Why Fox News rodeo clown should be chased out of town
If you find events in Cairo bewildering or disturbing, spare a thought for US TV viewers, says Jim Dee
Given the rapidly changing events in Cairo, it seems that all bets are off as to where Egypt's unrest is heading. But one American has the scoop. Conservative TV and radio host Glenn Beck says that turmoil in the Land of the Pharaohs is part of a devious plot to ultimately destroy America.
But is anyone taking the notorious shock-jock seriously? Or is his latest conspiracy alert only a desperate attempt to reverse a dramatic ratings-drop?
"This isn't about Egypt. This is about your hometown," Beck insisted during a 'tutorial' on his nightly Fox News TV show.
Taking his audience on a fright-filled tour via two wall-mounted maps of the Middle East and Europe, Beck warned that "the entire Mediterranean is on fire".
Sweeping his hand northward from France, he added, "It also spreads up here. You have the UK and Ireland already with riots in the street. What happens to the overwhelming radical population of the UK, of radical Islamicists? Do they just sit around on their hands, or do they see an opportunity? When you take the Marxists and you combine them with the radical in Islam, the whole world begins to implode."
And its not just Muslim extremists who'll be trouble. After the Muslim Brotherhood seizes Egypt, the new regime will compete with Iran to obliterate Saudi Arabia and, of course, Israel.
China and Russia will then exploit the ensuing chaos to launch destabilising drives against other area nations, thus expanding their own power westward.
In the end, the grim-faced Fox News star added, the "coming insurrection" will see anti-American wolves surround the US to "make us collapse financially".
This is scary stuff - a nightmarish tale worthy of the horror writer Stephen King (who, incidentally, calls Beck "Satan's mentally-challenged younger brother").
In fairness, Beck isn't the only one worried that Egypt could trigger a slew of Islamic extremist insurrections across the Middle East.
Beck has made millions from scaremongering. His annual Fox salary is $2.5m. However, according to The New York Times, when factoring in his radio and merchandising income, he raked in $32m between June 2009 and June 2010.
A hammy performer, who often dons silly costumes during his shows, Beck has referred to himself as a "rodeo clown."
But, as evidenced by the bump the Tea Partiers got when he endorsed them, and the 100,000 people who attended his 'Restoring Honor' rally in Washington last year, this clown's political pronouncements are taken seriously by many. Last year, an opinion poll of Tea Party members pegged Beck as the 'most highly-regarded individual' in the US.
And, while they consider right-wing pundit Rush Limbaugh an entertainer, Beck is regarded as an 'educator' by Tea Partiers.
However, some major wobbles have hit his infotainment empire of late. During January and February 2010, Beck's TV show drew about three million viewers every night. Last month, his audience had slid to 1.8 million.
More than 80 corporate advertisers have yanked their spots from his show to protest his rhetoric. Last month his nationally-syndicated radio show was axed by stations in two of America's biggest markets - Philadelphia and New York.
Still, there's no denying that fear sells. In these uncertain times, Beck's vow to reveal all about the myriad of below-radar threats that have America 'besieged' like never before, will guarantee his continued popularity for years to come.