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New York Times Indicates Tension Between Beck And Fox

Reported by Ellen - September 30, 2010 -

I've previously reported about some strains in the relationship between Fox News and Glenn Beck. That becomes even more evident in a lengthy profile of Beck in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

Reporter Mark Leibovich writes:

(Beck's) cross-promotion can be a sore spot at Fox News, particularly for its president, Roger Ailes, who has complained about Beck’s hawking his non-Fox ventures too much on his Fox show. Ailes has communicated this to Beck himself and through intermediaries. It goes to a larger tension between Fox News and Beck in what has been a mutually beneficial relationship...

(M)ore than any other person at Fox News, Beck operates as a stand-alone entity. He is the only major personality at the network whose office is not at Fox News headquarters in the News Corp building (Mercury is a few blocks down Sixth Avenue). He employs his own publicist, Matthew Hiltzik, a communications consultant who is the son of Beck’s agent, George Hiltzik. Beck receives a $2.5 million salary from Fox News, which bumps to $2.7 million next year, the last of the contract. It is a small fraction of Beck’s revenues, the bulk of which he brings in from his radio and print deals.

... Ailes, who declined to comment for this article, has generally been supportive of Beck. But he has also been vocal around the network about how Beck does not fully appreciate the degree to which Fox News has made him the sensation he has become in recent months. In the days following Beck’s Lincoln Memorial rally, which by Beck’s estimate drew a half-million people, Ailes told associates that if Beck were still at Headline News, there would have been 30 people on the Mall. Fox News devoted less news coverage to the rally than CNN and MSNBC did, which Beck has pointed out himself on the air.

Off-the-record sniping shoots in both directions. You can view some of this as positioning for what could be a contentious contract negotiation. But the friction is evident in many areas. When I mentioned Beck’s name to several Fox reporters, personalities and staff members, it reliably elicited either a sigh or an eye roll. Several Fox News journalists have complained that Beck’s antics are embarrassing Fox, that his inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself as a legitimate news outlet. Fearful that Beck was becoming the perceived face of Fox News, some network insiders leaked their dissatisfaction in March to The Washington Post’s media critic, Howard Kurtz, a highly unusual breach at a place where complaints of internal strains rarely go public...

While Beck’s personal ventures and exposure have soared this year, his television ratings have declined sharply — perhaps another factor in the network’s impatience. His show now averages two million viewers, down from a high of 2.8 million in 2009, according to the Nielsen Ratings. And as of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck’s show (up from 26 in August 2009). Fox also has a difficult time selling ads on “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Fox and Friends” when Beck appears on those shows as a guest. Beck’s show is known in the TV sales world as “empty calories,” meaning he draws great ratings but is toxic for ad sales. If nothing else, I sensed that people around Fox News have grown weary after months of “It’s all about Glenn.”



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