A Timeline Of Fox News' Handling Of Glenn Beck's Controversial Tenure


Fox News' decision to end Glenn Beck's show comes after a tumultuous two years during which Fox News figures were constantly forced to defend Beck's outrageous comments or distance themselves from the controversial host.

July 2009: Fox Forced To Address Beck's Statement That Obama Is A "Racist" Who Has A "Deep-Seated Hatred For White People Or The White Culture"

October 2009: Speculation Of Tension Between Hannity And Beck Begins

November 2009: Rupert Murdoch Confronted About Beck's Comment That Obama Is A "Racist"

December 2009: Beck's Gold Hawking Prompts Fox Legal Department To Seek "Clarification"

March 2010: Fox Personnel Begin Speaking Out Against Beck

May 2010: Murdoch Mounts Defense Of Beck Amid Concerns Over Advertiser Losses

August 2010: Fox Figures Reportedly Meet With Jewish Groups To Discuss Beck's Rhetoric

August 2010: Fox Figures Distance Themselves From Beck's 8-28 Rally

September 2010: More Details Leak That Point To Friction Between Beck And Fox News

November 2010: Longtime Fox Contributor Complains About Beck To Media Matters

February 2011: Fox Contributor Critizes Beck's "Hysteria"

March 2011: Reports Surface That Beck May Depart Fox News

April 2011: Fox News Announces Beck's Departure

July 2009: Fox Forced To Address Beck's Statement That Obama Is A "Racist" Who Has A "Deep-Seated Hatred For White People Or The White Culture"

Beck: President Obama "Is, I Believe, A Racist." Discussing Obama's response to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Beck asserted that Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." After being reminded that Obama has numerous white staffers, Beck contradicted himself, stating, "I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem," before going on to state, "this guy is, I believe, a racist." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/28/09]

Fox News VP: Beck's Words Are "His Own Views, Not Those Of The Fox News Channel." The same day that Beck called President Obama a "racist," Bill Shine, then Fox's Senior Vice President of Programming, said:

During Fox & Friends this morning, Glenn Beck expressed a personal opinion which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel. And as with all commentators in the cable news arena, he is given the freedom to express his opinions. [TVNewser, 7/28/09]

October 2009: Speculation Of Tension Between Hannity And Beck Begins

Greg Sargent: Hannity Went On A "Quest For Beckian Glory." After Fox News host Sean Hannity launched a series of false smears targeting White House advisor Kevin Jennings, blogger Greg Sargent wrote:

So what's driving Hannity's jihad? One wonders whether it's driven by the fact that Beck is experiencing a ratings surge that has to have Hannity spooked big time. The just-released Fox News third quarter ratings show that Beck's surge dwarfs Hannity's by a wide margin.

Beck's overall viewership has climbed an astonishing 89%, and in the key 25-54 demo it has exploded by 136%. By contrast, Hannity's overall viewership has climbed a measly nine percent, and in the key demo it's jumped only 17%.

Pretty paltry performance, given all the passions unleashed by the Age of Obama. What's more, Beck inhabits the lowly 5 PM slot while Hannity enjoys the plum 9 PM perch.

Would Hannity be pursuing Jennings scalp if Beck hadn't seen his popularity surge in the wake of Jones' firing? Maybe. At the very least, though, maybe this explains the zeal driving Hannity. He wants his own scalp! Call it a quest for Beckian glory... [The Plum Line, 10/1/09]

Huffington Post: "Is Sean Hannity Afraid Of Glenn Beck?" Following Sargent's post, the Huffington Post's Jason Linkins wrote:

Glenn Beck presents the only scenario in which you'd even dream of calling Sean Hannity vulnerable. But, really, all that Sargent suggests is that Hannity is acting on perceived vulnerability. So how does Hannity likely view the landscape?

Back when Beck was announced as Foxy-to-be, Hannity offered him a big showy welcome, which felt, even at the time, a little like a territorial pissing. Since then, Beck's been the superstar: making waves, taking those scalps, and getting the cable news network to come fully behind his Teabaggy 9/12 Project.

