The day after News Corp released their latest quarterly earnings report, they made another announcement that somehow was left out of the earnings conference call.
The struggling Fox Business Network (FBN) has, in one fell swoop, canceled their entire primetime lineup. Wiped from the schedule are “Freedom Watch” with Andrew Napolitano, “Power & Money” with David Asman, and “Follow the Money” with Eric Bolling. All three programs had little business running on a business network in the first place. They were brazenly political vehicles for sharply partisan, right-wing gasbags.
Andrew Napolitano is a notorious 9/11 truther who believes that the attack on the World Trade Center towers was an inside job. He also lamented the killing of Osama Bin Laden whom he characterized as a victim of assassination, “killed on the illegal whim of the President.”
David Asman has said that we should all be celebrating the 1%. He is an advocate of shutting down the government and believes that its size must be cut “before it kills us all.” He called Obama “Hugo Chavez on the Potomac.” And he believes that Social Security is “one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated.”
Eric Bolling is perhaps the most deserving of the Glenn Beck Memorial Wingnut Award for Delusional Hyperbole. He has accused President Obama of engaging in class warfare that was “forged in Marxist Germany.” He embraces every conspiracy theory that comes along including that Sesame Street was demonizing the Tea Party. He even accused the American hikers who were held in an Iranian prison of being spies and said that Iran should have kept them.
The demise of these programs signals the dismal shape that FBN is in. The decision to swing the axe was not prompted by the development of new programs to take their place. FBN will fill the holes with repeats of programs that air earlier in the day. It is clearly a desperation move by a network that needs to cut the dead weight and run leaner and cheaper.
FBN’s primetime lineup never drew more than about 25,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 year old demographic. Their ratings have been pathetic from the start, when they proposed to launch a new business channel that would appeal to “Main Street.” That was a direct contradiction of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch who said that “a Fox channel would be ‘more business-friendly than CNBC.'” Of course, a business network is not supposed to be “friendly” toward the businesses it is covering.
In an ironic twist, FBN’s Vice-President, Kevin Magee, recently distributed a memo to his staff admonishing them for being too much like their sister network, Fox News.
Magee: “I’ve been asked to remind you all again that they are separate channels and the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves. I understand the temptation to imitate our sibling network in hopes of imitating its success, but we cannot. If we give the audience a choice between FNC and the almost-FNC, they will choose FNC every time.”
That’s excellent advice. CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC should pay attention. However, it apparently came too late to save the most Foxish programs on the network. Now Magee has lopped off the worst offenders in the hopes of rescuing the floundering enterprise. Though the losers will still be around as Magee notes that “We look forward to Judge Napolitano, David and Eric continuing to make significant contributions to both FOX Business and FOX News.” Yeah right.
The only purpose Fox Business ever had was to extend the rightist propaganda already blaring from Fox News. They loaded up the network with conservative extremist pundits and vacant ratings whores like Don Imus. That approach has proven to be another failure for Murdoch, whose MySpace investment quickly went down the tubes; whose New York Post has lost millions for as long as he has owned it; for his international newspaper syndicate that is still reeling from the discovery of rampant criminal activity, phone hacking, and the the shuttering of his biggest paper in the UK, the News of the World.
Another item of information that was disclosed with the News Corp earnings release is that their cable television assets represent 60% of their revenue. That’s a pretty heavy reliance on one business segment of a conglomerate that includes international publishing and film operations. Now that FBN is slipping away, all that Murdoch needs is to have his Fox News falter. That is the last remaining support for his crumbling empire. And for the benefit of honest journalism, the nation, and the world, it can’t come too soon.