In February 2008, Eric Burns, who had worked at Fox News since the network launched in 1996 and served as “the closest person Fox had to an ombudsman” as the host of Fox News Watch, “was told he would be terminated within the next two months.” Since his firing, for which he said “he was not given a reason,” Burns has largely avoided discussing his former employer. In a September 2008 blog post about MSNBC’s opinion shows, Burns wrote that “Fox is a topic for another article, and another writer.”
Burns has ended his Fox News silence, writing on the Huffington Post that he used to work for a “right-wing partial-news-but-mostly-opinion network.” In particular, Burns takes aim at Glenn Beck, who he calls “a problem of taste as well as ethics”:
I speak out now because it is the time of year when one is supposed to count blessings. I have several. Among them is that I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.
Actually, Beck is a problem of taste as well as ethics. He laughs and cries; he pouts and giggles; he makes funny faces and grins like a cartoon character; he makes earnest faces yet insists he is a clown; he cavorts like a victim of St. Vitus’s Dance. His means of communicating are, in other words, so wide-ranging as to suggest derangement as much as versatility.
Comparing Beck to Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and John Birch, Burns asks himself “what I would have done if I worked at Fox now.” Noting that Jane Hall — who had regularly appeared on his Fox Show — recently left the network partially because of Beck, Burns admits that he might not have acted “as admirable as” she did:
I ask myself what I would have done if I worked at Fox now. Would I have quit, as the estimable Jane Hall did? Once a panelist on my program, Hall departed for other reasons as well, but Beck was a particular source of embarrassment to her, even though they never shared a studio, perhaps never even met.
I think…I think the answer to my question does not do me proud. I think, more concerned about income than principle, I would have continued to work at Fox, but spent my spare time searching avidly for other employment. I think I would not have been as admirable as Jane Hall. I think I would not have reacted to Beck with the probity I like to think I possess.
It is interesting that Burns would compare Beck to John Birch, considering that before he joined Fox News, Beck told a spokesman for the John Birch Society that they were “starting to make more and more sense” to him.