What was the corporate culture like at Fox News? On radio today, Glenn shared an enlightening encounter from his FNC days, which now makes him question certain stories being reported in the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s exit.
Enjoy the complimentary clip or read the transcript for details.
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This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: All right. So we’re talking about this audio about Kirsten Powers, who was complaining that Bill O’Reilly pointed out the fact that there were a lot of blondes that work at Fox News. And that was her experience with Bill O’Reilly, the nightmare, that he was a Neanderthal and said, “There’s so many blondes here, I sometimes lose track and I can’t keep you all straight.” She wanted something done. He needed to apologize. Needed to make sure that that never happened again. Blah, blah.
This woman is — you know, she’s a liberal. She dated Anthony Weiner. And her — I mean, how you could have spent two minutes with Anthony Weiner if your line is that —
PAT: If you’re that sensitive.
GLENN: — is beyond me. But — so the trouble comes, as she is telling the story — she said, so I went to Roger Ailes.
And what did Roger Ailes say, Stu?
STU: He —
GLENN: Nobody likes Bill.
STU: Nobody likes Bill. He likes to pin up pictures of hot women. He likes to talk dirty to hot women.
GLENN: Okay. Where does that come from? Where does the talk dirty come from?
STU: Well, I mean, it’s coming from Roger Ailes here.
GLENN: Here. But what does that —
STU: He’s referencing an old story that had been reported.
GLENN: Okay. Now, this is the big thing. This is the one where everybody said, well, he paid off. Okay.
Here he is. And it seems as though this was a consensual relationship, at least at one point. Bill thought that they were — this is what it seems. I don’t know if this is true.
STU: We have not talked to Bill.
GLENN: I have not talked about Bill.
STU: You’re just saying, basing this on the reporting.
GLENN: Basing this on the reporting. I have not talked to Bill. And it’s like, hey, Bill, so tell me about that lawsuit. No.
But this is — this is my theory on — on Bill. Consensual, and at some point, it stopped. He didn’t know. Or he was just like, eh, I’m kidding. Whatever.
But she taped really inappropriate things on the phone. At some point, she knew, I can make a killing here. Okay?
And so she demand — I think the word was $60 million, to keep those tapes out of the public. Do you want your tapes or your emails to your wife or your husband — do you want bedroom talk of yours out into the public? Because I wouldn’t. Would you, Stu? Would you?
PAT: Well, especially to my husband. I would say no to that.
GLENN: Your wife or your husband. Okay? Nobody wants that. That’s not something that Bill O’Reilly or anybody wants.
Well, I have it. Okay. Settle the lawsuit.
Now, I think that — I could be wrong. But the way I’ve read that story — and I’ve looked at it, you know, for, what? Fifteen years that story came out. Fifteen years ago.
PAT: Been a while. Ten, 15.
GLENN: So I haven’t thought about that story since then. But if you hear what she’s saying here — what did Roger Ailes do? Roger Ailes brought that story up, and her sexual smear, the reason why this is on CNN with the — the headline, “Look at what she said Roger Ailes said about Bill,” comes from that one story.
Now, why is that important? Let me share a story with you on what I know about working at Fox under Roger Ailes.
Roger Ailes was a genius. Sheer genius. I think there was a good side of Roger Ailes. I think the dark side of Roger Ailes won. But I think there was a really good side of Roger Ailes. And I think he was torn apart towards the end of his life thinking what he could have done, if he would have used his power for good as opposed to evil.
But at some point in his life, he became a dirty old man. And — and one of the things that he did at Fox — and I know it firsthand is, he would sabotage relationships.
Remember how I have said in the past that, you know, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and I, we didn’t get along.
Well, me personally, I believe that all came from Roger Ailes. And I know another one who was involved, who was also feeding that stuff. But they were being fed by Roger Ailes. Roger liked to be the kingpin. And he was the master manipulator of everybody’s relationship. And he liked his shows and his talent not liking each other. Because he knew, if I keep them pitted against each other, A, they’ll compete harder to beat that son of a bitch. And they would never join forces. If they joined forces, then we’re in trouble.
I know this firsthand because Bill O’Reilly heard an argument in the hallway at Fox. I don’t know if I’ve told this story before on the air. Have I?
PAT: I don’t think so.
