What’s going on with Glenn Beck? Or is this the elite’s propaganda trying to get rid of Beck?
Glenn Beck’s Decline: What Caused It?
Six months ago, Glenn Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally on the
National Mall, drawing a crowd of about 100,000. Newspapers and
magazines featured the rally on front pages around the country. The next
month, The New York Times Magazine devoted a cover story to him. “In record time,” the piece observed, “Beck has traveled the loop of curiosity to ratings bonanza to self-parody to sage.”
Just six months later, however, Beck seems to have traveled somewhere
else entirely. His ratings and reputation are in steep decline: His
show has lost more than one million viewers over the course of the past
year, falling from an average of 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8
million in January 2011. He now ranks fifth among Fox’s six weekday talk
hosts, trailing lesser-known personalities like Shepard Smith and Bret
Baier. Beck’s three-hour radio show has been dropped in several major
cities, including New York and Philadelphia, and has seen a ratings
decline in most other markets.
Beck’s commercial viability also seems to have suffered. His viewership
among 25- to 54-year-olds, a prized advertising demographic, declined by
almost one-half in 2010. An advertising boycott organized by liberal
groups has caused over 300 companies—including Procter & Gamble,
UPS, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart—to stop showing commercials during Beck’s
show. The Beck brand isn’t what it used to be off the airwaves either:
His most recent non-fiction book, Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure, was his first book in eight years not to reach number one on The New York Times best-seller list.
Recently, however, conservatives have been criticizing Beck openly.
Bill O’Reilly, who feted him for an hour after the Restoring Honor
rally, has rapidly become more and more dismissive. The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has criticized Beck’s “rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East.” Conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin called Beck a “ranting extremist,” and former Bush administration staffer Pete Wehner wrote for Commentary’s website, “If conservatism were ever to hitch its wagon to this self-described rodeo clown, it would collapse as a movement.”
What happened? Beck built a following by making outlandish,
conspiratorial claims—about ACORN, Obama, and so on. (Bizarrely, his
extremism may have augmented the number of curious liberal viewers
tuning in: A Pew Research Center poll from last September found that 9
percent of Beck’s Fox viewers identified as Democrats, and 21 percent as
moderates or liberals.) But “anytime you have extreme stimulus,” says
Alexander Zaitchik, author of the unauthorized Beck biography Common Nonsense, “you’ll have diminishing returns.”
To be fair, Beck’s decline may be stark in part because of the
extraordinary rapidity of his earlier ascent. “What he was doing in his
first two years was unprecedented,” says Zaitchik. And Michael Harrison
of Talkers, a radio trade publication, cautions that, “in radio,”
one has “to look [at] over a year’s ratings. … It’s just too soon to
Then there is always the possibility he will still recover. Beck has
successfully changed his persona before: He was a morning drive-time DJ
on Top 40 stations long before becoming a political pundit. “He’s a
showman,” says Harrison. “I have no doubt in my mind” he’ll adapt. On
the other hand, maybe Beck really has reached a tipping point.
Demagogues, after all, have a way of outwearing their welcome.