Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 10, 2010

IT WASN'T THE START OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP.... By all appearances, conservatives' burgeoning love affair with Eric Massa ended abruptly yesterday, a few minutes after 5 p.m. (ET).

On Monday, Glenn Beck told his radio audience of the New York congressman, "This guy is the guy we've been looking for!" I don't imagine he feels the same way now.

Beck had Massa on as a special, hour-long featured guest on his Fox News program yesterday. The host and his supporters had heard Massa spinning wild conspiracy theories involving Democratic leaders on the Hill and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and hoped desperately that his tales would prove humiliating to Dems.

By the time the interview was over, there was plenty of humiliation, but not among Democrats.

Marc Ambinder's description of the Beck-Massa discussion summarized things nicely.

So everyone thought that Eric Massa would go on Glenn Beck's show and trash the White House and fuel conspiracy theories about Chicago-like intimidating tactics used to threaten lawmakers into voting for the health care bill.

But the first thing that Massa said was that he wasn't forced out, "I forced myself out."

Beck's night ended there. His lip curled up.

Then Massa used the platform to (a) look a little crazy (b) defuse a conspiracy theory that he helped to create and (c) lambast Beck a bit for his own overstatements.

Complicating matters, Massa conceded that he "groped a male staffer" last year, though he said it wasn't sexual.

Conservatives waiting with bated breath for the former Democratic congressman to dish the dirt had to have felt dejected. Did party leaders really force him to resign as part of a heavy-handed display of power? Well, actually no. Does Massa have any evidence to bolster his conspiracy theories or specific instances of corruption? Nope. Did Massa have anything new or damaging to say about Democratic leaders? Not really, no.

Was there any real point to this bizarre political theater? Not so much.

As the show was wrapping up, Beck seemed to realize he'd made a terrible mistake: "America, I've got to shoot straight with you. I think I've wasted your time. I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time, and I apologize for that."

Sam Stein, who posted the video of the hour-long chat, described the interview as "train wreck television."

How could Beck allow this to happen? Alex Koppelman highlighted the underlying lesson from yesterday: "Beck had very little idea who Massa was or what he wanted to talk about. He simply wasn't prepared for the interview -- he just knew that the former congressman had said some things that tended to support his worldview. This is where we really see the limits of an approach like Beck's. His schtick -- former wacky morning DJ turns guy who's singlehandedly saving America by exposing what they don't want you to know -- works fine when it doesn't involve actual knowledge or reporting. Once he needs that, though, things can fall apart very quickly."

As for Massa, it didn't seem possible for his reputation to deteriorate further. And yet somehow, he managed to find a way.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I'm surprised Beck and Fox continued the interview for the whole hour. You would think an emergency report on some breaking Tea Party news would have preempted the show.

Posted by: CarlP on March 10, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Beck knew he was in trouble the moment he saw Massa bring his own water boarding equipment into the studio.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 10, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Watching portions of the "Beck Interview", I saw Massa as a troubled man in full melt down.

Annapolis, 20 years in the Navy, and then he falls down the Rabbit Hole and finds himself in Congress. A place so unlike the world of the military that even Alice would freak out.

A small, but telling comment by Massa: (paraphrasing) "There are handlers who coach you how to ask for even more money during a telephone call with contributors."

The man is in the midst of a nervous breakdown. I hope his wife can keep him away from sharp instruments.

Posted by: DAY on March 10, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't it amazing - a sex scandal with a Democratic Congressman and the people who come out of it looking most foolish (except for Massa) are Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. The people who good are Rahm Emmanuel and Steny Hoyer.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on March 10, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Have you ever noticed that the right embraces Democrats only when they prove to be bitter, vindictive sore losers. Examples: Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, Eric Massa.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 10, 2010 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

First off - thank you for watching so we didn't have to.
My favorite " I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time"
The first time? Methinks not oh Master of inane rants.

