NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Some influencers exert their sway in obscurity. Others assemble thousands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Actually, to be precise, only Glenn Beck did that. And it's true that his giant August event inspired Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to hold their own D.C. rally last fall, where Mr. Stewart argued that cable-news talkers like Mr. Beck distort American politics. But they followed him to D.C.; and they still haven't caught up on gold.
Mr. Beck may be alarmist when he suggests buying gold as a hedge against recession, depression or collapse -- not to mention less than impartial given the gold advertising on his show and his endorsement deal with Goldline. But he was out in front. "Once primarily the obsession of libertarians, survivalists and conspiracy freaks," Fortune said, "gold appears to be going mainstream."
That wasn't all Mr. Beck's work, any more than Tea Party candidates owed their success entirely to him, but the Beck effect -- whether influencing those who loathe him or those who love him -- is real.
It's affecting the media business too. Keep an eye on straight-laced CNN for the next Beck. The net's new exec VP in charge of U.S. programming put Mr. Beck on TV in the first place, and has promised to make the network more entertaining.