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Could Glenn Beck‘s days at Fox News be numbered?
Last August, he attracted more than 100,000 followers to Washington, D.C. for his “Restoring Honor” rally, which spawned parody rallies by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But since then, Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox, the New York Times notes.
With about two million nightly viewers, his ratings still outpace all his competition combined. But Fox News execs tell the Times they have considered not renewing his contract when it ends this December because his nightly doomsday message is too depressing.
Joel Cheatwood, the senior vice president of development for Fox News, downplays that viewers are growing tired of watching Beck given his ratings, but admits keeping the show upbeat is a major priority.
“We have talked about that, at his instigation,” Cheatwood told the Times. “It is really important that no matter how dire he thinks things are or what horrible direction things may be going from his perspective that the show maintains a sense of hope.”
“What you see on television with Glenn is the real guy,” he added, “and that is a double-edged sword. If he is upset about something, you see it.”
“He used to be a lot funnier,” David Von Drehle, who wrote an article about Beck in Time magazine, told the Times. “He was the befuddled everyman and something entirely new, but the longer people have listened to his ranting and raving, the wearier they become. Now you are just getting down to diehards. I mean, how many people were in the Waco compound at the end? A couple of hundred?”
To show his loyalty, Beck has recently been praising the network on air.
“Two years ago, I was on a cable channel that no one was watching at the time [CNN Headline News], doing a show that no one was watching, and I was about to leave television. And then I had the opportunity to come and work here,” he said last Wednesday. “If you’re going to do news or commentary, the only place, I think in the world, the only place that really makes an impact is Fox.”
Unnamed Fox execs tell the Times his outrageous style (such as suggesting President Barack Obama has a “a deep-seated hatred for white people) challenges the credibility of the news network — and that 300 advertisers have left his show, leaving mostly Gold Bullion marketers with doomsday undertones, which supports Beck’s message. (The Times says both Beck and Fox deny criticism from the left has anything to do with the rumbling that he may leave the network.)
But as some close to Beck point out, he could live without Fox News. He’s sold about 4 million books, he’s near the top of talk-radio ratings, he presides over a growing Web site, The Blaze and his stage performances still sell out. Forbes estimated his company, Mercury Radio Arts earned $35 million in revenue.
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