I can imagine that Hannity might find the attention lavished on Beck to be a little bit galling. Hannity's had the longer career, after all, during which he's dutifully suited up, sat behind a desk and occasionally had to fend off actual arguments: from Alan Colmes in the pre-solo days, to various panels now. The deck was always stacked in Hannity's favor, of course, but he had to at least offer the appearance of an honest broker of debate. Beck doesn't have to do any of that. Beck gets to stand up and riff about whatever he wants, pull morning-radio stunts and, really, not even worry about making any sense at all.

Beck flaunts the fact that he's the one guy on the network who never has to play it straight or even maintain intellectual consistency. Hannity, by contrast, is more of a duty-bound party hack and a broadcast traditionalist. He's doing the same work, carrying water for conservative interests, that he's always done, and makes the attempt to do so with gravity and professionalism. Beck takes that water, and uses it to boil a rubber frog. The next day, no one is talking about what happened on Sean Hannity's show. As it turns out, putting a mainstream face on the fringe isn't as attention-grabbing as letting your freak flag fly.


So, now, we have Hannity calling for a head of his own. It's not entirely out of step for him, but it sure feels like the actions of a hunted man. That said, let's not forget that Hannity has one trump card that will likely protect his prime-time perch for the time being: Fox can still sell national ads on his program in prime time. [Huffington Post, 10/2/09]

Imus to Beck: "Sean Hannity, Rush, they both hate you." On his syndicated radio show, Don Imus said to Beck: "You've got Sean Hannity, Rush [Limbaugh], they both hate you. You know that." Beck denied that claim, replying, "No, they don't." [Fox Business, Imus in the Morning, 10/5/09]

November 2009: Rupert Murdoch Confronted About Beck's Comment That Obama Is A "Racist"

Murdoch: Beck "Was Right," Obama Is A "Racist." In an interview with Sky News Australia political editor David Speers, Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox News' parent company, reportedly said that while Beck "perhaps shouldn't have" said it, Beck was "right." From the interview:

SPEERS: The Glenn Beck, who you mentioned, has called Barack Obama a racist, and he helped organize a protest against him. Others on Fox have likened him --


SPEERS: -- to Stalin. Is that defensible?

MURDOCH: No, no, no, not Stalin, I don't think. I don't know who that -- not one of our people. On the racist thing, that caused a [unintelligible]. But he did make a very racist comment, about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right. [Sky News Australia, 11/6/09]

News Corp. Spokesperson Attempts Damage Control After Murdoch's Interview. Michael Calderone reported on Politico:

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch has drawn criticism following an interview with Sky News Australia, where his comments were interpreted by some as being in agreement with Glenn Beck's view that President Obama's "a racist."

But News Corp. spokesperson Gary Ginsberg tells POLITICO that Murdoch did not intend to suggest that he had the same opinion as Beck.

"He does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist," Ginsberg said.

Murdoch, in the interview, said that the president "did make a very racist comment" and seemed to indicate he thought Beck was right in making the controversial claim. Media Matters, and others, quickly seized upon the interview as evidence that Murdoch shared the same view as the Fox News host.

Ginsberg said that's not the case, but did not comment further on the interview. [Politico, 11/10/09]

Confronted By Media Matters, Murdoch Denies He Agreed Obama Is A "Racist." Media Matters asked Rupert Murdoch to "be more specific about what racist comments the president allegedly made." Murdoch replied, "I denied that absolutely. I don't believe he's a racist." [Media Matters, 11/19/09]

December 2009: Beck's Gold Hawking Prompts Fox Legal Department To Seek "Clarification"

NYT: Fox Executives Questioned Beck's Gold Promotion. In December 2009, The New York Times reported:

Joel Cheatwood, the senior vice president of development for Fox News, said the network's legal department had recently sent a letter to Mr. Beck's representatives "seeking clarification" about his work for Goldline.

"They sent back word that he is not a paid spokesman," Mr. Cheatwood said, adding that it would be "problematic without question" if Mr. Beck did have a position as a paid spokesman for a product.

Fox News released a statement outlining its official policy about such issues: "Fox News prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson."

Fox News stressed that it was not aware that Mr. Beck was listed on the Internet as a paid spokesman. But he definitely was, until very recently. On cached editions of the Goldline Web site over the last week to 10 days, a photograph of Mr. Beck was accompanied by an asterisk which led to a line at the bottom of the site that read: "paid spokesman."


Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for Mr. Beck, said the host should never have been listed as a "paid spokesman" because he did not receive separate fees beyond the sponsorship for that or any other work he did for the company.

Before he moved onto Fox News, however, Mr. Beck appeared in a video on the Goldline Web site extolling the virtues of gold. And Mr. Beck routinely reads Goldline ads on the radio, a practice Fox said was acceptable under its guidelines. [The New York Times, 12/13/09]

March 2010: Fox Personnel Begin Speaking Out Against Beck

Kurtz: Some "Fox Journalists" Worried Beck "Undermines Their Credibility." From media critic Howard Kurtz's Washington Post column:

In just over a year, Glenn Beck's blinding burst of stardom has often seemed to overshadow the rest of Fox News.

And that may not be a good thing for the top-rated cable news channel, as many of its staffers are acutely aware.

With his celebrity fueled by a Time cover story, best-selling books, cheerleading role at protest rallies and steady stream of divisive remarks, Beck is drawing big ratings. But there is a deep split within Fox between those -- led by Chairman Roger Ailes -- who are supportive, and many journalists who are worried about the prospect that Beck is becoming the face of the network.

By calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a "cancer," Beck has achieved a lightning-rod status that is unusual even for the network owned by Rupert Murdoch. And that, in turn, has complicated the channel's efforts to neutralize White House criticism that Fox is not really a news organization. Beck has become a constant topic of conversation among Fox journalists, some of whom say they believe he uses distorted or inflammatory rhetoric that undermines their credibility.


Fox staffers note that veteran producer Gresham Striegel left the network after clashing with Beck and say the host has surrounded himself with loyalists from Mercury, some of whom remain on that company's payroll. (Striegel did not respond to a request for comment.) When Fox covers breaking news during Beck's hour, some journalists say, they are flooded with angry e-mail from viewers about the preemption.

Friction between opinionated cable personalities and journalists has also flared occasionally at MSNBC. But Beck has caused such anguish at Fox that some of its journalists celebrated the failure of last week's interview with embattled ex-congressman Eric Massa, which Beck pronounced a waste of time.


One thing is beyond debate: Beck provides a strong lead-in for the network's evening lineup. "The significance of Beck to Fox's bottom line cannot be underestimated," says Tyndall, the industry analyst. "Getting an audience that size at 5 p.m. is absolutely unheard of."

But that growth has come at a price, at least for those at Fox who believe that Beck is beginning to define their brand. Glenn Beck is a media phenomenon married to a phenomenally successful network, but away from the cameras, theirs is a troubled relationship. [The Washington Post, 3/15/10]

Imus Tells Beck: "You Guys All Hate Each Other." From Beck's appearance on Don Imus' Fox Business show:

IMUS: By the way, I love the column from Howard Kurtz, who works for CNN and The Washington Post, about how Glenn is driving this big wedge between the news department--

BECK: Oh yeah.

IMUS: --and the shows at Fox News.

BECK: Well let me-- Let me-- Wait, wait, wait. Let me say something about this First of all, I went -- I don't remember when, last August -- and I saw Bret Baier and I said, I gotta be making your life a living hell. And he said, no, man you gotta do what you gotta do, I do what I do, we're in different departments, but are you kidding me? Somebody who's going after this administration, all the time, can you imagine, being anybody standing going, "Uh, Mr. President, don't think of Glenn Beck when I raise my hand, please."


BECK: I mean, of course, of course, I make their job a living hell. I don't-- That's not my intent, and I have never heard anything from the people in Washington.

IMUS: That was my point, or, nor have I heard anything at Fox and we're there every day, so.

BECK: You make everybody's life a living hell for no reason whatsoever.

IMUS: No, no. I haven't done anything, I just pointed, here's what I pointed out and I have been around a while. You guys all hate each other. So I understand all that. Hannity, Hannity is livid. [Fox Business, Imus in the Morning, 3/17/10]

May 2010: Murdoch Mounts Defense Of Beck Amid Concerns Over Advertiser Losses

LAT: Murdoch Defends Beck After Advertiser Losses. The Los Angeles Times reported:

[Rupert] Murdoch was asked on the company's third quarter analyst call about the departure of advertisers, many of whom have left the show in an organized protest that began last year when Beck said President Obama had a "deep-seated hatred of white people." One wanted to know how long Fox News would "subsidize" the show, which is "filled with house ads."

