Glenn Beck stepped down from his Fox News show on Thursday after two and a half tumultuous, controversial years at the network.
He kept the chalkboards to a minimum, and shed no tears. He also shied away from too many specific recollections about his show. Instead, he broadly reminisced about what he said he had learned from the experience, repeatedly praised Fox News for allowing his show to air and professed his excitement for his next step: the Web TV channel known as "GBTV."
Beck said that the reason for his departure from Fox News was simple: there was more that he wanted to do. The show, he said, was really a movement "that belongs in your home. It belongs in your neighborhoods. Not really television." He repeatedly directed viewers to his website, where the next chapter of his professional life will be centered.
The show featured many of the things that made Beck famous—long monologues, high emotion, mentions of God and Hitler—but, in some ways, was hardly representative of the show that made him, for a few years at least, a cultural icon and a lightning rod.Watch the final minutes of the show:
Beck's impassioned, grandiose, often inflammatory style and his embrace of the Tea Party movement sent his notoriety skyrocketing, and made him the most polarizing personality on an already-polarizing network. He drew high ratings (even when his show's popularity fell, it was still the fourth most watched cable news program) and a large following; his rally on the Washington Mall in 2010 was evidence of his ability to move masses.
However, Beck often drew equally heated criticism for his highly controversial comments and elaborate, chalkboard-laden explanations of the world. Most famously, he called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred of white people," accused liberal billionaire George Soros of being at the center of a destructive global order, and warned that the so-called "Arab Spring" would lead to a new Islamic caliphate.
Scroll down for a recap of Beck's farewell show.
Beck and Fox News each benefited from their relationship—his popularity, and its ratings, both grew. But, as the criticism of Beck increased—and as an aggressive campaign caused up to 400 advertisers to drop their support of his show—both sides grew weary. Tensions between Beck's camp and Fox News spilled out in public, and the two groups eventually decided to sever their ties.
Now, Beck is setting out on his own, like so many of his media peers these days. He will be starting his own Web TV channel called GBTV. On his Thursday radio show, Beck said that he would immediately launch the channel following the end of his Fox News show.
"I'm so sick and tired of being in the system," he said. "I’m not going to play the game anymore.” It remains to be seen how successful Beck's new venture will be. With the vast majority of his income coming from outside Fox News, though, and with a growing media empire, he is more well-positioned than most.
Just like Jerry Springer! Except totally not.
Beck has still not cried, by the way!
He then opens the blinds to his studio which, it turns out, is on the street.
"It is not the person leading the parade ... that gets all the credit," he says. "It is all the people behind them." He then points to a chalkboard of his production crew.
"From New York, goodnight everyone."
And that's it!
"I am determined to my last breath to fix this country," he says, announcing another new project, and directs viewers again to GlennBeck.com
So now, the end of the Bono story.
Beck says he's in the living room, "standing there, looking at this city, overwhelmed with the feeling, 'if you don't leave now, you will not leave with your soul.' As a guy who has traded his soul before, I will not do it again." The country, he says, is like him.
He recounts his amazing episode meeting Bono at "Spiderman," and says he wondered how could leave the swish lifestyle that he had come to know. But then, he says, he got "the message of my life." That's next. For now, a motorcycle commercial.
"I've given up on admiring the problem," he says. "I am focused solely on the solution ... I know exactly where I'm supposed to be."
He then compares himself to Jack Paar, who left the "Tonight Show."
"You will pray for the time when I was only on the air for one hour every day."
Beck says: "I would stay until the changing of the seasons...no one in my audience is surprised that I was leaving...I left bread crumbs everywhere."
One of the "bread crumbs," he says, was an appearance in South Dakota. Another was a September appearance.
He says he decided "I'm not supposed to be here anymore," and was told by an adviser, "wait a season."
This is reminding us a lot of Oprah's series finale: no guests, one lengthy monologue, lessons learned, reminiscing galore.
They gave him lots of ideas, he says.
Beck talks about some of his more colorful moments.
"Many times I only do things like this to hack the left off," he says.
Beck says that he believes he's on the first ever live farewell finale for someone who has either been fired or left his show. Keith Olbermann would probably have something to say about that.
The show, he says, is really a movement that "belongs in your home. It belongs in your neighborhoods. Not really television."
Beck talks about his "Restoring Courage" rally, coming in August.
P.S. No tears yet!
"This is a news channel. I do commentary. But I do more than that. I have a desire to do more than commentary."
"I'm the first anti-Semitic Jew lover," he jokes, before talking about his supposedly low ratings.
"This program broke every single record in the 5 PM timeslot," he says.
Beck holds some bills up. Ben Franklin and Ulysses Grant, Andrew Jackson and Alexander Hamilton, all are historical figures with historical stories! He tells some of them. George Washington, he says, is "my hero."
"One of the competitors of this show, if you can call him that, is Jon Stewart," he says, before pointing out that he spends a lot more time talking on the air than Stewart does. And Stewart has many writers that Beck does not. "He uses these writers for six minutes of television." Then, he brings out his two writers. "It's easy to speak from the heart, it's easy to do things when you actually believe them."
First commercial break! (21 minutes in.) Followed by a gold commercial.
Beck says that his show's unorthodox subject matter is "the reason we are successful here."
"We've made an awful lot of enemies on this program," he continues. "We've taken on every single person we've been told not to take on."
"CNN is doing holographic hookers" while he's using chalkboards, he adds. Jessica Yellin won't be happy with that description! Whoa! He just shouted about the red phone.
ACORN, the Caliphate... "this information has allowed us to look at everything in a whole new way," he says.
Some firsts: the chalkboards, the red phone. Some things he's learned: Margaret Sanger's evil, the dark side of "social justice," the "Coming Insurrection."
Beck shows an original copy of a report from a Committee On Fascism that he says he got from a reader.
Now, Beck takes us backstage to his cartons of chalk. "Yes, we buy chalk by the case," he says. So far, there's a valedictory tone in the air.
He walks onto the set.
"It has been an amazing ride," he says. There's a chalkboard behind him titled "OUR FIRSTS" and one called "Things We've Learned."
"Did you even know what progressives really were" before his show began, he asks?
Chalkboards! Gaffes! Viking hats! Weird "Mambo No. 5" music! 9 Principles! 12 Values! This is already surreal.
The show begins with Beck outside the News Corp building. "We've really done some amazing things together," he says. And...there's a montage.