Glenn Beck in Wilmington, Ohio

Last week I went to Wilmington, Ohio, a town of 12,000 with 16% unemployment. In 2008, the town was crushed when the area’s largest employer, DHL, decided to close its hub and with it, 7,500 jobs. Wilmington isn’t terribly remarkable compared to a lot of other places in the US, where the global flight of capital has left communities jobless. What’s different about Wilmington, is that is has become a media darling. It began with a profile by 60 minutes, then Jay Leno came to town, and celebrity chef Rachel Ray cooked Thanksgiving and donated a treasure of kitchen appliances and food. The attention has helped make a bad situation a touch better for sure, inspiring donations and volunteerism. Then last week, conservative commentator Glenn Beck, rolled in with his “Broke” book tour, hawking books and promising miracles. Unlike the other celebrities, Beck charged admission to several events, making it unclear what his purpose was, to help the town, or to help Beck. He also repeated a wildly untrue narrative: the town is too proud to accept federal dollars, as though that is a sign of moral character. To read a longer account deconstructing Beck, and see more photographs, I invite you to visit a story on AlterNet And photographs with colleague Alan Chin on BagNewsNotes

All photographs (C) Nina Berman/NOOR All Rights Reserved

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