Fox News drops Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck and his controversial pronouncements and conspiracy theories remain popular, but Fox News is cancelling his show.

Glenn Beck and Fox News Channel formally agreed to end Beck’s daily program Wednesday, bringing a marriage beset by outside pressures and internal tensions to an end after just 27 months.

Fox News Channel said it was dropping Glenn Beck’s afternoon talk show, which has sunk in the ratings and suffered financially due to an advertiser boycott. The conservative host and the news channel started by a conservative billionaire, Rupert Murdoch, as an avowed counterweight to the liberal news media agreed that they could not agree to continue. Beck will “transition” off Fox sometime this year, Fox and Beck’s production company, Mercury Radio Arts, said jointly.

Beck’s sometimes outrageous pronouncements — he infamously said that President Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people” — were good for drawing attention and viewers, but they made him radioactive among sponsors. They also put him out of step with Fox News’ overall ethic, which is heavy on pugnacious conservative commentary but eschews the sort of apocalyptic rhetoric Beck favors.

Beck’s program has remained a solid draw for Fox despite a gradual slide in the ratings from its mid-2009 peak. Airing at 5 p.m., a period when fewer people are watching TV than during evening prime-time hours, “Glenn Beck” still draws more than 2 million viewers, making it one of the top attractions on a cable news channel. Beck’s ratings sometimes approached those of Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor,” consistently the most popular program on cable news.

But Beck’s broadsides alienated a number of organizations that fought back by pressuring his advertisers and embarrassing his bosses. Color of Change, a group that advocates on behalf of African Americans, started an advertiser boycott in July 2009; its efforts were abetted by Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog organization that made Fox News in general, and Beck in particular, its raison d’etre.

Jewish groups also were angered by Beck’s habit of denouncing his political opponents by comparing them to Nazis. Their anger was further stoked by Beck’s three-part series on liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom Beck described as a Nazi collaborator during Soros’s boyhood in occupied Hungary.

After a coalition of Jewish rabbis called on Murdoch to sanction Beck in a full-page ad in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal in January, Beck further inflamed his Jewish critics by comparing Reform rabbis to “radicalized Islam” on his syndicated radio program a month later.

The outrage got to Murdoch and Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes, said Simon Greer, who heads the Jewish Funds for Justice, which organized the Wall Street Journal ad.

“I think Fox News and its leadership value their relationships with the American Jewish community, and Glenn Beck has consistently insulted and disrespected Jews to such an extent that it was bad for Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes’ worldview,” Greer said in an interview.

Leading conservatives have taken issue with Beck lately, too. Pat Buchanan and neoconservative columnist William Kristol, among others, criticized Beck’s comments about the Middle East after Beck asserted that the uprisings were part of an alliance between American liberals and Muslims seeking to create a caliphate that would spread radical Islamic ideology across the region.

“When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society,” Kristol wrote in the Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard in February. “He’s marginalizing himself.”

via Glenn Beck to end daily TV program on Fox News Channel – The Washington Post.

So is that responsible journalism on the part of Fox News or a craven capitulation to ideological pressure?  So is Fox not all that conservative after all, or is Beck no true conservative?

When you disagree with someone, try to destroy him

The liberal organization Media Matters used to just try to refute stories on Fox News.  But now it is changing tactics:

In an interview and a 2010 planning memo shared with POLITICO, Brock listed the fronts on which Media Matters — which he said is operating on a $10 million-plus annual budget — is working to chip away at Fox and its parent company, News Corp. They include its bread-and-butter distribution of embarrassing clips and attempts to rebut Fox points, as well as a series of under-the-radar tactics.

Media Matters, Brock said, is assembling opposition research files not only on Fox’s top executives but on a series of midlevel officials. It has hired an activist who has led a successful campaign to press advertisers to avoid Glenn Beck’s show. The group is assembling a legal team to help people who have clashed with Fox to file lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy or other causes. And it has hired two experienced reporters, Joe Strupp and Alexander Zaitchik, to dig into Fox’s operation to help assemble a book on the network, due out in 2012 from Vintage/Anchor. (In the interest of full disclosure, Media Matters last month also issued a report criticizing “Fox and Friends” co-host Steve Doocy’s criticism of this reporter’s blog.)

