GLENN BECK EYEING HIS OWN CABLE CHANNEL…. A couple of weeks ago, Fox News executives leaked word that they were prepared to live without Glenn Beck when his contract expired in December. His ratings are down; his antics make it hard to find advertisers; and his radicalism makes the rest of the network appear ridiculous.

But what would Beck do if he and the Republican cable network parted ways? The New York Times reports today that the deranged media personality has a few ideas.

Two of the options Mr. Beck has contemplated, according to people who have spoken about it with him, are a partial or wholesale takeover of a cable channel, or an expansion of his subscription video service on the Web. […]

Mr. Beck has been contemplating a cable channel of his own for more than a year, according to the people who have spoken with him about it… Presuming he leaves, Mr. Beck could follow a road paved by Oprah Winfrey when she started OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network in January. He could schedule his own talk show and the shows of others on one of the many cable channels seeking a ratings jolt. Or, following Martha Stewart’s road to the Hallmark Channel, he could start smaller, taking over a few hours of a channel’s schedule.

I realize Beck has a fan base, but if he seriously believes his reach could serve as the foundation for a cable channel, he’s even crazier than he seems. The guy can’t get advertisers now, and he’s on the most-watched cable news network in the country. How does Beck intend to find sponsors for an entire network?

It still seems possible, if not likely, that talk like this is about negotiating leverage. If Fox News and Beck are prepared to talk about a new contract, both want the other to think they’re prepared to walk away. So, Fox News sends out word it’s more than willing to let Beck go, and Beck leaks news that he may want a network of his own. This may be a bargaining strategy playing out on a large stage.

Or maybe it’s all legit. There’s ample evidence that Fox News is tiring of Beck, and the relationship between the ridiculous host and the network has been strained for a while. Time will tell.

But in the meantime, the notion of Beck having the power to anchor a cable channel is laughable. His audience is shrinking, his radio show is losing stations, his books aren’t selling well, and his live shows have fewer attendees. As career trajectories go, Beck appears to be well past his peak, and the clock seems to be inching ever closer to his 16th minute of fame.

He’d be lucky to have Fox News keep paying him millions to say ridiculous things for an hour a day.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.