THEY SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED BY THEIR EMPLOYER, NOT JUST THEIR COLLEAGUE…. Mark Leibovich has a lengthy profile on Glenn Beck in the New York Times Sunday magazine today, and one of the more noteworthy angles comes towards the end when we learn that Fox News doesn’t exactly love the deranged activist/host.
We learn, for example, that Roger Ailes has been “vocal around the network about how Beck does not fully appreciate the degree to which Fox News has made him the sensation he has become.” The network also isn’t thrilled that Beck’s rating have “declined sharply” over the last year — he’s lost more than a fourth of his audience since the highs of 2009 — and that Beck has become an advertising problem. Last year, 26 advertisers asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck’s program; this year, the number is 296 advertisers. It’s so bad that the network has “a difficult time selling ads on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ and ‘Fox and Friends’ when Beck appears on those shows as a guest.”
But then there’s the reaction Leibovich noticed when asking Beck’s colleagues about Beck.
When I mentioned Beck’s name to several Fox reporters, personalities and staff members, it reliably elicited either a sigh or an eye roll. Several Fox News journalists have complained that Beck’s antics are embarrassing Fox, that his inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself as a legitimate news outlet. Fearful that Beck was becoming the perceived face of Fox News, some network insiders leaked their dissatisfaction in March to The Washington Post’s media critic, Howard Kurtz, a highly unusual breach at a place where complaints of internal strains rarely go public.
On the one hand, it may seem vaguely encouraging that even Fox News is embarrassed by Beck’s hysterics.
But look at that paragraph again and notice that it includes phrases like “Fox News journalists” and the difficulties created by Beck for a network that wants to “present itself as a legitimate news outlet.”
Look, Beck is a national embarrassment. There’s just no getting around that. But Fox News doesn’t get to play this silly game about legitimacy — if Glenn Beck were to leave the network tomorrow and communicate to his minions exclusively through ham radio, Fox News would still be a pathetic excuse for a news organization, making a mockery of American journalism and offering a case study of everything that’s wrong with the discourse of the United States in the 21st century.
Fox News is humiliated by Glenn Beck? Please. If there are people working at Fox News concerned about their professional reputations, hoping to be taken seriously as legitimate journalists, it’s time they realized the afternoon loon is the least of their troubles. The sighs and/or eye-rolling should apply just as easily to Hannity, Kelly, O’Reilly, Varney, the cast of “Fox & Friends,” etc.
Those folks who want to be considered credible should be embarrassed by their employer, not just their colleague.