Mercury Confidential: Meet the woman who has kept Glenn's TV show on the air every day since CNN

By Meg Storm

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at Mercury Radio Arts? Just how do all of Glenn’s crazy ideas get done? Does anyone ever get a chance to sleep? Well, over the next few months we are going to take you inside MRA, giving you the inside scoop on everything from publishing to special events, 1791 to Markdown to GBTV. We will be interviewing members of our New York, Columbus, and Dallas staff, bringing you all the info, so you can know what it’s really like to work for Glenn. Part 1 (Kevin Balfe – Publishing)Part 2 (Liz Julis – GBTV/Special Events)Part 3 (Joel Cheatwood: CCO & President of TheBlaze)Part 4 (Eric Pearce: VP, TV Operation of TheBlaze)Part 5 (Michelle Vanderhoff Network Operations Manager at TheBlaze)

Imagine leaving your job at CNN to get a call a few days later asking you to return and help launch a show for a radio personality who had virtually no television experience. Imagine then being the only person to leave your job at CNN and follow the now budding cable news star to Fox News, where you work your way up to senior producer in a matter of months. Finally, imagine leaving the comforts of working as an executive producer at a major cable news channel to join a fledgling online streaming network. Well, that just about sums up the remarkable career of Tiffany Siegel, V.P. and Executive Producer of Glenn Beck Programming

Siegel's journey is proof that with risk comes reward, and it is her work ethic and unfailing ability to translate Glenn's mile-a-minute ideas into a broadcast ready reality that took her from producing "all of the entertainment fluff segments" to the person calling the shots.

Life as an executive producer for Glenn can mean a long and stressful day, with Siegel getting into the office each morning in time for the 6:30AM meeting during which Glenn and his team figure out the content for the day and not leaving until after the Glenn's show is off the air each night, but she doesn't mind. After all, she is living her dream.

"Its pretty obvious - for this job at least - I went to Syracuse University, and I studied broadcast journalism," Siegel explained. "This was a lifelong thing for me."

She interned for CNN throughout college, and then took a job there after graduation. "I started in financial news, which was not that exciting. But at the time, it was during the Dot Com bubble, so we were launching all kinds of business programs. It was actually a good place to get your feet wet," she said.

Siegel ended up leaving CNN to work for CBS News, but it wasn't long before she got a call that would ultimately prove to be the opportunity of a lifetime. A producer at CNN, Conway Cliff (now a program consultant at TheBlaze), was launching a new daily show with a man named Glenn Beck, and he thought Siegel would be a good addition to the team.

"I was only at CBS for a few months because I left CNN and then Conway pulled me right back into CNN when Glenn's show came on because it just seemed like something so different then anything that network had done before," she recalled. "So I came in for an interview. I didn't meet Glenn, but I interviewed with Chris and Kevin Balfe. And then I met Glenn about two weeks before we were going to launch."

It was an exciting opportunity for Siegel that came at a very special time in her life. "I actually got married the week before we launched - the day Cheyenne [Glenn's daughter] was born - and then I came back from my honeymoon, and I think we launched the next day," she said with a laugh.

As far as Glenn is concerned, Siegel started at the bottom of totem pole. "I started as a segment producer doing, as Glenn tells the story, all of the entertainment fluff segments," she said. "When he tells a story about how you can make it big in his company he always says: Look at Tiffany, she started doing stupid, idiotic reality TV show segments for me."

"I did start doing a little bit of the lighter stuff," she continued. "I worked my way up - did a lot of field producing, and I guess that is when I really got to know Glenn. I did some stuff in the field, like when we went to Los Angles for a week, which enabled me some time with him working on different packages."

That trip to Los Angeles was actually one of the first chances Siegel got to really make an impression on Glenn, and it is safe to say things didn't quite go as planned.

"I didn't know Glenn that well, and I really wanted to show him that I wasn't just the fluffy reality TV show girl," she recalled. "So we were going to broadcast from the roof of the CNN building, which was pretty cool. I guess Glenn had just had these fancy suits made for his new TV career, and he had on his brand new L.A. suit that day."

