There was nothing very surprising about the fact that Fox News decided to drop its sole liberal host, Bob Beckel. What was a real shocker was how the network maliciously unloaded on him in a public statement.
“We tried to work with Bob for months, but we couldn’t hold The Five hostage to one man’s personal issues,” Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming, said in a statement. “He took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him.”
I never expected Beckel to return to Fox. He was clearly unhappy with Fox’s messaging and he let it be known on the air. He also let it be known that the displeasure was at least somewhat mutual. Thirdly, he was not exactly a model of good comportment. Rather than demolish a conservative’s credibility, Beckel announced he wanted the “un-American punk” to “get in touch with me” and “bring a knife.” In a discussion about Chinese hackers, Beckel referred to them as “Chinamen.” And while discussing a video that recorded catcalls and street harassment as a woman walked around New York City, Beckel said, “She got a hundred catcalls. Let me add 101. Damn, baby, you’re a piece of woman. …She’s a good-looking babe. Wouldn’t you say something?”
Frankly, I’m surprised Fox didn’t get rid of Beckel sooner. I certainly won’t miss him. He certainly wasn’t much of an advocate for liberals, to put it mildly. But there’s no reason for Fox to have taken the low road here. Except that it’s what they do.
Jack Mirkinson, a former Huffington Post editor, wrote the following in Salon about Beckel’s firing:
Really, I don’t know why I would have expected anything less from the Fox News PR team, which operates like a particularly vindictive campaign war room rather than a standard media operation. Any journalist who has had even the faintest brush with the communications staff there comes away from the encounter fairly astounded at the vitriolic, heavy-handed tactics they employ. I should know; when I was editing the Huffington Post’s media section, I landed on the network’s notorious blacklist. Fox News cut off all contact with me completely. Spokespeople would email editors of other sections if they had corrections. They would call my deputies and if I picked up the phone, they would panic and hang up. It was crazy! (Though I definitely preferred being frozen out to having to deal with the constant, hyper-aggressive messages.) And my experience is nothing when you compare it to that of Matthew Flamm, a reporter whose crime was writing about the good ratings CNN was enjoying in 2013. As NPR’s David Folkenflik reported, Fox News actually planted a false story with Flamm and then released a statement to a rival outlet ridiculing him after he printed it.
He also indicated that his future is “in God’s hands”:
Memo to Bob: I think God would love to see a tell-all exposé.
Huffington Post notes that ratings are up 8% since Beckel left.
You can watch Dana Perino’s bare-bones announcement of Beckel’s departure from The Five, below, from the June 26 show.
Note: Beck had to draw first blood. Beckel’s fair game the second he’s out of the room.