FOK News Channel for Monday, April 11th, 2011
First Guess: How "A Face In The Crowd" forecasts Glenn Beck's future
Video via FOK News Channel
We'll meet again Lonesome Rhodes, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some awful day.
I'm Keith Olbermann in New York with today's First Guess.
Apparently I started something. I took my show off its old home, and then it was reported that Katie Couric was out at the CBS Evening News, then the story was that Meredith Vieira was leaving Today, then that Matt Lauer was going to leave Today at the end of next year, and then the big one: Glenn Beck. Lonesome Rhodes his own self. Off to join the invisible, 24-hour-a-day, Glenn-Beck-a-thon network.
By the way I must digress here and remind you that there is one significant difference between my career move and these others: I'M COMING BACK! Later this spring, same time, same show, new and improved, different network.
As to Mr. Beck. I wrote about this as it happened last Wednesday and reflection and leaks suggest that it is even more starkly true than I thought at the time. He will dress it up as nicely as he can and FOX sure tried to make it sound good, but frankly, Beck had decided that FOX was making way too much money off him that he should have been keeping for himself.
As Beck wraps up a program whose ratings have been plummeting steadily for over a year, his crazier supporters are split between those who believe he was forced out by a cabal of left-wingers - George Soros, Media Matters, StopBeck, me - and the other slightly smarter ones, who realise that they have to say the opposite. That he wasn't forced out by a cabal of left-wingers, because that would mean George Soros, Media Matters, StopBeck, me have influence.
That can never be admitted. Conservatives have to pretend there is a liberal media cabal, but to actually acknowledge that it works would be to threaten the backbone of their collective delusion: that they are in charge, and any interruption in that by the left can be and will be corrected! Immediately! Immediately!
So. Next for Beck.
As I wrote last week, Beck sees some sort of all-Beck TV operation, some sort of hybrid of Oprah Winfrey's network and the original, and Howard Stern will admit this, overextended all-Stern radio empire. It turned out people were not interested in newscasts about Howard Stern.
So what is Beck's likeliest future? I turn to the movie in which I found his prototype and his nickname, the Elia Kazan classic A Face in the Crowd. A movie you must see. After the actual Lonesome Rhodes, played fiendishly and perfectly by Andy Griffith, is caught by an open mic on a national broadcast disparaging his audience, he is nearly suicidal. His world is gone. A salesman who hates him, Walter Matthau doing a Southern accent and doing it well, offers him a picture of his post-self-destruction future. I think that without the political populist platform that FOX has provided Beck, the movie may be prophetic. As prophetic about Beck's future as it was about Beck.
What he said was this.
'Suppose I tell you exactly what's going to happen to you?' Matthau asks. 'You'll be back on television, only it won't be quite the same as it was before. After a cooling-off period, someone will say, "Why don't we try him again in an inexpensive format? People's memories aren't too long." And in a way he'd be right. Some people will forget, some won't. You'll have a show. Maybe not the best hour, or top ten. Maybe not even in the top fifty. You'll have a show, it just won't be quite the same as it was before. Then a couple of new fellas will come along and soon a lot of your fans will be flocking around them. Then, one day, someone will ask "Whatever happened to... what's his name? You know, the one who was so big... the number one fella a couple of years ago. He was famous! How can we forget a name like that?"'
Sad but true, Glenn. Sad but true.
One of the reasons, if you leave, your audience better know exactly where you're going and exactly why they're gonna be able to get then exactly what you used to give them before.
See you late spring.