Why did Fox News fire Glenn Beck?
Because, let's face it, a firing it was, despite the happy-talk press release announcing that Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, Beck's production company, will continue to "work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News' digital properties."
So why was he fired? Declining ratings? Concern that Beck would make Republicans look really bad heading into 2012? Recognition that he's a loose cannon and not exactly a team player? Embarrassment among the rank and file, if not throughout the entire organization?
Does it matter? Do we care?
Normally, I'd turn this over to R.K. Barry, our resident Beckologist, but from what I understand he seriously injured himself yesterday doing a series of backflips upon hearing the news. Initial reports that it was his groin seem to have been overblown. I suspect it's his back and that he's now on some serious meds.
Can you blame him? We won't have Glenn Beck to kick around anymore. Well, not really. He'll be around, but his days as an unavoidable right-wing media personality are probably over.
Then again, it's fun to kick Glenn Beck around, and, yes, he did make Fox News and everything else on the right look bad. And he's been great for business, the business of those of us who oppose him and everything he stands for.
And we won't have Jon Stewart doing Glenn Beck, which he's doing right now, as I type. Hilarious stuff. (Ah, Jon just said he's been good for business, too! I suppose a lot of us are saying that.)
I'm tempted to say that his firing/departure will be good for America, and for American political and cultural discourse, but of course he's only departing his daily show at Fox News. He'll still be on the radio, and he'll still have his legions of followers (even if most of them are old).
But I do think we ought to celebrate his firing. As Alexander Zaitchik, author of Common Nonsense, puts it (quoted by Weigel):
Moving forward, I see him turning into a sort of hybrid-figure, part Limbaugh, part Breitbart, part Pat Robertson, maybe a little Ben Stein on the documentaries front. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that his days as a heavy, constant presence in the mainstream conversation are over. Whatever media shape-shift he's about to perform post-Fox, he's a greatly diminished national presence for those who aren't "Insider Extreme" members at glennbeck.com. Which is a blessed, blessed thing.