"I took him up to the roof to show him this amazing vantage point, and the whole suit rips right before air. It just ripped," she said shaking her head. "I think they ended up putting masking tape on the back of it. And I was just like, 'Ok - this is the worst impression I could be making on this man.' He has these really nice fancy suits and it was ruined... that kind of sucked."

The incident was definitely an icebreaker, and it clearly didn't affect her chances for success. In fact, in retrospect it proved to be the beginning of an incredible partnership.

One of Siegel's fondest moments of her time at CNN came when a segment she produced made Glenn cry on television... for the first time.

"I think I made him cry for the very first time on set - at CNN anyway - we all know he has cried many, many times," she said sarcastically. It was a segment about a woman who had lost her son in Afghanistan, and she set up a foundation in his honor that would send packages to soldiers overseas. The woman was brought to the studio to talk about her story with Glenn.

"We had done a profile on her and her story, and she was on the set," Siegel explained. "So she watched the package with Glenn, and we came back from the piece, and he was just - you know Glenn - so hysterical that he could barely compose himself."

Considering how many tears Glenn has shed on the air, it is no small feat to say a story you produced caused him to cry for the first time. Siegel is one of the few people who have had the chance to work with Glenn since day one of his television career, and she has witnessed his evolution from novice to expert.

"Glenn, in the beginning, did not understand TV at all. He would say, lets get an expert on X, Y, and Z, and then they would be on the set that night, and he would be like, 'How did this happen?' He couldn't fathom how it worked," she said. "Now he is like, get me an elephant, two wild turkeys, and a monkey at five o'clock. And he expects it to be done. He has caught onto TV, the lingo, all of it. And now he is an expert on all of these things."

When Glenn decided to make the move to Fox News in late 2008, Siegel jumped at the chance to continue working with him. Of the entire production staff at CNN, she was the only one to follow Glenn. "I was the only one who took the risk at the time," she said. "That was scary, but exciting. And I knew that if Glenn was behind it, it was going to be fine. I knew him at that point, and I was comfortable with what he was doing."

With her days as the "fluff producer" long behind her, Siegel moved to Fox News as the second in command. "I was not running the show at first, but they had a senior producer that didn't work out," she explained. "So after about six months they put me in the driver's seat, and I was so excited. At that time we were the number two show in all of cable news, and I couldn't believe that I was running it!"

As executive producer, Siegel's job is to oversee the production and content of the show, providing Glenn with as many ideas as possible and keeping things organized - responsibilities that are much easier said than done when it comes to working with Glenn.

"I guess the thing with Glenn - what is that saying? The only thing consistent is change. That's Glenn. It is legitimately different everyday," she said. "He is not someone that likes to plan ahead, and even if he does plan ahead he will pretend that he didn't plan ahead. He'll be like, 'What are you talking about? I never said I would do that.'"

"For Glenn, I just like to come up with as many different story ideas with as many different topics as possible - so a ton of research, creative ways that he can tell stories," she continued. "We build that rundown from scratch everyday. We come in at 6:30 in the morning, and we meet with him and give him ideas. And then he marinates them in his head and comes out with that day's monologue, which has become the signature of the show."

There is no question that the opening monologue has become the hallmark of Glenn's program - lasting upwards of 20 minutes and packed full of thoroughly researched material that sets the tone for the rest of the show. "When we started with Glenn he was doing maybe four or five minute monologues, and people said that was too long, and you can't keep that up," Siegel explained. "And then we expanded them to twenty minutes, and now they can be up to an hour long. He is the only one on TV that I think can pull that off everyday."

Working with Glenn is also unique in that he generates so many of his own ideas. Siegel describes Glenn as "an idea factory," a quality that makes her job exponentially easier and more difficult at the same time.

"He is so not the typical TV host," she said. "He changes everyday. His ideas get bigger. No one works harder than Glenn, so just trying to - I don't want to say keep up with that - but I love the fact that he is absolutely the hardest working man in this building. To surround yourself with that just pushes you to do more."

