Glenn Beck Might Be Losing More Than His Media Empire After Tense CNN Interview

TheBlaze host and founder Glenn Beck (right) begins to take off his lapel mic in the middle of an interview with CNN's Brian Stelter during the CNN reporter's Sunday morning media show, Reliable Sources.
TheBlaze host and founder Glenn Beck (right) begins to take off his lapel mic in the middle of an interview with CNN's Brian Stelter during the CNN reporter's Sunday morning media show, Reliable Sources. Screenshot by Danny Gallagher via CNN
TheBlaze, the conservative cable media company established in Dallas by former Fox News host and chalkboard enthusiast Glenn Beck, seems to be struggling to stay afloat. And based on Beck's recent CNN interview, that's starting to get to its founding father.

Beck built his media business in the old Studios at Las Colinas facility in 2012 using the $80 million in earnings he scored from his memorable time as one of the Fox News Channel's loudest voices. He made even more millions from his online subscribers to TheBlaze's streaming online media channel before joining Dish Network later that year. For the last few years, however, downsizing has plagued the company, including a recent wave of layoffs that cut TheBlaze's staff totals and changed the company's leadership. The company has sold off some of its biggest assets; its private jet went up for sale in April.

The Daily Beast reported that TheBlaze has been trying to find a buyer to help strengthen the network's struggling bottom line. The latest attempt to sell the fledgling news network included a pitch to the owners of conservative pundit and Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro's media empire. Talks broke down and a deal failed to materialize, leading to another round of layoffs of "more than a dozen" staffers that reduced TheBlaze's staff to just under 50 full-time workers, according to The Daily Beast's article.

The situation is so bleak for Beck's media company that he's even started selling some of his personal items to keep it from imploding. An unidentified source who works for TheBlaze told The Daily Beast that Beck has been selling some of his collectibles on display in the offices, "including statues and costumes that the host had collected over the years."

Beck also has been trying to regain some mainstream attention that made him a household name among right-wing supporters and the butt of liberals' jokes throughout the 2000s. After railing against President Donald Trump throughout his campaign and the beginning of his presidency as a staunch "Never Trumper," Beck announced his change of heart about Trump in May by donning a red "Make America Great Again" hat and promising, "I'll vote for Trump," during the president's 2020 re-election bid. Beck said he came to his decision after hearing reports on Trump's description of immigrants as animals in a televised cabinet meeting and that Trump was just calling "MS-13 gang members — they left that out of the story — animals and they were spinning it as if he was saying that about all immigrants."

Beck also has made appearances on mainstream media outlets since his departure from Fox News, most notably in friendly discussion segments on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor before O'Reilly's ouster from Fox News in 2017 over rampant sexual harassment claims. Beck's appearances have fallen under the radar for the most part because they weren't "classic Beck," in which the host would lose his cool or cry on camera. Classic Beck made his grand return to cable television June 24 during an interview with CNN's Brian Stelter on the Sunday morning media show Reliable Sources.

Stelter brought Beck on to discuss TheBlaze host's sudden change of opinion on his never-Trump stance. He started by asking Beck to explain his criticism of the media's coverage of Trump regarding the administration's policy of separating children from the families of immigrants entering the country illegally and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Beck accused Stelter and other mainstream media reporters and hosts of showcasing a form of hysteria that he claims television hasn't seen since Beck was on the basic cable airwaves. He cited an interview Stelter conducted with actor George Takei, who talked about his experience with Japanese internment camps during World War II.

"You have become me," Beck said, "circa 2009." 

"What game did I just play?" – CNN's Brian Stelter

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Beck then tried to pivot on his efforts to help immigrant families, citing a charitable movement he spearheaded in 2014 to send food, water and other necessities to underage undocumented immigrants detained at the border. Beck told Stelter he wished the mainstream media had given the same amount of coverage to his efforts that they gave to news about the family separation policy.

Stelter refuted Beck's claim, saying he remembered coverage of Beck's efforts in 2014, and Beck countered by asking, "Was there this kind of coverage?" Stelter responded, "Of course not, there wasn't this many kids in jail," prompting a wave of angry "stop it" pleas from Beck.

Beck continued to lecture Stelter and the mainstream media on how coverage of the president and his cabinet is dividing the country and driving more undecided voters to Trump's camp. Stelter offered to have a discussion about what can be done to fix this, and Beck said he's tried in the past to do that but "not on the air ... because it's all about ratings. This isn't about ratings. This is saving our country."

Stelter asked Beck at the end of the interview about The Daily Beast's story of his company's problems and if they are "related to the point about people not talking to each other and if you want to create that media company, there's not interest." Beck, looking disgusted, began to take off his lapel mic.

"I think that's the most ridiculous question I've ever heard," Beck responded before wishing Stelter a nice day and walking off camera during the live broadcast. "I'm sitting here ready to talk to you about the detaining of children and parents and trying to break families apart, something that has been happening with Janet Reno. That's why it went to the Supreme Court in the first place. With Janet Reno, it's been happening. We want to stop it, and you want to play those games?"

Beck left Stelter staring into the camera as he asked, "What game did I just play?" to an empty chair.

Beck's reference to Reno, the attorney general who served under President Bill Clinton, points to the 1997 federal civil court case Flores v. Reno, which some conservative leaders and pundits claim is the true legal starting line for the undocumented child immigrant detention policy. Politifact investigated a claim Sen. Ted Cruz made June 11 on KERA-FM's Think that the undocumented child separation policy started with the 1997 "court order that prevented keeping the kids with the parents when you put the parents in jail."

Politifact cited Cruz's claim as "mostly false," saying that while it's true the ruling states that "children can't be jailed with their parents," as is the case with most defendants with children who are arrested for other crimes, the legal agreement "doesn't mandate the separations occurring on the border, which have stepped up due to a Trump administration change in enforcement policy."

Attempts were made to reach Beck or a representative of TheBlaze for comment. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.