Today’s show is brought to you by Audible. Please visit Audible podcast dot com slash point to get a free audio book download. This is point of inquiry for Friday, August 13th, 2010.
Welcome to Point of inquiry. I’m Chris Mooney point of inquiry is the radio show and podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reason, science and secular values in public affairs and at the grassroots. I’ll tell you about my guest this week. In a moment. But first, I want to introduce our sponsor, audible dot com. Audible is the Web’s leading provider of spoken audio, entertainment, information and educational programing. We’re talking 75000 books that can be downloaded to your computer, your iPod or a C.D. New science titles are being added all the time, added, I should say, two favorites already in the archives, like Richard Dawkins The Ancestor’s Tale or still more classic, Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. That’s right. It is in the archives. You can have it on your iPod through audible dot com. I want to encourage you to go to the following website. You are. Write this down. Audible podcast, dot com slash point. That’s where you, our listener, are entitled to a special free audio book download. Check it out now. Don’t miss this opportunity. Moving on, my guest this week is investigative journalist, Alexander’s a chick, author of the new book Common Nonsense. Glenn Beck in the Triumph of Ignorance. That’s right. I’m expanding the scope of point of inquiry this week. I think we need to hear about this Fox News host who is ushering in a new reign of ignorance for our national discourse. Alex Zaitchik is the guy who’s pinned back to a wall. He’s even gotten back to denounce him for practicing, quote, despicable yellow journalism. That’s a compliment in this case. So I’m looking forward to hearing about how Beck is a new icon of irrationality and intellectual illiteracy. If there’s such a thing, Alex say Chick is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. He’s contributed to Salon dot com. The nation wired in many other distinguished publications. He’s reported from locations ranging from Miami to Moscow, from Prague to Mexico City. And common nonsense. Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance is his first book, Alexander Zaitchik.
Welcome to Point of Inquiry. Good to be here. It’s great to have you.
And I’m very glad that a book has now been done in an effort to deflate Glenn Beck because he’s such a blight on our national discourse and such an icon of irrationality, as you know. I want to ask you my first question. I wonder how much, though, should we honestly fear Glenn Beck? How much influence does he really have or could he have? Is he as big as Rush Limbaugh yet or will he be?
Well, it depends how you gauge that. There’s different metrics for influence. His radio audience is not as big as Rush Limbaugh’s, although his total media imprint is larger at this point because unlike Limbaugh, that had very carefully constructed an empire that has many platforms, which he is constantly expanding, everything from radio, television to publishing to increasingly stage and in even within radio, he’s pushing the boundaries of that. He’s now broadcasting six live camera feeds from his studio. And then after his show, he has his fellows have another hour. And, you know, he’s got to be adding documentary films available to people who join his Insider Extreme program. And he’s always pushing the boundaries in new directions, which expands the ultimate size of his media imprint. And every time he pushes the boundaries, he also it’s trip wires for his critics who proceed to talk about him even more. And the process becomes self reinforcing in every direction and where it’s just more Glenn Beck all the time. So I do think his influence is probably bigger than than Limbaugh’s at this point. Just in terms of how much time has been talking about the guy and his nutty ideas, you know, how that translates into political impact is another question and probably a much more complicated one. But in terms of influence on the conservative mind, I think Glenn Beck is either a primary or an ascendant leader.
It sounds like, from what you say and also from your book, he is in some sense a brilliant marketer and a brilliant self creator. I want to talk more about that. But first, let’s just get a little more background on him from your book. This is a guy who’s at a pretty colorful life getting to where he is. Can you give us a couple of the highlights?