"He is absolutely one of a kind, and completely unique. I have worked with a lot of other anchors and they are nothing like Glenn," she continued. "Glenn's vision is all his own."

Siegel has learned that a sense of humor is often necessary to ensure she keeps her sanity. "And then there is the silly factor of Glenn," she said with a laugh. "Like when the Supreme Court health care decision came down, he said that morning, let's have a circus on set. Let's have an elephant and horses and clowns. And he is dead serious! I have to be the magic fairy that makes that happen. It's a challenge, but fun... really fun."

It is running joke around the office that certain people have learned to 'speak Glenn,' and Siegel is one of those people. Her ability to anticipate his needs and understand the big picture is what makes their relationship work so well.

"I think from listening to him and working so closely with him, I do feel like I can often finish his sentences," Siegel admitted. "And I have a good memory, so if we did a show in 2009 where there is a certain sound bite that Glenn recalls, I can recall that too."

It also helps that in the six plus years Glenn has been on television, Siegel has only missed a handful of shows. "The only time I have ever missed a show was when I gave birth - and I only missed four shows," she said. "So people definitely think I am nuts, but just literally being on every show he has done on TV, allows you to remember all that stuff."

It also helps that Siegel has surrounded herself with a fantastic group of writers, producers, and directors. It is a team effort through and through. "Our team is unbelievable," she said without hesitation. "This team is all in it. Go big or go home."

When Glenn made the decision to leave Fox News and start his own online streaming network, Siegel was once again ready for the challenge. "Exposure wise it is obviously harder because you go from being part of the mainstream to being sort of under the radar," she said in regards to GBTV (now TheBlazeTV). "On a positive note, there is nothing we can't do. At the networks - at Fox or at CNN - we always had to get approval. If Glenn wanted to do a stunt or say something or do a show on location, we had to go to the 'second floor' - that's what they call it at Fox - or run it through executives."

The freedom to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants is something that Glenn was particularly excited about when he started GBTV. The freedom for Glenn to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants is something that can pose a bit of challenge for Siegel. "Now, we have no limitations, which is a blessing and a curse because sometimes if Glenn wants to do something nuts, we used to be able to say, 'Oh the second floor said no,'" she said with a laugh. "I'll say to Joel [Cheatwood, President/Chief Content Officer at TheBlaze] sometimes, 'We are the second floor. Help!' We can't say no now. It's just us. If Glenn wants to ride a horse into the studio, well, okay, make sure you are wearing your cowboy hat."

Despite all of the television wonders she has seen and produced over the years, one of Siegel's most memorable moments working for Glenn actually had nothing to do with TV.

"We were at Fox, and it was probably a Tuesday," she recalled. "Glenn decided it was his 10 year anniversary, and how could he let that go by without splurging on a last minute trip to Rome with Tania [his wife]."

Considering Glenn's show stars Glenn and Glenn only, taking the rest of the week off was going to be a little tricky. "So we had not been on Fox that long. We didn't have the liberty like we do now to just get a guest host," Siegel explained. "The only way to make this work was to tape like two or three shows back to back at one o'clock in the afternoon, and then he was going to get on the plane with Tania and go."

As if preparing for and taping three shows in one day was not complicated enough, Glenn added another piece to the puzzle when he decided the trip was going to be a surprise. "This was a really big ordeal, and it was like, no one tell, no one tell, no one say anything. This is the biggest surprise, and everyone managed to keep their mouth shut."

During the taping/broadcast of his show, Glenn can hear Siegel through an earpiece he wears, and when he speaks, she can hear what he is saying as well. Just as they were about to begin taping the first show, Glenn had a request. "We are right about to go on the air to tape the show," she said. "And I am in his earpiece, and he is like, 'Tiffany, I need you to do me a favor. I need you to ask my wife - (who is now waiting in the Green Room with no idea what is going on - she thinks she is here for this early show) - I need you to get her pocketbook and take her passport out because they need it so she can get on the plane.'"

"And I am like, you know, we can get you your circus elephants, but why would Tania give me her purse. Like I am supposed to take her pocketbook? She didn't really even know me at the time," she said.

