Sept 1, 2017
Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze is saying farewell to 20 percent of its employees.
And Beck may cry.
“What happened?” he asked in a highly emotional piece that he posted to his website and to Medium that makes it sound like someone is literally ripping out his spleen. “My heart is heavy today.”
“Today, we said goodbye to just over 20 percent of the combined workforce of Mercury Radio Arts and TheBlaze (with most of the changes happening at TheBlaze),” he wrote. “We are losing a lot of talented and committed colleagues, who are some of the best human beings I know — some have been friends of mine for 30 years.”
Somebody pass the tissues.
Not to be cold, but Beck’s media empire has been imploding for awhile now. During the 2016 president election, Beck scattered his attentions by going on the road with losing presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
He also hasn’t given many of his employees an incentive to stick around.
“It was very ambitious for a period of time,” said Eddie Scarry, a media writer for The Washington Examiner who worked at TheBlaze before he was fired because he reported something about a congressman who is pals with Beck. “But Glenn Beck is professionally bipolar and I’m not surprised his commitment to the site as a legitimate news operation didn’t last.”
A former Blaze employee remarked on background, “In the early days, it was exciting. It felt like we were committed to doing honest journalism and building something unique. But over time things changed. It ended up being a hellish place to work. Overpaid executives took advantage of younger writers while ignoring all advice given to them about how to reinvigorate the company. It’s not surprising to see how things have turned out.”
Another former employee echoed the insanity but put in a plug for talented coworkers.
“TheBlaze is a pretty large ship,” said Ronak Kallianpur, who lasted all of three months at TheBlaze and now works for IJR. “It’s not necessarily a ‘lean’ organization. So when changes need to be made, it can easily take weeks to months, when smaller companies pivot overnight.”
“That coupled with seemingly frequent changes in Glenn’s vision, it doesn’t make for a successful model.”
“I absolutely loved so many of my colleagues-turned friends at TheBlaze, and know that, without a doubt, they’ll bounce back even higher than before. They are just that damn good at what they do.”
Still another ex-employee said Beck’s so-called vision was, at best, vague.
“There was the vision that Glenn had moving forward but no one could actually vocalize what that vision was,” the former Blazer said. “It was a fast-paced, competitive company but for the most part, the team was close.”
Thursday’s layoffs include Mike Opelka, Jon Street and Brandon Morse.
Opelka was first to learn that he was being let go after seven years. “Opelka literally updated slack saying ‘here’s my contact info if anyone wants to keep in touch,’” an insider told me.
A few weeks back, employees were told that they were flying the entire news team to Dallas for an all hands on deck meeting. But dates and flight info was vague.
In the last two years, the right-leaning news site been a virtual revolving door.
There was Kaitlyn Schallhorn, who is now at Fox News, Oliver Darcy, who fled to Business Insider and then CNN. There was the whole madness with Tomi Lahren, who sued the pub, and Leigh Munsil, who now works for CNN. Jason Howerton is now at IJReview, as is Kallianpur.
On Thursday, Beck asked for your prayers for those he had to can.
“It’s a difficult day for some exceptional people that mean a lot to me personally, my family, and the entire company,” he wrote. “Please keep them in your prayers.”
Beck always seems to be on a personal emotional roller coaster.
“This year has been one of the hardest years of my life,” he wrote, without disclosing any real details. “I’ve learned so much about myself, my friends and coworkers, and basic human nature. I have also learned a lot about my business and what I believe it will take to succeed in tomorrow’s America. The industrial revolution took 100 years to unfold; industry-altering change now occurs in days, not centuries.”
And no, TheBlaze is not getting government handouts.
“We are not PBS,” he wrote. “No government institution is going to write us a giant check. The structural challenges facing media companies today are real; but, when someone — anyone — tells me that something can’t be done, it only makes me more determined to prove them wrong.”
But, he insists, TheBlaze will somehow blaze on. Starting NOW. There were be a reinvention of sorts, a change in direction and a relaunch.
“We started TheBlaze for one purpose: we wanted to change the world for the better. In this regard, I’m proud of the success that we’ve had, but it’s not nearly enough. We can do more. We can do better. Everything we’ve been working on for the past six months begins now.”
Beck says he knows what needs to happen next. And he could not be more unclear about what that is.
“My purpose is clearer today than it has been in years: Love, Courage, Truth,” he wrote. “As difficult as the changes we made today have been, this was an important first step in getting to where we are going.”