GLENN: I heard an argument on — in the hallway about ACORN. And remember when we found that New Orleans was the head. There was something really bad. And it had to do with Van Jones and ACORN and SEIU. Well, I didn’t have the money to go investigate that, but Bill O’Reilly’s team did. Bill O’Reilly saw that story and was like, “Got to get on that story. That’s great.”
Bill and I had no relationship. Bill heard an argument in the hallway between my producer and his producer. And my producer at the time was yelling at Bill’s producer saying, “You stole our story.” And that’s when I came around the corner. And I said, “Whoa, whoa, guys, what is up?” And he said, “Well, you know, Bill O’Reilly’s people are stealing our story.” And I said, “What story is that?” The ACORN story.
That’s not our story. That’s America’s story. What are they doing?
And he said, “Well, they’re going to send somebody down into New Orleans.” And I looked at Bill’s producer, and I said, “That’s fantastic. We’ll get you everything that we know. Can we have you after you break the news with Bill — can we have you on the show and you further the — he was stunned.
And I looked at Grish and said, “Whatever — whatever they need, get them. This is — we’re a team here.”
That’s when Bill walked around the corner, and he just looked at me and went, “Beck.” Bill was sitting around — standing around the corner. He was listening to all of it.
That was the first time that Bill knew, I’m not like — I’m not cut from the rest of — I’m not like that. I’m a team player. Let’s work together for the good of the company. Let’s work together for the good of the country.
We’re allies. If you remember on my show, I used to promote Sean Hannity. And he would do specials. And I would promote them because I wanted him to know, I’m in your corner. You don’t have to be in my corner. I’m in your corner. And I would promote.
I did that to every show because I wanted to show — and nobody ever asked me to. I had to go track down the details. But I did it to show the other talent, we don’t have to be enemies. Why do we have to be enemies?
So when that happened, Bill called me up to his office the next day. “Beck, can you stop by my office? I want to talk to you.”
So I go into Bill’s office which was the corner office and pretty darn sweet. And I’m sitting there. And, you know, he’s got all these pictures of, you know, him with, you know, the pope and the president and Jesus. I mean, he’s got everybody. And you’re like, “Wow.” And it was a pretty powerful office.
And I’m sitting there like a little no-nothing. Oh, is that the music? I’m going to have to pause in this story so we can pay some light bills. And we’ll come back and tell you the rest. And I think it will begin to make sense, why I’ve said, “We’re on a dangerous road in the media.” A very dangerous road.
GLENN: So I’m sitting in Bill O’Reilly’s office. And Bill calls me in, and he said, “So what are you doing here?” And I’m like, “Well, you called me to come up to your office.” He said, “No, why are you here at Fox?” He said, “I used to watch you on Headline News.” And he said, “I’d watch you.” He said, “For a while there, I just thought you were nuts.” And he said, “You might be. I’m not saying you’re not. You might be nuts.” He said, “But you’re a hell of a television performer.” And I said, “Thank you.”
And he said, “You really believe this stuff, don’t you?” And I said, “Yes, I do.”
He said, “You need to slow down.” And I said, “What do you mean?” And he said, “You’re just going to burn through way too much.” And I said, “Bill, I don’t plan on being here for very long.” And he said, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t want to do this. I figure I’ll be here for about two years, and that will be enough.” And he said, “You could be here the rest of your — look at me. You could be here the rest of your life.” And I said, “I don’t want to be.” And he really didn’t understand that.
And he was like, “Why not?” And I said, “Because this isn’t what I want to do. This is what I feel like I need to do.”
So the Bill O’Reilly in the hallway that heard me say basically, “We’re partners. We don’t even have to be friends. We don’t have to be enemies. We’re partners on furthering the news.” That, coupled with him sitting me down and saying, “Why are you here?” And I said, “Because I believe it.” He said, “You’re going need to help.” And I said, “Okay.”