As usual, however, she figured out a way to get it done. "But we somehow managed to sneak her passport out of her bag so she wouldn't know, and she was still surprised when she got to Rome. Its just so Glenn - go steal my wife's pocketbook, and steal her passport, and she won't notice."

It may sound nuts, but it is just another day at the office for Siegel, and she wouldn't have it any other way. "It sums up my job," she said with a smile. "I am responsible for everything from making sure the show gets on the air to making sure he has a Coke Zero at all times."

Rapper Kendrick Lamar brings white fan onstage to sing with him, but here’s the catch

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for American Express

Rapper Kendrick Lamar asked a fan to come onstage and sing with him, only to condemn her when she failed to censor all of the song's frequent mentions of the “n-word" while singing along.

RELATED: You'll Never Guess Who Wrote the Racist Message Targeting Black Air Force Cadets

“I am so sorry," she apologized when Lamar pointed out that she needed to “bleep" that word. “I'm used to singing it like you wrote it." She was booed at by the crowd of people, many screaming “f*** you" after her mistake.

On Tuesday's show, Pat and Jeffy watched the clip and talked about some of the Twitter reactions.

“This is ridiculous," Pat said. “The situation with this word has become so ludicrous."

What happened?

MSNBC's Katy Tur didn't bother to hide her pro-gun control bias in an interview with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the wake of the Santa Fe High School killings.

RELATED: Media Are Pushing Inflated '18 School Shootings' Statistic. Here Are the Facts.

What did she ask?

As Pat pointed out while sitting in for Glenn on today's show, Tur tried to “badger" Paxton into vowing that he would push for a magical fix that will make schools “100 percent safe." She found it “just wild" that the Texas attorney general couldn't promise that schools will ever be completely, totally safe.

“Can you promise kids in Texas today that they're safe to go to school?" Tur pressured Paxton.

“I don't think there's any way to say that we're ever 100 percent safe," the attorney general responded.

What solutions did the AG offer?

“We've got a long way to go," Paxton said. He listed potential solutions to improve school safety, including installing security officers and training administrators and teachers to carry a gun.

Pat's take:

“Unbelievable," Pat said on today's show. “Nobody can promise [100 percent safety]."

Every president from George Washington to Donald Trump has issued at least one executive order (with the exception of William Harrison who died just 31 days into his presidency) and yet the U.S. Constitution doesn't even mention executive orders. So how did the use of this legislative loophole become such an accepted part of the job? Well, we can thank Franklin Roosevelt for that.

Back at the chalkboard, Glenn Beck broke down the progression of the executive order over the years and discussed which US Presidents have been the “worst offenders."

RELATED: POWER GRAB: Here's how US presidents use 'moments of crisis' to override Constitutional law

“It's hard to judge our worst presidential overreachers on sheer numbers alone," said Glenn. “However, it's not a shock that FDR issued by far the most of any president."

Our first 15 presidents issued a combined total of 143. By comparison, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued 3721, more than twice the next runner up, Woodrow Wilson, at 1803.

“Next to FDR, no other president in our history attempted to reshape so much of American life by decree, until we get to this guy: President Obama," Glenn explained. “He didn't issue 3000, or even 1800; he did 276 executive orders, but it was the power of those orders. He instituted 560 major regulations classified by the Congressional Budget Office as having 'significant economic or social impacts.' That's 50 percent more regulations than George W. Bush's presidency — and remember, everybody thought he was a fascist."

President Obama blamed an obstructionist Congress for forcing him to bypass the legislative process. By executive order, President Obama decreed the U.S. join the Paris Climate Accord, DACA, the Clean Power Plan and transgender restrooms. He also authorized spying in US citizens through section 702 of FISA, used the IRS to target political opponents and ordered military action in Libya without Congressional permission.

All of these changes were accepted by the very people who now condemn President Trump for his use of executive orders — many of which were issued to annul President Obama's executive orders, just as President Obama annulled President Bush's executive orders when he took office … and therein lies the rub with executive orders.