Sure. Well, you started out in broadcasting extremely precociously as a preadolescent in rural Washington State. His mother gave him a record of classic radio as a kid, which sort of triggered his fascination with radio. And he kind of fell into it the way some kids fall into, you know, rock and roll or playing guitar or trying or what have you. He became a radio kid and in high school, he started working professionally at the local station. By the time he graduated, he was working at Kube, which was a top 40 station out of Seattle. So he was already in a medium market job by the time he was 18 years old. And from there, he proceeded to climb the ranks of top 40 morning radio pretty quickly in the 1980s, working a succession of large markets, including Phenix, Houston, Baltimore. And he was known in all of these markets is extremely driven, extremely ambitious, smart, very, very hardworking, but also a bit of a jerk. And he left a trail of enemies and bitterness wherever he went. And in the book, I detail some of why that is. He was very competitive and tended to personalize rating wars and have really vicious way. In one very striking instance of that, he called up a competitor’s wife after she had returned from the hospital and mocked her for having a miscarriage, which didn’t make him a lot. A lot of friends that he didn’t last very long in the market after that. So that’s sort of where he was when he put him down in the early 90s in New Haven. He sort of drinking a lot. Had become a very embittered, kind of hated person in the industry and started to think about how to turn that bitterness into gold, which was what a lot of a.m. talkers were doing at the time. Guys like G. Gordon Liddy were starting to become national brands. It wasn’t. Rush Limbaugh anymore. And he thought he might be able to be one of these new generation talkers. So he started to turn things around in that direction and he was pretty successful. And he got his first show in 1999, the end of 1999 in Tampa.
Another thing you talk a lot about is his religious history. And how does that background contribute to understanding this phenomenon that now goes by the name of Glenn Beck Nation?
Well, he grew up in a Catholic household, very sort of conservative Catholic household, though he wasn’t very religious. His parents were likely Birchers. So they haven’t been able to nail that down. But they did have a bumper sticker on their car that said this country is a republic, not a democracy, which was one of the Burcher. But John Birch Society taglines from that period. And he pretty much fell out of politics and religion as an adult, as a young adult, and didn’t return to it until he gave up alcohol and drugs in the mid 1990s. And he wasn’t sure where he belonged, which church he wanted to join. So he met his second wife. They went to a bunch of churches in the New Haven area where they were living at the time and for some reason decided that the Mormon Church offered the most kind of, you know, likely interpretation of world, something that seemed to make sense to them and resonated with them. They founded a very, you know, like minded community. They got along with the people they met at the ward house that they visited and converted to Mormonism.
It’s interesting and you write also that he’s simultaneously an ideologue and a stunningly good businessman. I want to quote the book. I love this this passage. You said that Beck is our very own crackpot capitalist, Che Guevara, fueling his legend and pushing his ideology with one hand selling the t shirt, millions of them with the other. How wealthy has he gotten? And is his business side really central to his identity, perhaps even more than his ideological one?
Well, I think it’s a rare case of the two dovetailing perfectly. I mean, I think ultimately back as always, what does that mean? A more constant, his desire for wealth and fame that’s been constant throughout his life. The politics has come later, but they fit together perfectly. I think one of the mistakes people make is trying to pigeonhole him and say he must be one or the other and that the two are mutually exclusive. I mean, the fact that bank has been able to become famous and wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, he made over 30 million dollars last year. His company did it by pumping this sort of very angry right wing politics. I think it’s a dream come true for him because I don’t think he’s faking the stuff that he spouts the way some people argue. I don’t think you can sustain that level of sort of vitriol for his line. And also he fits the profile of that classic angry, irrational right winger to a fault. So the fact that he’s able to make a lot of money off it doesn’t make that fraudulent. And if I had to list his self identities in order, I would probably say businessman, flash entertainer and then some sort of populist pseudo populists, crusading political figure second. But I do believe he sees himself in those terms as is involved in the fight to save America. So I don’t think he’s faking that.
In your book, I think he’s gotten similar, has done a fair amount of attention. So how much have you had any feedback from back or people working with him after this?
Oh, they’re way too smart to mention it back. Understands publicity and his blood in the way media attention works better than just about anyone. He made the mistake of attacking me in September on his television show on Fox. What? I found some proof that he had been fudging the facts about his mother’s death for most of his career. And he had an outburst on his show, which allowed me to put his name on as a blurb on the book. But he hasn’t mentioned it since. He’s he’s just not for that. And I think he’s just going to maintain a pretty strong position if I don’t. That’s a very interesting point.
A minute and go off on a little riff here. I mean, I did a book in 2005, the Republican Warren Science, that got a lot of attention and it was pretty damaging to the political right. And as a result, they strategically did not mention it. It was very, very interesting. It was like they were coordinated and they knew what they were doing. And the political left never dies. This all they do is wail about right wing books and successes and therefore inflate them more.
