Topic category: Other/General
Roger Ailes to "Fox Family": DON'T Be "Fair and Balanced" About My Glenn Beck
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post and CNN prompted Fox News' honcho Roger Ailes to tell the Fox News family not to criticize Glenn Beck, at least not "outside the family."
"Fair and balanced has limits. Like Caesar's wife, the sometimes unfair and unbalanced Beck is above reproach.
In "A Network Divided: The Glenn Beck Factor," dated March 15, 2010, Kurtz presented a "fair and balanced" analysis of Beck's brief time as a Fox News host. Kurtz concluded: "Glenn Beck is a media phenomenon married to a phenomenally successful network, but away from the cameras, theirs is a troubled relationship."
Ailes was not pleased.
"Fox News chief Roger Ailes visited the [Fox] Washington bureau Wednesday and issued a stern message to its employees: do not trash-talk your Fox News colleagues.
"TVNewser reports that Ailes delivered the message in light of Monday's Washington Post article, in which Howard Kurtz cited anonymous Fox News staffers in claiming that the network is 'divided' over Beck, with 'many journalists...worried about the prospect that Beck is becoming the face of the network.' Staffers also claimed that Beck rehearses trademark crying segments, tears and all.
"Kurtz pointed out in his article that Ailes is firmly in Beck's corner, a sentiment Ailes doubled-down on Wednesday afternoon.
"'For the first time in our 14 years we've had people apparently shooting in the tent, from within the tent,' TVNewser quotes Ailes as saying to the Washington bureau. 'Glenn Beck does his show and that's his opinion. It's not the opinion of FOX News and he has a right to say it. We prefer people in the tent not dumping on other people in the tent.'
"According to TVNewser, Ailes — a former Republican operative and the architect of what has become the dominant player in cable news — added, 'I was brought up to defend the family. If I couldn't defend the family I'd leave. I'd go to another family.'"
Kurtz had written:
"In just over a year,Glenn Beck's blinding burst of stardom has often seemed to overshadow the rest of Fox News.
"And that may not be a good thing for the top-rated cable news channel, as many of its staffers are acutely aware.
"With his celebrity fueled by a Time cover story, best-selling books, cheerleading role at protest rallies and steady stream of divisive remarks, Beck is drawing big ratings. But there is a deep split within Fox between those -- led by Chairman Roger Ailes -- who are supportive, and many journalists who are worried about the prospect that Beck is becoming the face of the network."
That's a problem. Having comedians John Stewart or Stephen Colbert as the face of Comedy Central is fine, because it's a comedy network, but having a clown like Beck as the face of Fox News is problematic and concerned people inside or well-connected to Fox say so (privately).
Kurtz: "Love him or hate him, Beck is a talented, often funny broadcaster, a recovering alcoholic with an unabashedly emotional style.... Some staffers say they have watched rehearsals, on internal monitors, in which Beck has teared up or paused at the same moments as he later did during the show. Asked about this, Balfe responded sharply: 'Glenn reacts the same way to issues whether he knows people are watching or not, and is proud to show his emotions, unlike the cowardly, two-faced critics who hide behind anonymity.'"
Note that Balfe did not claim that the staffers were making it up...and did not explain how he knows how Neck reacts when he thinks people are not watching.
Telling the truth can be divisive, so I don't have a problem with divisive remarks per se. The chaff should be separated from the wheat. The rotten apples should not be permitted to spoil the barrel of apples.
Kurtz continued: "By calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a 'cancer,' Beck has achieved a lightning-rod status.... And that, in turn, has complicated [Fox]'s efforts to neutralize White House criticism that Fox is not really a news organization. Beck has become a constant topic of conversation among Fox journalists, some of whom say they believe he uses distorted or inflammatory rhetoric and that undermines their credibility."
Recall that it was Fox's Bill O'Reilly whose questioning prompted Beck to call Obama a racist. That allowed O'Reilly to ingratiate himself with Team Obama by disagreeing and left the task of exposing Obama and his team to bold, brash, buffoonish Beck. That also was hardly the most fruitful line of attack to use against Obama, but some apparently thought otherwise.