“That's not the way it's supposed to work, nor would we ever want it to be," said Glenn. “We have to have the Constitution and laws need to originate in Congress."

Watch the video above to find out more.

Six months ago, I alerted readers to the very attractive benefits that the TreasuryDirect program offers to investors who are defensively sitting on cash right now.

Since then, those benefits have continued to improve. Substantially.

Back in November, by holding extremely conservative short-term (i.e., 6-months or less) Treasury bills, TreasuryDirect participants were receiving over 16x more in interest payments vs keeping their cash in a standard bank savings account.

Today, they're now receiving over 30 times more. Without having to worry about the risk of a bank "bail-in" or failure.

So if you're holding cash right now and NOT participating in the TreasuryDirect program, do yourself a favor and read on. If you're going to pass on this opportunity, at least make it an 'eyes-wide-open' decision.

Holding Cash (In Treasurys) Now Beats The Market

There are many prudent reasons to hold cash in today's dangerously overvalued financial markets, as we've frequently touted here at PeakProsperity.com.

Well, there's now one more good reason to add to the list: holding cash in short-term Treasurys is now meeting/beating the dividend returns offered by the stock market:

"Cash Is King" Again - 3-Month Bills Yield More Than Stocks (Zero Hedge)
'Reaching for yield' just got a lot easier...
For the first time since February 2008, three-month Treasury bills now have a yield advantage over the S&P; 500 dividend yield (and dramatically lower risk).
Investors can earn a guaranteed 1.90% by holding the 3-month bills or a risky 1.89% holding the S&P; 500...

The longest period of financial repression in history is coming to an end...

And it would appear TINA is dead as there is now an alternative.

And when you look at the total return (dividends + appreciation) of the market since the start of 2018, stocks have returned only marginally better than 3-month Treasurys. Plus, those scant few extra S&P; points have come with a LOT more risk.

Why take it under such dangerously overvalued conditions?

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

In my June report Less Than Zero: How The Fed Killed Saving, I explained how the Federal Reserve's policy of holding interest rates at record lows has decimated savers. Those who simply want to park money somewhere "safe" can't do so without losing money in real terms.

To drive this point home: back in November, the average interest rate being offered in a US bank savings account was an insutling 0.06%. Six months later, nothing has changed:

(Source

That's virtually the same as getting paid 0%. But it's actually worse than that, because once you take inflation into account, the real return on your savings is markedly negative.

And to really get your blood boiling, note that the Federal Reserve has rasied the federal funds rate it pays banks from 1.16% in November to 1.69% in April. Banks are now making nearly 50% more money on the excess reserves they park at the Fed -- but are they passing any of that free profit along to their depositors? No....

This is why knowing about the TreasuryDirect program is so important. It's a way for individual investors savvy enough to understand the game being played to bend some of its rules to their favor and limit the damage they suffer.

Below is an updated version (using today's rates) of my recap of TreasuryDirect, which enables you to get over 30x more interest on your cash savings than your bank will pay you, with lower risk.

TreasuryDirect

For those not already familiar with it, TreasuryDirect is a service offered by the United States Department of the Treasury that allows individual investors to purchase Treasury securities such as T-Bills, notes and bonds directly from the U.S. government.

You purchase these Treasury securities by linking a TreasuryDirect account to your personal bank account. Once linked, you use your cash savings to purchase T-bills, etc from the US Treasury. When the Treasury securities you've purchased mature or are sold, the proceeds are deposited back into your bank account.

So why buy Treasuries rather than keep your cash savings in a bank? Two main reasons:

  • Much higher return: T-Bills are currently offering an annualized return rate between 1.66-2.04%. Notes and bonds, depending on their duration, are currently offering between 2.6% - 3.1%
  • Extremely low risk: Your bank can change the interest rate on your savings account at any time -- with Treasury bills, your rate of return is locked in at purchase. Funds in a bank are subject to risks such as a bank bail-in or the insolvency of the FDIC depositor protection program -- while at TreasuryDirect, your funds are being held with the US Treasury, the institution with the lowest default risk in the country for reasons I'll explain more in a moment.