And he said, “You say some pretty crazy things.” He said, “And people are going to need to hear the answer on what you really meant.” And he said, “You know you’re not going to get a fair interview anywhere.” And I said, “Oh, I know. I just spent some time with Katie Couric.” And he said, “I promise you, I will give you a fair interview. I’m not going — I’m not going to be a Bill, but I’ll give you a fair interview. I’m going to ask you the question that everybody wants to hear, but I’ll let you answer it.” And I said, “That would be tremendous.” And if you’re a long-time listener, you know — people used to call me all the time and say, “Glenn, why do you go on Bill O’Reilly? He’s not helping you. He’s not your friend.” Yes, he was. He was my friend. He was allowing — he was asking the question the Katie Courics of the world wanted to ask me, without the agenda. He was a great friend. He was — in fact, he and Anderson Cooper are the only two people in the industry that treated me like an equal, like a human being. And like I was intelligent. Only two people on the air that I can think of, that actually have been there. And really understand it. And may not agree with me on everything. But they know that I’m trying to be a decent human being.
I left Bill’s office. When I left Bill’s office, that didn’t take long to get back up to the second floor, to where Roger Ailes was.
A few weeks later, I was in Ailes’ office. He called me in for something. And he said, “Hey, listen, I know you’re new here. I just want you to know, you’ve got to be careful of Bill O’Reilly.” And I said, “Okay.”
He’s a user of people. And you just need to stay away from him and be very, very careful.
Huh. Okay. I didn’t say anything. Okay. File it away.
A couple weeks later, I get another — you know, another interview or time with Roger Ailes. And he plants another negative seed about Bill O’Reilly.
Bill O’Reilly and I are talking. And I said, “Hey, Bill, I think I’ve figured something out about this place.” He said, “Yes.” And I said, “I bet you’re hearing negative things about me, about things I might be saying about you behind your back.” And he just smiled. “Might be.”
And I said, “Yeah, I’m hearing things that I shouldn’t trust you because you’re saying things behind my back.” He smiled and said, “Might be.”
And I said, “I tell you what, why don’t we make a deal that we don’t listen to those voices. And if we think that it might be true, we come to each other and we ask the other and we’re honest with each other. Other than that, we dismiss them.”
He said, “I think that’s very wise advice.”
Now, here’s why I tell this story. Did you see what just happened with Kirsten Powers? She goes into Roger Ailes’ office. She’s new there. She goes to Roger’s office, and she has a problem because he called her blonde on the air. And that’s something that she even wrote a book about, you know, about what? Blondes. A non-blonde joke book. I mean, it was a book about how it’s bad, and the horrible things that happen to blonde women.
STU: Well, I mean, a very standard criticism by the left was that there are a bunch of blondes working at Fox News.
PAT: The Fox News babes, they’ve been called. And that was something very common that the left was upset about.
GLENN: Yeah, but she’s on the left.
STU: She was on the left, but worked at Fox News. So defended Fox News against that accusation and has written about how she did not like that people noticed the blonde hair.
GLENN: Right. Then you probably should have your hair — you should stop lightning your hair because it’s so blonde.
STU: I don’t know what her natural color hair is, honestly. Personally.
GLENN: Yeah, I would say probably 40 percent of the people that are on-air at Fox are not naturally blonde. But that’s, you know, a different story.
I’m, believe it or not, not a natural blonde anymore.
GLENN: Yes. Yes.
So, anyway, you see what happened. She goes up and talks to Daddy Ailes. And what’s Daddy say? A friend of Bill. A friend.
GLENN: You got to be careful. You know, Bill likes to — he likes to talk dirty to people.
My guess is that Bill has made mistakes. But Bill mainly is old-school, as he says. He just — come on. He’s not going to play the politically correct, oh, I have to apologize because you were hurt by a blonde — get over it. You’re in the big leagues. Get over it.
I think that’s old-school Bill O’Reilly. I also know Bill. We never had a problem because Bill knows that we’re not only doing news, but we’re also doing a show. And so he takes his business seriously. More seriously than anybody I’ve ever seen. And he has very high standards. Don’t screw it up. Don’t screw my show up. Don’t waste my time. Don’t waste my audience’s time. Okay?
Very high standards. In the ’90s — in the ’80s, this is the way I was, except I was much more of an animal. And if you screwed something up, I was pissed at you.
STU: You’re not saying the sexual part of it.
GLENN: No, I’m saying the demanding exactness in your job.
So Bill gets a bad rap because, look, if you’re not good at what you do or you screw up or you’re lazy — screw up once, he’s going to be mad at you. Screw up twice, you’ve made an enemy. Not on his show. Not on his watch. Don’t screw it up. Okay? That’s one reason why Bill and I never had a problem because I understood that about Bill.