As for progressivism being a "cancer," Beck's right about that. But Fox having its clown prince leading the charge against progressivism and promoting liberal-turned-conservative secularist Andrew Breitbart's noxious notion that conservatives should follow Saul Alinksy's ends-justify-means Rules for Radicals too has not exposed Obama's radicalism effectively.
Kurtz implied that Beck is essentially doing what Roger Ailes wants him to do...and that seems to be true.
"...Chris Balfe, president of Beck's company, Mercury Radio Arts, says that 'Glenn and Roger have a fantastic relationship. That's the reason he went to Fox, because of Roger.' He adds: 'Roger definitely gives Glenn advice on a lot of different things he thinks Glenn could be doing better or differently.'
"...Bill Shine, [Fox] senior vice president....says that last fall a vice president was assigned 'to help keep an eye on [Beck's] program' and review its content in advance -- a full-time job. 'We see Glenn as an investment and we wanted to help him out even more,' Shine says."
Kurtz focused on tensions inside Fox that resulted from having Beck be Ailes' Beck on Fox.
"Television analyst Andrew Tyndall calls Beck an 'activist' and 'comedian' whose incendiary style has created 'a real crossroads for Fox News.'
"'They're right on the cusp of losing their image as a news organization,' he declares. 'Do they want to be the go-to place for conservative populist ideas on television, or do they want to be a news organization? Ailes has done a good job of doing both.'
"The internal tensions are fueled by two views of Beck's success. He is either a self-promoting independent operator, as some at Fox believe, or a team player who regularly talks up his new colleagues, as the Beck camp sees it. Some journalists and other staffers who are upset about Beck's language declined to be identified criticizing a fellow employee."
Neither view is correct. Beck is a self-promoting operator, but he's playing a role that Ailes wants him to play and he is eager to play. His deferential relationship with O'Reilly and recent dust up with Fox contributor Michelle Malkin over his decision to interview former Congressman Eric Massa on his television show (guess who was right) show that he treats colleagues more important than himself at Fox carefully and others crudely. Kurtz: "Beck has caused such anguish at Fox that some of its journalists celebrated the failure of last week's interview with embattled ex-congressman Eric Massa, which Beck pronounced a waste of time."
Kurtz also noted that Beck's rating top Sean Hannity's ratings. Considering that Hannity has the 9 PM hour and Beck the 5 PM hour, that is a stunning accomplishment for Beck.
Kurtz: "One thing is beyond debate: Beck provides a strong lead-in for the network's evening lineup. 'The significance of Beck to Fox's bottom line cannot be underestimated,' says Tyndall, the industry analyst. 'Getting an audience that size at 5 p.m. is absolutely unheard of.'"
What is good for Fox's bottom line is a problem for Republicans and conservatives, because Beck is not a fan of the two-party system and it was Beck, not Hannity, who keynoted CPAC 2010 and it has been Beck, not Hannity, who has focused on ACORN.
"[Beck] has also stirred controversy within conservative ranks. In a speech last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Beck took pains to criticize the Republican Party as 'addicted to spending and big government.' That puts him on very different turf from Hannity, who champions the party and is headlining a fundraiser this month.
"Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, two radio hosts friendly with Hannity, criticized Beck's CPAC remarks. Levin told Beck to 'stop dividing us' and 'stop acting like a clown.' Limbaugh questioned why 'the only people who can stop Obama should be excoriated for being just as bad.'"
It's worse than that, Rush. Those people CAN'T stop Obama, because O'Reilly is afraid to question Obama on personal integrity as well as policy and Beck's buffoonishness does not expand the anti-Obama base. Levin is right: Beck is a clown who divides the Obama opposition while promoting himself. Kurtz: "The executive suite was also rankled last week when Beck spent two minutes of airtime to promote his one-man show at Broadway's Nokia Theater on Tuesday.
Michael J. Gaynor
Biography - Michael J. Gaynor
Gaynor's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.