CRY ME A RIVER
Glenn Beck’s Media Empire Implodes. Again.
The conservative mogul’s business woes continue via another round of layoffs and the death of a sale to the billionaires backing fellow right-wing media giant Ben Shapiro.
Conservative media firebrand Glenn Beck’s multimedia empire TheBlaze appears to be on its last legs after another round of layoffs and after a prospective high-profile buyer lost interest.
The right-wing cable and digital media company—founded by Beck shortly before he exited Fox News in 2011—fired another round of staffers this week, shrinking a workforce that has already been reduced to less than 50 employees, according to two sources who spoke with The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity. The two sources also confirmed that more than a dozen employees had been laid off over the past several days.
Making matters worse, the company’s hopes for a bailout from a fellow right-wing titan did not go as planned.
A potential lifeboat in the form of a proposed sale to the billionaire owners of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s website The Daily Wire now appears unlikely. A source familiar with the negotiations told The Daily Beast that talks between the two parties broke down and the sale is now effectively dead.
TheBlaze once generated a reported $90 million in revenue annually, but has been in a slow motion implosion over the past several years. Top-level managerial shakeups, seemingly ceaseless layoffs, and office closures have depleted morale, tanked the site’s web traffic, and caused cable distributors to jump ship.
The most recent round of cuts are significant for the already-hobbled company which has shed employees with regularity for more than two years—largely without communicating to staff the reason or scope of the cuts. At one point, Beck blamed a round of layoffs on his own staff.
Following a major round of layoffs last year, which accounted for one-third of the website’s staff, the remaining skeleton crew grew further discouraged as basic requests went unanswered or took months to accomplish.
Beck’s flair for conspiratorial, right-wing rants were largely seen as a precursor to the Trumpism that has overtaken conservatism in recent years. But as his empire began to crumble, right around the time Trump was elected to office, Beck—who likened Trump to Hitler—began to team up with mainstream media and liberal celebrities, rebranding himself as a born-again champion of civility.
That seemingly failed, however, as his business continued to struggle. Ultimately, he flip-flopped on that conciliatory reinvention, donning Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat in May and declaring on-air: “I will vote for him in 2020! Gladly!”
The Beck empire’s downfall came into the national spotlight when millennial right-wing provocateur Tomi Lahren departed from TheBlaze in a dramatic and highly public fight that underscored the outlet’s internal tumult.
Company managers took months to remove Lahren’s image from web apps associated with TheBlaze and, according to one insider source, a website redesign that was supposed to be completed months ago still remains a work-in-progress.
Beck is also purging himself of many of his more expensive possessions, leading some employees to suspect that the conservative talk show host may be looking to close up shop at TheBlaze’s headquarters in Dallas and relocate to Los Angeles, where the company still maintains a smaller office.
The conservative firebrand acknowledged on his show on Thursday that he was looking to sell his house in the Dallas suburbs—a decision people close to Beck attribute to his fear that the economy is in the midst of another housing bubble.
“I am putting my home up for sale because I fear this economy as we are headed for trouble and I don’t want to be sitting with a big huge house,” Beck said on the radio earlier this week.
Earlier this year, Beck’s radio company Mercury Radio Arts put the 1966 DC-9 private jet on the market. A source familiar with Beck’s thinking said the radio host was unhappy that the aging plane could not travel long distances without needing to refuel.
One source familiar told The Daily Beast that the former Fox News host has also been selling and giving away some of the trinkets he keeps in TheBlaze’s office, including statues and costumes that the host had collected over the years.
—with additional reporting by Andrew Kirell