Like Atrios said, you folks out there owe yourselves a hand for getting the mendacious fool off the air. His slipping ratings weren’t good, but he was also on during a really poor time slot, so I imagine that can’t have been all there was to it. The pressure campaign on advertisers, on the other hand, made it really hard for Fox News to make money off the ratings he was getting. Murdoch is willing to lose money to promote right wing ideology, but even he has limits. I suspect that the slipping quality of advertisements was hurting ratings, too. It’s subconscious, but really poor quality advertising tends to make the programming seem more suspect. If you’re watching some guy rant about whatever right wing conspiracy Beck was on about that day, but the advertising is high-quality stuff, you’re likelier to think there’s value to what he’s saying. But if the ads are mostly cheap crap “as seen on TV” and obvious scams, it imbues the whole thing with an access channel/2AM on a forgotten cable channel vibe, and it will be treated with more disdain by the audience. So, I think that helped lower ratings. His show always looked cheap anyway, and the ads didn’t help. I know that sounds shallow, but these things matter.
I realize the immediate liberal instinct is to piss all over any victory. I expect the objections to be:
*We don’t know that he was actually fired.
*Meh, I’m more worried about conservatives who present themselves as moderates. He was just a sideshow anyway.
*It’s not like Fox News is gone.
But I think we should enjoy this moment. Beck was, in all his nuttiness, a real problem. He pulled the discourse to the right. In his role as the “out there” conservative, he managed to make people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly look less nutty. That’s incredibly dangerous. He was also a major factor in the increased speed with which conservatives have run away from empirical reality and towards conspiracy-mongering. I don’t know if we can reverse the trend, but this is a good first step.
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
Pandagon is the go-to zone for eye-rolling at conservative nonsense, feminist rants, election-watching, and obsessing over low-rated but critically acclaimed television. Jesse Taylor and Amanda Marcotte may take politics very seriously, but egos not so much.
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