Kenneth Vogel and Hadas Gold write in Politico about the latest trouble to strike Glenn Beck’s media empire, as Beck and one of his advertisers sue each other over unpaid bills and claims that the radio talker’s endorsement of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign and increasingly shrill denunciations of Donald Trump alienated his audience. Politico notes that Beck’s diminished relevance is juxtaposed by the rising influence of Breitbart News, which — along with Matt Drudge, Sarah Palin, and Sean Hannity — Beck has repeatedly attacked during this election cycle.
Glenn Beck’s dreams of building a dominant conservative media empire are faltering amid a tangle of lawsuits, financial challenges, plunging on-line readership, firings and political feuds.
Beck, who in his days as Fox News host was among the leading voices of the anti-establishment right, invested heavily to parlay that influence into a wide-ranging media enterprise including not just a syndicated radio show, but also his own television network, news website, movie studio, book publishing imprint and clothing line.
And now a lawsuit claims that perhaps Beck’s biggest bet of all — his endorsement of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign — further undermined his appeal.
People who previously worked with Beck described his decision to devote himself to electing Cruz — for whom he hit the campaign trail and turned his shows into de facto infomercials only months after renouncing politics and the GOP — as a last-gasp bid for renewed relevance.
But as Cruz started falling behind eventual nominee Donald Trump, Beck grew increasingly strident, calling Trump a “narcissistic psychopath” who would lead the country into civil war, and picking fights with big name Trump supporters on the populist right.
“Endorsing Cruz was a last-ditch attempt to get back into the spotlight by a guy who craves attention, but it actually made it impossible for him to run the business,” said a former associate who was close to Beck.
Some advertisers complained to Beck’s representatives that the host’s increasing combustibility was becoming bad for business, two people familiar with the complaints told POLITICO. One longtime advertiser, a solar survivalist company called Solutions from Science (SFS), allegedly stopped paying its advertising invoices after unsuccessfully trying to pull its ads from Beck’s syndicated radio show.
And lately, other conservative media outlets have become more influential, most notably the populist conservative website Breitbart News, which backed Trump while openly antagonizing Beck. Breitbart’s executive chairman Steve Bannon, who has taken a leave to help run Trump’s campaign, has arguably supplanted Beck as the leading media visionary on the anti-establishment right. Beck in turn has peddled wild conspiracy theories about Bannon, whom he called “possibly the most dangerous guy in all of American politics.”
In his interview with POLITICO, Beck said he was getting ready to launch a comeback plan for The Blaze, which he dubbed “Project Phoenix, Blaze 2.0.” But he also suggested that his enemies on the right and left were working to stymie him after his endorsement of Cruz.
“The world currently is punishing anyone who takes a stand. And that’s what’s so disappointing,” he said. “I’m a guy who’s used to being called names. But I was shocked at how the right plays exactly the same game as the left. I’ve always known that there were dirtbags on both sides, but the exact same tactics used to try to discredit me from the Soros left was used by the Bannon right,” he said, adding “there is no difference between those two, practically.”
The attacks on Soros’s tactics seem to echo the theme of Beck’s 13th book, “Liars: How Progressives Exploit Our Fears for Power,” which was released recently and became a New York Times bestseller.
A Soros spokesman declined to comment on Beck, as did Bannon.
Bill Heid, the CEO of Solutions from Science, who has known Beck for years, asserted “delusions of grandeur got the best of Glenn Beck.”
The host “became a man possessed when it came to Ted Cruz,” Heid said.
Read the rest of the story here.