There’s been a pretty steady stream of bad news lately for Fox News. Most prominent is the success of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, along with many of her colleagues. She has beaten her Fox competition, Sean Hannity, nearly every night since early November, after the midterm election. Fox is also hurting from the exodus of advertisers due to the racist commentaries of their featured hosts. And they can’t be happy about Donald Trump coming to their aid, with all the baggage he brings along.
On top of that, Fox is embarrassing itself with ludicrous lies, flagrant Trump sycophancy, and hosts who brag that they have nauseating personal hygiene practices. And in the midst of these self-made messes, Fox has to pitch their network to advertisers in the upcoming “upfront” sales season when networks make their cases to the advertising community for the new year. Given their ratings failures and sinking reputation, Fox is going to have a hard time making their network seem appealing. According to Variety:
“Whether or not they watch Fox News Channel regularly, a lot of people talk about its primetime hosts: Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. Now executives at the network hope to spark new conversation about its news anchors, like Martha MacCallum, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.” […]
“Fox News sparks the new initiative at a time when its opinion programs have come under scrutiny from advertisers. Some sponsors have pulled their advertising from Tucker Carlson’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” or Laura Ingraham’s “The Ingraham Angle” after remarks made by the hosts in 2018 and amid subsequent protest from advocacy organizations.”
In other words, Fox is trying to downplay the programs hosted by their biggest stars during primetime, the most watched daypart. This is an unprecedented display of cowardice for a television network. It would be like CBS trying to downplay “The Big Bang Theory” and “CSI” in favor of some daytime game shows. Variety quotes a Fox advertising executive as saying that they want to press “against the notion that the network is only for conservatives.” It’s way too late for them to sell that nonsense. Fox doesn’t even use the “fair and balanced” slogan anymore. They ditched it for “Real News,” an obvious suck-up to Trump.
Everyone knows that Fox News is now just a surrogate for the White House. They have become the closest thing to State TV that America has ever known. And now the ad sales people think that advertisers can be fooled into believing that Fox is “transcending its own genre and becoming popular culture, thanks in part to the Trump presidency.”
But there are two problems with that theory. First, Trump is decidedly unpopular. He has record low approval ratings hovering in the upper thirties on most polls (despite Trump’s lame effort to convince people that he’s universally beloved). And secondly, by positioning the network as popular culture, Fox is admitting that they are not news.
Of course, anyone who has been paying attention already knows that Fox hasn’t been a legitimate news network in years, if ever. They have few, if any, reputable journalists. They have never won a journalism award from the Pulitzers, the Emmys, or any other industry association. Their program hosts are more like cheerleaders for Trump, who actually appear on stage with him at his rallies.
The problem for Fox is that advertisers are not the sort of ignoramuses who watch Fox. They deal with multimillion dollar budgets and they know what they’re buying. By pretending that Fox isn’t the equivalent of Trump TV, their ad sales people will only be insulting the intelligence of the media buyers. And if Fox thinks that’s going to pump up sales, they’re as stupid as their audience – and their President.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.