The Fox News brand used to be defined by the lying and fear-mongering of Sean Hannity and the bullying pseudo-common man narcissism of Bill O'Reilly, but now it is defined by the operatic self-aggrandizing paranoia and fear-mongering of Glenn Beck.
Washington Post media repeater-of-what-he-reads-and-what-people-tell-him Howard Kurtz has the makings of what an actual competent media reporter would've turned into a really good story today, about how Glenn Beck is making Fox people kind of nervous. He is toxic to advertisers. He generates relentless negative publicity. He is considered basically beyond the pale even by people who are sympathetic to the rest of the propagandists in their little clubhouse. And Beck has surrounded himself with enablers from his radio company who do not answer to Fox management.
There are good tidbits: Beck was forbidden from doing Leno until the "racist" furor had settled. Beck and O'Reilly are embarking on their "Bold & Fresh" tour against the wishes of Fox management. Execs do not like it when Glenn promotes his one-man show on their dime. "Ailes has occasionally spoken to Beck about the negative tone of his 5 p.m. program."
When Fox covers breaking news during Beck's hour, some journalists say, they are flooded with angry e-mail from viewers about the preemption.
But, you know, it seems a little rich that Fox's reporters are worried that Beck's distortions and rhetoric will undermine their credibility, because Beck does not actually lie much more than anyone else on that network. He just tells more fanciful stories, uses even more apocalyptic rhetoric, and doesn't bother being a predictable partisan.
Sean Hannity will say any old thing and invite any old antisemite on his program as long as it helps the Republican party and hurts the Democratic party. Bill O'Reilly is a relentless self-promoter, but he's also a company man and a team player, and despite his vaunted "independence" he has no interest in convincing his audience to withdraw support from the Republicans, ever.
Beck, though—this guy is only out for himself. He inculcates in his audience not mere patriotic fervor, but a deep fear for Glenn Beck's personal safety. The most important issue on Beck's program is not so much that the Democrats want to hurt America or keep you less safe or whatever (though they do!), it's that shadowy, powerful forces will destroy Glenn Beck.
And then Glenn goes to CPAC and tells the audience that the Republican party is not actually substantially better than the Democratic party!
All of this is probably why ol' Glenn is less palatable to the "news" folks at Fox than, say, the equally repulsive (but much less scary!) Steve Doocy.
The meta-story here—that various unnamed Fox types are telling media reporters on background that they're disgusted with Beck and that he's a phony—is more proof that we're rapidly approaching the complete self-immolation portion of the Glenn Beck fame cycle. First there was his hilarious embarrassment at the hands of crazy person Eric Massa, and now there is this church thing, which will probably generate criticism that he can't actually afford to play off as part of the vast Obama Nazi Maoist conspiracy. (Beck, in case you missed the latest outage, told his audience to leave churches that preach "social justice"—something basically all churches, especially Catholic churches, do.)
I predict either relapse or publicity disaster too large even for Fox News, sometime in the next 18 months.