Brock said Media Matters also plans to run a broad campaign against Fox’s parent company, News Corp., an effort which most likely will involve opening a United Kingdom arm in London to attack the company’s interests there. The group hired an executive from MoveOn.org to work on developing campaigns among News Corp. shareholders and also is looking for ways to turn regulators in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere against the network.

The group will “focus on [News Corp. CEO Rupert] Murdoch and trying to disrupt his commercial interests — whether that be here or looking at what’s going on in London right now,” Brock said, referring to News Corp.’s — apparently successful — move to take a majority stake in the satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

via Media Matters’ war against Fox – Ben Smith – POLITICO.com.

Postmodernists, remember, do not generally believe in reason.  They think truth claims are nothing more than the imposition of power.  Thus their personal animosity against people who disagree with them, who, they think, are trying to oppress them.  Conversely, people who think this way tend to want to impose their power against the people they disagree with and to hurt them as much as they can.

Have you seen other examples of this kind of vindictiveness as a substitute for rational debate?  I’m not denying that both sides do it.   What would be the consequences for civil society and political liberty if everyone acted that way?

Not letting Google find your sites

Rupert Murdoch is considering yanking his many news operations–which include Fox News–from being accessed by Google:

Mr. Murdoch said that consumers shouldn’t have had free access to information online that they paid for in other formats.

“I think we’ve been asleep,” he said. “It costs us a lot of money to put together good newspapers and good content. They’re very happy to pay for it when they buy a newspaper, and I think when they read it elsewhere they’re going to have to pay. Not huge sums. You’d be surprised how much can be done, how cheaply, into the average home.”

Echoing accusations of “parasitism” and “kleptomania” that other News Corp. execs have levied against Google for featuring their content on Google sites, Mr. Murdoch said search companies “steal our stories.” News Corp. declined to comment.

Mr. Speers said that those sites argue that they’re helping news outlets, by sending them readers who click the search results. “Isn’t it a two-way street?” he asked.

“They don’t suddenly become loyal readers of our content,” Mr. Murdoch said. “We’d rather have fewer people coming to our Web site but paying.”

“The other argument from Google is that you could choose not to be on their search engine,” Mr. Speers said. “You could simply refuse to be on it, so that when someone does do a search, your Web sites don’t come up. Why haven’t you done that?”

“I think we will,” Mr. Murdoch said. “We do it already, with The Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it’s not right to the ceiling. You can get the first paragraph of any story, but if you’re not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com, you get a paragraph and a subscription form.” (Journal articles are currently indexed by search engines and are available for free through Google results. Visitors reach the pay wall only after clicking subsequent articles after the article discovered through search.)

Mr. Murdoch added that News Corp. believes that the fair-use doctrine, which allows for use of copyrighted materials in limited ways such as search results, “could be challenged in the courts and barred altogether.”

He thinks that the courts would do his bidding and eliminate the fair use doctrine? At any rate, does this make sense? Would you pay to access Fox News Online in a special trip to that site? Or would you just go with whatever comes up on Google?

Speaking truth to power

An exchange between CNN’s Campbell Brown and White House spokesperson Valerie Jarrett:

Brown: So do you think FOX News is biased?
Jarrett: Well, of course they're biased. Of course they are.
Brown: OK. Then do you also think that MSNBC is biased?
Jarrett: Well, you know what? This is the thing. I don't want to–actually, I don't want to just generalize all FOX is biased or that another station is biased. I think what we want to do is look at it on a case-by-case basis. And when we see a pattern of distortion, we're going to be honest about that pattern of distortion.
Brown: But you only see that at FOX News? That's all that–you have spoken out about FOX News.
Jarrett: That's actually not true. I think that what the administration has said very clearly is that we're going to speak truth to power.

Don’t the people in the White House know that THEY are the ones in power? That their crusade against their critics at Fox is trying to SILENCE people speaking truth to power?


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