"It's not subsidizing the show at all," Murdoch fired back, adding that the theatrical Beck gives "a terrific kickoff" to the Fox News evening lineup. [Los Angeles Times, 5/4/10]

Murdoch Denies Advertiser Boycott. From TV Newser:

Murdoch was also asked if last year's boycott of Glenn Beck had any effect on the news network's earnings.

The News Corp. CEO laughed and responded with a quick "no."

"They're not boycotting watching it because it's getting incredible numbers," he said. "We have not lost any business at all; some [advertisers] may have moved to other programs," but "it has not affected the total revenues or the profits." [TV Newser, 8/4/10]

Murdoch Continues To Deny Advertisers Are Boycotting Glenn Beck. Fielding questions at a News Corp. shareholder meeting, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch flatly denied that hundreds of advertisers refuse to advertise on Glenn Beck's Fox News program due to a boycott organized after Beck called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Asked about reports that nearly 300 advertisers are boycotting Glenn Beck, Murdoch responded: "That's not true ... Maybe four or five who have been moved over to Mr. O'Reilly's program." Murdoch added: "No one has taken any money off the channel." [Media Matters, 10/15/10]

August 2010: Fox Figures Reportedly Meet With Jewish Groups To Discuss Beck's Rhetoric

Fox Executives Reportedly Acknowledged Beck "Did Cross A Line." Yahoo! News' Michael Calderone reported:

Fox News host Glenn Beck is known for generating controversy on television and the radio. But some Jewish leaders recently felt Beck went too far, and they made their grievances known to Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes.

Simon Greer, chief executive of Jewish Funds for Justice, told The Upshot that when Greer approached them, Ailes and senior vice president Joel Cheatwood agreed that Beck crossed the line in comparing Greer's worldview to that of the Nazis and promised to speak with Beck about the matter. [See Update for Fox response]

Two days later, Greer said he received a handwritten letter from Beck.


Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, sent a letter -- signed by Greer and a dozen others -- to News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch. About a week later, Gutow received a letter back from Ailes. They set up a meeting in Fox News's midtown headquarters, which was also attended by Rabbi David Ellenson.

Greer said that while he doesn't share the "same worldview with Glenn Beck and Fox News," he was impressed with the executives' response. He said that Ailes and Cheatwood agreed "that the use did cross a line."

"They took things very seriously, and I have a lot of respect for that," Greer said.

Greer received the letter from Beck last Wednesday. Although Greer said he wouldn't categorize the letter as an apology, he said that Beck explained he'd been informed of the organization's concerns and took them very seriously.

"It was a very quick response and felt like a peace offering," he said. [The Upshot, 8/3/10]

Fox Exec Later Said They "Absolutely Stood Behind Glenn Beck 1000%." TV Newser reported:

Fox News SVP of Development Joel Cheatwood tells TVNewser, "Never did we talk about Glenn 'crossing the line.'"

Cheatwood says that during the meeting, he and Ailes explained Beck's perspective that the holocaust is one of the worst events in history and should be handled with a tremendous amount of sympathy. They reinforced that everyone in the media needs to be sensitive around this topic.

Cheatwood said he felt it was an "honest, open, dignified meeting," and that Greer's account as it appeared in the Yahoo! article "didn't bear any resemblance to the truth." "The story basically -- as I read it -- indicated that Roger Ailes and myself had agreed with Greer," he told us. [TV Newser, 8/3/10]

August 2010: Fox Figures Distance Themselves From Beck's 8-28 Rally

Beck's Fox Colleague Van Susteren: Beck "Should Move His Event." In August 2010, Fox's Greta Van Susteren criticized Beck's plans to host a rally in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Van Susteren wrote on her Fox News blog:

On August 28th my colleague Glenn Beck is going to lead an event on the mall in Washington, DC. It is the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. The event is causing much controversy ...some support and some don't support and some are even furious and upset. Yes he has a First Amendment right to do it...but what about the wisdom of it? Remember...the Muslims in NYC have a First Amendment right to build a mosque but most Americans don't want it...and you have to ask the wisdom of the Muslims to push the issue. Just because you have the right to do something does not mean you should. My view? No mosque at ground zero and Glenn should move his event.

