Ethics Hero: Fox

Now if you want to see a mad prophet on TV, you'll have to watch "Network." Thank you Rupert, Roger, Fox!

The Fox network, in ending its relationship with Glenn Beck after the expiration of his current contract as it announced yesterday, placed principle over profit. In today’s culture particularly, that is always a welcome development, an ethical one, and deserving of praise.

I can comfortably assign Fox Ethics Hero status and discount the braying from partisan Beck-haters like Media Matters, the shamelessly one-sided “media watchdog” that has declared “war” on Fox because it dares to deliver news from a generally conservative perspective. Beck was not brought down by their attacks, or by the boycotts against him by various interest groups. His show was still one of the most watched current events programs on cable, and Fox was still making money on it. The demise of Glenn Beck’s Fox show was not an example of successful suppression of conservative opinion by the Left.

Beck brought himself down by preaching a brand of cultural poison that is perilous to a democracy at a time when American society is especially vulnerable to it: suspicion and distrust. As I have written here on many occasions, America’s ideals rely on trust—trust in our institutions, trust in our elected officials, trust in law enforcement and the justice system, trust in the good will of our fellow citizens. It is a kind of trust that  often requires its own leap of faith, particularly in times of crisis. For some very good reasons, including the abject betrayal of trust by leaders, important individuals and organizations in every corner of American society, public trust is at a dangerously low level, the lowest in our history. On this smoldering kindling Beck tossed kerosene daily, using his blackboard to draw imaginary dotted lines portraying various conspiracies, risking and even promoting a national conflagration of hate and fear. Beck shared levels of extremism and polarizing rhetoric with many of his less popular competitors like MSNBC’s Dylan Rattigan and Ed Schultz, but his narcissism and recklessness with the truth are even beyond their reach.

Increasingly, his rants began to bring to mind Paddy Chayefski’s “Mad Prophet of the Airwaves”, Howard Beale, in the writer’s disturbingly prescient screenplay for the 1976 film “Network.” The fictional network in the film refused to yank Beale and his rantings from the air because of his ratings, and I confess, when the New York Times reported some weeks ago that sources at Fox were whispering that Beck was on his way out, I didn’t believe it. Beck was irresponsible, and no responsible network would tolerate him, but I had begun to wonder if there were any such creatures as responsible networks. CNN promotes the judgment of Eliot Spitzer, a disgraced governor and disbarred lawyer; NBC buries bad news about its parent corporation; ABC uses hidden camera stunts to make biased political points on its newscasts; CBS was prominent in the despicable effort to link Sarah Palin and the Tea Party to the Tuscon shootings…and then there is MSNBC. Still, Fox would not have been my lead candidate to take a principled stand.

Yet it did. Hurrah. We have not seen the last of Beck, who is not without talent, and is still capable of surprises. He launched a “Daily Beast”-like website, “The Blaze,” which has shocked everyone by approaching even-handedness, except on matters directly related to its founder. Beck is something of a tragic figure, possessed of a lively mind deprived of the discipline conferred by a balanced education. Beck fills the gaps in his knowledge with passion and speculation, causing him to embrace, and manufacture, half-truths, quarter-truths and untruths, and to use them to make his audience believe that there is no one and nothing to trust except Glenn Beck and God.

However the decision came about, Fox did the right thing, and even its greatest detractors should give the network credit for it.


7 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Fox

  1. It was my understanding that they are discontinuing the Glenn Beck Program and that GB will still have a role with Fox in producing new programs and original content.

    If you had asked me, I would have said he’s giving up the daily grind in order to EXPAND his influence.

    • I second this. While some left leaning and sanity leaning organizations are feeling triumphant, this is a net loss. Fox is not an ethics hero for rewarding Beck with a contract extension.

  2. While it’s possible that you’re right, I’m not ready to jump to that conclusion. We’re talking about not extending a contract here, not firing him (which would be the truly ethical thing to do). We have no way of knowing what his salary or other demands were, so Fox very well may have been (and I suspect was) making a purely business decision, based on Beck’s ego and his falling (still good, but falling) ratings and an apparent feeling among the real journalists at Fox that his rants damaged the brand–that their own professional credibility was being damaged by association.

    For the record, I’m as shocked as anyone that The Blaze is as useful and indeed credible as it is: proof, to me, that Beck doesn’t really even believe the drivel he spouts nightly. He just got caught in his Lonesome Rhodes persona.

    • Regarding “The Blaze,” I think it just proves Beck hired reputable people to run it, and perhaps that it wants to build credibility that it can then exploit. He’s no dummy.

      I doubt Fox could fire him without a particular incident or cause. That is always expensive and bad PR. With 3 million viewer at a dead time period, Fox makes a lot of money on Beck still. It’s a business decision in the sense that he was undermining the Fox brand, which stands for American exceptionalism and prosperity, not “We’re DOOMED!!!! ARGHHHHHH!”

  3. I watch Fox, especially since the cable choices for news are so limited. I watched part of a Glenn Beck show once and was astonished (astonished!) at his ravings, and at how completely over the top he was in the views he expressed.

    I’m proud of Fox, too, especially as their marketing catch-phrase is “fair and balanced.” Glenn Beck was so far off that mark it was always amazing to me that Fox aired his show at all. Whether they let his contract expire (and believe me, that’s being “let go”), or just outright fired him, the result is the same. They got rid of a cancer on their network programming.


  4. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes run the Fox and Sky networks that push the Globalist agenda, pure and simple. Just like MSNBC pushes the opposite side of the same coin – more money for war and dangerous nuclear “clean coal” “the people of the natural gas industry” ad nauseum. David Gregory on Meet the Press this weekend was an absolute joke. The Media in general is run by an elite few that use Edward Bernays-ian propaganda techniques to distract, mislead and even hypnotize the ‘Merican people.

    I agree with Tim & tgt – they probably have bigger and better plans with their Chief Rodeo Clown. 95%+ of what the majority of the American people want is purposely ignored by the completely elite/CFR/Trilateral/Bilderberg/NWO media.

  5. In ancient times, the children of Israel and Judah laughed at prophets like Jeremiah, too, and look what eventually happened to their nation. Now, I’m not going to equate Beck with one of God’s prophets, nor do I always agree with him, but I fear he is correct far more of the time than the mockers desparately want him not to be. I think that even Beck is not aware of how uncannily his observations and conclusions jive with Biblical prophecy, which tells us that economic, social, and political conditions in the world will eventually decay until the point where people will throw themselves at the feet of a global dictator for the sake of peace and security. I only need to point to the most recent presidential election, in which so many literally worshipped then-candidate Obama as the messiah come to save us from all that was wrong with the world.

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