Mainstream Media Swoop In on Glenn Beck Departure

Thursday, 07 Apr 2011 07:26 AM

By James Hirsen

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Glenn Beck’s cable presence on the Fox News Channel is ending with a left-leaning media frenzy, with the media lashing out Beck and Fox. But Beck promises to resurface — and he's got the firepower to do it.

In an unusually worded joint press release, Beck’s daily FNC show concluded with the phrase “transition off” the network, which means the show will be going off the air. His contract with Fox expires at the end of the year, and it looks as though the timing of the announcement took place earlier than is typical with television contract negotiations, so either Fox or Beck likely forced the decision.
glenn, beck, fox, news, roger, ailes, Jewish Funds for Justice, dana milbank,
Beck

Beck’s foes cite a declining audience, but his ratings are still at lofty levels particularly for his time slot. His adversaries see the whole thing as a cause for celebration.

The George Soros-funded Media Matters for America has been pedantically documenting each and every Beck faux pas. The group went to the trouble of releasing a statement that included a question from founder David Brock, which confirmed that the liberal activist organization is not going to be satisfied with a mere Beck exit.

Brock stated, “Fox News now has to choose: Will it eliminate all violent rhetoric from the network—- not just during the 5 p.m. hour? And will the network make a commitment to end its role as a political operation masquerading as a news station?”

Brock appeared on MSNBC and took credit for the Beck-FNC breakup, claiming that Fox dumped Beck due to Beck’s supposed race baiting and conspiracy theorizing. “Fox saw him as a liability,” Brock said. MSNBC host Chris Mathews responded by labeling Beck “insane.”

The Jewish Funds for Justice, also supported by Soros, had placed an anti-Beck ad in The Wall Street Journal. The group characterized the host’s departure from FNC as a firing because “he [Beck] has been rejected by Jews.”

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post claimed that Beck had to go because he had “pushed further into dark conspiracies, urging his viewers to hoard food in their homes and to buy freeze-dried meals for sustenance when civilization breaks down. He spun a conspiracy theory in which the American left was in cahoots with an emerging caliphate in the Middle East. And, most ominously, he began to traffic regularly in anti-Semitic themes.”

Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, said in a released statement that it is “encouraging to know that it is no longer economically viable for a major television network to support the demagogic rantings of its most unhinged conspiracy theorist.”

Joy Behar asked in a tweet, “Where's he gonna go? The Oprah Network? I give him 20 minutes alone in a room with @Rosie.”

Hendrik Hetzberg of The New Yorker speculated that things had “become a bit much for [Roger] Ailes and the rest of the front office. I’m not suggesting that their consciences were bothering them, obviously, but surely they understand that Beck has not been helpful to the Fox News ‘brand.’”

According to the New York Daily News, Beck’s time slot will be filled by Judge Andrew Napolitano and Eric Bolling, who could each potentially become long-term replacements.

Media Matters immediately jumped on one of the possible hosts for Beck’s time slot, labeling the judge a “truther” and suggesting that "Napolitano — the current host of Fox Business' Freedom Watch — also subscribes to conspiracy theories, including the belief that the government is lying about the attacks on September 11.”

Ailes, head of FNC, embraced the obscurity in the official statement. “Half of the headlines say he's been canceled,” he told The Associated Press. “The other half say he quit. We're pretty happy with both of them.”

Ailes complemented Beck’s perspective and passion and threw in some faint praise: “I think he told [the] story as well as could be told. Whether you can just keep telling that story or not . . . we're not so sure."

Ailes is aware that Beck is an independent media force. Not content to rely solely on the FNC PR department, Beck has his own publicist. He also offices away from FNC headquarters and has been busily creating his own media empire, one that could have been viewed as competition by his employers.

It also significant from the PR perspective and parties involved that the parting of the ways between Beck and FNC was not announced first on the Beck show, as has been done with other cable hosts when changes have occurred.

It is clear that neither side wishes to burn bridges, as indicated by the  statement to continue developing media projects in the future. Beck's media company, Mercury Radio, will work with FNC to produce a “variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties.”

As a matter of fact, Beck warned his opponents in an interview with Napolitano that he is not going away. “You will long for the days of 5 p.m.,” he said.

The original programming Beck has been producing on his subscriber-based website may now have a new outlet on FNC, and the cable network will continue to have a business relationship with one of the most powerful voices on the right.

All in all it is an amicable breakup, with the public announcement being the equivalent of a couple letting everyone know that although the romance is over, “We’re still friends.”

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