Wednesday, March 23, 2011


A lot of people think Fox News will dump Glenn Beck when his contract runs out in December, especially after reading David Carr's article "The Fading Power of Beck's Alarms" in The New York Times a couple of weeks ago.

You know when I'll believe Beck's going to be dumped? When I see Fox trotting out possible replacement shows for Beck's hour. In retrospect, it's clear that that's how MSNBC signaled that it could live without Keith Olbermann: by shining a spotlight on the likes of Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz. Has Fox done anything of the sort? Not so far. We haven't seen any evidence that Roger Ailes is working up a Megyn Kelly Mean Girl Hour as a potential time-slot filler, or maybe The Grandpa Mike Huckabee Soft-Spoken-Explanations-of-the-Coming-Apocalypse Show. When we hear about those, then I'll believe Beck is history on Fox.

I assume that the Carr article stung, and Beck's posse told him that he, too, had to fight the contract-renegotiation battle in the media, so now we have this Times article about how Beck could just quit and start his own channel:

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 dunno, Glenn -- I'm in Manhattan, paying 80-plus bucks a month for cable, and Time Warner doesn't even include Oprah's channel in the lineup at that price point. Oprah! If she can't get her channel on the air wherever she wants it, you're going to have a tough row to hoe.

Maybe Fox and Beck are really going to part ways, but I won't be surprised if they come to terms. It seems to me that Roger Ailes, whose every waking thought is about how he can infuriate liberals, might just keep Beck on because we keep saying he'll dump Beck. More to the point, Beck is still capable of pulling in two million viewers in a non-prime-time slot, and even though he doesn't do it consistently anymore, who else can even come close?

Finally, think about Ailes. He's the Karl Rove of news broadcasting. What I mean is that Rove, instead of moving George W. Bush to the center in his 2004 reelection bid, decided that all he needed was 50% plus one vote, and the way to get that was to fire up the base and go for big turnout from that base.

That's Ailes's media strategy. He may dump Beck, but he's sure as hell not going to dump him because he's too extreme. To Ailes, it's good that Beck is too extreme. That fires up the base. It builds loyalty to Fox, and loyalty to the cause of liberal-hate and Democrat-hate.

Which is just what Ailes will want going into 2012 -- an election year, remember?

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