“We’re lost,” a Fox News insider recently pointed out to me, and there are plenty of data points to back that up.
Nielsen’s figures for January were released Tuesday, and Fox placed third in the three-horsepower cable news race for the first time since 2001. Additionally, CNN was the # 1 channel on everything. the cable.
Think of it this way: January was one of the biggest political news months in a generation, but Fox couldn’t capitalize. Instead of competing by promoting correspondents and bringing news coverage to the fore, the network has prioritized an ever more scandalous, ever more extreme opinion. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” essentially extended to “Tucker Carlson Day and Night”.
This could very well turn out to be Fox’s best bet from a professional standpoint. “Winning back a grassroots audience that scorns the news by ignoring the news and asserting their opinions 24/7” makes economic, if not ethical, sense. But right now, Fox is struggling in third place, and it’s shocking to see. The lack of editorial leadership is palpable, according to numerous network sources. And even in its weakened rating state, Fox reflects and propels the radicalization of the GOP …
Here’s how the Daily Beast team described Fox’s’ dive ‘on Tuesday:’ Signaling a seismic shift in the media landscape as defeated former President Donald Trump hibernates in a strangely silent exile in Mar-a-Lago, victory Fox News’s two-decade-long streak ended abruptly on Tuesday, as rivals CNN and MSNBC won the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings in cable television overall, respectively. Fox News’s embarrassing third place is the continuation of a downtrend in which the right-wing outlet lost the fourth quarter of 2020 to CNN and alienated loyal viewers supporting Trump by calling Arizona early for Joe. Biden during his election night coverage.
There are certainly many reasons for these trend lines. The Fox base’s frustration with the election result is one of them. The availability of Newsmax as an alternative to Fox is another. The muddled politics of this moment, with President Biden obviously trying to work with Republicans, is another.
Another big reason is the public’s demand for news. Between the pandemic, the power transition and the insurgency, a lot of people want to report before they pontificate, and CNN is built for it. Fox is not. (Just count the number of CNN bureaus compared to Fox.) Fox actively avoids the news when producers believe the boast will be rated higher – Tuesday night, for example, CNN and MSNBC showed the U.S. Capitol Ceremony for the policeman Brian Sicknick as Fox stuck with Sean Hannity’s screech fest. Laura Ingraham only showed the ceremony briefly when Biden visited the Capitol to pay homage to him …
Is it Trump’s fault?
President Trump helped the network in the short term – but ultimately the network hurt Trump and it hurt them too. “Never before has a network been so closely affiliated with a Commander-in-Chief,” WaPo’s Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr wrote on Tuesday. Today, Fox is experiencing “a sort of identity crisis.”
Now, according to multiple Fox sources, Rupert Murdoch is reasserting himself on the network and is obsessed with flipping ratings. Ellison and Barr reported that Rupert “sent out a constant stream of calls with advice on how to handle Trump’s political posture, which divides the Republican Party.”
“A work in progress”
Rupert Murdoch has made a habit of responding officially to journalists’ emails. It is a habit that I strongly support.
Responding to WaPo, particularly the outlet report that Fox News chairman Jay Wallace is under surveillance, Rupert wrote that “Lachlan, myself and Suzanne Scott have complete faith in Jay Wallace.” His other quotes:
– “Chris Stirewalt’s departure has nothing to do with Arizona’s correct appeal by the Fox ruling office.”
– “The new daytime programming is the work of Ms. Scott and [new managing editor for news] Tom Lowell, and to some extent is still a work in progress. “
The great unknowns
– USA Today’s Bill Keveney headline asks the big Q: “CNN goes to # 1, Fox drops in post-election ratings: will it last?”
– What schedule changes are in store at CNN? What about MSNBC?
–Will the start of Biden’s presidency result in a wider drop in news and audience interest?
– Fox’s calendar revamp in January was just the start. And after?
– What do Fox’s odds trends say, including a strong preference for sinister speeches over straightforward news, about right-wing audiences?
– Some Fox stories (think Benghazi and “Obamagate”) make viewers feel like part of a campaign; what will the next campaign be?
– Newsmax has fallen from its post-election highs, but remains a painful thorn on Fox’s side. Will the insurgent network find ways to develop?
Newsmax segment derails
Oliver Darcy writes:
“Have you seen this viral video
again? This is what happens when a network faces massive legal exposure. On Tuesday, Newsmax invited Mike Lindell, the honorable head of MyPillow, to a talk about the cancellation culture and “ censorship ” of Big Tech – and it ironically ended with the hosts actually “ canceled ” Lindell and “ censored ” his speech. The discussion derailed
when Lindell began promoting discredited conspiracy theories about voting machines. Host Bob Sellers, who was clearly prepared for the possibility, stepped in and dismissed the fraud allegations. But Lindell kept pushing the claims, so the sellers asked the producers if they could move on, “ Can we get out of here, please? “I thought it was weird; at CNN, anchors are empowered to end segments rather than asking for help from the control room. Moments later, the vendors gave up and stepped out of camera reach, while co-host Heather Childers continued with Lindell … “
>> The background: Newsmax has not yet been sued by Smartmatic or Dominion. But corporate legal threats have clearly scared the network …
>> Naturally, some Newsmax fans sided with Lindell at the expense of the network …
It is not an “all channel” problem.
Oliver Darcy writes:
Nicolle Wallace asked former Sen. Bob Corker on Tuesday if Fox deserved responsibility for all of the Republican Party misinformation. That was a good question (and the answer is, of course, yes) but Corker dodged
by blaming “all channels” for opinion programming. However, it must be emphasized: opinion programming based on a set of common facts and spreading outright propaganda to millions of people every night are two totally different things and should not be confused … “