Fox News mulling Glenn Beck’s exit, sources claim

March 7, 2011

wikimedia - credit Gage Skidmore

[ChattahBox] – When Glen Beck made his much-vaunted debut on Fox News in 2009 the effect was considerable. His ratings were beyond even the most aspirant dreams of his peers on cable, advertisers were standing in line and audiences were entranced by his singular vision. But things have changed, and Mr. Beck’s iconic flavor of doom-laden oratory may soon be silenced.

In the past week the 47-year old political prognosticator managed to weave Hezbollah, the socialist movement, gas prices, the growth of Shariah law and even the troubles of Charlie Sheen into yet another tapestry that foretold the end of the world.

But just over half of the audience achieved during last year’s health care debate that marked his sooth-saying zenith were tuned in, and Fox insiders who chose not to be named have told the New York Times Mr. Beck is now on course for a fade-out when his contract expires in December.

Last Spring, Beck graced the cover of Time and the New York Times magazine, held nationwide rallies, and attracted over 100,000 disciples to his ‘Restoring Honor’ rally in August. Today, more than one-million of those formerly unquestioning acolytes watch someone else.

With nightly ratings around the two-million mark he continues to outdraw his competition. He has also produced five books and sold over four million copies, and runs a talk show, a web site and live shows that often sell out. His company, Mercury Radio Arts, also has revenues in excess of $30 million, so losing his Fox-sponsored soapbox would be less than fatal.

But some of Mr. Beck’s more singular rantings – he once suggested President Obama had “a deep-seated hatred of white people” – cost the network dearly; Over 300 advertisers have abandoned his show since last Summer, but while Mr. Beck seems unfazed by this erosion he recently made efforts to placate his employers.

“Two years ago, I was on a cable channel no-one was watching, doing a show no-one was watching,” he told viewers last Wednesday. “Then I had the opportunity to come and work here If you’re going to do news or commentary, the only place, I think, in the world that really makes an impact is Fox.”

But this singular example of uncommon clarity is outweighed by extended dissertations, replete with blackboards and unqualified facts, on how the world is marching towards an unexplained end which only he can discern. And it’s this fondness for doom-laden diatribe that is costing him fans.

“He used to be a lot funnier,” says David Von Drehle, who wrote the  Time Magazine piece. “He was the befuddled everyman, but the longer people have listened to his rantings, the wearier they become. Now you’re down to the die-hards. I mean, how many people were in the Waco compound at the end? A few hundred?”

But Joel Cheatwood, a senior VP of development at Fox News and the man in charge of Glenn’s show, thinks the audience for Glenn’s downbeat musings is as strong as ever; though he does tell Glenn to turn down the gloom;

“We’ve talked about that,” Mr. Cheatwood admits. “It’s really important that no matter how dire he thinks things are, the show maintains a sense of hope.”

And Beck’s reflections on Wednesday hinted at the true scale of suppressed paranoia – It is not he, he maintained, who is off balance, but the rest of the world who seem unable to cope with his gift as the lone bringer of truth;

“When I first came here, I had this belief that if I told you the truth, the journalists in other places would use their resources and investigate and they’d prove it right and they’d show it too.” he told his fans, laughing bitterly at the lack of support for  this unfulfilled quest.

But despite declining ratings and a growing chorus of naysayers now emboldened by hints at departure, Mr. Beck remains unswayed in his belief that the world is in peril and he alone is its savior. The problem with endlessly predicting the end of the world is what to say the next morning when that end doesn’t come.

And some of those in a position to know say Mr. Beck may soon say goodbye…


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