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How Fox News conquered America Every sneer, jibe and insult only makes it stronger

The King of Red America (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


October 7, 2021   5 mins

There was something almost quaint about America in 1993. The Internet was barely out of the cot; the Cold War was over; Kurt Cobain was alive; and Bill Clinton was still viewed as a faithful husband. Even the Israel-Palestine conflict looked fixable.

But in Washington, the seeds of today’s political discontent were already being sown. Two years after Clinton had swept to power, the Republicans took both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Never again, battle-hardened Republicans promised to themselves, would they stay locked out of power for that long.

In its place spawned a new grassroots conservatism that was angry and uncompromising, finding its voice in a conservative “under-media”, as Andrew Breitbart termed it, that included Drudge Report (1995), Fox (1996) and Newsmax (1997). But it was Fox, which first aired 25 years ago today, that dominated, providing an outlet to a white Middle America that felt neglected and ignored by Washington and the established media.

Politics was indeed becoming angrier, but a deeper, spiritual malaise had also been spreading beneath the surface. The cultural and sexual revolution of the Sixties, Vietnam, Watergate and the oil price crisis chipped away at the post-war building blocks of American society, particularly in the heartlands where wages were stagnating and jobs were moving offshore. By 1994, trust in the Government sunk to its lowest point ever.

This was the environment into which Fox was born. Its benefactor, Rupert Murdoch, was so desperate to seize it that he offered to air Fox for free — and even paid cable companies $20 a subscriber.

But to fully understand how Fox became the news empire that it is today, you need to understand the man central to the entire operation. His name was not Rupert Murdoch, but Roger Ailes. The Chairman, as he became known, was a grotesque figure whose jowls would expand like a toad’s vocal sac when he was irate (an employee once put a frame around a hole in the wall and wrote: “Don’t mess with Roger Ailes.”).

This anger — part pathological, part driven by what he saw as a corrosion of American values — informed much of Fox’s coverage. This became clear from the very first sequence of the channel’s launch: criminals, flag-burning, and protests formed the basis of Fox’s nightly news coverage. These were topics that the liberal media refused to cover, argued Ailes, and America wanted to hear them. As he later said:

“I’ll tell you what television didn’t do at the time. 
 It didn’t reflect what people really thought. I mean, they’re sitting there saying, ‘Wait a minute, New York’s going broke, Los Angeles is broke, the United States is broke, everything the government has run is broke, Social Security is broke, Medicare is broke, the military is broke
 Why do we want these guys making all these decisions for us?’”

A former Nixon operative, Ailes learned from his boss how to mine and re-package feelings of resentment back to his base. He cultivated an us-vs-them mentality among viewers (and voters) that put them on a permanent war footing. Using tough, earthy language, news anchors would speak to viewers like they were foot soldiers, warning them that Christians were under attack, liberals were starting a war and the media was out to get you.

Crucially, there was always an enemy, which again stemmed from Ailes’s own paranoia. In fact, so petrified was the Chairman of being attacked by gay rights activists in the 1990s that he installed bomb proof glass in his office window. When Fox was first established, he situated its newsroom in a windowless bunker replete with an in-house research unit — known as the “brain room” — that required special security clearance to gain access. “The brain room is where Willie Horton comes from,” said one Fox insider. “It’s where the evil resides.”

Indeed, there was something faintly ridiculous about the whole thing. On the Fox sofa would sit a chopstick-thin blonde wedged between two Irish-American walruses telling viewers that their country was under threat. They were, in effect, trying to mobilise a patriot army, even though the median age of that army was 65. Programmes would therefore be interrupted by commercials (of which there were many) that were largely geared towards class action hip-replacement lawsuits and wonder drugs for erectile dysfunction. It was like an army general having to remind his soldiers to check their catheter bags before going to battle.

But there was a scintilla of self-awareness too; a nod and wink to the camera that this was entertainment as much as it was news. In fact, Fox had one-third the staff and 30 fewer bureaus than CNN, and the organisation did very little in the way of original reporting. Instead, it decided what the news was, telling its viewers what to care about, and sometimes even waiting for Democrat leaders to respond to a story before it took the opposite line (as it did with Obama and the George Zimmerman shooting).

