When I first heard that Glenn Beck was going to relaunch his “The Blaze” as a libertarian-focused network, I was skeptical as I’m sure a lot of libertarians were. While Beck has called himself a libertarian for some time, he has spent the last few years peddling in conspiracy theories and general looniness that has served to be quite an embarassment. I used to listen to his radio show and watched his Fox News program for about a year before I became tired of his antics. So when his show was canceled and he moved to a pay-per-view format, I was glad to see him go.
But Beck has proven he knows what he is doing. He has been able to create a successful business outside the cable world. He is reaching a sizable audience, largely of the young folks that need to be won to the libertarian cause. These folks might already be leaning that way and would benefit greatly from hearing more libertarian viewpoints and analysis. And there are many more who simply never hear this perspective who might be getting it for the first time, or the first time by actual libertarians instead of cartoonish versions given by the regular media.
By no means should we be naive here - Beck could be doing this for purely cynical reasons and he has not shown the best judgment in who he chooses to give a platform. He is by no means a “perfect” spokesman - he has loads of baggage and a tendency to say some bothersome things. But on the other hand, libertarians simply do not have much media penetration at all now. We get the occasional visit by Judge Napolitano on Fox News (who subscribes to some truther conspiracies) and the excellent show hosted by John Stossel. Beyond that, though, what we get is the mainstream media either ignoring us or portraying us as nutjobs. The average American cannot define what a libertarian is or how our viewpoint differs from left and right.
So if the new Beck network gets these views out there, I’m all for it. If it brings more into the fold of thinking beyond red and blue, who am I to argue? Surely it could backfire and end up causing more of a headache than a benefit, but for once I’m choosing to be cautiously optimistic. The libertarian worldview simply must reach a wider audience, and it may just take an imperfect messenger to do so.