Saturday, March 04, 2023


Fox News is facing embarrassing revelations about its dishonesty -- and might have to pay out a huge amount of money -- because it felt compelled to endorse Donald Trump's stolen election lie in the weeks following the 2020 election. You'd think Rupert Murdoch's takeaway from the post-election period would be If you make your money selling your programming to right-wing idiots, don't insult Donald Trump.

But Murdoch regards himself as the alpha male in his world. He never respected Trump -- before the 2016 election, according to Michael Wolff, he called Trump "a fucking idiot." Murdoch sent Megyn Kelly out to destroy Trump in an August 2015 debate -- but that backfired. Murdoch's media properties were loyal to Trump during the 2016 general election campaign and all through Trump's presidency, but when Fox's number crunchers determined that Joe Biden had won Arizona in 2020, Murdoch (again according to Michael Wolff) told his son Lachlan that the call should be announced on the air, adding, in reference to Trump, "Fuck him."

So even though the 2020 split from Trump hurt Fox in the ratings, Murdoch is determined to keep trying until he beats his nemesis. And it looks as if he could be getting himself into another war with his audience:
In his first minute onstage at CPAC on Friday, Steve Bannon identified one of his top targets of the moment, an entity he claimed is opposing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at its own peril: Fox News.

The host of the popular War Room podcast and longtime Trump hand started by ripping the conservative channel for announcing that Joe Biden had won Arizona on election night in 2020.

“Fox News illegitimately called it for the opposition, and not Donald J. Trump,” the Trump adviser-turned-talk show host told the crowd....

Ten minutes in, Bannon went after the network again, rousing the audience to their feet as he called out Fox for not having Trump on since he announced his campaign in November. He called out Rupert Murdoch....

“Murdoch, you’ve deemed Trump’s not going to be president,” Bannon continued as the crowd roared with applause. “But we deem that you’re not going to have a network, because we’re going to fight you every step of the way.”
That's from Politico, which found some attendees who are definitely over Fox:
Sandra Salstrom, a harpist from Houston, said she gets all the news she needs from Bannon’s War Room show, and enjoys tuning in to programs hosted by Charlie Kirk, another prominent right-wing commentator.

“I now have nothing to do with Fox,” said Salstrom, explaining she does not have a television at home, but used to watch the network while she was at the gym. “They disgust me.”

“I haven’t watched Fox in years,” said Andra Griffin of Manatee County, Fla., who said she stopped watching the network in 2019, and was completely “unplugged from Fox” by 2020. Instead, right-wing activists like Griffin have turned their attention to more alternative conservative networks like Newsmax, which had a heavy presence at CPAC.
As I told you a couple of days ago, there's been a slight slippage in Fox's ratings recently, especially among viewers aged 25-54 -- though not enough to knock Fox out of the #1 slot. I think Murdoch's goal is to stay #1 (even with somewhat diminished ratings) while crushing Donald Trump. He thinks he can pick the next president (Ron DeSantis, obviously, although he'd settle for Nikki Haley or some other likely also-ran) and take the audience along with him.

I don't think he can do it. My sense from reading right-wing comments sections is that the Bannon podcast is the most influential non-Fox broadcast out there -- it seems to have the level of influence that Rush Limbaugh's show used to have. Younger people especially are more likely to get their news and commentary from their phones and laptops. So I think Fox is setting itself up for more ratings declines, just because Murdoch can't bear to lose.

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