I hate when my gloomy prognostication skills prove to be accurate.
Such seems to be the case with my more than 5-year-old prediction about the demise of Fox News as we know it.
A week ago, I reminded everyone of what I said to anyone who would listen back in 2010 about what was on the horizon for what has been among the greatest achievements in “alternative” media in our lifetime – the creation and overwhelming success of Fox News.
Although it is not the be-all and end-all of independent watchdog journalism at its best, Fox News is a welcome alternative to the extreme bias of ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. Its overwhelming success in ratings and profits proves the theory that Americans are hungry for a real alternative.
For instance, the profits of Fox News now reach nearly $1 billion a year. To put that in perspective, according to the New York Times, hardly a fan newsletter of Fox News, that is more than ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC combined.
So what happened in the last week in regard to the death march of Fox News?
Last week, I pointed to Rupert Murdoch’s transition from leadership of the parent company – 21st Century Fox. Murdoch, I explained, was one of just two people who created the vision for Fox News and sustained it over 20 years. The other is Roger Ailes.
Ailes quickly informed anyone who would listen that he would continue to report only to Rupert Murdoch during this transition. Since then, he has been repudiated by a public announcement that all executives would report to Murdoch’s kids, who are taking over for their father.
Who are those kids?
One of those sons, James, was publicly characterized as a “f—— dope” by Ailes. The other, Lachlan, was previously fired by Ailes.
There’s been no public comment by Ailes since the latest announcement.
Ailes’ contract is running out. It will not likely be renewed.
That will leave the fate of Fox News to the Murdoch children who have no use for it. They don’t care how much money it makes. They are embarrassed by it. Raised with silver spoons in their mouths, it’s not about the money. It’s about politics and social acceptance. They care more about being invited to the right cocktail parties in New York than they do about the ratings and financial success of Fox News. Much more.
So now begins the death march for FNC.
It will accelerate when Ailes leaves, which could be sooner than anyone might guess. Once he’s gone, the canaries in the coal mine are on-air personalities like Sean Hannity and any shows that set Fox News apart from the floundering standards of CNN.
Give it a year at most.
Watch for the changes made in the programming.
Watch for the departures of key personalities.
Watch the glee of Fox News haters.
It’s all lining up just as I saw it coming five years ago.
My insight is based on my long-time personal experience in the so-called “mainstream” media. You can’t buck the cultural tide without strong direction from the top. The inertia from down below is just too strong. It has little to do with market-driven forces.
It has everything to do with political correctness among the cultural elite.
Fox News Channel never quite lived up to its potential – because of sacred cows, competing corporate interests and general self-consciousness about being part of the “mainstream.” But it would be a mistake to underestimate what it demonstrated in its successes about the failings of the rest of the media.