For the past couple weeks, the big news surrounding Glenn Beck has been that the FOX News personality would be “fired” from the network at the end of this year. At least, that’s how anti-Beck commentators have been framing the situation. The truth seems to be that FOX has chosen not to renew Beck’s contract. It also seems– according to the press release that Beck’s camp passed around yesterday– that Beck initiated his “transition away” from his FOX show. But does it matter? Whatever the case may be, do you really think Glenn Beck is done spreading his particular brand of crazy across America’s airwaves? Not by a longshot. Read on, my gentle Examiner readers…
After losing dozens of sponsors over the past year, it was clear that something was going to happen with Glenn Beck’s FOX News series. The only question was, “What will it be?” Some thought that FOX would terminate Beck (and that still seems to be what some people think has happened here), while others thought that Beck might try and start his own network, a kind-of OWN for chronically-paranoid, Right-leaning, bloviating, chalkboard-loving, pseudo-racists (not to be confused with Nickelodeon). After all that speculation, though, the press release below arrived yesterday to set the record “straight”.
Here’s some of what it says:
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.
See, it’s not that Beck got “fired” or that FOX “decided not to renew his contract because he’s been hemorrhaging sponsors for the past year”: it’s that Beck will be “transitioning off” of his show. Kinda like how you “transitioned off” that job as a fry-cook at McDonald’s during your sophomore year in high school after dropping the manager’s keys into the fry-o-lator. Or kinda like that time when Charlie Sheen “transitioned off” of CBS’ Two and a Half Men. Y’know, that kind of a transition.
While everyone else seems all caught up in the wording of FOX’s press release and the statements that Beck has made regarding his departure, I’m wondering what difference it makes: this doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of Glenn Beck, and it certainly doesn’t mean that he’s not going to appear on FOX anymore. While you and I might totally agree that Beck is just the Right’s shrieking, paranoid, perma-sweaty answer to the Left’s Michael Moore (who’s equally embarrassing to those of us on the Left these days), and while we might also agree that no one with an IQ that crosses the double-digit mark is taking him seriously, this change in FOX’s programming doesn’t indicate that he’s being put out to pasture. In fact, it says right there in the press release that he’s going to “develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel”.
In other words, folks, it’s not time to celebrate just yet.
FOX’s decision is somewhat surprising. You would think that a single employee that’s able to drive off business as frequently as Beck did would be, y’know, held accountable for that revenue-loss. In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the business/advertisers that Glenn Beck managed to lose while hosting “the third highest-rated cable program” on televsion:
• Proctor & Gamble
• Men’s Wearhouse
• Sargento Cheese
• Best Buy
• Allergan (maker of Restasis)
• Ally Bank (a unit of GMAC Financial Services)
• Broadview Security
• Radio Shack
• SC Johnson
• State Farm Insurance
• Airware Inc. (makers of Brez anti-snoring aids)
• Cambell Soup Company
• Verizon Wireless
• Johnson & Johnson
• Blaine Labs Inc.
• The UPS Store
• Farmers Insurance Group
• Experian (creator of FreeCreditReport.com)
• The Elations Company
“Say what you will about President Obama,” Campbell’s Soup reportedly said, “but we do not tolerate the flagrant abuse of chalkboards for the purposes of entertainment” (note: Campbell’s Soup didn’t actually say this, but it would have been really funny if they had).
I can’t think of another employer that would reward an on-air talent capable of driving away this many sponsors, can you? The message that FOX seems to be sending– and not just now, but with every passing day that Glenn Beck is permitted to shriek and cry and connect-the-dots on his Chalkboard of Doom– is that on-air personalities who draw in viewers (like Bill O’Reilly) are valued…but on-air personalities whose shows are consistently able to lose business are really valued. So much so, in fact, that it’s landed Beck a development deal with the network going forward. That, my friends, is some good business sense. Maybe the thinking is, “If Beck can lose 30 some-odd sponsors with one show, he could lose hundreds with multiple shows!”
Maybe it’ll turn out that FOX News– the entire network– is really just an elaborate prank being played by former President, George W. Bush, who was notoriously fond of practical jokes. Perhaps he and Karl Rove cooked up the idea for FOX News over a few O’Douls, started it up, and then found themselves doubled-over with laughter when so many people– so many more people than they ever thought would buy this gag– swore by the network as their “trusted source” for “fair and balanced” reporting (in this scenario, I imagine that the whole “fair and balanced” debacle was the moment where they almost took the joke too far). Maybe they’re grown tired of their Truman Show-level prank and are actively attempting to lose as many sponsors as possible before throwing in the towel.
Or– and this is more likely, I agree– maybe FOX News really buys into that “no press is bad press” theory. Maybe having a third-place show with a limited number of sponsors is considered successful. I dunno. The point is, Beck’s reign of terror is far from over, and all the people I see celebrating his forthcoming “demise” should spend a minute thinking about what the more likely outcome here is: that Beck really has been let go, that FOX is just giving him an easy out, and that he’ll disappear once the end of the year rolls around…or that they mean what they say, and this is just the first step in getting more of Beck’s patently absurd ideas injected into a variety of shows. Neither of those options seem likely, of course, but that’s because we’re thinking logically.
And, as history has shown, logic has never been one of FOX’s strong suits.
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