All the while, Fox’s influence grew, far outstripping that of its rivals. By 2008, it had more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined, pulling in over two million viewers a night. Politically, it was pushing viewers to the Right, too. One study showed that in districts where Fox News was available, there was a Rightward drift in voting patterns while another found that if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008.

Such was Fox’s influence that Republican leaders would beg Ailes and other executives to ordain them; even Barack Obama — who faced grim levels of racist coverage before and during his presidency — held a behind-closed-doors meeting, agreeing to do more interviews in exchange for dialling down his coverage. “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us,” said David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter. “Now we’re discovering that we work for Fox.” Having tipped the electoral balance in George W. Bush’s favour by prematurely declaring him president in 2000, this was undoubtedly true. Ailes, too, was keenly aware of this fact. By 2010 Fox’s power was so great that the chairman declared that he wanted to “elect the next president”.

Yet it was not until Trump that Fox and the White House became almost inextricably linked. Throughout Trump’s presidency, it was never quite clear if Fox was the tail wagging the dog or the other way around. Between 2018-2020, Trump live-tweeted Fox news programmes 1,100 times, so much so that Fox and Friends began talking to Trump rather than about Trump. On one occasion, the hosts of Fox and Friends asked the President to flash his lights on and off in the White House if he was watching.

This close relationship between the President and network was bound to turn ugly if and when the two fell out. This occurred after the 2020 election when Trump deemed Fox to be insufficiently zealous in toeing his stolen election line. He called on his supporters to instead watch OAN and Newsmax, two Right-wing insurgents that made Fox look like C-Span: in one viral OAN clip from last month, a presenter pulled the plug on an interview with a veteran for criticising Trump, as well as his predecessors, for the country’s military problems in Afghanistan. He then pledged his allegiance on camera to the dear leader.

But Fox’s rivals were not just queuing up on the Right. During last year’s election, moderates and Democrats also flocked to MSNBC and CNN, which led to Fox suffering its worst ratings in 20 years. For the most part, though, Fox remains dominant. In recent months, it has restored its position at the top of the leaderboard, securing an average prime time audience of 2.4 million nightly viewers.

And so Fox News remains king of Red America. It’s certainly helped that every week, liberal late night talk show hosts laugh at the dumb rubes featured on Tucker Carlson Tonight or the Ingraham Angle. But what they don’t understand is that this mockery and condescension were the basis for Fox’s birth: a platform for disenfranchised, disillusioned conservatives who felt looked down upon by coastal elites and Washington. Every sneer, jibe and insult since only justifies Ailes’s project. This is Fox’s world; America just lives in it.


is UnHerd’s Newsroom editor.

james_billot

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

I get the feeling that UnHerd would like to lose the older conservative middle-brow readers and replace the with that coveted dynamic and youthful readership.
That’s an insightful comment and whether they can appeal to that demographic without introducing a dominant ideology in Unherd content is a key question.
Recently I’ve been trying to figure out what type of publication Unherd is becoming. It’s certainly not the one I subscribed to earlier this year or started following last year.
Unherd was a beacon of rationality in 2020. Its coverage of covid and the BLM riots was outstanding. They really did provide a platform for viewpoints that were drowned out, or actively censored, in the mainstream media. That’s why I subscribed and I suspect I’m not alone in that regard.
Now much of their journalism is noticeably mainstream. I can find similar content all over the internet. And they are obviously avoiding certain subjects. Climate change is one. I accept that the climate is changing but I’m not fully convinced it’s mostly due to human activity. It might be but I’m not yet sure. Unherd gives no space to established, credentialed scientists, who’re excluded from the MSM, to make a case for climate change being mostly due to natural, cyclical changes. Their sole science contributor, Tom Chivers, has stated human-made climate change is a fact. How would he know that? He’s a journalist with a philosophy degree. Is he qualified to evaluate the primary literature?
My sense is most Unherd contributors are now refugees from the mainstream because they are not quite willing to fully embrace the progressive dogma dominating the MSM. But they pine for their former tribe and might want to recreate it at Unherd and elsewhere.
The name ‘Unherd’ no longer seems appropriate for this publication. They may want to consider something a little more conventional.

