On CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Saturday’s Lincoln Memorial rally was a hot topic of conversation with liberal pundits Jane Hall and Bill Press and conservative blogger Matt Lewis. The discussion ranged from the impact, the size (somewhere between 87,000 and half a million, including Bill Press), to the promotional platform from Beck’s network: Fox News Channel.
Jane Hall: But again, when you promote it on your network, and the man is drawing people because he has viewers on Fox, it is aligned with Fox. So it’s a distinction without a difference, in my opinion.
Bill Press: Howie, they did pull back toward the end. But let’s face it, this event would not have happened without Fox News. This was a Fox News event.
Howard Kurtz: Well, because Fox gives Beck a platform. But the other hosts were not banging the drums on this.
Press: No. Bill O’Reilly had him on his show to promote it. He was on “Fox & Friends” many times —
Kurtz: Yes, he appeared as a guest.
Press: — to promote it. And when you — I think the bigger picture is you couple that and all of the rest of his political activity, if I could just finish, with Sarah Palin is on the payroll, Newt Gingrich is on the payroll, Mike Huckabee is on the payroll.
Matt Lewis: MSNBC would love if Keith Olbermann could turn out 300,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. He couldn’t do it. Glenn Beck can do it, and there’s the difference.
KURTZ: Doesn’t Beck — let me stick with Matt — doesn’t Beck benefit from the fact that he is a lightning rod, that he gets to have this even, that we all cover it, that we all talk about it? Doesn’t that build him up even more?
LEWIS: I think controversy always sells in politics. But the
beauty about yesterday’s rally is I think a lot of people were
pleasantly surprised at how positive it was. Let’s assume that the only people who showed up were just white conservatives. Not the case, but assuming that was true, that would be great because they were hearing a message of tolerance, of restoring American values. I think it would be a great message.