If you are like most conservatives the unusual and destructive events that have been going on at FOX NEWS over the past few years are mystifying and disturbing. The news channel that many of us had relied on for at least an opposing perspective on the news now seems to be self-destructing in the wake of their latest lawsuit. They are participating in a one channel race to the bottom of the ratings.
While the recent settlement of a lawsuit over election fraud claims was painful, it seems that the owners of FOX have made several subsequent missteps. These problems now seem to be compounding into an avalanche of lost viewership, almost like the owners are intentionally committing the equivalent to corporate suicide. Whether or not you are a viewer and fan of FOX you know you are seeing the death of the opposition voice in our press. Only Bud Light is dropping in popularity faster.
In a Republic, a fair and independent press is essential to keep control over politicians and the government. Opposing views serve a purpose that is critical to open and fair debate. In the early days of our Republic the “press” was limited to newspapers, books, and pamphlets. Never could anyone have imagined how much change would take place over the next centuries. What happened at FOX that culminated in such destruction?
The first domino to fall was the departure of Bill O’Reilly in the wake of sexual harassment claims. For many of his viewers this burst a bubble of decorum around the FOX name. It showed that even in what seemed like a conservative world of sanity, people would be people and are fallible. O’Reilly’s departure was an embarrassment but not a death note. Many of us felt like O’Reilly was the “adult in the room” with discussions around politics and American culture; we were apparently wrong.
The second domino to fall was the debacle between Megyn Kelly and management where she accused them of sexual harassment and apparently won, or at least won a nice separation. She went from there to NBC where she did not do as well and left. She could at that point have retired to a very nice life, but instead decided to come back into the limelight with her own SiriusXM radio podcast, and Instagram and YouTube channels.
Then came even worse decisions, and perhaps the biggest blunder in news reporting history by continuing to harp on the story of election fraud in the 2020 Presidential race. FOX reached an out of court settlement with Dominion Voting Systems for a reported $787.5 million. Voters can form their own opinions, but three years after the election is over it is over, move on.
On the heels of the Dominion settlement FOX then cancelled the show for Tucker Carlson, one of the most popular newscasters in all of television. Officially FOX cancelled his show but did not fire him. Carlson took it as a firing and promptly left to start his own independent newscast. He chose Twitter as his venue for a show, and it aired for the first time in the week of June 5, 2023. The problems with Carlson’s departure are two-fold. Carlson’s first Twitter show received 110 million views, speaking volumes about his appeal. Some portions of these viewers are now watching him on Twitter and no longer watching FOX.
But Carlson’s departure has had even more issues for the network. News shows often “hang together” because of proximity to each other. If I am watching Tucker, I might just leave FOX NEWS on to watch the next two shows, even if I think the commentators are a notch down. Without Tucker the spillover does not happen. Advertisers watch viewership and if viewership drop so does advertising revenue.
Then FOX Business cancelled the show for Lisa Kennedy Montgomery. Kennedy, as she is known, is a Libertarian and good representative for Millennial viewpoints. She does not have the same broad appeal as Carlson, but our bet is that she will head to alternative communication channels if it proves workable and profitable. It seems unlikely that she would settle for being a guest on less popular programs as a role at FOX. Kennedy’s views are not always mainstream conservative views, but she is popular with millennials.
Former Secret Service Agent and NTC police officer Dan Bongino has also exited FOX as a weekend host. Bongino is outspoken but popular with his audience and has a following that can easily be moved to alternative channels. Like Kelly, Carlson, O’Reilly, and Kennedy he can easily take followers with him to new channels. He has a radio show/podcast that plays on venues like iHeart and TuneIn. He is also a popular guest on other YouTube Channels. As a vocal supporter of the police and military he has a solid following.
There are other recognizable people who have cycled through FOX such as Clayton Morris, Glenn Beck, Gretchen Carlson, Chris Wallace, and Shepherd Smith. Some were better than others, but none missed much of a paycheck after leaving the network. The real winners will be Megyn Kelly, Tucker Carlson, and Bill O’Reilly who had large followings prior to leaving.
As of June 10, 2023, Megyn Kelly had 1.26 million YouTube subscribers plus others on Twitter and other platforms. Tucker Carlson’s videos are racking up views in the tens of millions with 8.2 million followers signed up in the first week. Bill O’Reilly runs his own paid news web site and has connections to YouTube and major app distributions on Amazon, Apple, and others. These are media superstars, and they can make a lot more money and have a lot more freedom working on their own. Based on early returns it seems like they drove FOX’s viewership not the other way around.
FOX, like many other long-term news outlets, may now be run by more traditional management under dated policies. Often these managers do not understand how technology has changed the news business. There is no barrier to entry to the news business other than the cost of a computer and time. When you already have major name recognition, as in the case of O’Reilly, Kelly, and Carlson, you can be off and running in hours or days. Unless you fire yourself, your voice cannot be silenced. Sean Hannity and Dana Perino are the last remaining superstars on the FOX roster. The drop-off in both popularity and appeal beyond them is a chasm not a dip.
These independent shows as now presented are even more practical. I never wanted to watch a complete show and instead find myself looking at topics. In Megyn Kelly’s case her show on YouTube is presented in full and in short topical segments. Perfect, I now spend ten minutes a day rather than an hour finding what really interests me.
If you have been a FOX News fan do not despair. Your favorite commentators are out there if you look. And now they are unfiltered and unencumbered from corporate management oversight. You can watch their commentary at your leisure and probably get better news.