Posted by: John R on March 10, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

I cannot understand why someone would want to put this man on TV, he is obviously in a fragile state of mind and also incoherent. Of course the Becks and Limbaugh thought they would be able to use him as fodder for the war on democrats. They are shown for what they are - scum. He is shown for what he is - a pitiful man who needs our sympathy.

Posted by: JS on March 10, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

An example of why a prosecuting attorney should never ask a question to which he or she does not know the answer. Do not construe this as a comparison of the hack Beck to any kind of attorney except a shyster, or that Beck could somehow have an degree from a authentic university.

Posted by: captain dan on March 10, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

As the show was wrapping up, Beck seemed to realize he'd made a terrible mistake: "America, I've got to shoot straight with you. I think I've wasted your time. I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time, and I apologize for that."

Yeah, Beck wasted his audience's time by having on a guy who didn't trash Dems. That fact tells you all you need to know about his bad faith.

Posted by: Gregory on March 10, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

From the general tone of things it certainly seems that the congressman has lost his , grip , senses .
On the other hand it certainly seems that the facist leaning , right wing corporate propaganda noise grinder is in the full grip of their mania .

Posted by: FRP on March 10, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Beck asked Massa what can people do end THE corruption. And Beck's reaction when Massa called for campaign finance reform was priceless.

Posted by: Marc on March 10, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

I hope after last night Beck realizes he needs to get a different hobby!

His penchant of shit-stirring seemed a bit derailed. Beck looked genuinely uninterested and why?

His pattern of finding things, symbols, issues and people that reinforce his agenda was greatly disrupted by his miscalculation of the man he interviewed, the issues he speaks to, and the general reality around him at all times! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 10, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Walter Cronkite: "And that's the way it is."

Edward R. Murrow : "Good night, and good luck."

Glenn Beck: "America, I think I have wasted your time."

Posted by: victory on March 10, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

best line of the night: "i think this is the first time i have wasted an hour of your time." --glenn beck
close second: "who's done more damage to the image of the u.s. navy: eric massa or the village people?" --lawrence o'donnell

Posted by: mellowjohn on March 10, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

I too do not watch FOX NOISE, however this will be worth going back to see!

Posted by: Sharon on March 10, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

When hasn't Beck wasted America's time?

Prior to the interview, Beck said this was akin to having a terrorist on and being able to glean information. If only Beck had not followed current Mirandaizing rules of our administration, all might have been different. Liz will not be pleased.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 10, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Massa's STILL in the cold, cold ground, perhaps a little deeper, though.

Posted by: anomaly on March 10, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

The man is in the midst of a nervous breakdown. I hope his wife can keep him away from sharp instruments.
Is that why she's making him sleep in the tool shed?

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on March 10, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Years ago, while my wife and I were courting, we visited the Texas State Fair. We were on the midway and approached an attraction with a curtained entry. The sign above it said, "Congress of Oddities." Sharon and I looked at each other, pondered our Representatives and agreed they certainly were.

Posted by: Art Hackett on March 10, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the man's mentally ill. Twenty bucks says he's also an alcoholic and most/all of these incidents occurred while he was intoxicated. That's not an excuse, BTW -- it's a statement of one of his (probable) problems.

Posted by: shortstop on March 10, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Victory... victory is yours. That was awesome.

Posted by: Paranoid Floyd on March 10, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Victory, Paranoid Floyd: I think you're on to something here. Beck should close every show this way.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on March 10, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

"I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time."

Au contraire! This may be the first hour of real social commentary Glenn Beck has ever done. Think about it. After all the hype, the truth came out on his show!

No wonder he's trying to distance himself from it.

Posted by: chrenson on March 10, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Beck has just grown some clay feet. What fun. But he'll be forgiven. That crowd always are.

Posted by: rRRk1 on March 10, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I am thinking of that great scene in "Annie Hall" where Woody pulls Marshan McCluhan behind the movie cut out.....

Posted by: mike reilly on March 10, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

I cannot understand why someone would want to put this man on TV, he is obviously in a fragile state of mind and also incoherent.

