Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs received a good deal of criticism over the weekend following his appearance on last Wednesday’s Glenn Beck Program. Never one to stand by quietly, Mike responded to one of his most ardent critics, Shannon K. Walsh, with a candid and thoughtful Facebook post defending his decision to appear on the show.
Mike responded to Shannon with the following:
Well, hi there, Shannon – and a pleasant good morning to you too!
If you want a detailed answer to your question, please take a moment to read my earlier reply to Bob Reidel, another crestfallen soul who couldn’t reconcile my association with a TV host that he personally despised. As you read it (out loud, if possible, and in a public place), kindly replace the words “Bob Reidel” with “Shannon K. Walsh,” and “Bill Maher” with “Glenn Beck.” But prepare yourself – you might be forced to conclude that my true objective here has little to do with winning or losing your approval.As for your personal characterization of Glenn Beck, I can only assume you have information not available to me. In my time with him, I saw nothing “horrible, psychotic, hateful, or nasty.” I smelled no burning sulphur, no smoldering brimstone, and saw no sign of cloven hooves.To the contrary, I found a very passionate guy who employs about 300 people, works his butt off, and puts his money where his mouth is. Do we agree on everything? Of course not. Am I “disappointed” by that fact? Not at all. The real question, Shannon, is … why are you?
To be clear, I’m not here to tell you what to think or whom to hate. Like everyone else, you’re free to pick your devils, choose your angels, and attach the horns and halos accordingly.
But the guts of your question – even without all the name-calling and acrimony – reveal the essence of what’s broken in our country. You want to know “how I can associate” with someone you don’t like? The short answer is, how can I not? How are we ever going to accomplish anything in this incredibly divisive time if we associate only with people that we don’t disagree with?
On radio this morning, Mike called in to speak further on the topic. He explained that even though he made his appearance on Glenn’s show last Wednesday, he was unaware of the fervent social media response to the interview because he has been on the road for the last several weeks promoting the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.
“Well, so I've been on the road for a couple of weeks promoting this scholarship program, as you know, stopped by your studio in Texas,” Mike said. “So I wrote a little post about my adventure in Dallas, and I thank you for your generosity and I basically go to bed for a couple of days because I've just been up forever, and Sunday morning I wake up and there's just, I mean, thousands of comments, many very kind, but I don't know if you knew this, Glenn, but there are people out there who, they just don't like you a lot.”
“You apparently are some kind of a lightning rod,” Mike said laughing. “I can't put my finger on it but you apparently have annoyed literally dozens of people.”
There were dozens of comments on Mike’s Facebook page that both praised and chastised his decision to sit down for an interview with Glenn, but, as Mike described, one remark in particular “just chapped my butt.”
After firing off his candid response, Mike awoke the next morning to find he had 35,000 new ‘likes’ on Facebook and thousands of comments supporting what he had written.
“Your fans were just very, very cool. Many of them went to my website and purchased that poster we talked about for ‘Work smart and hard,’” Mike said. “And long story short, you know, it was a little ugly and a little mean, but in the end we wound up having the conversation all over again that I wanted to have with you and did have in Dallas. So if there's a moral to the story, I suppose it's just never shut up.”
“Amen,” Glenn said.
Just as they did during his appearance last week, Glenn and Mike discussed the importance of work ethic and education alternatives that Mike’s foundation and scholarship program seeks to promote.
“You were on the set and we had you on because I wanted to make sure that people knew that you're not against universities,” Glenn said. “You are for work. You are for training people to do work… they can find themselves passionate about.”
“If you step back and you look at the scholarship money that's typically available today, it's almost always attached to four different things,” Mike explained. “There's the academic scholarship, which everybody understands… There's the athletic scholarship, which everybody understands – if you can hit a three-point jump shot, we've got all money in the world for you. There are the talent-based scholarships… If you can sing or paint or do something interesting, you know, schools will pay for you to come there. And, of course, there are need-based scholarships, which are important for many. And that's all fine, but in all of that, who's rewarding work ethic?”
“So the idea was for work ethic scholarships, the idea was to look for those jobs not that are waiting to be created but that currently exist right now – the 3 million or so jobs that are in the skills gap – and say, look, what if we specifically launch a program that tries to encourage the behavior we want to have,” he continued. “What if we offer to train kids for these specific types of jobs and specifically look for those kids who are willing to demonstrate a work ethic that we want to encourage. So mikewoweWORKS scholarships became work ethic scholarships. We started looking for a series of trade schools that did excellent work. We found a few.”
Ultimately, the message of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation is simple: Hard work, skilled labor, alternative education, invention, and entrepreneurship. “These things need a PR campaign,” Mike said. “It's that simple. Every other cause in the world has a PR campaign. So that's our focus.”
“I appreciate your honesty. I appreciate your appearance on the program. I appreciate you not necessarily standing up for my point of view but standing up for common sense and writing what I think was something that is well worth reading,” Glenn said. “And if you would like to donate, if you would like to stand with him, here's a guy who is actually trying to do good. He actually has a solution, and I think we should stand with him at mikeroweWORKS.com.”
Glenn had another message for the audience: “Friend him. Go right now. Show him what this audience can do. Go friend him on Facebook.”