Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Glenn Beck

Highs: Unparalleled pundit and proselytizer, Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck isn't just the king of cable's 5 p.m. hour anymore. The year 2010 saw Beck pen a politically tinged airport thriller, launch his own online university (featuring such courses as "Presidents You Should Hate"), draw tens of thousands of Tea Party faithful to D.C. for his "Rally to Restore Honor" on August 28, and help motivate a devoted cadre of Obama haters to return control of the House to the Republicans. All of that added to the weeping wild man's ever–expanding media empire that took in tens of millions of dollars this year alone.

Lows: Outrage and bombast may fuel Beck's machine, but his dark, often paranoid sputterings have attracted more than a few detractors. 2010 saw highly critical books such as Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance make their way into the public sphere, and his March campaign against churches preaching "social justice" sparked a backlash from Christian leaders nationwide. Yet at times he came off as nothing more than a shrewd, and cynical, entrepreneur. "I could give a flying crap about the political process," he told Forbes in April. "We're an entertainment company."

Adam Sorensen