Beck bad for business?

BECK BAD FOR BUSINESS?…. The provocative thought of the day comes by way of Ben Cohen, who argues that News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, who ostensibly cares more about money than ideology, will feel compelled to fire Glenn Beck from Fox News.

While Glenn Beck is not the lone voice of dissent within Fox News (O’Reilly, Hannity and Malkin are similarly offensive), he does epitomize what is wrong with the network, and just how out of sync it is with the mainstream. His continued assault on the President which consists of a remarkable slew of accusations and innuendo (Obama is a socialist/communist/Nazi/racist), does not reflect well on the network, regardless of how right wing it is. […]

Advertisers pulling their brands from Beck’s show is a signal that there are boundaries that cannot be crossed. It is a warning to Fox that their bottom line will be affected if it continues to promote such hateful speech, and that a growing cross section of the public are turning their backs on the Fox brand.

And the bottom line for Murdoch is that he cannot tolerate it for long.

I’d love to believe this. Indeed, I want to find it persuasive. But I don’t.

The notion that Murdoch is unconcerned with political ideology is itself suspect, but even if we concede the point for the sake of discussion, Cohen’s argument still doesn’t quite work.

For example, Beck has, in fact, lost more than a few advertisers as his madness has taken a turn towards racism, but let’s not overlook the details. While a wide variety of advertisers have yanked their sponsorship of Beck, these same advertisers are still writing checks to News Corp. Ads that were running on Beck’s program are now just airing on other Fox News programming. Beck’s mental instability hasn’t affected Murdoch’s bottom line at all.

For that matter, have you seen the cable news ratings from the third quarter? Not only is Fox News dominating, but Beck’s ratings are up 89 percent over the previous year — and the previous year was in the midst of an exciting and historic presidential election.

As Steve M. put it, “With ratings like that, Rupe can afford to lose a few sponsors.

To be sure, Beck is a national embarrassment. That this lunatic is paid handsomely to pop off for a large national audience every weekday brings shame to our discourse. But if Murdoch’s sole driving motivation is a successful business, why on earth would he fire the television personality whose ratings are soaring?

Cohen’s criticism of Beck and his employer are well grounded. Fox News is “out of sync … with the mainstream.” Beck doesn’t “reflect well on the network.” And if the recent madness on Fox News starts driving away viewers and advertisers, it’s safe to assume Rupert Murdoch would reevaluate the lineup.

But there’s no reason to think that day is anywhere close, as much as I’d like to think otherwise.