Let's look at a quick example. If you parked $100,000 in the average bank savings account for a full year, you would earn $60 in interest. Let's compare this to the current lowest-yielding TreasuryDirect option: continuously rolling that same $100,000 into 4-week T-Bills for a year:

  1. Day 1: Funds are transferred from your bank account to TreasuryDirect to purchase $100,000 face value of 4-week T-Bills at auction yielding 1.68%
  2. Day 28: the T-Bills mature and the Treasury holds the full $100,000 proceeds in your TreasuryDirect account. Since you've set up the auto-reinvestment option, TreasuryDirect then purchases another $100,000 face value of 4-week T-Bills at the next auction.
  3. Days 29-364: the process repeats every 4 weeks
  4. Day 365: assuming the average yield for T-Bills remained at 1.68%, you will have received $1,680 in interest in total throughout the year from the US Treasury.

$1,680 vs $60. That's a 27x difference in return.

And the comparison only improves if you decide to purchase longer duration (13-week or 26-week) bills instead of the 4-week ones:

Repeating the above example for a year using 13-week bills would yield $1,925. Using 26-week bills would yield $2,085. A lot better (34x better!) than $60.

Opportunity Cost & Default Risk

So what are the downsides to using TreasuryDirect? There aren't many.

The biggest one is opportunity cost. While your money is being held in a T-Bill, it's tied up at the US Treasury. If you suddenly need access to those funds, you have to wait until the bill matures.

But T-Bill durations are short. 4 weeks is not a lot of time to have to wait. (If you think the probability is high you may to need to pull money out of savings sooner than that, you shouldn't be considering the TreasuryDirect program.)

Other than that, TreasuryDirect offers an appealing reduction in risk.

If your bank suddenly closes due to a failure, any funds invested in TreasuryDirect are not in your bank account, so are not subject to being confiscated in a bail-in.

Instead, your money is held as a T-Bill, note or bond, which is essentially an obligation of the US Treasury to pay you in full for the face amount. The US Treasury is the single last entity in the country (and quite possibly, the world) that will ever default on its obligations. Why? Because Treasurys are the mechanism by which money is created in the US. Chapter 8 from The Crash Course explains:

As a result, to preserve its ability to print the money it needs to function, the US government will bring its full force and backing to bear in order to ensure confidence in the market for Treasurys.

Meaning: the US government won't squelch on paying you back the money you lent it. If required, it will just print the money it needs to repay you.

So, How To Get Started?

Usage of TreasuryDirect is quite low among investors today. Many are unaware of the program. Others simply haven't tried it out.

And let's be real: it's crazy that we live in a world where a 1.68-2.09% return now qualifies as an exceptionally high yield on savings. A lot of folks just can't get motivated to take action by rates that low. But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't -- money left on the table is money forfeited.

So, if you're interested in learning more about the TreasuryDirect program, start by visiting their website. Like everything operated by the government, it's pretty 'no frills'; but their FAQ page addresses investors' most common questions.

Before you decide whether or not to fund an account there, be sure to discuss the decision with your professional financial advisor to make sure it fits well with your personal financial situation and goals. (If you're having difficulty finding a good one, consider scheduling a free discussion with PeakProsperity.com's endorsed financial advisor -- who has considerable experience managing TreasuryDirect purchases for many of its clients).

In Part 2: A Primer On How To Use TreasuryDirect, we lay out the step-by-step process for opening, funding and transacting within a TreasuryDirect account. We've created it to be a helpful resource for those self-directed individuals potentially interested in increasing their return on their cash savings in this manner.

Yes, we savers are getting completely abused by our government's policies. So there's some poetic justice in using the government's own financing instruments to slightly lessen the sting of the whip.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

NOTE: PeakProsperity.com does not have any business relationship with the TreasuryDirect program. Nor is anything in the article above to be taken as an offer of personal financial advice. As mentioned, discuss any decision to participate in TreasuryDirect with your professional financial advisor before taking action.