The rapid decline of Fox News over the past year has been an awesome spectacle. It began with the allegations of sexual harassment against CEO Roger Ailes. He was later fired and, shortly thereafter, died following a fall in his home. Then Bill O’Reilly was also terminated after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct.
Additionally, some executives were likewise dismissed for their own inappropriate behavior. And Fox News lost their rising star, Megyn Kelly, who joined NBC where her program is a ratings failure. Greta Van Susteren, also quit Fox for a show on MSNBC that has already been canceled. Most recently, Eric Bolling, host of two Fox News programs has been suspended for allegedly sending lewd pictures to network colleagues.
Fox’s reputation for being a brazenly biased mouthpiece for Republican politics is morphing into one of perversion and misogyny. But don’t worry – their mission of right-wing propagandizing is still being pursued in earnest by many remaining shills. Chief among them is Sean Hannity, who has escalated his efforts to promote Donald Trump. His program has become an unabashed platform for exalting and defending Trump no matter the circumstances.
Hannity has been performing some wild rhetorical acrobatics to that end. He has whirled from insisting that Trump was totally innocent of any collusion with Russia, to arguing that such collusion wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. More offensive are his ventures into conspiracy theories. Hannity has made a project of promoting the totally debunked story about Seth Rich. This fake news asserts that Rich, a former DNC staffer, was murdered for his involvement in hacking the Clinton/Podesta emails and sending them to Wikileaks. It’s a fascinating story that would be even more compelling if any of it were true.
As Hannity has ramps up the crazy on his show, he is beginning to attract some push-back from proponents of ethical journalism. Media Matters has initiated a campaign to “Stop Hannity” from further staining the airwaves with his lies and hate. They have previously engineered similar campaigns that targeted Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. Both of them were eventually booted from their perches at Fox and now languish in near obscurity. It’s safe to say that Hannity is nervous. The Stop Hannity home page spells out how Media Matters intends to hold him, Fox News, and their advertisers accountable:
“Spreading misinformation is Hannity’s business model, and now he’s doing it on behalf of the Trump administration. His propagandizing has become so odious that he was condemned by some of his coworkers, who reportedly told The Daily Beast that the host was ’embarrassing’ the network and that ‘some people need to be fired.’
“It’s past time for Hannity to go. If Fox won’t fire Hannity, then advertisers should run as fast as they can, or else they run the risk of being complicit in his deceit and recklessness. Advertisers will get burned if they continue to associate with Hannity — plain and simple.”
This movement has only just begun, but it is already showing progress. Most notably, ultra-conservative pundits and websites are rising up in anger about this grassroots activism. The Daily Caller, Newsbusters, Western Journalism, and YoungCons have all posted stories labeling Media Matters a far-left provocateur. What’s more, Hannity’s ratings are suffering among the key advertiser demographic of 25-54 year olds. For the most recent week for which there is complete ratings data, Hannity lost the whole week to his time period competition on MSNBC, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. For the same week the Rachel Maddow Show was the highest rated program on all of cable news. Fox News was accustomed to dominating the ratings charts for years, but those days seem to be gone.
Time will tell if this campaign will be as successful as those aimed at Hannity’s former colleagues. But the track record of Media Matters on these actions is formidable. Advertisers have good reasons to be wary of associating themselves with a conspiracy monger like Hannity. And the more people that jump on this bandwagon, the more it can achieve. To that end, be sure to sign up at Stop Hannity and participate in the advertiser education program they are conducting. It’s a worthwhile cause because, as Ted Koppel told Hannity to his face, he is “bad for America.”
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.