I had a chance to join the Glenn-Beck-gets-dumped-by-Fox postmortem on Howie Kurtz's "Reliable Sources" Sunday, and here's some videotape of the takedown courtesy of CNN.
My capsule analysis: The fact that Beck is leaving the world of cable news is a good thing for all who care about our civic discourse. He helped take the TV portion of our conversation about democracy to a new level of toxicity when he used the Fox News Channel to invite viewers in 2009 to send him any damaging information they had about members of the Obama administration -- information like the stuff he gathered on Van Jones, who had served as the president's green (energy) jobs czar, before Beck used his show to get him fired.
Putting a bounty on public officials is not what anyone in their right mind would consider a proper use of a cable news channel. And Fox News deserves the harshest criticism for letting that sort of crazed warfare go on long as it did -- until so many advertisers fled that Beck was no longer economically viable.
But let's be fair -- blame for the other half of the toxic, national, political, cable TV discourse goes to folks on the left like former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who responded to Beck's call for damaging data on Obama administration officials with his own call for dirt on Beck, Fox News chief Roger Ailes and/or Beck's radio producer.
That's just as bad as Beck, and don't talk to me about "false equivalency," courtesy of your liberal, think-tank talking-points memo.
But here's the point on which I think we can all agree: The fact that both Beck and Olbermann are off their major cable news platforms and headed for more marginalized media places is great news for anyone who cares about this democracy. And it couldn't come at a more crucial time -- as the budget battle enters of phase of what looks to be hand-to-hand combat, and we begin a presidential election cycle.