Conservative TV commentator Glenn Beck is parting ways with Fox News, according to a joint statement released on Wednesday by Fox and Beck’s parent company, Mercury Radio Arts.
The statement did not specify the reason for Beck’s departure, but noted that the controversial personality will “transition off of his daily program” on the Fox News Channel by “later this year.”
Beck is perhaps better known for making the occasional tirade that infamously included accusing U.S. President Barack Obama of having “a deeply-seated hatred of white people,” – resulting in an advertiser’s boycott that limited the number of sponsors on his show.
The recent announcement confirms speculation of Beck’s imminent departure that has circulated ever since the New York Times revealed on March 6 that anonymous Fox officials were considering not renewing Beck’s contract in December and “contemplating life without Mr. Beck.”
Previously, Mercury and Fox have clashed on occasion over the production of Beck’s show. But on Wednesday they said “they will work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel” and on “Fox News’ digital properties.” Both sides remain mum on the specifics.
Despite his Mormon faith, Beck in past months has extended friendly overtures to U.S. Christians including a private visit with evangelist Billy Graham in late February.
In August 2010, he summoned more than 100,000 people to the Washington Mall, standing alongside evangelical leaders that included Richard Land, James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, Jr.
However, not every Christian has welcomed Beck.
In a televised broadcast last March, Beck angered anti-poverty Christians by asking believers to leave churches propagating social justice. He later linked social justice with communism and Nazism.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, CEO of the social justice ministry Sojourners, subsequently called for a boycott of Beck’s radio and television shows. Last month, the online community Faith America – which claims over 100,000 in membership – asked two radio stations belonging to faith-based Salem Communications to “give up Glenn Beck for Lent.”
Ever since its debut on Fox News in 2009, the Glenn Beck show has been one of the most popular programs on a cable news network, surpassing similar shows in the same 5 p.m. time-slot that include MSNBC’s Hardball and CNN’s The Situation Room.
Nonetheless, Beck’s ratings have plummeted to more 40 percent in 2011 even though he still commands a significant fandom. The host alienated some viewers with his predictions of apocalyptic doom, urging fans to pack emergency rations that include freeze-dried food. Last month, Beck called Japan’s latest 9.0-magnitude earthquake a message from God.
On Monday, political-satirist Stephen Colbert mirthfully asked viewers to brace for the "GlennPocalypse," or a world without Beck. Among his antics, Colbert packed an emergency pack with books authored by Beck and freeze-dried rations that included beef stroganoff.
It is not clear whether Beck will return to cable television, despite earlier reports that the host is interested in taking over a cable TV channel and starting a program similar to his Fox show. Beck still retains his daily radio program.