In just about any industry, a company’s public disclosure of an employee’s termination is usually loaded with positive spin and upbeat language, no matter how ugly the situation behind the scenes.
You’ve seen these press releases before: “Joe Blow is excited about exploring new opportunities and spending more time with his family.” Translation: he’s screwed.
But a Fox News Channel executive’s unusually blunt approach to the sacking of liberal commentator Bob Beckel is attracting widespread attention today. Rival network CNN seems to be taking particular delight in the controversy, giving it significant coverage.
The former co-host of The Five had been away in rehab and recovering from other health issues, so it had been some time since he’d been a part of the show.
That long absence made this statement by Fox News Channel Executive VP of Programming Bill Shine all the more surprising: “We tried to work with Bob for months, but we couldn’t hold The Five hostage to one man’s personal issues. He took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him.”
Taking to Twitter, Beckel found sympathy and support, even from many conservatives:
I am no longer on The Five or with Fox. Fox statement today baffles me. I will respond in the appropriate forum. I will miss you all.
— Robert G Beckel (@RobertGBeckel) June 25, 2015
Among those offering supportive messages was longtime syndicated radio host / author Neal Boortz:
@RobertGBeckel we miss you too Bob. What the hell is going on? That footstool Alan Colmes, Yawn Williams, but no Beckel? What Bolshoi.
— Neal Boortz (@Talkmaster) June 26, 2015
There is some precedent at Fox for an unpleasant air talent departure to end up in public view: the 2001 defection of Paula Zahn to CNN, which fed New York gossip columns for some time afterward.
Normally, however, one expects any statement to first pass through the legal department for review. This one obviously did not.