EXCLUSIVE: Glenn Beck Mocks CNN for Hiring 'Hooker Guy' Eliot Spitzer
CNN was the butt of a Glenn Beck rant about creativity, or lack thereof, that had a room full of radio professionals in stitches Saturday.
"CNN is the king of risk," Beck said facetiously, before describing what a conversation among executives might sound like there.
"Paula Zahn's not working, so we're gonna go way out on a limb: We're gonna bring in Campbell Brown."
"I think they're the same people."
"No. She's blond; and she has brown hair."
Beck's point -- made during his keynote speech at the Talk Media Conference, which ran Thursday-Saturday in Marina del Rey and attracted 300 executives and talent from the talk-radio industry -- was that it takes authenticity to connect with an audience, not superficial demographic analysis.
And he wasn't done with his CNN analogy.
"Campbell Brown didn't work out," Beck said, morphing back into a CNN exec. "We gotta get change in here."
"Then they go to Eliot Spitzer," Beck said. "There's a change, if you just have a guy who frequented hookers on by himself. But you can't do that. That's too risky. 'Let's not have the hooker guy on by himself, let's have some chick on with him. Now America will watch!' "
Beck's overall message was that honesty and openness is the key to success, and to make his point he reminisced about hitting rock bottom with alcoholism and divorce during the 1990s when he was a music DJ.
"My whole life was a sham," he said. "I remember being on the ground saying a prayer. 'Lord, just give me another chance.' "
When he began speaking his mind while still a music DJ, he thought he was committing career suicide, but it led him to a talk-radio gig in Florida in 2000, though far from his kids.
"The very first thing I said on the air is this: 'I fear I have made the biggest mistake of my life. ... I traded this job for my children.' "
In Florida, Beck's show replaced one that was No. 5 in the ratings, and he sunk to No. 21 before surging to No. 1 when listeners tuned in to hear his take on the major news event of the era: Florida's hanging-chad presidential-election results.
Radio executives are notorious for mundane ideas that amount to: get someone like Rush Limbaugh, get more females or get more balance, Beck said.
"That's not life," he said. "We've got to stop that because things are dramatically changing unlike anything I have ever seen in my life."
Beware, though, because frankness invites enemies.
"In the history of America, no private citizen has had a single presidential adviser target them; I have four," Beck said. "Someday it will be written, 'How did this guy stand so long?' It's because I have nothing to hide."
That's also why he ignored advice from colleagues and discussed private medical matters on his radio show Friday, telling listeners that his vocal chords were going into paralysis. Doctors haven't diagnosed his ailment.
"Think out loud, which is exactly what I did Friday," he told conference attendees. "I took them on the journey."
He added: "Don't think, 'How can I be relatable today?' If you're afraid, tell 'em you're afraid. If you don't know, tell 'em you don't know." And don't be afraid to admit when you're wrong, he said.
"That's not a flip-flop, that's being human."
Beck also confessed to being "deeply offended" by liberal pundits who suggested his Aug. 28 rally at the Lincoln Memorial was an afront to Martin Luther King Jr. because it fell on the 47th anniversary of the civil rights leader's "I Have a Dream" speech.
"Who doesn't agree with King's message to "Judge a man on the content of his character, not the color of his skin"? Beck asked.
King, said Beck, "was asking for a chance. Not a guaranteed outcome, not a cut in line. A chance. That's all Americans want."
Andrew Breitbart and Stephanie Miller
Other highlights from the three-day conference included:
-- Liberal talk-show host Stephanie Miller exclaiming at a cocktail party, "Andrew Breitbart is here; I wanna throw up," then mugging for photos with him and agreeing to debate the right winger on her show.
-- Satirist Phil Hendrie acknowledging that he wished he had yanked his show from the air for two weeks after 9/11 rather than introduce his audience to his serious side during that time.
-- Financial talk-show host Dave Ramsey interviewing President Reagan's economic adviser Art Laffer, who praised the domestic policies of the Reagan and Clinton administrations while excoriating those of Obama's and the two Bush's.