The Fox News chickens are coming home to roost. Or perhaps more accurately, they are flying the coop. Since its inception, Fox News has devoutly propelled a far right-wing agenda. They have steadfastly promoted conservative politicians and policies and shamelessly defended Republicans from any and all criticism. Their reward for such partisan bias was the devotion of glassy-eyed regressives whose loyalty produced high ratings and revenue.
However, there was also a price to pay. In 2011 they discovered the hard way that wingnut extremism was not a sustainable business model. That’s when they were forced to fire Glenn Beck for venturing too far into bigotry and conspiracy theories. Beck’s audience was still substantial, but advertisers were shunning him like the plague. So Fox News eventually cut the cord.
Sadly for Fox News, they don’t seem to have learned anything from that disaster. In the years that followed, Fox has continued to spew propaganda and outright falsehoods in the service of GOP politics. And since the inauguration of Donald Trump the level of bombast and junk journalism has grown precipitously. In the past year Fox News has exceeded their wildest dreams as purveyors of state-approved disinformation. Primetime on the network is stuffed with Trumpeteers, and the rest of the day’s roster is no less reverential.
Recently Fox lost some of its star power due to sexual misconduct allegations. Their biggest attraction, Bill O’Reilly was fired after multiple woman came forward with stories of harassment and abuse. Eric Bolling was also dismissed for similar reasons. Megyn Kelly chose to leave due to her own experiences with deviants like O’Reilly and CEO Roger Ailes. However, while their replacements may be free of salacious scandal (for now), they are decidedly more extreme in their politics. Consequently, the advertising prospects for Fox News are once again in decline. TVNewser is reporting that:
“Fox News has taken the most significant hit with -17 percent less spend on news programming in September 2017 vs. September 2016. CNN also saw a small decrease, down -1 percent, while MSNBC was up +2 percent.”
The fact that Fox’s competitors didn’t suffer the profound losses that Fox did is evidence that the problems at Fox News are not due to some industry-wide weakness. It’s more likely due to the reluctance of advertisers to be associated with nutcases like Sean Hannity. There’s confirmation of that in the reporting of the unit cost for ads on Fox. Newcomer Tucker Carlson is pulling in $12,200 per ad. Hannity is getting only $8,500. What makes that significant is that Hannity is the higher rated program of the two. In fact, it’s the highest rated show on Fox News.
So Hannity is valued thirty percent less than a lower rated program. That can only be because ad buyers are scared off by Hannity’s increasingly lunatic conspiracies and brazen Trump-fluffing. The effect is likely leaking into other programs as well. As Carlson’s lunacy becomes more evident, expect his ad buys to shrink. Likewise, the Laura Ingraham Angle, which premieres next week, is already generating bad press.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
All of this is very troubling for Fox News. But it’s heartening for America. One of the right’s favorite societal institutions, the free market, is demonstrating the folly of an alleged “news” network abandoning all pretenses of legitimate journalism. Will this force Fox News to change their ways. Doubtful. Fox’s management, Rupert Murdoch and family, have plenty of money with which to prop up their propaganda outlet. But they will be less able to disguise their deceitful intent, and will likely continue to shed advertisers and viewers.