, your viewers may think I’m crazy, but I’m not a white nationalist, and this is where we all — left, right, crazy, sane — need to come together to keep a dangerous racist out of the white house.
The amount of sense Beck continues to make is striking.
Cynics are claiming that this is a rebranding effort by Glenn Beck, and maybe it is. I don’t know. I don’t care. What I do know is that folks on the right — who dismiss anything liberals have to say — are more receptive to the messages of others on the right. Many may dismiss Beck as a turncoat, but some will listen, and even if it is a rebranding effort, if it works, maybe others like Bill O’Reilly will follow suit.