Long story short 

Last spring, Glenn Beck was easy to ignore: a fuzzy-haired FOX News warbler singing sweet duets with talk radio's Rush Limbaugh.

So I was puzzled this summer, while on a plane flying out of Colorado Springs, to see fellow travelers curled around his book, Glenn Beck's Common Sense. I wondered: Who is this guy? What's with the Revolutionary War reference?

Back in Colorado Springs, my curiosity about Beck grew when I learned that he had started a nationwide "movement" called the 9-12 Project and that a local group — the 9-12 Pikes Peak Patriots — was meeting Aug. 12 in the community room of a Colorado Springs police station.

I attended the meeting, and later on, tried to blend in at a couple of the group's sign-waving "educational opportunities." (Leaders insist that none of these would qualify as protests, which is convenient since police community rooms aren't supposed to be used to plan them. For the record, police plan to check with the group before it's allowed to use a room again.)

The alarm and suspicion I discovered, and have written about in this week's cover story, convinced me that Beck is more demagogue than pundit, dextrously shoveling fear to a receptive audience. Though some dismiss his following as "AstroTurf," its members seem intent on putting down roots.

— Anthony Lane


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