Thursday, March 02, 2023


Two stories -- first, from Semafor:
Donald Trump, who once dominated the Fox News broadcasts, is now running into a brick wall with what four members of his circle say is a “soft ban” from the top of the conservative news channel, as it rolls out the red carpet to even the low-profile rival candidates....

In recent months, 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls have been seen almost daily on the network.... According to Media Matters' internal database of cable news appearances, Nikki Haley’s been featured on weekday Fox News shows seven times since announcing her presidential bid on February 14. Even the little known fund manager Vivek Ramaswamy, who announced on February 21, has made four weekday appearances. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run, has been all over the network in recent days.

Trump hasn’t been on Fox News since announcing his presidential bid in November. His last weekday appearance on the network was in September with host Sean Hannity.
And from Axios:
Four new polls show former President Trump has received a boost in Republican support — with one survey showing him hitting 50% support in a crowded GOP field....

A new Emerson poll found Trump with a 30-point lead (55%-25%) against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — up from a 26-point lead (55%-29%) over DeSantis in Emerson's January survey....

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll has Trump opening up an 8-point lead on DeSantis (47%-39%), after DeSantis led the former president by 4 in the pollster's previous survey at the beginning of February.

The GOP polling firm Echelon Insights found Trump leading DeSantis by 15 points (46%-31%) on a national ballot test. Last month, the pollster found Trump only leading DeSantis by 2 points (36%-34%).

Fox News' first presidential primary poll, testing the GOP presidential ballot, found Trump leading DeSantis by 15 points (43%-28%).
Trump would love to be a regular on Fox again -- but it's obvious that the GOP voter base feels so much goodwill toward him that Fox's shadowban isn't hurting him with Republican voters. (He obviously doesn't need Twitter, either, to keep the base's love.) Fox's obvious preference for DeSantis might actually be helping Trump -- I'm seeing a lot of wariness about Fox in right-wing comments sections because of its rejection of Fox; support from Trump is seen as a way to stick it to "swamp"/"RINO" institutions like Fox.

And yet...
Fox News Channel cruised to victory in the January cable news ratings race, dominating the competition and marking the network’s 23rd consecutive month at number one. In prime time, Fox delivered an average total audience of 1.945 million viewers, nearly twice that of MSNBC (1.047 million viewers), and far ahead of CNN, which didn’t break the one million mark....
Trump isn't on Fox, but Fox is serving up heaving helpings of culture war -- trans-bashing, immigrant-bashing, Hunter Biden-bashing, Pete Buttigieg-bashing, and attacks on CRT, ESG, and DEI. Also, it's not as if Trumpism is completely absent from Fox -- sooner or later Tucker Carlson will start showing cherry-picked footage from January 6 (although the release of the footage to Carlson has encountered some snags). Fox is delivering the rage its audience craves, but the audience still likes Trump and wants him back.

Which might explain signs of a slight slippage in Fox's ratings:
For total day ratings, Fox News finished first with an average total audience of 1.349 million viewers (down 4% from January 2022), followed by MSNBC (703,000 viewers—up 7%) and CNN (524,000 viewers—up 7%), all according to ratings data compiled by Nielsen. In the key demo [viewers 25-54], FNC was first with 173,000 viewers (down 23%), followed by CNN (107,000 viewers—up 7%) and MSNBC (78,000 viewers—up 5%).
It's killing Rupert Murdoch that he can't wean the base off Trump (people who regard themselves as alpha males don't like it when their status is challenged), so Trump will be absent from Fox until the ratings slip a bit more. But if Fox slips to #2, Trump will be back.

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