Amity Shlaes claims that Glenn Beck’s reading list constitutes a serious threat to traditional university curricula:
For unlike other hosts, who tend to pick up and drop topics, Mr. Beck has begun to develop a new canon for adults. And unlike other hosts, but indeed like a professor, Mr. Beck tends to demand a lot of his viewers. For example, he recently devoted the better part of an hour to a biography of Samuel Adams by a historian without a Ph.D., Ira Stoll, whose book highlights the revolutionary firebrand’s piety. Mr. Beck breaks other tv rules. He insists viewers read books by dead men – W. Cleon Skousen’s work on the Constitution, the “5000 Year Leap.” It is all a long way from “Oprah,” “The Newshour” or even much of public television.[…..]
His genius has been in his recognition that viewers do not want merely the odd, one-off book, duly pegged to news. They want a coherent vision, a competing canon that the regulated airwaves and academy have denied them. So he, Glenn Beck, is building that canon, book by book from the forgotten shelf. Since the man is a riveting entertainer, the professors are correct to be concerned. He’s not just reacting or shaping individual thoughts. He is bringing competition into the Ed Biz.
What to do? The Glenn Beck reading list may not satisfy everyone. Some of his views are indeed worth questioning. Some of us don’t agree with important components of his politics. Beck’s personal attacks put a lot of us off. Maybe there should be yet a third new reading list. As for the guild, a better response than its own ad hominem smearing is to widen their own reading lists and lectures. Professors can blame only themselves if Mr. Beck has taken an opportunity to teach. It is they who gave it to him.
This is complete bullshit: Beck’s target audience is aging white trash, not college students. The people who are reading Glenn Beck’s books now used to read Hannity and Dow 35000, not Joyce and Civilization and Its Discontents.
I doubt many people at universities ever think about Glenn Beck this way at all. What is galling, though, at least to me, is the faux intellectualism of the Council on Foreign Relations, which employs Amity Shlaes.