To say nothing of having Massa on TV to boot.

Posted by: ckelly on March 10, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I thought it was hilarious. Beck didn't know what to do. While Massa did seem distressed and a bit incoherent, I have to respect his courage at going on. He stuck to his guns about accepting responsibility for his actions, and Beck just didn't know what to do with it.

Posted by: g on March 10, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Do Massa's merit further attention from the serious news media? I'm beginning to have doubts. He clearly behaved badly, and just as clearly suffered a massive mental meltdown. He's gone from Congress, so what he does from this point on has little or no national significance. Leave him to the tabloids. Spare the rest of us the reports on his progress in committing political suicide. Turn the spotlight elsewhere.

Posted by: James Conner on March 10, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I just find it annoying as hell that all this reporting about Eric Massa goes on without bringing up the fact that he has just been diagnosed with what sounds like a fatal cancer. So you know you're dying. What do you do? You forgo politics and just talk like a human being, which is a messier thing than we like to acknowledge. And I will add that he might be on anti-panic medicine, not to mention pain medicine, as I was during chemo --- so that's a little like giving an interview drunk. But let's suppose he wasn't. Aside from your (a) point, of ending up looking a little crazier, did he harm the Democratic party? No. Did he harm Glen Beck? Sounds like he did. So all of this crap about how he couldn't sink any lower...sorry, but he hasn't lived up to that hype, however many democrats want to turn their back on his record and demonize him now. The man's upset. He has personal reasons to be upset, and he may have justifiable reasons to be upset with being pushed around by Emannuel. But he did not betray Democratic ideals. This was not Lieberman. It's amazing how many people can comment that Massa was voting No for healthcare because it didn't have a public option --- because he was to the left of it --- and have no pity, no sympathy, for the man. A traitor simply for appearing on a talk show that lets him talk. And when he talks, he does nothing to betray Democratic party ideals. And still we trash him.

You know who I think has sunk low over this issue about the Glen Beck appearance? It's not Massa. It's the bloggers so ready to eat their own.

Sorry, Steve, but I'm sick of it.

Posted by: catherineD on March 10, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Massa appears to be a disturbed individual and deserves our sympathy. But doesn't he also deserve recognition for taking down the prime-time con man (pun intended) of all time? Who else do we know who has managed to make Beck look like a fool on his own program?

Posted by: CDW on March 10, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I watched the clips from Countdown last night. My take-away is that Massa accepted responsibility for his actions. Even though he didn't think he did anything wrong, he knew it looked bad and stepped down. This is what he was trying to explain to Beck.

Of course, that is exactly what Beck and his looney-tunes fan club does not want to hear? How does that compare to Republicans in similar situations? Let's take a look:

Sen. David Vitter (R, LA): His personal phone number shows up in prostitution madame's little black book. He fesses up but does not step down.

Sen. Larry Craig (R, ID) pleads guilty to solicitation in a public bathroom. Refused to step down.

Sen. John Ensign (R, NV) has an affair with a staffer, and his parent provided hush-money. Refuses to step down.

Gov. Mark Sanford (R, SC) goes AWOL on an international affair. Admits guilt but does not step down.

I would just love to see Democrats claim the moral high ground, where they demonstrate that Republicans can Talk the Talk, but they just can't Walk the Walk.

Posted by: Marko on March 10, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta agree with Marko and, to an extent, CatherineD. Massa did a lot to help Dems last night. He accepted responsibility for his actions proving the hypocrisy of the opposition party and their "family values."

And, Victory? Your comment? Awesome!

Posted by: pParkerT on March 10, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

So when will Michelle Malkin or Glenn Reynolds or somebody claim that Obama's Chicago goons "got to" Massa before the interview?

Posted by: bobbo on March 10, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't listen to or watch Beck (never have), so he didn't waste my time. "America's" time is way too complex for a single-celled organism like Beck to waste, too. What a pretentious asshat.

Posted by: Howlin Wolfe on March 10, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly