During 2020 many on the Right grew suspicious of Fox News Channel. The avowedly conservative news outlet seemed to be moving towards the middle in their news coverage, though not in their nightly pundit lineup. That stayed reliably conservative. Even with the shift to the middle Fox remained by far the most conservative major news outlet. But many took their middle stances as liberal views. Fox noticed that, as some ratings slipped, and they seem to have shifted right again.
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) February 26, 2021
In talking to Fox staff, they blame what they say is a false perception of relative leftism on one man, Chris Wallace. Shep Stewart was also on their list, but he left the network some time ago. Fox staffers legitimately point out that Fox News Sunday, Wallace’s gig, does not always reflect the organization as a whole. They further understand that Wallace, especially his performance in the 2020 presidential debates, did the network no favors with the Right. In the larger context, they claim, they have been solid conservatives. They are correct.
Some blamed the seeming shift on a generational changing of the guard. Very conservative Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch has retired. Roger Ailes is dead. The news honcho now at Fox News is Lachlan Murdoch, who is not known as particularly conservative. That, combined with an anti-Trump attitude by some of their Republican and conservative pundits, led some to believe Fox had sold out. If they had, they’ve thought better of it.
I usually don’t watch television news. Actually, I don’t even have cable. Roku is my service of choice. Thus, most of my data comes from sources or online publications. But knowing they would be a big CPAC sponsor, as they’ve been the years in the past that I’ve attended the event, I arranged to monitor their coverage to see if it fit with their sponsorship. The vast majority did. Ah yes, vertical integration.
Trump made some glaring errors of accuracy in his CPAC speech. It wasn’t mentioned. The president flamed the fires of the Republican civil war. Overlooked. He did worse than expected on the straw poll. Hardly a sentence on it. Their coverage was pro-Trump and consistently conservative. Though, there are times when those are mutually exclusive.
What likely happened last year at Fox News is what is happening this year in the Republican Party. It is about Donald Trump. Professional journos and in crowd pundits, they are different things, are by nature elitist metropolitans. Not only do they not run away from that description, they generally embrace it. This analyst included. Trump’s appeal is primarily to populist suburban and rural Republicans. Those people are also the bulk of Fox News viewers.
Even at conservative Fox News, this cleavage can bring a cultural and intellectual disconnect. But when it comes down it, Fox is focused, as they should be, on the bottom line. That will keep the news network reliably conservative into the foreseeable future.