Conservative conspiracy host Glenn Beck announced plans Wednesday to “transition off” his Fox News program in favor of a realigned agreement between Fox and his production company, Mercury Radio Arts.
The deal will see Beck’s company designing unspecified new media for the Fox News Channel and other Fox online properties, a news release said.
The release was not specific as to when he would be off the air, saying only that it would happen “later this year.”
Moments after the announcement, Beck’s website The Blaze, which hosted the release, went offline.
Beck was rumored to be interested in creating a cable channel of his own and growing his online subscription service. Further details were scarce at time of publication.
Beck’s viewership had been declining in recent months, even as his stable of regular corporate sponsors shrank due to a particularly effective campaign by a group of progressives upset at his pointedly racial barbs against President Obama.
New York Times writer David Carr had the story exactly one month ago, reporting that Fox News was looking to get rid of Beck partially because his audience had declined over one-third in just a year’s time. In his heyday at Fox, however, Beck was far and away the most popular conservative pundit they featured.
Latching onto the story in a segment earlier this week, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert warned his audience to brace for the “Glennpocalypse” and cautioned that if Beck left the air it wouldn’t be due to ethical issues.
“I don’t believe for a minute that Fox News execs thinks Glenn undermines their credibility,” he joked. “Just look at these anchors: I can’t imagine anyone lowering their credibility.”
Beck was perhaps best known for his far-reaching conspiracy theories about a secret communist plot to overthrow America by giving to charity and engaging in community politics. He usually claimed liberal and progressive groups were the primary orchestrator of communist (or socialist) schemes, and he often compared them to Nazis or other thugs, frequently citing these different and often competing ideologies fluidly, as if they were the same or similar.
According to liberal watchdog group Media Matters, over 300 advertisers left Beck’s Fox News program from 2009 through today. In the last year he appeared to be increasingly reliant on promoting survivalist supplies and gold at inflated prices.