It does not help heal the country on so many fronts if we poke a stick in eyes. [FoxNews.com, GretaWire, 8/17/10]

Mediaite: "It Appears Fox News As A Whole And Certain Elements Within Fox News Are Actively Trying To Distance Themselves From The Event." After noting that Beck's Fox News colleague Greta Van Susteren called on Beck to "move his event," Steve Krakauer of Mediaite wrote:

FNC's Executive Vice President of Programming for FOX News Bill Shine tells Mediaite, "FOX News has nothing to do with the rally - we will cover it as a news event alongside other news throughout that day."

With the two incidents occurring today, it appears Fox News as a whole and certain elements within Fox News are actively trying to distance themselves from the event. We'd imagine as 8/28 approaches there will be more to say about the relationship and the event as a whole. [Mediaite, 8/17/10]

September 2010: More Details Leak That Point To Friction Between Beck And Fox News

NY Times: Ailes "Has Complained About Beck's Hawking His Non-Fox Ventures Too Much On His Fox Show." In a profile of Beck in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Mark Leibovich wrote:

BECK IS A STRENUOUS cross-promoter. He spoke constantly on the air about his Washington rally before and after the event. He invites viewers and listeners to visit his Web site and, better yet, the Glenn Beck Store ("Restoring Honor" photograph books can be preordered for $35) and become an "insider extreme" member for premium video and audio links. He recently started a new Web site, the Blaze, which he also mentions on his television and radio shows.

The cross-promotion can be a sore spot at Fox News, particularly for its president, Roger Ailes, who has complained about Beck's hawking his non-Fox ventures too much on his Fox show. Ailes has communicated this to Beck himself and through intermediaries. It goes to a larger tension between Fox News and Beck in what has been a mutually beneficial relationship. Ailes, a former Republican media guru, runs his top-rated cable-news network like a sharp-edged campaign, speaking with a single voice and -- ideally -- for the benefit solely of Fox News's bottom line.

To some degree, all of Fox News's top opinion personalities have side ventures -- speeches, books, radio -- that can invite static from the network. In April, for instance, Fox News bosses vetoed a planned appearance by Hannity at a fund-raiser for a Tea Party group in Cincinnati. But more than any other person at Fox News, Beck operates as a stand-alone entity. He is the only major personality at the network whose office is not at Fox News headquarters in the News Corp building (Mercury is a few blocks down Sixth Avenue). He employs his own publicist, Matthew Hiltzik, a communications consultant who is the son of Beck's agent, George Hiltzik. Beck receives a $2.5 million salary from Fox News, which bumps to $2.7 million next year, the last of the contract. It is a small fraction of Beck's revenues, the bulk of which he brings in from his radio and print deals.

"There is always going to be the person within the organization who may take issue with or doesn't like the way the network is programming certain things," says Cheatwood, the Fox News executive who oversees Beck's show. "I allow for that anywhere. But in terms of the relationship between Fox and Glenn, it's extremely solid."

Ailes, who declined to comment for this article, has generally been supportive of Beck. But he has also been vocal around the network about how Beck does not fully appreciate the degree to which Fox News has made him the sensation he has become in recent months. In the days following Beck's Lincoln Memorial rally, which by Beck's estimate drew a half-million people, Ailes told associates that if Beck were still at Headline News, there would have been 30 people on the Mall. Fox News devoted less news coverage to the rally than CNN and MSNBC did, which Beck has pointed out himself on the air. [The New York Times, 9/29/10]

NY Times: Beck's "Television Ratings Have Declined Sharply -- Perhaps Another Factor In The Network's Impatience." Leibovich further wrote, "While Beck's personal ventures and exposure have soared this year, his television ratings have declined sharply -- perhaps another factor in the network's impatience." Leibovich went on to detail Beck's ratings slip and how "as of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck's show (up from 26 in August 2009)." Leibovich continued:

