Does Beck plan to continue throwing his moderated brand of conservatism into his own media company, TheBlaze Inc., or could he be angling for a return to cable news? We'll see what happens after Election Day. For now, we're reposting our original story about Beck from earlier this year.
There was a time when Glenn Beck was arguably the biggest conservative lightning rod in the country.
You remember. It was 2009, and Beck had just joined Fox News Channel. His 5 p.m. show was an instant ratings sensation — third highest in all of cable news in just its second month on the air — and he was making headlines with over-the-top statements, such as his memorable assertion that President Obama is “a racist” who “has a deep-seated hatred for white people.”
That one, you might recall, prompted companies like Geico, Progressive insurance, Berkshire Hathaway and Procter & Gamble to pull advertising from Beck’s program. Yet his popularity only grew. At one point in the fall of 2009, Beck had three (three!) books on the New York Times bestseller list, including a children’s picture book.
So why isn’t Beck’s recent endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz a bigger deal? It’s true that he doesn’t have his own Fox show anymore, but he’s still far more visible than a certain former Alaska governor, who was dropped by the network in June and yet still dominated the news when she reemerged last week to throw her support behind Donald Trump.
Could it be, as one reader suggested after I mentioned Beck in a story last month, that conservatives just don’t care what he says anymore?
I think that’s overstating things. Parting ways with Fox News in 2011 certainly deprived Beck of a large platform, but he remains a regular guest on the network. The audience for his syndicated radio show is still among the largest in the talk format, and his media company, TheBlaze Inc., continues to add distributors for its television programming. It signed a deal with Verizon last month.
I think the problem (if you want to call it that) is actually that Beck, once considered the most provocative conservative voice in America — or right up there — has recast himself as a voice of reason in this wacky Republican primary season. And that’s no way to be heard in 2016!
Over the years, there have been endless fractures in the façade of individual freedom, but three policies provided the fuel that lit the tea-party fire: the stimulus, the auto bailouts, and the bank bailouts. Barack Obama supported all three. So did Donald Trump. …
When conservatives desperately needed allies in the fight against big government, Donald Trump didn’t stand on the sidelines. He consistently advocated that your money be spent, that your government grow, and that your Constitution be ignored.
Beck’s anti-Trump essay was no surprise, nor was his endorsement of Cruz. He’s been knocking Trump’s candidacy for months.
What’s more, Beck has become less strident in general. Here’s how the conservative Breitbart website described the trend last March:
[In 2014], Beck tried and failed to strike a deal with CNN. During that time, he attempted to moderate his image for television executives. He apologized for his inflammatory comments about Obama. As Breitbart News noted, Beck started positioning himself toward the political center, bashing Americans who were against illegal immigration during last summer’s border crisis. Trying to distance himself from politics, he also proclaimed on CNN that he would rather be Walt Disney than Edward R. Murrow or Rush Limbaugh.
In short, Beck is no longer one of the loudest, angriest conservatives in the game. And today's Republican Party and media environment don't seem to reward that approach.
Some might call that a welcome change, but this isn’t the formula that made him a star in the first place.