Fox News overlord Roger Ailes says he was ready for Glenn Beck, his fading star, to hit the road. "Half of the headlines say he's been canceled," he told the AP in an interview today. "The other half say he quit. We're pretty happy with both of them." Well then! Beck's contract was up in December, after all, and for the divorce to have been announced this early, apparently it didn't have a shot of getting renewed. "We felt Glenn brought additional information, a unique perspective, a certain amount of passion and insight to the channel and he did," Ailes added. "But that story of what's going on and why America is in trouble today, I think he told that story as well as could be told. Whether you can just keep telling that story or not ... we're not so sure."
So even Roger Ailes got depressed by all the end-of-days hyperbole. Or maybe he stopped thinking Beck was being honest? (That is, after all, his famous measure of his anchors — their believability.) Or, wait, maybe it was just that Ailes was willing to ignore the fact that Beck couldn't pull in premium ads because of a boycott — so long as his ratings stayed sky high. They didn't. Beck was down 40 percent in the news demo this quarter, and the writing was on the wall. "Advertisers who get weak-kneed because some idiot on a blog site writes to them and says we need to stifle speech," Ailes griped. "I get a little frustrated by that." The way the AP describes it after talking to Ailes, the show was "dropped."
Beck addressed the issue at the end of the afternoon's program, and tried very hard to make it seem like the whole thing was his idea. It was "something I've been thinking about for a very long time," he said. "When I took this job, I didn't take it as a career for me. When Paul Revere got up on his horse, he didn't say, 'I'm going to do this for the rest of my life!' He got off the horse and joined the revolution." Sounding very much like the evangelist he has become, he said: "I have other things to do, and not because it's good or bad for business — our only business is the business of freedom and our country at this time." Fox, he cautioned, is "one of the only places" viewers will find the truth. "Spread the word."