Glenn Beck worked the crowd like a preacher at a rally this month in Louisville, Ky., declaring that God had responded to conservatives’ prayers by sending a slate of tea party candidates to wrest control of the Republican Party from Mitch McConnell.
But there was a more earthly benefit to the arrangement that brought Beck to the rally. It was organized by the tea party nonprofit group FreedomWorks, which had endorsed the candidates — and which has paid more than $6 million in recent years to have Beck promote the group, its initiatives and events.
The FreedomWorks-Beck relationship is just one example of a powerful and profitable alliance between the conservative movement’s most aggressive groups and the most popular radio hosts. The details of the arrangements are little-known, but they have been lucrative for the recipients, and, in turn, have helped ensure that the groups get coveted airtime from hosts with a demonstrated ability to leverage their tens of millions of listeners to shape American politics
. It’s an alliance that helped spawn the anti-establishment tea party and power Republicans to landslide victories in the 2010 midterms. It’s also exacerbated congressional gridlock by pushing a hard line on the budget, immigration and Obamacare, and it is roiling the Republican Party headed into critical midterm elections.