Right. That’s a good point. I didn’t answer one question you asked a while back about his religion and its impact on back. I sort of gave a sketch of his conversion, but I wanted to touch on that cause it’s a good question. After his conversion to Mormonism in the late 1990s, he sort of gravitated towards this hard right strain within Mormonism. Mormonism is not monolithic, but it is a very conservative culture these days. And one of the reasons for that was a revolution that happened in the 1950s and 60s with extremely conservative click within the church leadership led by Ezra Taft, Benson and his sort of propaganda sidekick, Scott Kelly on Scouten, who Beck has. Reintroduced into the conservative mainstream through his 912 project, and it was through a sort of association with these right wing Mormon ideas that he developed the earliest sort of politics after his conversion into to talk radio. That’s when he started to become conspiratorial. That’s when he started to mix anti Islamic rants with sort of classic anti-communist thinking from, you know, the McCarthy dates and the sort of Glenn Beck we know today is a big, big part, a result of his sort of needing a instant world view that was provided by these very, very extreme right wing Mormons in the 1950s that he problem encountered had he not converted to Mormonism.
I think that’s an important point.
Well, that’s also a good transitional point, because I want to get into talking about Beck as a kind of icon of irrational thinking, which I think he is. And I think your book captures. And that’s why we wanted to have you on point of inquiry. We’re interested in good, clear, critical thinking, skepticism, you know, apportioning our belief to the weight of the evidence.
This is not a guy that encourages that kind of behavior. So let’s talk about his conspiracy theories. This idea that, you know, liberal progressives and that includes scientists are plotting with big corporations to take away American liberties.
Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to really find a point of entry with regard to Beck’s conspiracy theories. I mean, they’re just so just kind of strung together with spit and imagination. That is just really not a lot of it. It’s not easy to just sort of take them down. And it’s also not really worth the time it would take to explain why the Apollo Alliance was not in any way connected to the Weathermen manifesto of 1969. But, yeah, he is an icon of irrationality and the fact that so many people are willing to accept these connect the DOT theories with the dots, in fact, don’t connected.
I think a reflection of the times and the standards of for this kind of thing, which just keeps mutating and falling by the day. It’s quite scary that there’s you know, there hasn’t been a stop just when you think the floor has been reached. It keeps falling further. And does the point where you can’t really have a rational conversation between left and right when one side is is completely off in la la land and he’s the Pied Piper driving people further and further away from any sort of common established consensus reality.
Perhaps that’s why he’s so successful right now. Who’s because our national discourse is so irrational? It’s a perfect opening for him. Let’s let’s give him let’s attempt to give him a fair depiction of his view. I mean, what is Beck’s vision for America? If he could have his way. What is it that actually inspires and moves his followers? If you could characterize it?
Well, I don’t think you can underestimate the role of, you know, spite and kind of this this really spleen’s driven element to their politics. One of the things you pick up on when you go to the Tea Party is in the 912 project meetings is there’s just a lot of anger. And you look at the times and you wonder what that anger is really about. I think there’s a lot of sort of inchoate cultural angst, an economic some of which is perfectly understandable, but it’s not really connected to any sort of program for dealing with. It’s definitely the economic side of that angst by the back view of it is probably pretty close to his main ideological sponsors at this point. Who’s sponsoring a show on Fox. Now that advertisers have fled, which are Freedom Works, and Americans for Prosperity, which are Koch Industries funded libertarian leaning think tanks that basically want to undo the accomplishments of the last century in terms of social welfare policies and establishing a sort of basic safety net. You know, back, I think if he was in charge, he would probably roll things back to 1920. And I think he would probably engage in a pretty recklessly aggressive foreign policy. And I’d take him at his word when he says he can’t be president because there wouldn’t be any missiles left after the first 20 minutes.
I didn’t know that he he had said that. I must have missed that quote for your book. Well, that’s that’s one to remember. What’s the what is the relation between Beck in the Tea Party?
