The Fading Power of Beck’s Alarms

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Since last August, when he summoned more than 100,000 followers to the Washington mall for the “Restoring Honor” rally, Glenn 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 Beck. On the other side, people who work for Beck point out that he could live without Fox News. Unlike some other cable hosts, Beck has a huge multiplatform presence: he has sold around four million books, is near the top of talk-radio ratings, has a growing Web site called The Blaze, along with a stage performance that still packs houses. Forbes estimated that his company, Mercury Radio Arts, had more than $30 million in revenue. How could a breakup between Beck and Fox News — a bond that seemed made in pre-Apocalyptic heaven — come to pass? They were never great friends to start with: Mr. Beck came to Fox with a huge radio show and had been on CNN Headline News, so he did not owe his entire career to Fox and frequently went off-message. The sniping between Fox News executives and Beck’s team began soon after he went on the air in 2009. Many on the news side of Fox have wondered whether his chronic outrageousness — he suggested that the president has “a deep-seated hatred for white people” — have made it difficult for Fox to hang onto its credibility as a news network. Some 300 advertisers fled the show, leaving sponsorship to a slew of gold bullion marketers whose message dovetails nicely with Beck’s end-of-times gospel. Both parties go to some lengths to point out that that the discussion has nothing to do with persistent criticism from the left.


The Fading Power of Beck’s Alarms