Welcome back, Bob.
Four months after being unceremoniously fired by Fox News during a rehab stint, liberal commentator Bob Beckel has signed on for a new job with CNN, the network has confirmed to The Daily Beast.
The longtime Democratic pollster who worked in the Jimmy Carter administration will now serve among CNN’s roster of in-house political commentators, appearing across the network’s programming to provide what can ultimately be called a “blue-collar liberal” perspective.
The move is not entirely unexpected: CNN is well-known for scooping up former White House staffers as opinion talkers; and since late August, Beckel has appeared on CNN shows hosted by the likes of Don Lemon and Michael Smerconish.
Beckel rose to cable news fame as the gruff liberal co-host of Fox’s midday gabfest The Five, a position he held from the show’s 2011 inception until he was kicked to the curb.
As the lone left-leaning voice at the table, Beckel was a fan favorite because of his tendency for unpredictable opinions, curmudgeonly attitude (he once snarled that Julian Assange must be killed), and occasional lack of filter (he has shouted “fuck” and “bullshit” on-air multiple times).
Beckel also won over audiences by being especially forthright about his dark past—one that includes a troubled childhood, heavy drug use (mostly cocaine, he’ll admit), alcohol abuse, and an unfortunate run-in with a prostitute hell-bent on extortion.
His mysterious disappearance from Fox’s airwaves in February led to a recurring “Where’s Bob Beckel?” watch at Mediaite, until the network confirmed that he had undergone back surgery and, soon after, that he was in rehab for addiction to pain medication.
Beckel’s triumphant return to Fox never happened, however, as the network revealed in June that he was no longer an employee. The network initially announced the split as “amicable,” but hours later—for mysterious reasons—the tone turned negative.
“We tried to work with Bob for months, but we couldn’t hold The Five hostage to one man’s personal issues,” Fox executive Bill Shine said in a statement at the time. “He took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him.”
All of this undoubtedly serves as the inspiration for his forthcoming memoir, with the pitch-perfect title I Should Be Dead: My Life Surviving Politics, TV, and Addiction.