He is one of the most beloved characters. There’s no question about that. Him and Palin, I think, are the kind of, you know, Godhead or lodestars of the Tea Party movement. They’re not the leaders as we know. It’s the new movement is diverse and diffuse to an extent, but they are very beloved. The nine 912 rally, the biggest Tea Party rally in Washington last year, there were, you know, countless signs saying, Beck, Palin in 2012. We love you, Glenn. They think that he is really, you know, putting his life on the line for them and saying what needs to be said. And he’s not a organizational leader, although he has aligned himself with Freedom Works, which is the closest thing that the Tea Party movement. As to the group that is doing logistics and funding and also providing the ideas, they actually have a new Tea Party starter kit, which they’re distributing. You know, if you’ve seen that on their Web site, it comes with a little Gatson flag and a DVD full of all the Tea Party positions that are acceptable in. Beck has put his name on that project.
So he’s pretty close.
Yeah. He’s very close. And the Nile project was something that he designed and led right at the time. The Tea Party movement began to explode as a way to sort of stamp his imprint on it and have his name come until called a 912 Tea Parties. You know, the stand his brand on the movement itself.
You mentioned rallies. And that reminds me that we actually have something of a news hook for this interview. Can you tell people what Glenn Beck. He’s a big public performer at mega events. What is he plotting for August 28, 2010?
This is the latest of what has been many such rallies in public stages throughout his career.
He loves to get in front of people and walk stages and raise money for these mega publicity events and get people to come out, which he’s going to be doing on Onda 28 in D.C., which is the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech in 1963. So that caused a little bit of controversy for obvious reasons. But basically he’s described it’s hard to really say exactly what this is, because his his description of it keeps changing. At first it was going to be a book release party. Then it was going to be, you know, nonpolitical, returning to our basic values thing. Now we know it’s going to feature Sarah Palin and it’s being sponsored by the NRA. So it’s not really clear. And that’ll be back even really knows either. What he does know is that he’s going to be the headliner and it’s going to be the you know, depending on the news cycle that day, it’s most likely going to be the number one story in the country. It’s going to get him to be the center of attention, which is the ultimate goal of almost everything he does. And it is also going to be something that doesn’t assume anything. He’s paying for it by having people send in donations to support a nonprofit that basically raises money for the children of special forces soldiers who are killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. So he’s telling people to send in money for this charity when in fact, the first three million dollars, I think it is just going to go to pay for the event, which is a Glenn Beck extravaganza. And then anything raised after that, he’ll go to this charity. So he fundamentally dishonest with his fans. But apparently they’re willing to give him a pass on this as they are with so much else with regards to Beck. And the money’s pouring in.
How? I mean, I don’t know if you can answer this. How many people is Glenn Beck capable of getting out at an event? Is there any way of guestimating?
He brought out tens of thousands of people every week in 2003 for his rallies of America. And that was when he was just relatively unknown. Talk radio host. He was very responsible for getting people out last September and very. Estimates vary, but price somewhere around 70000 people. He’s much bigger now. And there’s going to be much more politically charged, energetic base because we’re gonna be so close to the midterms. I would say that what’s going to happen in August is going to be bigger than what happened last September. I know the 912 projects, chapters across the country are already mobilizing, in some cases a dozen busses from relatively small cities like the Tampa, Orlando area. I’m expecting a lot of people to come out in August for this thing.
Well, I want to alert our listeners that Alex, a checks book about Glenn Beck, common nonsense is available through our Web site, point of inquiry dot org. And I want to get on to talking about what Beck’s incredible success says about the media industry today, how innocence he’s been enabled by the media industry. Let me quote your book. You write that Beck is the latest in a long tradition to prove the division didn’t be serious. To package and sell it need only be compelling on its own deformed terms, which I like. But isn’t it the fact that there’s really a lack of any standards in cable media today that lets this stuff get through cable news media? I mean, in 2007, CNN let Glenn Beck have a two hour special to debunk global warming. And that’s that’s CNN. And that’s not FOX.
Yeah, no, I think Headline News and CNN generally it’s a mark of shame that they were an enabler of Glenn Beck’s rise. And I think that they have tried to make amends now that Joel Cheatwood, who the guy that brought back to CNN is now at FOX. I don’t think we’ll see another. Although, you know, some people would argue that hiring Erick Erickson is another such hire that could be considered a mark of shame. But yeah, no, it did. It is a trend in cable news generally, although I don’t think any network or not people can can be blamed as much as Fox, which is, you know, created a whole parallel universe for people to live in. They’re never challenged or very, very lightly and rarely challenged back may have had no place on CNN.
