You almost have to feel sorry for the poor shills at State TV (aka Fox News). Their corporate mission is inextricably tied to defending Republican policies and politicians. And with Donald Trump gumming up the works every day with tirades that stretch the boundaries of either hate speech or humor, their jobs cannot be easy. In fact, it must be a downright nightmare having to make lame, impotent excuses for their “Chosen One.”
In addition to facing Trump’s rapidly declining poll numbers, Fox is also having to absorb incoming rhetorical missiles from Trump, the guy they are working so hard to promote and protect. It’s a complex tango that results in everyone getting their toes stepped on. But Fox is up to the challenge. They just announced the hiring of Trump’s former Press Secretary and confessed liar, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She’s expected to be running for Arkansas governor, so this job is Fox’s campaign contribution.
Fox News is simultaneously suffering through some difficult financial times due to the noxious commentaries of some of their top program hosts. Particularly Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. In April of this year Variety reported that “ad dollars attached to ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ fell 47.8%, to $48.3 million from almost $92.7 million in 2017.” That’s a nearly 50 percent haircut. The numbers of ads on his program dropped a similar percentage to only fifteen from thirty-six last October. Laura Ingraham is experiencing the same drop-off in advertisers. So what could be causing these financial calamities while their viewership remains as passionately loyal as any cult?
Well, it could be that Tucker Carlson’s flagrant bigotry is a staple of his nightly program and advertisers are reaching their breaking point. His most recent controversy was triggered by his preposterous statement that white nationalism “is a hoax.” Never mind that most acts of domestic terrorism are by white nationalists, according to the Trump-appointed FBI Director, Christopher Wray.
Meanwhile, Laura Ingraham’s problems began after she attacked the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting. These are kids who suffered a nightmare that no one should ever face, but who Ingraham considered fair game for even more abuse. She is also notorious for her racist and elitist views, such as when she said that basketball legend and philanthropist LeBron James should “shut up and dribble.”
Fox News, however, is fiercely defensive and unrepentant. They insist that they haven’t lost any revenue as a result of their loathsome hosts because the ads are merely shifted to other programs. That’s an outright lie. It would mean that the other programs had unsold ad inventory that these ads could be slipped into. If that’s true they are admitting to even bigger problems selling ads throughout the day. But even if we accept Fox’s explanation, that still means they lost money because moving a primetime ad to a less expensive daypart would require significant discounting. What’s more, Fox programming is now cluttered with unpaid Fox News promos and cheesy, low cost ads for reverse mortgages and MyPillow.
Any other business would be concerned about this sort of dwindling revenue. But since Fox News is a political operation first and a business second (and never a news enterprise), they are willing to take the hit. While they are surely as greedy as any other corporation, they are more committed to advancing the interests of Trump and the GOP. If that’s a costly proposition, they regard it as money well spent to disinform their audience and spread right-wing lies. And unless the movement to defund Fox escalates significantly, expect this to continue throughout the 2020 election cycle and beyond.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.