Beck: I played a role in tearing the country apart

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly extracted an interesting and introspective mea culpa of sorts from her former colleague and friend Glenn Beck last night. Looking back on his days at Fox, and some of the antics his show highlighted, Beck muses that he contributed to “helping tear the country apart” and wishes now he’d focused more on the “uniting principles” in American politics:

Beck’s new platform The Blaze also carried the clip:

“I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language,” he said. “I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.”

“I didn’t realize how really fragile the people were, I thought we were kind of more in it together,” he added. “Now I look back and I realize if we could have talked about the uniting principles a little more instead of the problems, I think I would look back on it a little more fondly. But that’s only my role.”

It’s interesting to hear Beck offer this admission, especially on the platform on which that arguably took place. If that’s how he feels, I’m not going to argue against it, although “tearing the country apart” is in my opinion an exaggeration. I’d guess that most in this industry have moments that produce similar regret … if they’re being honest with themselves.

This is the choice that all of those who enter the public debate have to make, though — whether to use hyperbole to exacerbate and inflame tensions or offer ways for people to come together and find solutions. That is not a binary choice, though, but a spectrum over which we all move over the long haul. Some days and on some topics, even the best of us get overly passionate, while other days perhaps a little too dry and analytical.

The best anyone can do is to know who they are, know who they want to be, know what they believe to be right and moral and ethical, and hope that our decisions eventually reflect the best of us. When we fall short, recognize it and make the proper adjustments. Beck shows once again that even with the antics, he’s an intriguing and thoughtful player on the political media stage, capable of surprises and insight. Good for him.

Update: Interesting points being made in the comments, by the way, so be sure to check out the skepticism there.