But at least there he was, just one animal in the zoo, as opposed to letting all the animals out and basically act like this is not a zoo.
And the other main enabler was Clear Channel. The company that basically puts him on what is now 400 radio stations around the country that basically took over talk radio in this country, thanks to a couple pieces of legislation in the 80s and 90s. And that wasn’t possible before. I mean, now people turn on the radio and they hear Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin. And, you know, those guys may seem like paragons of rationality compared to back, but it’s, you know, more or less the same thing. And that just wasn’t possible even fifteen years ago. Talk radio in this country has to be diverse, and it used to be local.
So that’s another piece of the puzzle as well.
I understand even at Fox, despite his incredible ratings, he’s been controversial. Is it possible for Beck to actually go too far? Or is there really no limit anymore once you’re as big of a celebrity as he is?
I think people would answer that question differently. Three years ago, two years ago, one year ago, six months ago. One of the strange things about our era right now is that the standards just keep mutating and changing. And just when you think something has gone too far, it’s not even a blip. What was a controversy a year ago gets one day on Media Matters now and then it’s on to the next controversy. I mean, calling the president of the United States racist can lose you some sponsors. But then a year after that, he compares the president to a character from Planet of the Apes and people don’t even notice. So it’s really I think a lot of people have lost a lot of money betting where the floor is in recent years.
You see all these conservatives these days. You mentioned some of them. Hannity, O’Reilly. They come out right wing radio. They’re partly ideologues. We’re also pretty entertaining. And whatever else you might say about them, you have to admit they’re talented. What is Beck’s success say about sort of the right wing farm system and what good? Those of us who are slightly more rational and slightly less entertaining learn from these stars they’re producing?
That’s the good and tough question. Why liberal talk radio has struggled and conservative talk radio has produced megastars.
I think, you know, part of it, you can’t avoid the fact that there is a slightly lower threshold for critical thought and for balance on the right and on the left. If someone were to come on and just scream about the other side and, you know, repeat the same sort of canards over and over again, I think liberal listeners would know you’re just not going to build up as many of them. But for whatever reason, there are tens of millions of people who have no problem with sitting there and listening to these guys, yell at them and explain the world in extremely simplistic terms all day long. You can hear it from 9:00 a.m. to midnight on his a.m. talk radio stations. But they do understand that he said entertainment. And I talked to one guy in the course of researching the book who is a consultant for Clear Channel for many years, and he also freelanced after he left Clear Channel for Air America. And he told me one day, he said, you know, the Brewhouse is entertaining, as some of them may be, ultimately care too much about their politics. And they do it in Warnke Ways. For example, Air America, one of the things he kept butting heads with the with those there was you know, you can’t have a show about getting a judge nominated. You have to keep people titillated or laughing. That has to be one, two and three. You can’t be talking about appellate judges. So I think these guys do understand that a little bit more. And they’re a little bit less afraid to sort of keep the volume of a defensive of subtlety and walking into the policy weeds.
Another aspect of the entertainment for maybe four back, maybe for everybody. That’s part of the spectacle, is that he actually in some ways, he likes provoking the left with his outrageousness and innocence. It helps him be even more visible than otherwise.
Absolutely. I mean, he is extremely attuned to the importance of, yeah, deking, the opposition and getting them to hit back because then what was otherwise about show? It’s worth of publicity turns into five or even a month worth of spats. I mean, he’s always engaged in this battle with someone, whether it’s Van Jones or Stephen King. You know, they’re all different levels of intensity. But he’s always fighting someone because once you get someone to talk about you, then that’s what someone talking about. So, I mean, it’s all very calculated. And he’s been doing it not just on talk radio and on five, but all the way back to about 40 days. He’s always personalized his opposition, his ratings competition, and he’s always tried to get controversy going. There’s a example from Baltimore that I talked about the. Look where he calculated that if he did this bit that involved animals, he could get PETA upset. And then PETA would protesting and then he could issue press releases designed to anger PETA further and get people talking about him. And he’d be on the 6:00 news for an extra three days. So he knows exactly what he’s doing.
So he his mantra is all publicity is good publicity. Just spell my name right, basically.
