Is Fox News really dying?
This morning I woke up and had a piece ready to post on an America beyond our type of crony Capitalism. But then I stumbled onto a piece written by Frank Rich in the New York Magazine titled “Stop Beating a Dead Fox.” Why not start a Monday on a note of hope that a splinter will eventually be removed?
One must agree that a title like the above is going to peak one’s interest. Anything with Fox (News) in print or online generally does. After reading and digesting Frank Rich’s article, maybe it should not.
Early in the story Frank Rich wrote the following:
These days Fox News is the loudest voice in the room only in the sense that a bawling baby is the loudest voice in the room. In being so easily bullied by Fox’s childish provocations, the left gives the network the attention on which it thrives and hands it power that it otherwise has lost.
He hits it on the nail. While the loudest person may get attention, many times they have nothing to say. Eventually only a few continue to react in any substantive manner to said noise maker or bully. One sees that as Chris Christie’s own bullying is tamed by reality and scandal. Bill Maher did a prescient New Rule skit on these tactics.
Frank Rich points out that as loud and disruptive as Fox News has been and still is, that has not turned into a net positive for the Right or Republicans.
A pair of political analysts wrote at Reuters last year, “When the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the ten presidential elections,” but since 1992, when “conservative media began to flourish” (first with Rush Limbaugh’s ascendancy, then with Fox), Democrats have won the popular vote five out of six times. You’d think they’d be well advised to leave Fox News to its own devices so that it can continue to shoot its own party in the foot.
In effect good solid straight fact based news is good for Democrats and Republicans alike. When American’s have fact based messages that resonate they react and vote for the best candidate they perceive at that time, Democrat or Republican. In the aggregate, ultimately the charlatan loses and the Party is penalized.
Frank Rich points out a most important fact. The cable news audience is not all that large. So why is so much made of the relative strength’s between MSNBC, FOX News, and CNN?
But as Wolff also observed, “The cable audience, for all the attention heaped on it for its theoretical political sway, is not that large.” To put it mildly. As the overwhelming leader in its field, Fox draws just over a million viewers in prime time—a pittance and a niche next to even the ever-declining network newscasts, of which the lowest rated (CBS Evening News) still can attract a nightly audience as large as 8 million.
That the lowest rated broadcast news gets many times more viewers than the highest rated cable news show should be probative.
So exactly why is Fox News on a slow glide to irrelevance and broadcast death at least in its current form? Frank Rich gives the answer.
Hard as it may be to fathom, Fox Nation is even more monochromatically white than the GOP is, let alone the American nation. Two percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were black. According to new Nielsen data, only 1.1 percent of Fox News’s prime-time viewership is (as opposed to 25 percent for MSNBC, 14 percent for CNN, and an average of roughly 12 percent for the three broadcast networks’ evening news programs).
The above demographic gets worse every year. But it is not only about demographics. It is about culture. The American culture is changing. States legalizing marijuana and same sex marriage is anathema to everything Fox News is willing to report on objectively. This applies to many other societal issues.
Fox News is behind the curve in merging itself with New Media. It’s master, Roger Ailes is rather technophobic.
He doesn’t have a clue that his great cable-news innovation at Fox, The Crawl, is aging as fast in the day of Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr as ticker tape did with the advent of computer terminals. He is so tech-phobic that when Glenn Beck left Fox to start his own empire online, he pronounced him “crazy” because “no one walks away from television.”
Frank Rich gives some timely advice to those who continue to obsess on Fox News.He opines that it is a waste of time that may actually be delaying necessary progress in both the narrative and political battles to come.
While the right remains obsessed with fighting its unending war against a nearly lame-duck president, it behooves liberals to move on and start transitioning out of their Fox fixation. Paradoxically enough, the most powerful right-wing movement in the country, the insurgency in the Republican grassroots, loathes the Boehner-Christie-Rove-centric Fox News nearly as much as the left does. The more liberals keep fighting the last war against the more and more irrelevant Ailes, the less prepared they’ll be for the political war to come
One must admit that it is difficult to ignore the bully. It is difficult to ignore that loud, disruptive, and ever present voice. There is a middle ground however. As the current iteration of Fox News dies, one can help the demise of their misinformation by pointing it out and moving on without obsessing. One must remember however that as a star dies, it gets evermore so large and bright just before it is snuffed.