Fox News host Glenn Beck warned his colleague Bill O’Reilly Friday that “the Western way of life as we know it” could “collapse” in as little as 15 days if his apocalyptic conspiracy theories come true. But Beck’s own days on Fox News could be numbered too. New York Times media critic David Carr reports Fox officials are considering ending Beck’s contract in December, after his ratings have experienced a precipitous decline in recent months:
Since last August, when he summoned more than 100,000 followers to the Washington mall for the “Restoring Honor” rally, Mr. Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox — a greater percentage drop than other hosts at Fox. True, he fell from the great heights of the health care debate in January 2010, but there has been worrisome erosion — more than one million viewers — especially in the younger demographic.
He still has numbers that just about any cable news host would envy and, with about two million viewers a night, outdraws all his competition combined. But the erosion is significant enough that Fox News officials are willing to say — anonymously, of course; they don’t want to be identified as criticizing the talent — that they are looking at the end of his contract in December and contemplating life without Mr. Beck.
Indeed, Beck’s ratings in 2011 are a shadow of what they were two years ago. But Beck “could live without Fox News,” thanks to the multi-platform success of his radio show, books, live stage shows, and web sites. Indeed, Fox and Beck have had a somewhat fraught relationship. “It is really important that no matter how dire he thinks things are or what horrible direction things may be going from his perspective that the show maintains a sense of hope,” said Joel Cheatwood, the Fox exec in charge of Beck’s show, told Carr. How far things have come from when an unnamed Fox exec apparently told Beck that he was the hope, telling Beck, “you are the key” to surviving “a global economic holocaust.”