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“Half of the headlines say he’s been canceled,” the Fox news chairman and CEO tells the Associated Press. “The other half say he quit. We’re pretty happy with both of them.”
Beck announced Wednesday his daily show was going off the air later this year. It has been facing declining ratings and an advertiser boycott — about which Ailes expressed frustration.
“Advertisers who get weak-kneed because some idiot on a blog site writes to them and says we need to stifle speech, I get a little frustrated by that,” he said, referring to James Rucker, executive director of ColorofChange.org. (Rucker told the AP: “Fox News Channel clearly understands that Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior is a liability to their ratings and their bottom line, and we are glad to see them take this action.”)
Ailes has mixed feelings about Beck, who named his possible replacement Wednesday.
“We felt Glenn brought additional information, a unique perspective, a certain amount of passion and insight to the channel and he did,” he said. “But that story of what’s going on and why America is in trouble today, I think he told that story as well as could be told. Whether you can just keep telling that story or not … we’re not so sure.”
Beck defended his ratings, which averaged 2.7 million viewers for the first quarter of 2010, and just under 2 million for the same period this year — although lower in the coveted younger demo.
“We have buried the competition in every sense,” he told the AP.
Added Ailes: “Call CNN and MSNBC and ask them if they’d like to have Glenn’s ratings at 5 in the afternoon.”
Ailes stressed that he’ll continue to work with Beck.
“We like each other,” he said. “We’re not drawing pictures of each other on the walls, having staff fights and stealing each other’s food out of the refrigerator or any of that stuff.”
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