‘The Blaze Is Over’: Glenn Beck’s Paranoid, Profligate Downward Spiral

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Five years after he left Fox News to concentrate on building his own media company, right wing goofball Glenn Beck has ruined it through profligate spending and paranoid behavior.

Writing at Huffington Post, Michelle Fields says that The Blaze.com “is coming apart, suffering from a lack of editorial direction, staff attrition and internal discord.”

A former Breitbart.com reporter, Fields describes a downward spiral of plummeting office morale and a website relaunch that will probably just make things worse.

The site, which Beck launched in 2010 to serve as the conservative counterpart to The Huffington Post, has dropped from 25 employees on its editorial side to just six. A source inside The Blaze, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, told HuffPost that the mood among the rapidly diminishing news team is somber.

“The few people who are still left are looking for an exit because they know The Blaze is over,” the source said. “They haven’t told us straight up that they’re done with us, but all the signs point to it, and they’re not replacing people who are laid off or get out.”

Having begun as a news site, The Blaze has shifted to entertainment in parallel with Beck, who has soured on the daily news cycle. The trend has seen traffic decline 75%.

Beck has also burned through a series of four CEOs, with each one shaking up staff in their turn. Beck went through two of them just last year, and he’s currently embroiled in a lawsuit with longtime ally and former Blaze CEO Christopher Balfe.

In his countersuit, Balfe alleges that Beck’s turn away from news was accompanied by megalomania, scandalous spending, and severe paranoia. Suddenly distrusting old friends, Beck turned to new ones, handing over control in ways that disrupted his organization.

“Beck began to refer to himself as Walt Disney and went so far as to paint ‘Walt’ above his door and ‘Roy’ above Balfe’s door,” the lawsuit goes on, in a reference to the entertainment legend’s older brother and business partner Roy Oliver Disney.

“Beck insisted his work with news be quashed, sometimes refusing to participate in a show entirely if it contained a news segment. He spent Mercury’s money developing films, planning amusement parks, and planning to reinvent the healthcare industry starting by building his own hospitals. In the summer of 2013, Beck even produced a live stage show called ‘Man in the Moon’ that cost over $2 million for a single night run.”

The lawsuit continues: “Beck also became suspicious of almost everyone. He began terminating employees, including those who had been with the company for more than a decade. Balfe navigated these terminations for Beck at his request, working hard to ensure that they did not result in the release of information that was embarrassing and potentially devastating for Beck’s brand.”

Jonathan Schreiber, the man who seemingly came from nowhere to usurp Balfe, became known to employees as ‘Voldemort.’

Beck spent absurd amounts of money on trifles, such as a jet liner formerly owned by avowed Clinton enemy Richard Mellon Scaife. However, the one-night run of ‘Man in the Moon’ is probably the most telling example because it did not close due to bad reviews at all, but by design.

One writer for a Koch brothers website who attended the show described the staging, which concluded with a fireworks display, thusly:

This show began with two guys wearing top hats, goggles, and steampunk outfits breakdancing to dubstep. There were two bohemian-style fairies wearing goggles on their foreheads that flew down from the corners of the stage to unfurl the giant banner with emporium text reading “Man In The Moon.” There were giant robots that looked like colossal metal ents with flashlights for faces that moved and whirred and served as spotlights for the stage.

All of this to present theatergoers with another of Beck’s saccharine, pseudo-religious presentations — just like his terrible Christmas show and his incomprehensible 2010 Tea Party rally on the National Mall, but for only a single night. To what end is anybody’s guess.

Ever the prophet of doom, yesterday Glenn Beck kicked off his radio show by intoning that the world is headed for a “catastrophic systematic collapse” and a war that will destroy nations. It seems he may have been projecting the demise of his media mogul status on the rest of us there.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore Flickr under Creative Commons license

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