Have you ever found yourself thinking about Fox News’ own version of P.T. Barnum, Glenn Beck, and wondered to yourself, “Where the hell did this cretin come from?” I mean, haven’t we all? Well, a story in today’s Washington Post sheds some light on that, and it turns out that the people largely responsible for making Beck famous are a Democratic strategist/PR guy who helped Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer and Eliot Spitzer get elected and his father, the agent who represents Beck.
Their names are George and Matt Hiltzik. George Hiltzik met Beck in 1999 when Beck, an obscure DJ “probably spinning Britney Spears records” at the time, contacted him and basically begged him to make him famous by morphing him into a conservative talk radio host. In 2001, George Hiltzik introduced Beck to his son Matt, who was working at the time for Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, helping the bombastic producer win political friends. Matt Hiltzik went on to become Beck’s public relations guru, helping him land on the cover of Time and the New York Times after his father helped Beck become a nationally syndicated radio talk show host with a television show as well.
Needless to say, Matt Hiltzik’s lefty friends are less than thrilled by his allegiance with Beck:
“I love Matt,” said Ken Sunshine, a Democratic activist and public relations powerbroker whom Hiltzik regards as a mentor. “I value our friendship, but I wouldn’t be caught dead representing Glenn Beck.”
It’s a strange world where close friends can manage clients who are avid enemies. Sunshine, for example, also advises Color of Change and Green for All, two groups founded by Van Jones, who resigned from his position as the Obama administration’s special adviser on green jobs after withering, unrelenting criticism from Beck.
And it’s not just Sunshine’s clients who are subject to Beck’s drubbings, it’s also his onetime mentor. The current secretary of state, for example, did not respond to calls about Hiltzik and his top client’s tirades against the Obama administration. Asked if he thought Hillary Clinton approved of his current promotion of Beck, who has called her, among other things, “the antichrist,” Hiltzik said, “She has a lot more important things to worry about.”
“Matt Hiltzik is a top professional who can’t save Glenn Beck from his vulgar, hateful ignorance,” said Robert Zimmerman, a public relations executive in New York, Democratic National Committee member and close friend of Hiltzik’s. “But he can get him extensive publicity while he goes down in flames.”
Finally, Matt Hiltzik’s former boss, Harvey Weinstein made an interesting point about his representing Beck, one that seemed to hint that my own long-time belief that Beck’s merely an actor playing a part may be somewhat true:
Weinstein said there was perhaps a simple reason Hiltzik felt comfortable representing Beck. “I had a lot of actors Matt came in contact with,” Weinstein said. “I just think Glenn is another one.”