I mean, if you’re in this business, I hate to say it, but, you know, that is how it works. And, you know, on the terms of the left, we’ve gotten our kicks out of Glenn Beck, satirizing him as quite a pastime. Jon Stewart has said of Beck, quote, Finally, a guy who says what people who aren’t thinking or thinking, which I really like. Stephen King called him Satan’s mentally challenged younger brother.
It’s worth noting that Beck has accumulated all of these lines and he put them on the back of his book arguing with idiots. I mean, he loves it. He collects these things and he throws it back in. Everyone faces insisting how much they hate me. And it fuels his fan base. I mean, it’s a cycle and he can’t live without it. All part of the same show.
And we’re caught up in the cycle because he’s in some ways entertaining to us because he’s so extreme. It’s just that we’re coming from the other side. Bingo.
There’s some consolation in making fun of him. Speaking of which, what’s with all the crying that he does? Is this, you know, as middle America prone to fall for this bad acting or what?
Well, apparently, yeah, they have actually a section in the book about the crying. He’s always been kind of an emotional guy. I think it’s three elements here. One, he is a genuinely kind of emotional guy. I’ve talked to enough people who worked for him over the years to know that that’s true, too. He made a conscious decision to provide an identity that was new in the market. He’s a positional marketing mastermind. He when he went into talk radio, he said, OK, these are all the characters that are out there. I’m not going to be Rush Limbaugh. I’m not going to be Sean Hannity. What can I be? And he was the emotional guy, the guy who wore it on his sleeve who wasn’t afraid to ball in the studio. So that was element number two. And three is he is communicating with a largely religious conservative audience who sees tears in a completely different way. And that’s especially true in the Mormon tradition, which has institutionalized crying. Every week, Mormons get together and they have something called and testimony ritual, which is they get up and they talk about these spiritual sort of forms of knowledge that they have. And they always cheer up. They choke up. And you see this all the way up to the all the way up to church hierarchy, including the president, where it’s it’s the diet. The more stylized the crying becomes, the more sign of authority it is. And back has kind of internalized this within the Mormon church. And it dovetails perfectly with both his need to separate himself from the pack and also his own sort of emotional needs and his own sort of emotional style. So it’s all of those three things sort of combining with also this sort of evangelical Protestant tradition that we’ve seen going all the way back to, you know, all the famous evangelical frauds over the years who’ve gone on TV with tears in their eyes.
Wow. Well, he really he really you know, he’s consciously done all these things to make himself what he is, you know, sort of have to admire him even as you despise him cavalierly. Yeah.
Well, let me ask you one one final question. One of his books is called Arguing with Idiots. And this is a great irony because, of course, he’s a big idiot. My question is, what is Beck’s life and his success really teach us about how to argue with idiots like himself?
Well, you can’t really argue with him because he won’t let you. It’s notable that for a guy who wrote that book, he never has any interest in actually talking to someone who disagrees with him. For example, on the issue of climate change, I would love to see you go on the Glenn Beck program and talk about climate change for an hour. But that’s not going to happen because he’s much too smart for that. So what he does is he spins his wild theories and lets people wrap themselves up in it like taffy and laugh about it or talk about it. And he used to call himself a rodeo clown. I think to some extent that was very revealing because he’s what he’s putting out there is meant to be a massive subversion and something to just keep people occupied while his sponsors sort of get the real business done.
Guys like Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity, we’re not just backing Glenn Beck’s program and the Tea Party, but also have enormous influence in Washington and are tied up with lobbyists and all the usual sort of powers that be whose executives don’t watch the Glenn Beck program but are sure happy he’s on the air.
Well, it has been a sadly revealing conversation about a person that you have to know about, even if you really don’t want to. So, Alexeyeva, take thank you very much for being on point of inquiry.
It’s great to be here. Thank you, Chris.
I want to thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry. To get involved in a discussion about Alexander Zaitchik new book, Common Nonsense. Be sure to visit our online forums by going to center for inquiry dot net slash forums, then clicking on point of inquiry. The views expressed on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor of its affiliated organizations. Questions and comments on today’s show can be sent to feedback at point of inquiry that. Org.
One of inquiry is produced by Adam Isaac in AMR’s, New York. And our music is composed by Emmy Award winning Michael Whalan. Today show also featured contributions from Debbie Goddard. I’m your host, Chris Mooney.