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Bob Beckel, Liberal activist who became a fixture on Fox, dies aged 73

Bob Beckel, who has grafted a long career as a Democratic political agent into an even longer television pundit, mainly for Fox News, where he took on the role of house libertarian with a penchant for saying whatever’s on his mind, died Sunday at his home in Silver Spring, Md. He is 73 years old.

His daughter, McKenzie Beckel, confirmed the death but said the cause had yet to be determined.

As a professional, Mr. Beckel often fights with the likes of Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld. But some – although he defends Barack Obama, he calls for a visa freeze for Muslim and Chinese students – meaning he often has more friends on the right than on the left.

“He and I get along very well. He has the keys to my house,” Hannity said on his show Monday. Appearing alongside Mr Hannity, Laura Ingraham, another Fox host, called him “an old libertarian you can fight with”.

But Mr. Beckel frequently crosses the line of cultural insensitivity. On Fox News’ “The Five,” where he hosted, he used racial slurs against the Chinese and repeatedly questioned the loyalty of the Chinese. Muslim Americans. “I am a Muslim. That’s right – you can call me all you want,” he said in 2015, after attack in the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Fox News fired him in 2015, ostensibly due to controversy over an extended medical leave, which began with back surgery, but after he became addicted to painkillers, switched to a stay-at-home order. rehab camp. The network recruited him in early 2017 with great fanfare – only to fire him again a few months later, after a Black employee accused him of make racist comments.

Mr. Beckel denied the allegation, saying he was staged for repeatedly criticizing President Donald Trump.

Mr. Beckel became nationally known as the outspoken campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign. By all accounts, he ran a savvy race, helping his candidate weather an embarrassing loss in the New Hampshire primary to Senator Gary Hart of Colorado – in part by persuaded Mr. Mondale to question the content of Mr. Hart’s program during a debate by saying the popular catchphrase, “Where’s the beef?”

Mr. Mondale won the nomination, but Ronald Reagan hit him hard in November of that year in one of the most failed elections in recent history.

Shortly after, Mr. Beckel announced he had completed campaigns, but not politics. The following year, he founded a consulting firm, advising politicians and corporate clients, and he was considered an expert on cable, network and local news throughout the 1990s. .

He signed up as a commentator with Fox News in 2000, and in 2011, he joined four other network personalities to launch “The Five,” a loosely modeled afternoon festival. on “The View”.

The show was a hit, dominating the 5 p.m. time slot and ranking second only to Mr. Hannity among Fox viewers. Many fans of the show, including a large number of libertarians, said they were mostly watching to see what the ever-unpredictable Mr. Beckel would do next.

With his broad and slightly stooped shoulders, wearing a tank top and light shirt sleeves, Mr. Beckel is more likely to defend the freedom bonuses once he has pierced them. He could make a crude gesture to one of his conservative counterparts, or show up just before Christmas dressed as Santa.

“It’s like seeing a family on Thanksgiving come home and argue about politics, but you know everyone loves each other,” he told The New York Times in 2011.

Robert Gilliland Beckel was born on November 15, 1948 in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. His father, Cambridge Graham Beckel, taught at Queens College and then a high school in Lyme, Conn., where the family moved while Robert was in high school. His mother, Ellen (Gilliland) Beckel, is a homemaker.

His parents were both alcoholics, a fact that greatly embarrassed Beckel but one that he discussed comfortably, especially after his later struggles with substance abuse. .

But his father, who stood by his side as a labor organizer and civil rights activist, also passed on a fierce commitment to progressive ideas, a complex legacy that Mr. considered in the memoir “I Should Die: The Politics of My Survival, TV, and Addiction” (2015).

He graduated in 1970 with a degree in political science from Wagner College, on Staten Island, where he also played football. He served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines from 1971 to 1972, and joined the Department of State in 1977.

Here, as deputy assistant secretary, he worked on the Panama Canal Treaty, the SALT II arms control negotiations, and US policy in the Middle East. He left to run Texas land operations for Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign, an attempt that failed but would nonetheless help him run Mr. Mondale’s campaign.

Mr. Beckel has worked hard as a doctor. He does whatever the producers ask of him, whether replacing the presenter on vacation or jumping into election night coverage.

“It was a way for me to keep my finger,” he told the Washington Post in 1991. I can go to Iowa and New Hampshire, get up and then go to bed.”

He married Leland Ingham, a professional golfer, in 1991; they divorced in 2002. Along with his daughter, he is survived by his son, Alex; his brother, Graham; and his sister, Peggy Proto.

In November 2000, Mr. Beckel launched an attempt to see if Florida electors could be persuaded to switch their ballots from George W. Bush to Al Gore. When The Wall Street Journal reported on his project, Mr. Gore shunned it, and as Mr. Beckel continued, two partners at his firm left, forcing him to dissolve it.

Mr. Beckel’s demons occasionally brought him controversies. In early 2001, he got drunk at a bar in Maryland and passed a married woman. Her husband, sitting nearby, drew his gun and aimed it at Mr. Beckel’s head; he pulled the trigger and it fired by mistake.

A year later, he hires a prostitute to blackmail him; after he refused and she went public, he was fired from the campaign by Alan Blinken, a Democrat (and Antony Blinken’s uncle, secretary of state) running for the Senate in Idaho .

Mr. Beckel continued to roll. With conservative writer Cal Thomas, he has written a regular opinion column for USA Today, debating issues such as immigration, the Iraq war and holiday shopping; they later co-wrote “The Common Thing: How to Stop the Partisan Wars That Are Destroying America” (2008).

But his real love is television.

“I could write a good solid column about the presidential campaign in the LA Times and no one would pay much attention,” he said. told Washington Posts. “I’m on ‘Crossfire’ and people seem to think that’s more important.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/us/bob-beckel-dead.html Bob Beckel, Liberal activist who became a fixture on Fox, dies aged 73

Fry Electronics Team

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