This news, at once unsettling and unsurprising, came from the Gallup polling organization on Wednesday. Beck, the new Fox News host who has said President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people" and alternately likens administration officials to Nazis and Marxists, was also more admired by Americans than Billy Graham and Bill Gates, not to mention Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. In Americans' esteem, Beck only narrowly trailed South Africa's Nelson Mandela, the man who defeated apartheid.
The 45-year-old recovering alcoholic and Mormon convert has become the first true demagogue of the information age. His nightly diet of falsehoods and conspiracies on Fox, and his daily outrages on the radio, have propelled his popularity past even Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. His method is simple: He goes places where others are forbidden by conscience.