He takes it very seriously. Those who don’t, you’ve got trouble. So he has that going for him. Or against him.
He is old-school, not going to play political correctness. He made a mistake I think in a consensual relationship.
And the worst part of it was Roger Ailes was feeding poison to everybody. So how much of this was right about Bill O’Reilly, and how much of this is poison that everybody knows that because — I mean, even Roger Ailes who we know is a predator, Roger Ailes says he’s a predator, right? I mean, he’s got to be a predator.
JEFFY: Nobody likes him.
GLENN: Nobody likes him. That was one of the first things, Glenn, there is a reason that nobody likes Bill O’Reilly. Really? Because I didn’t take everybody else’s word for it. I just got to know him. And it started with me knowing that he’s got to be the most guarded man in the world because either everybody wants something from him or everybody is knifing him in the back for his position. So I showed him support. And that broke down a wall. And so I found out who he really was, or at least who he really was who he showed me.
How many people just took, oh, yeah, he’s — watch out. Watch out.
STU: And, you know, it’s tough because you get into these situations. And there is nobody who will even say things that are positive. Whether they’re judging the case or not — you know, even if they like you, they don’t defend you. You’re not the only one, apparently, though defending Bill O’Reilly. In a world exploding in violence, we’ve now identified a naval closer to home: Bill O’Reilly. Sexism is a serious problem and a serious accusation. It’s true there are many people who dismiss a woman as unserious and out of their depth, not because they are, but because they are a woman. Bill O’Reilly isn’t one of them. If disagreement is violence and everything is sexist, then eventually nothing will be.
GLENN: Who said that?
STU: Oh. The headline is Kirsten Powers: Bill O’Reilly is not sexist.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh.
PAT: Oh, my gosh. When did she say that?
STU: Written in 2014. Written in 2014 for USA Today.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. And she is the one that had — CNN is using now as the big smoking gun.
PAT: What! Oh, my gosh.
JEFFY: She must have forgotten — forgotten when Bill thanked her for her —
STU: I mean, that’s incredible. Literally the headline in USA Today: Kirsten Powers, Bill O’Reilly is not sexist. That’s the headline of the story. It was a column.
PAT: I mean, it was shocking that she survived the initial attack about her being blonde.
JEFFY: Right. I know.
PAT: You know, that she could even speak after that is a tribute to her. And then for her to completely forget about it in 2014, what an extraordinary person. Extraordinary person.
STU: We all have days where we forget things.
GLENN: Unbelievable. I have to tell you, is there anybody else that is defending — I saw Eric Metaxas say something nice. Is there anybody saying anything nice about Bill O’Reilly?
STU: Other than Kirsten Powers in 2014.
GLENN: Yeah, other than when it was popular to say something nice about Bill O’Reilly. Look, I’m not judging the — I don’t know any of that. So I don’t know. And I think you should — you need to take people seriously on that stuff.
And I don’t like if he’s treating people, you know, poorly on the staff. I don’t like that. Shut up, Jeffy. No, I don’t like it. I think it’s — when you’re rude to people, it’s wrong. Shut the fat mouth. And close the —
JEFFY: That’s a surprise to me. I didn’t know you would feel that way.
GLENN: Close those — close those lard-ridden eyes.
JEFFY: Is that a new policy coming from Glenn Beck?
GLENN: Yes, it is. It is. But I don’t — you don’t stand for that. It’s not right. It’s not right.
GLENN: And in a world where there are contracts and stars, it sometimes lasts longer than it should.
But also, let’s look at facts.
PAT: Have we seen any? Have we seen a single fact? Have we seen any proof? Have we seen evidence of any of it? I don’t think so. We have somebody’s word against his.
GLENN: I haven’t. I haven’t. And nobody wants to — nobody wants to stand up because it’s unpopular. And we are — we know — I will be painted as a guy who is dismissing sexual assault or, you know, sexual impropriety or any of that. I know how that’s going to be — but that’s not what I’m saying. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying there is real. And there is fake. I don’t know which this is. But I haven’t seen the real stuff. I’m only seeing things that make me say, well, he called her blonde. And then Roger Ailes said something about him. That’s not the same as sexual harassment. What are we doing?
Right is right. No matter what it costs you personally, right is right.