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Fox News' ratings decline proves that closely aligning with Trump has consequences

  • "If there’s any question as to how the conservative news network became a legitimizer of Trump’s propaganda and deep-state fantasies, Fox News’ devolution has been televised," says Lorraine Ali. "The crown jewel of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, at least in the U.S., has propagated any number of the Trump administration’s most consequential and damaging falsehoods, many in the service of exonerating or supporting the president himself in a time of scandal or crisis. (Which, as we’ve all experienced firsthand, was essentially his entire term.) Staffer Seth Rich involved in DNC email leak! Immigrant caravans at the border riddled with MS-13 gang members! Hunter Biden’s laptop! COVID-19 is a hoax! Stop the steal!</i> But years of unquestioning support for the president, including sowing mistrust about anything that challenges the White House’s narrative, is beginning to have consequences. Fox News’ unholy alliance with Trump brought with it white supremacists, hateful militias and conspiracy theorists who believe the outgoing president is the only person standing between humanity and a nefarious ring of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles. The news organization’s ratings have been in decline since election day, a slide many attribute to competition from media sources even further to the right; on Tuesday, it laid off political director Chris Stirewalt and others. Now, as Trump leaves office, the cable news network that fueled his rise to power faces an ugly dilemma of its own making: continue to feed the monster it helped create or be destroyed by the monster’s wrath."


    • Fox News' early Arizona call on election night looks to have done major damage: "The Arizona call became a flash point among Trump supporters, some of whom threatened to abandon the network," reports The Washington Post's Sarah Ellison. "Indeed, as the president continued his baseless attacks on the election results, smaller outlets such as Newsmax cornered the market on the story and saw big increases in their audience, Murdoch, Fox News’s co-founder, has told colleagues that the way Fox handled the Arizona call caused reputational damage and cemented the view among some Trump supporters that the network is aligned against him. Even though Fox’s projection ended up being accurate, Murdoch has fretted that it was handled poorly."
    • Fox News fired political editor Chris Stirewalt's staunch defense of calling Arizona for Biden likely led to his firing: "Mr. Stirewalt appeared on Fox News several times on election night and the days afterward," reports The New York Times' Rachel Abrams and Michael M. Grynbaum. "He vigorously defended the network’s early call of Arizona, even as anchors like Martha MacCallum grilled him about the decision; other TV networks did not call Arizona for Mr. Biden until days later. On Nov. 4, asked on-air about the Trump campaign’s baseless claims of fraud, Mr. Stirewalt memorably replied, “Lawsuits, schmawsuits. We haven’t seen any evidence yet that there’s anything wrong. Mr. Stirewalt’s analysis bore out: Mr. Trump did not win Arizona and his team produced no credible findings of fraud. But Mr. Stirewalt’s defense of the Arizona call drew condemnation from Trump fans, and he soon disappeared from the network’s coverage; his last on-air appearance at Fox News was Nov. 16."
    • Why a Fox News-style cable news network can't succeed in Britain: "Though the UK media scene is defined in part by a freewheeling and often partisan tabloid press with its own share of conspiracy theories, its TV news channels largely frame their coverage down the middle, with broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV maintaining high levels of public trust," reports CNN's Julia Horowitz. "Rupert Murdoch's Fox News is no longer on air in the country after failing to generate a significant viewer base. A big factor in this is media regulator Ofcom, which enforces rules on impartiality and accuracy for all news broadcasters. Those who breach the rules can be censured or fined — putting pressure on TV channels to play stories fairly straight."
    • Greg Gutfeld is under consideration for his own Fox News late-night show

    TOPICS: Fox News Channel, Chris Stirewalt, Greg Gutfeld, Rupert Murdoch, Cable News