Burning Question

Glenn Beck after Fox: More powerful than ever?

For many people, the incendiary talk show host seems to have fallen off the planet. On the contrary: He's reaching his fans — and raking in a lot of money

"The conventional wisdom: Fiery cable news host goes off the rails, loses his highly influential platform, and is forever forgotten to history," says Dylan Byers at Politico. But that doesn't appear to be the case for Glenn Beck, who left Fox News in 2011 amid declining ratings and fleeing advertisers. Forbes has named Beck the 23rd-most powerful celebrity in America, and claims he makes $80 million a year, which means he's much richer than Tom Cruise, Donald Trump, and Rush Limbaugh, his rival for conservative hearts and minds. Here, a guide to Beck's media empire:

How did Beck make so much money? "Who needs Fox News?" says Forbes. Beck has his own internet-only video channel — GBTV — which has more than 300,000 subscribers. He also has his own imprint with the book publisher Simon & Schuster, The Blaze news website, and his radio show The Glenn Beck Program on Premiere Radio. Beck's many projects come under the umbrella of his parent company, Mercury Radio Arts.

Is his internet television channel successful? Yes. Subscribers to GBTV pay about $10 a month for all of GBTV's programs, and with advertising revenue it's expected to haul in $40 million this year, says Christopher S. Stewart at The Wall Street Journal. GBTV is built on the "belief that television is going through an existential crisis, with the rise of online video outlets" like Netflix and YouTube "threatening to lure away viewers."

Are the shows any good? GBTV's flagship show, The Glenn Beck Program, is pretty much what you'd expect, with Beck concocting the "inevitable half-baked conspiracy theory that ties everything on the chalkboard together," says Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. The show is "error-filled, conspiratorial, lacking in rigor." The other programs are decent, though, and the children's show — Liberty Tree House — "draws on the best aspects of nondenominational Christian traditionalism and American history" and is "no more heavy-handed than a children's show on PBS."

Will Beck ever go back to cable? Probably not. Beck "made a comparatively paltry $32 million" a year at Fox, and he certainly makes more now than "any other political celebrity," says Frances Martel at Mediate. Glenn Beck "is his own network now," says Forbes.

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