Glenn Beck's original "I Have a Scheme" idea for his Washington rally that he announced in late 2009 was clearly one that was highly focused on a goal of....making boatloads of money for Glenn Beck. The concept, Beck told a large crowd in the Fox-happy retirement community of The Villages, Fla., was that he would consult a bunch of experts and develop a "100-year plan for America." Then, after luring a huge audience in person and on TV to watch him at the Lincoln Memorial on what he claims he then didn't know was the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, he would roll out new product, a book called "The Plan" that would surely be the Beckian best-seller to end all Beckian best-sellers.
That didn't happen. Weeks later, the king of all right-wing media pulled a complete 180 (hardly the first time). The rally would still be on the same day and the same place, but everything else would be completely different. The event would be completely non-political, not about policy prescriptions but "Restoring Honor," with a goal of raising money not for a Beck book but for a four-star charity called the Special Operations Warrior Fund. And to some extent, that's what unfolded Saturday. Beck used his bully pulpit to urge America to turn inward, toward God as a source of answers, and although most of his aggressive fundraising went toward the massive cost of the National Mall event, Beck claims that SOWF will also reap a large donation.
There is indeed no book called "The Plan" coming out this week.
Nope. Instead, Beck -- basking in the wall-to-wall coverage on national TV and the front pages of America's newspapers -- is using that afterglow to roll out a completely different for-profit venture of Glenn Beck Inc., one that could greatly add to the showman's $32 million windfall that he reaped last year. His plan to stop America from wandering in the darkness apparently involves you visiting his new website aimed at competing with the Daily Beasts and Huffington Posts of the world.
The Beck-favored Mediate website has the scoop tonight:
Beck's new site is called TheBlaze.com, and will be edited by Scott Baker, formerly of Breitbart TV and host of "The B-Cast". In an exclusive statement, he tells Mediaite:
The story adds:
People will inevitably make the comparison to Arianna Huffington – whether Beck's role as figurehead behind the site will make The Blaze into a conservative Huffington Post. "The one thing pretty clear around Mercury [Beck's company] is that Glenn is not short on ideas or hesitant on input," Baker said. "His input is already evident in how the site looks, and that's what will continue. It will be a continual flow of tips and suggestions and encouragement."
The "small scrappy staff" behind The Blaze include Baker as well as Jon Seidl, formerly of the Manhattan Institute and American Spectator, and Meredith Jessup, formerly of Town Hall. Also, Pam Key of Naked Emperor News will contribute as a video editor. Baker moved over to Mercury at the beginning of June and began shaping the site. He will continue hosting "The B-Cast" the daily web show, with Liz Stephans.
According to the article earlier in this year in Forbes, Beck already makes $4 million a year online, mainly through his fairly basic GlennBeck.com website that is heavily advertised by favored businesses like the now-under-investigation gold coin peddler Goldline International and products like "survival seed banks," as well as touting Beck's "Insider Extreme" package that includes the much-ballyhooded Glenn Beck University. Needless to say, the successful launch of The Blaze (which sounds a tad apocalyptic, no?) could push Beck's web income well the hefty profits that he's already making.
Which begs the bottom line: What was "Restoring Honor" really all about? Is the punditocracy trying to hard to read the tea leaves of Beck's "agenda," of why he went with televangelist-style fervor about God and empty tributes to the MLK legacy before an audience that had been instead lured to D.C. from the so-called heartland by its red-meat displeasure with Barack Obama?
You bet they are. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of "Restoring Honor" -- like just about everything that Beck has done in the last decade, from riding the rubble of 9/11 and the Iraq war buildup to change his persona from "Morning Zoo" guy to patriot to saying outlandish things about FEMA camps or Obama's "deep-seated hatred for white people" in his early attention-seeking months on Fox -- goes back to one thing, always the most important thing in the Beck universe.
Building the Glenn Beck brand.
Yes sir, Saturday was all about restoring honor and restoring God in American life.
But now it's Monday and Glenn Beck has something he wants to sell you.
UPDATE: The site -- which is already live -- is already running ads for Goldline International.