“We are lost,” a Fox News insider remarked to me recently, and there are lots of data points to back up the assertion.
Think about it this way: January was one of the biggest months of political news in a generation, yet Fox couldn’t capitalize. Instead of competing by promoting correspondents and putting news coverage front and center, the network prioritized ever more outrageous, ever more extreme opinion. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” essentially expanded to “Tucker Carlson Day and Night.”
That may very well prove to be Fox’s best bet from a business POV. “Win back a base audience that disdains the news by ignoring the news and affirming their views 24/7” makes sense from an economic, if not ethical, standpoint. But for the time being Fox is floundering in third place, and it’s shocking to see. The lack of editorial leadership is palpable, according to numerous sources at the network. And even in its weakened ratings state, Fox is reflecting and propelling the radicalization of the GOP…
Reporting over pontificating
Certainly, there are many reasons for these trendlines. The Fox base’s frustration in the election outcome is one. The availability of Newsmax as a Fox alternative is another. The scrambled politics of this moment, with President Biden visibly trying to work with Republicans, is yet another.
Is this Trump’s fault?
Now, according to many Fox sources, Rupert Murdoch is reasserting himself at the network and is fixated on turning around the ratings. Ellison and Barr reported that Rupert “has been fielding a steady stream of callers with advice about how to handle Trump’s political posture, which is cleaving the Republican Party.”
“A work in progress”
Rupert Murdoch has gotten into the habit of replying to reporter emails on the record. It’s a habit I strongly support.
— “Chris Stirewalt’s leaving had nothing to do with the correct Arizona call by the Fox decision desk.”
— “The new daytime lineup 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 big unknowns
— What schedule changes are in store at CNN? What about MSNBC?
— Will the beginning of the Biden presidency cause a broader decline in news interest and viewership?
— Fox’s schedule revamp in January was just the beginning. What’s next?
— What do the Fox ratings trends, including a strong preference for sinister talk over straight forward news, say about the right-wing audience?
— Certain Fox narratives (think Benghazi and “Obamagate”) make viewers feel like they’re part of a campaign; what will the next campaign be?
— Newsmax has come down off its post-election highs but is still a painful thorn in Fox’s side. Will the insurgent network find ways to grow?
Newsmax segment flies off the rails
>> The context: Newsmax has not been sued by Smartmatic or Dominion yet. But the legal threats from the companies have clearly spooked the network…