Well, Fox is having a bit of an identity crises. Not surprising, for the last three years Fox has intertwined its very identity with the unquestioned greatness of the stable genius.
Vanity Fair is on the case, reporting about the behind the scenes intrigue occurring at propaganda central. Important, since propaganda is at its most valuable when the shit is strongest. But, it must be balanced with the fact that, no matter what happens, Trump will not be president forever, but Fox intends to be on the air post-Trump.
In recent weeks, Trump has bashed Fox News on Twitter, taking particular issue lately with its polling, which, like other reputable polls, has shown the president under significant water. Meanwhile, Trump’s biggest booster seems to be having doubts of his own. This morning, Sean Hannity told friends the whistle-blower’s allegations are “really bad,” a person briefed on Hannity’s conversations told me. (Hannity did not respond to a request for comment).
And according to four sources, Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch is already thinking about how to position the network for a post-Trump future. A person close to Lachlan told me that Fox News has been the highest rated cable network for seventeen years, and “the success has never depended on any one administration.” (A Fox Corp spokesperson declined to comment.)
On the other hand, one might point out that the network has never tied itself so closely to the success of this one particular administration. And, I’m sure I speak for all of us, it’s heart-wrenching hearing that Hannity has a sad about things being “really bad,” though we’re shocked at his self-awareness. We have seen many “really bad” things from Trump before, none of which bothered Hannity “really badly.”
The allegations against Trump are causing tensions to flair within the newsrooms themselves, pitting Fox employees against each other, even on the air.
“This massive thing happened, and no one knows how to cover it.” The schism was evident this week as a feud erupted between afternoon anchor Shepard Smith and prime-time host Tucker Carlson. It started Tuesday when Fox legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told Smith on-air that Trump committed a “crime” by pressuring Ukraine’s president to get dirt on Biden. That night, Carlson brought on former Trump lawyer Joe diGenova, who called Napolitano a “fool” for claiming Trump broke the law. Yesterday, Smith lashed back, calling Carlson “repugnant” for not defending Napolitano on air.
If this is happening “on-air” we can be sure that the actual infighting, that which happens “off-air,” is even more intense. People at Fox have linked their careers to Trump’s ‘success” and if Trump goes down as one of the only presidents impeached (and possibly removed) that career is threatened. Viewer trust is everything in the news business, and it is tough to regain trust with such a massive error in judgment. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
The article notes that Paul Ryan has come aboard Fox as a consultant and possible on-air commentator. Apparently, Paul Ryan has little sympathy for Trump and has told the network to find ways to prepare for a post-Trump world, and sooner rather than later, by creating some distance between itself and Trump.
But that argument, sensible as it may sound, might not win the day. In a line of reasoning that one could only find at Fox, others argue that they must continue to support Trump to the end, because that is what Fox viewers want.
But a person more sympathetic to Trump has told Lachlan that Fox should remain loyal to Trump’s supporters, even if the network has to break from the man. “We need to represent our viewers,” the source said. “Fox is about defending our viewers from the people who hate them. That’s where our power comes from. It’s not about Trump.”
Defending our viewers from people that hate them?
That sounds like “Defending our viewers from views they do not like.”
Fitting, because if we know anything about Fox, it is that the network exists to reaffirm what Fox viewers already “know” to be true, without regard for whether it is “actually true.”
Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch. No one asked my opinion, but I think Fox should definitely continue to support Trump in the strongest terms possible. I think it should utilize each hour to assure its audience that Trump does no wrong, that this is all “fake” and that Fox knows the truth. Go all in, Fox (more so than you’re already all-in), stake your reputation on Trump, do it, you’ll never regret it! No one who fully believed in Trump has ever regretted it!
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