Glenn Beck became a household name and Tea Party icon during his halcyon days at Fox News. Since parting ways with the network, Beck has built up his own media empire, The Blaze, and branched out politically a bit. On Tuesday, he declared full independence from Fox and the broader conservative media, declaring that he has no use for the yelling match between the "extreme left" (pointing to a screen showing MSNBC) and the "far right" (a second TV showing Fox News) and vowing, "we're not gonna play in that crazy space as a network." Going forward, he added, "I consider myself a libertarian... I'm a lot closer to Penn Jillette than I am to Chuck Hagel."
"Beck's decision to orient the network's programming around libertarian politics — or at least brand it that way — could be a play for younger, conservative viewers, who find the Republican Party, and the network that most closely aligns with its ideals, Fox, distasteful," says McKay Coppins at BuzzFeed. But Beck's plans go further than just a rebranding. He said The Blaze will open foreign bureaus in unspecified cities "important to America," launch an "expensive" investigative newsmagazine show focusing on topics "that no one else quite frankly has the balls to do," and moving his New York staff into a mysterious building that will "send a very clear message to everyone in New York... it will piss everyone off." In other words, says Coppins, Beck is making a play to turn Blaze TV into a "global libertarian news network."
Beck clearly has big ambitions — he says he tried to buy Current TV from Al Gore but was rebuffed — and he has certainly proven himself a better media tycoon that Gore. But the libertarian conversion rings a little hollow. He told his radio audience that his New Year's resolution is to refrain from using (or letting anyone else on his show use) President Obama's name on the air, and he's announced plans for a black-tie "Misfits Ball" in his Dallas studio on the night "that guy" is inaugurated to his second term. His proposed guest list — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Rep. Allan West (R-Fla.), Ann Coulter, representatives from anti-gay Chick-fil-A, Ted Nugent — sound less like a libertarian convention that the guest roster for an evening on, yes, Fox News.