Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Smell of Sour Grapes

To hear Joe Scarborough talk, Glenn Beck owes all of his success to Fox News and Roger Ailes.

On his MSNBC show this morning, Scarborough, the one-time Florida GOP Congressman turned media personality, said Beck was a "no body" before getting a show on FNC:

“I don’t watch Glenn Beck…Glenn Beck was a nobody, and I will say it loud and clear on TV, he was a nobody at Headline News, a nobody, and then Roger Ailes took him under his wings and suddenly he became a superstar,” Scarborough said in an episode of “Morning Joe” that aired Wednesday.

Scarborough added that Beck couldn’t hold his own outside of the Fox News network.

“If Roger Ailes decides to kick him out of Fox News, well, he’ll go back to the Glenn Beck he was before,” he said.

And if that weren't enough, Scarborough said Beck "stirs up hate," and "feeds on people's paranoia." That was Joe's way of saying that Mr. Beck is somehow responsible for the recent massacre in Tucson that claimed six lives.

But a closer examination reveals that Scarborough's rant is less about politics and more about the broadcasting business. Just over two years ago, Scarborough launched a daily show on WABC radio in New York. He was given the coveted mid-morning slot, just after Imus and right before Rush Limbaugh.

It was supposed to be Joe's launching pad to radio stardom. Imus delivers some of the best demographics of any morning drive host in NYC, and Rush's program usually ranks at (or near) the top of his time slot. Scarborough's marching orders were clear: try to hang on to as many of the I-man's listeners as you can, and keep them around until Rush hits the airwaves at noon eastern time.

But a funny (read: predictable) thing happened on Scarborough's journey to the Radio Hall of Fame. His show, on one of the most popular talk stations in the country, tanked--and tanked badly. After just a few months on the air, Joe's show was yanked from WABC, supposedly for re-tooling, in preparation for a national roll-out in the near future.

And who do you suppose was largely responsible for the demise of Joe's radio show? Why none other than Glenn Beck, who dominates the mid-morning talk ratings. Scarborough claimed that his program "beat" Beck in key demos in New York City, but few believe that. If Joe's program was so wildly popular, why did WABC and its owner (Citadel) pull the plug? Where is that "revamped version show? It's been eight months and we're still waiting. Meanwhile, Joe Crummey has been hired for the mid-mornign slot on WABC. Guess he's just keeping the seat warm for the return of Joe and his sidekick, Mika Brzezinski (nod, nod; wink, wink).

Meanwhile, Beck keeps chugging along. He has the third-most-listened to show in talk radio, and is 5 pm Fox broadcast attracts roughly three times the viewers of "Morning Joe" on MSNBC. Not bad for a nobody.

Indeed, we all owe Mr. Beck a debt of thanks. Scarborough is insufferable on TV, and he was even worse on radio. Against Beck, Joe never stood a chance--and rightfully so. Hosting a radio talk show (and doing it well) requires a skill set that only a few possess. That's why the great ones remain at the top year after year after year, while the pretenders come and go.

One more thing: it would appear that Joe is also steamed about Roger Ailes talking Beck "under his wings" and making him a star. You can bet your last dollar that Scarborough would kill for a slot at Fox News, but he's never going to get one, because Mr. Ailes is the best judge of news talent in the business. He clearly knows what to look for in anchors for his #1-rated network, and Joe Scarborough doesn't have it.

And from Joe's perspective, that must be the unkindest cut of all.


John Lynch said...

I don't get it. Everyone is a nobody until they are somebody. So what?

sykes.1 said...

Scarborough is unwatchable and unlistenable, although I have tried. I think he is basically dishonest. He claims to be a Republican, but he surrounds himself with lefty ideologues and he himself talks like a liberal Democrat.

MarkD said...

Joe had the opportunity to do something as a congressman. He moved on to MSNBC, where he blathers about it.

He has about as much influence as I do, which is to say infinitesimal. He comes across as an irritating, panic stricken wimp.

Hey Joe, you're going to die and there is nothing you can do to stop it. So why not try doing a little good while you're around?