Never one to shy away from portraying his struggles in the most melodramatic terms, conservative commentator Glenn Beck said on Friday that he left the Fox News Channel because he was afraid of turning into Norma Desmond, the faded screen siren from the 1950 noir film “Sunset Boulevard,” and that he would not be able to keep his “soul intact.”
According to Forbes.com, Beck told an audience at the NYU Stern School of Business Friday that TV networks as we know them are dying, which was why he had to leave his daily 5:00 p.m. slot on former Nixon aide Roger Ailes’ highly rated network.
“If you stay in it too long, you become Norma Desmond,” Beck said. “I remember feeling, ‘If you do not leave now, you won’t leave with your soul intact.’”
While critics may say that Beck’s sagging ratings were to blame for Ailes’ decision to eject him from the network, on Friday, Beck said that his former boss urged him to stay on.
“At the end, when we were leaving, it was a long process,” he told the audience, who were assembled to honor Beck and other recipients of the Stern School’s Disruptive Innovation Award. “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 said that he has made more money than ever since leaving television and building his online empire. He has produced a line of clothing, survival foods and other products aimed at monetizing his brand of anti-government, conspiracy theory rhetoric.
Forbes magazine estimated that Beck’s net worth currently stands at about $80 million, making him one of the most highly paid political commentators in the country.