Fox also has a difficult time selling ads on "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Fox and Friends" when Beck appears on those shows as a guest. Beck's show is known in the TV sales world as "empty calories," meaning he draws great ratings but is toxic for ad sales. If nothing else, I sensed that people around Fox News have grown weary after months of "It's all about Glenn." I was sitting with Bill Shine, the director of programming, on the Wednesday after the "Restoring Honor" event, which was held on a Saturday and still drawing analysis in the news media four days later. At the end of a half-hour interview in which Shine spoke well of Beck, a look of slight irritation flashed his face. He shook his head slightly. "The president of the United States ends the war in Iraq," Shine said, which Obama did the night before in a speech from the Oval Office, "and on Wednesday we're still talking about Glenn Beck." [The New York Times, 9/29/10]

NY Times: There Is "Friction" Between Beck And Fox News Journalists. In his profile, Leibovich also reported that the "friction" between Beck and Fox "is evident in many areas." He wrote:

When I mentioned Beck's name to several Fox reporters, personalities and staff members, it reliably elicited either a sigh or an eye roll. Several Fox News journalists have complained that Beck's antics are embarrassing Fox, that his inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself as a legitimate news outlet. Fearful that Beck was becoming the perceived face of Fox News, some network insiders leaked their dissatisfaction in March to The Washington Post's media critic, Howard Kurtz, a highly unusual breach at a place where complaints of internal strains rarely go public. [The New York Times, 9/29/10]

November 2010: Longtime Fox Contributor Complains About Beck To Media Matters

Longtime Fox Contributor Calls Includes Beck Among "Extremists" At Network. Media Matters' Joe Strupp reported:

Signs of friction within Fox News continue to grow as two more sources indicate "frustration" and "surprise" at the direction the news channel is taking, with one source pointing to concerns that the "opinion side bleeds over the news side."

One source complained about the "political slugfests and extremists" on the network, while the other said the network "pander(s) to the extreme."

These concerns follow Media Matters' recent report that sources familiar with the situation say that the Fox Washington bureau is slanting more to the right in recent years under Bill Sammon, vice president of news and Washington managing editor, who took over for Brit Hume in February 2009.

The latest sources to speak out -- a current Fox News staffer and a longtime contributor -- responded to Media Matters' questions about Fox's employment of five Republicans who have expressed interest in running for president.


The same source also complained about the presence of extreme views: "I think Fox has very good coverage on Shep Smith, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier. The others are more political slugfests and extremists. It narrows your audience."

Asked if the "political slugfests and extremists" included Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, the contributor responded, "Yes." [Media Matters, 11/8/10]

February 2011: Fox Contributor Critizes Beck's "Hysteria"

Kristol: Beck Is "Marginalizing Himself" Through His "Hysteria." Fox News contributor Bill Kristol was publicly critical of Beck's reaction to protests in Egypt:

Now, people are more than entitled to their own opinions of how best to accomplish that democratic end. And it's a sign of health that a political and intellectual movement does not respond to a complicated set of developments with one voice.

But hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He's marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s. [The Weekly Standard, 2/14/11]

March 2011: Reports Surface That Beck May Depart Fox News

NYT: Fox Officials "Contemplating Life Without" Beck. The New York Times' David Carr reported:

Mr. Beck, a conservative Jeremiah and talk-radio phenomenon, burst into television prominence in 2009 by taking the forsaken 5 p.m. slot on Fox News and turning it into a juggernaut. A conjurer of conspiracies who spotted sedition everywhere he looked, Mr. Beck struck a big chord and ended up on the cover of Time magazine and The New York Times Magazine, and held rallies all over the country that were mobbed with acolytes. He achieved unheard-of ratings, swamped the competition and at times seemed to threaten the dominion of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity at Fox.

But a funny thing happened on the way from the revolution. Since last August, when he summoned more than 100,000 followers to the Washington mall for the "Restoring Honor" rally, Mr. Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox -- a greater percentage drop than other hosts at Fox. True, he fell from the great heights of the health care debate in January 2010, but there has been worrisome erosion -- more than one million viewers -- especially in the younger demographic.

