Bob Beckel fired by Fox News (again)

More turmoil at the Fox News Channel, as Bob Beckel, a cast member of the prime time program The Five, has been fired in a scandal with shocking racial overtones. Dave Bauder of the Associated Press reports:

 Fox News Channel said Friday that it had fired liberal commentator Bob Beckel for making a racially insensitive remark to a black employee.

Fox offered no details on the case, but a lawyer for the employee said Beckel had “stormed out” of his office Tuesday when the man, who is a technician, came to do work on his computer, saying he was leaving because the worker was black.

The lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, also said that Beckel attempted to intimidate his client and get him to withdraw his complaint in a meeting Friday with Fox executive Kevin Lord. Fox denied that anyone tried to persuade the man to withdraw his complaint, and said that Beckel had apologized to him after he was fired.

Beckel has not commented in public on the allegations, and we don’t know what the “racially insensitive remark” was. But the fact that he was fired and is reported to have apologized suggests that he did indeed allow racism to affect his behavior toward a black colleague.  It is only my speculation, but I wonder if he assumed that as a progressive he has immunity from charges of racism?

This is actually the second time Beckel has been fired by FNC.

Beckel had only returned to Fox in January. He’d been ousted in June 2015 while dealing with substance abuse, with then-Fox executive Bill Shine saying Fox “couldn’t hold The Five hostage to one man’s personal issues.” Beckel subsequently wrote a book I Should Be Dead: My Life Surviving Politics, TV and Addiction.

As Peter Barry Chowka reported here Friday, Beckel’s platform at FNC, The Five, was moved to a prime time slot in the wake of the departure of Bill O’Reilly, giving him a far larger audience than before and greater prominence in the Fox firmament. That may have backfired.

Not coincidentally, the attorney representing the aggrieved black technical employee is also representing others suing the network:

Wigdor currently represents 22 clients with cases against Fox, including 15 involved in a lawsuit alleging racist behavior by the network’s since-fired controller, Judith Slater, who denies the charges.

Is there panic in the suites at Fox?  Has Beckel been tossed out quickly because of the other cases? We have no way of knowing. But we can judge that turmoil is reigning in the executive suites.

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