Best-selling author, radio and television talk-show host Glenn Beck recently made the move from CNN to Fox News. A recovering alcoholic, converted Mormon and self-described libertarian, Mr. Beck has said he is for the return of common sense. He talks about the bailout, his religion and his goal to do the best he can. He can be seen and heard weeknights at 5 p.m. on the Fox News Channel. He lives with his second wife and their two children in Connecticut.
Q: So how do you like Fox vs. CNN?
A: It's great. This is just much more of an entrepreneurial spirit and much less corporate. Do your thing.
Q: Do you feel more at home there being conservative?
A: No, I have probably the same number of liberals vs. conservatives on my staff here as I did over there. I enjoy having varied people on my staff. As I said to my staff the first day they started, "I want you to challenge me every second of the way. But you better come with a good argument and know why you believe it before you come to me. Let's not waste each other's time."
Q: How do you define conservatism?
A: I consider myself a libertarian. I'm a conservative, but every day that goes by I'm fighting for individual rights. I mean, you name it and I am there. Our individual rights, I think they are being taken away, dribs and drabs. I'm not going to give this government another right no matter what they claim.
Q: I heard you talk the other day about President Obama's proposal to cap executive salaries at $500,000 from the companies that took the bailout money.
A: I think they should make it $50,000. If you take the money, you should have the screws put to you every step of the way. I want to make it so oppressive that nobody wants to take that money. The government is like the lead character, the vampire, in the "Twilight" series. Once they start drinking the blood of capitalism they won't stop until they drain you dry of every drop.
Q: Do you think the government should have let all businesses fail that were going to fail, even those too big to fail?
A: These are global corporations. They're not American institutions; they are global corporations. Any time you start to mix global corporations with government, it's a recipe for disaster. Nobody is talking about the baker down the street that is too little to fail.
Q: Do you think celebrities help generate interest in the political process or distract from it?
A: Look, getting anybody involved in the political process is good. We have become a society that is just built on the cult of fame and personality. The problem is these celebrities get up and start talking about issues they don't know. Angelina Jolie and George Clooney, I believe they truly understand what they are talking about. I even believe Sean Penn knows what he is talking about. I completely disagree with him. I mean, he likes fascism, but at least he knows what he is talking about.Let's have celebrities start a dialogue on what socialism is and why it's so great, and then let the other side say this is why socialism isn't so great.
Q: When your audience began to grow and the power you wield to influence people grew did the message change?
A: From 2000 to today you see a profound change in me. I am extraordinarily aware of the responsibility that I have. I still have to be an entertainer. I still am who I am. I get a lot of mail from the Fox viewers saying, "Can you please watch your language?" I mean, help me, please. I'm an alcoholic that gave up everything in my life. I'm working on it. I'm a work in progress. So I am still a flawed individual, but I'm trying my hardest to do my job in a responsible way. Nobody listens to each other anymore. They just put you in a box, a category. I am truly not against Democrats, and I am truly not for the Republicans. I am for common sense. I just said to my producer I don't know how we do this show without politicians, but I have found myself in the last week finding myself as the host not even listening to them, left and right. I don't think the majority of them believe anything. It's just like a show to them. It's a game. I really truly believe our republic is at stake.
Q: Do you find it easier now to say, "Hey, I've just changed my mind"?
A: If I'm wrong on someone or something, I'm the first to admit it. If I've got it wrong or I've screwed it up. Look, everybody makes mistakes. I'm doing my best.
Q: You were raised Catholic, and you said you didn't like organized religion, so how did you end up Mormon? To me it seems pretty strict.
A: That's what I thought. You want to talk about organized religion and power and everything else? That's it. But that's a fundamental misunderstanding about what Mormons are. I think they are most libertarian in their principles. There are a set of principles to live by, but you choose to live by them. If you don't, nobody is damning you to hell. It's freeing because I don't answer to anyone but my God.
Q: Do you think President Obama will be tested the way Vice President Joe Biden suggested during the campaign?
A: I think that was the most honest thing Joe Biden said during the whole campaign. I fear he is going to be tested. I have no idea what the test is going to be like.I fear for that moment. I pray for this president every single day. Please, dear God, guide him.
Patricia Sheridan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2613.