THE END OF BECK? MY GUESS IS STILL NO
David Carr's New Yotk Times story on Glenn Beck says Beck's ratings drop may lead Fox not to renew his contract, which expires in December:
He still has [ratings] 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 Mr. Beck.
Yes, this is the kind of thing that would be said if Fox had serious plans to dump the guy -- but it's also the kind of thing that might be said if contract renewal talks were beginning and Fox wanted to keep Beck's demands down. Or it could just be a warning to the guy that he'd better get his ratings back up.
It's also the kind of thing that might be said if Fox leaks like a sieve and there's serious disagreement within Fox about Beck's value -- which could be meaningless because the ultimate decision-maker or -makers might be in the pro-Beck contingent. The place may include a number of people who think keeping Beck on is foolish and embarrassing, but maybe they don't get to decide. Maybe Beck has a protector, a rabbi, in Fox, and he's not going anywhere.
(I do think Fox and News Corp are fairly leaky. For instance, we read a lot of stories containing negatiove comments about Fox attributed Murdoch or family members. And what happens? Nothing. Nothing changes. I read a lot about the struggles of various young Murdochs to position themselves as heirs apparent -- there's James Murdoch being depicted as a feather-ruffler in 2011! And in 2003! And somehow the company just grinds on and on and on.)
So maybe they'll let Beck's contract lapse and let, say, Megyn Kelly do a Blond Bombshell Gets Angry traditional Fox-style show at 5:00, with rage but only the milder conspiracy theories, the ones Hannity and Greta and BillO also endorse. (That's the direction I'd go in -- I think she's the closest they've got to a rising star, because she does the you-want-a-piece-of-me? thing O'Reilly perfected decades ago while being, y'know, a young blond female. That or maybe an Huckabee increasingly angry Huckabee as culture warrior.)
But I wouldn't assume this is the end of Beck. The leak is just a leak, from a company that seems to regard leaks as evidence of the kind of "animal spirits" that make it successful. And no matter what happens, Fox will still be a menace.