Signs of a Breakup Grow As Fox News and Glenn Beck Feud Over NPR Video

Mar 13 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Today on Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace named James O’Keefe his power player of the week for his NPR sting video, but days earlier Glenn Beck’s The Blaze posted a lengthy expose revealing some of the misleading edits and doctored tape in O’Keefe’s video. Both Fox News and Beck publicly claim that there is no trouble in paradise, but their open disagreement over O’Keefe suggests otherwise.

Here is the video of Wallace praising O’Keefe via Media Matters:

Wallace heaped praise upon O’Keefe, “Whether you admire or condemn his tactics, there’s no debating that undercover activist James O’Keefe has taken on some big targets and come up with some stunning results. Once again, he’s our “Power Player of the Week.” Wallace also minimized O’Keefe’s criminal activity as problems, “O’Keefe has had problems. Last May, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for posing as a phone repairman to get into Senator Mary Landrieu’s office. But now he has a new scalp. The head of NPR was forced out in the latest scandal, and Congress may oblige what that executive said was his secret hope.”

Chris Wallace closed by hyping O’Keefe’s next doctored video, “O’Keefe has also engineered an undercover sting of a public television executive, and his group says it will release that tape this week.” Fox News which has been calling for their mortal enemy NPR’s defunding for years was happy to overlook the fact that the video was heavily edited. There’s nothing new about that, but the intrigue entered the story when Glenn Beck’s The Blaze decided not to toe the right wing media line.

The Blaze
used the raw video of the interview to expose 5 O’Keefe edits that made the tape misleading and untrue including Schiller’s racist Tea Party remark, the claim that liberals are more educated than conservatives, Schiller’s description of Republicans, his amusement over the Sharia mission, and the Muslim Brotherhood comments. Given Beck’s stormy history with Fox News and the fact that he isn’t viewed as much of team player, this isn’t shocking.

However, this break with the Fox News talking point on O’Keefe comes on the heels of a New York Times report that the network is thinking about dumping Beck once his current contract expires. There was this little nugget in the New York Times story that may shed some insight into the ongoing thought process in the Glenn Beck camp, “On the other side, people who work for Mr. Beck point out that he could live without Fox News. Unlike some other cable hosts, Mr. Beck has a huge multiplatform presence: he has sold around four million books, is near the top of talk-radio ratings, has a growing Web site called The Blaze, along with a stage performance that still packs houses. Forbes estimated that his company, Mercury Radio Arts, had more than $30 million in revenue.”

Glenn Beck thinks he can live without Fox News, so the O’Keefe piece could be viewed as a way for Beck to further his own independent brand outside of FNC. The incentive for the network to cut Beck loose is that his ratings are way down, and due to all the controversy that he generates they still can’t sell the ad space on his show for premium rates to big advertisers. Both sides might be thinking that they would be better off without each other.

The network could probably replace Beck with Andrew Napolitano and at least maintain Beck’s current ratings with the additional bonus of taking Beck’s big contract off the books, and being able to generate more ad revenue. For Beck, the upside would be total freedom. He would still have his radio show, books, and appearances, and he would be free to go off in any direction that he may choose.

Glenn Beck has never been a mainstream Republican. In fact, he seems to spend much of his time discussing plots overthrow the establishment GOP. These activities put him at odds with Fox News, which sees itself as the mouthpiece for Republican policies and talking points. As Beck has taken his program further to the right, he has slipped out of the FNC orbit. Glenn Beck is functioning in his own little universe at 5 PM on Fox News, and it is not inconceivable that one or both parties might be seeking a better fit.

Beck and Fox News have always had an uncomfortable marriage, and the O’Keefe/NPR piece on The Blaze could be the first sign that a once unthinkable breakup is in the cards.

10 responses so far