It has been two years since media juggernaut Glenn Beck left the Fox News Channel, but now a war of words is breaking out online concerning the talk-show host’s departure.
Forbes Magazine reported last week that Beck left Fox News, the top-rated cable news network, “to save his soul.”
“If you stay in it too long, you become Norma Desmond,” Beck said Friday during an appearance at New York University. “I remember feeling, ‘If you do not leave now, you won’t leave with your soul intact.’”
Norma Desmond is a fictional character in the 1950 film “Sunset Boulevard.” She was an aging silent film star who watched her career fade away with the advent of “talkies,” films with sound, and slowly lost her mind.
But a Fox News spokesperson emailed Mike Allen of the Politico, who gave an entirely different perspective on Beck’s departure.
“Glenn Beck wasn’t trying to save his soul, he was trying to save his a–,” the Fox News spokesperson wrote. “Advertisers fled his show and even Glenn knows what that means in our industry. Yet, we still tried to give him a soft landing. Guess no good deed goes unpunished.”
Sabrina Siddiqui, a politics reporter for the Huffington Post, chimed in about the remarks, noting, “I think anyone from the television industry understands that there’s a line at some point that can’t be crossed. If you’re not going to be pulling in the ratings and if you’re not going to have the advertisers, the sort of controversial statements you make aren’t worth the network’s … risk. Fox will forever stand by the fact that they did what they needed to do to try and save their network and one of their primetime slots.”
During Beck's speech at NYU, he recalled one of his last conversations with Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who purportedly challenged Beck's desire to depart.
"At the end, when we were leaving, it was a long process," he said, reported Forbes.
"Roger said to me, 'You're not going to leave.' And I said, 'I am.' And he said, 'Nobody does,' meaning leave television ... . And I said, 'I'm fortunate because I haven't been in it that long.' I knew what this big, huge Fox empire brought to the table, and I had to leave before I became too enamored of that."
Beck noted he was frustrated at Fox News and even his previous employer CNN because of the rigid formula in producing talk shows.
"Most of what we do on television was developed by Desi Arnaz" in the 1950s, he said. "There's no reason we still do it that way, except that it works. It drives me out of my mind that they are still using what's called the Desi shoot, three cameras on the floor."
"I moved, and they couldn't follow me," he said. "I said to them, 'Get me a sports director, please. Get someone with experience producing sports. Just tell them I'm carrying a ball. I think they can do it.' But everybody in news was saying, 'You're supposed to stay here.'"
"All of media is like that," he added. "It has a system. But it's not 1953 anymore. I knew that to be true when I worked at CNN, and Fox isn't any better."
When asked what he would do if he were in charge of a major network, Beck answered, "I don't know because I haven't seriously thought about it, except that I'd fire a lot of people. A lot of people."
As WND reported last year, Beck claimed Fox News actually tried to censor him before he left the network.
Beck was discussing comments made by longtime PBS news commentator Bill Moyers who was defending leftist billionaire George Soros.
Moyers had said Soros has "been the victim, of course, of Glenn Beck and the right-wing, the Fox News assassins."
In response to Moyers' comment, Beck explained that his own former network tried to get him to clam up about his constant reporting on what he felt was Soros' fiendish agenda to harm the American way of life.
"Here's the real reason why George Soros is worried about little old me and the assassins, because I know the truth about him," said Beck.
"Everyone – including the assassins [at Fox News] – told me, 'You wanna shut up about George Soros?'
"No. No I don't. Nope. Doesn't make my life easier. Doesn't make me more popular. Doesn't do anything, except I am allowed to end my days saying I told the truth. I did what somebody should have done and tell the truth. The truth has no agenda. The truth will set you free. The truth needs to be held like a sword and a shield. He should be worried. He should be worried because I'm going to continue to expose him when he finds out the role he plays in our next little book coming out this spring. He'll be up all night on the phone with Bill Moyers crying himself to sleep."
Beck left the Fox News Channel in 2011 after hosting a popular, hour-long, weekday program on the network. It has since been replaced by "The Five."
Beck's show had been the target of intense controversy including boycotts by some.
WND reported one organization that led a crusade demanding Fox News fire Beck is, in fact, backed by Soros and is tied to many of the liberal activists Beck routinely excoriated on his show.
Jewish Funds for Justice, or JFSJ, a charity that campaigns for social change, delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to Fox News in protest of a program in which Beck specifically targeted Soros, calling the businessman the "puppet master." JFSJ deemed the show anti-Semitic.
In April 2011, WND media analyst Kathy Shaidle reported on a forecast Beck made as he was leaving Fox.
"He made a provocative vow to make gloating progressives eat their celebratory words," Shaidle wrote, "telling them on his radio show, 'One year from now, you on the left will be crapping yourself so much, you haven't crapped in your pants as much as you will in a year from now. ... You'll crap yourself more than when you were a baby. And you will find Jesus.'"
Since leaving Fox News, Beck has created his own popular news and entertainment empire based in Texas.