He still has numbers that just about any cable news host would envy and, with about two million viewers a night, outdraws all his competition combined. But the erosion is significant enough that Fox News officials are willing to say -- anonymously, of course; they don't want to be identified as criticizing the talent -- that they are looking at the end of his contract in December and contemplating life without Mr. Beck. [The New York Times, 3/6/11]

NYT: "Glenn Beck Contemplates Starting Own Channel." The New York Times' Brian Stelter reported that Glenn Beck, should he not renew his contract with Fox News at the end of this year, has considered taking over a cable channel and expanding his Insider Extreme Web service. The article went on to say that neither approach would try to compete with Fox, but "would try to extract more value out of Mr. Beck's loyal fans." From the article:

But a cable channel takeover, even in part, carries enormous risk, as Ms. Winfrey and Ms. Stewart can attest -- they have more real estate now, but the ratings comparisons are not favorable. For Mr. Beck, the risk may be heightened by the fact that many advertisers have shunned him on Fox, in part because of a boycott that started after he called President Obama racist in 2009.

Furthermore, having cable channel turf may carry less importance in the future as more people access TV shows online.

Mr. Beck's other option is to expand Insider Extreme, the subscription portion of his Web site, glennbeck.com, by hosting an exclusive show there and by adding other content.

Insider Extreme already simulcasts Mr. Beck's three-hour radio show; shows a fourth hour hosted by his sidekicks; shows a daily show hosted by S. E. Cupp, a conservative commentator; and occasionally features documentaries.


People who have spoken to Mr. Beck say that neither option -- a cable channel or what would essentially be an Internet channel -- would be aimed at competing with Fox News, which is enormously popular on cable. Rather, it would try to extract more value out of Mr. Beck's loyal fans. The comparison to [Howard] Stern may be apt: his audience on satellite radio is smaller than it was on terrestrial radio, but the profits are higher. [The New York Times, 3/22/11]

April 2011: Fox News Announces Beck's Departure

Beck "Intends To Transition Off Of His Daily Program." From an April 6 press release:

FOX NEWS AND MERCURY RADIO ARTS ANNOUNCE NEW AGREEMENT(New York, NY) Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, Glenn Beck's production company, are proud to announce that they will work together to develop and 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. Glenn intends to transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year.

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News said, "Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody's standards. I look forward to continuing to work with him. Glenn Beck said: "I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News. I cannot repay Roger for the lessons I've learned and will continue to learn from him and I look forward to starting this new phase of our partnership."

Joel Cheatwood, SVP/Development at Fox News, will be joining Mercury Radio Arts effective April 24, 2011. Part of his role as EVP will be to manage the partnership and serve as a liaison with the Fox News Channel. Roger Ailes said: "Joel is a good friend and one of the most talented and creative executives in the business. Over the past four years I have consistently valued his input and advice and that will not stop as we work with him in his new role." "Glenn Beck" is consistently the third highest rated program on cable news.

For the 27 months that "Glenn Beck" has aired on Fox News, the program has averaged more than 2.2 million total viewers and 563,000 viewers 25-54 years old, numbers normally associated with shows airing in primetime, not at 5pm. "Glenn Beck" has dominated all of its cable news competitors since launch. [Business Insider, 4/6/11]

NYT's Stelter On Beck Departure: "People On The News Side Of Fox Were Embarrassed" By Beck. New York Times reporter Brian Stelter discussed Fox News' transition plans on CNN:

DON LEMON (CNN Anchor): What is the real scoop on Beck's departure? He's actually -- you said he's not leaving the channel, but he's leaving his show, right?

STELTER: Yeah. For most intents and purposes, he is leaving Fox. He's going to remain there essentially as a producer, creating maybe new shows or new specials for the network, but we're not going to see him on every day the we have for the last two years.

Glenn Beck never really fit in at Fox. He was always his own man. Unlike Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, he wasn't born by Fox and he didn't depend on Fox. So I think there were always skirmishes because of that.

LEMON: So, you know, when you see places like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, even criticism, it's because he is so bombastic and he says things that many of the other people on Fox, even the opinion people, won't say.

So were his colleagues really embarrassed by that? Was Fox embarrassed by that? I think people are trying to figure out exactly what's behind this and we're digging for something and we're not sure if it's there.

STELTER: There's no doubt, people on the news side of Fox were embarrassed at times by Glenn Beck. You know, Glenn Beck would say things other hosts on television simply wouldn't.

In the summer of 2009, he called President Obama a racist. That caused an advertiser boycott, a lot of advertisers left his show. And after that point, people on the news side of Fox really refused even [to] go on the show or be associated with the show. [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 4/6/11]

Fox News Channel
Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck Program, Glenn Beck show
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