Last edited 2 years ago by J Bryant
Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I completely agree – your comment crystallized a feeling I was having reading UnHerd recently. Their voice is definitely becoming less distinctive.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yep, I’ll second (third?) that.
It’s definitely going in a certain direction, and not one I’d subscribe to for much longer
It’s quite telling we’ve had nothing from Douglas Murray for weeks now, the reason I came to Unherd in the first place

Last edited 2 years ago by Hersch Schneider
Kristof K
Kristof K
2 years ago

Although I found myself agreeing with a lot of Douglas Murray’s views, I sometimes found his persuation subtly deceitful. This led me to question if he was really right (so whether I was right to agree with him). So he’s either decided he’s made enough money from his subtle deceit or his conscience has caught up with him and he’s realised he can no longer carry on deceiving himself and his readers.

If the latter it would be great to get a (suitably humble of course) recantation from him! If the former 


 well you can’t but help admiring con men sometimes, even when they’ve managed to con you.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Kristof K

Please give some examples of this ‘deceit’. I think almost all here see an extraordinarily fine mind at work that can unravel complex issues and can predict social and political trends.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Kristof K

Eh? Explain yourself. Better, I mean.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Kristof K

In order to make your accusstions against Mr. Murray remotely believable, you must provide actual, concrete examples.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The problem is that Unherd have to churn out regular articles and there are only a limited number of topics that are genuinely unheard in the MSM. Someone like Julie Bindel is a standard feminist activist pedalling fairly poisonous anti-men thoughts that would normally find a ready home in the Guardian and it is only as a result of Stonewall’s imposition of trans ideology that she finds herself on Unherd. As a result only a limited number of articles will be genuinely ones that would be unheard or Unherd in the MSM. It is I agree though a pity so many articles consists of conventional MSM friendly guff and some of the more thoughtful and original writers do not figure more.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

They could always invite Nick Griffin to contribute. That would liven things up

Last edited 2 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well, I’m a climate scientist and also think of myself as a critical thinker. Which means that I don’t always take what other climate scientists are saying as gospel truth (and in my view that’s the way all scientists should approach their sciences). I read a lot of the climate sceptic literature and every day read sceptic blogs, but I’m afraid that there’s no getting away from the fact that if you put a greenhouse gas like CO2 into the atmosphere, then this must cause warming. We have known about the physics for this since the 19th century, and there’s been no successful attack on this science. Even sceptic scientists (eg Roy Spenser, Judith Curry, d**k Lindzen) accept this basic fact. The only real scientific debate has been about the level of warming that we might expect; and even this is now not really disputed.
That doesn’t mean that natural variability doesn’t also play a role in climate (eg changes in PDO, NAO, ENSO etc) but it does mean that the forced variability becomes more important over time than the unforced variability. This shouldn’t be seen as a political issue (sometimes even our political enemies can be right about something!)….which is why I guess Al Gore’s film (An Inconvenient Fact) was so well named. Of course, you could use this same phrase against those who deny the reality of sex differences…..

Richard North
Richard North
2 years ago

If you are a climate scientist, I’d really like to hear your take on the manipulation of historic temperature records in the name of “temperature homogenisation”.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I signed up for UnHerd after watching a string of Freddy’s excellent interviews, but I slowly discovered that the written content is more partisan than I’m comfortable with. I shan’t be renewing.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

I don’t watch any television news, preferring instead to get information and analyses of events by reading. UnHerd seemed to have a variety of good writers (Douglas Murray was worth the subscription, but where’s he gone?), but now it just seems to regurgitate snotty takes on America by Brits who evidently know little to nothing about us. I won’t be renewing either.

Cat Fan
Cat Fan
2 years ago

Where is Douglas Murray?! He and a few others were the reason I subscribed and I can’t remember the last time I saw an article by him on this site.

Kristof K
Kristof K
2 years ago

Although I found myself agreeing with a lot of Douglas Murray’s views, I sometimes found his persuation subtly deceitful. This led me to question if he was really right (so whether I was right to agree with him). So he’s either decided he’s made enough money from his subtle deceit or his conscience has caught up with him and he’s realised he can no longer carry on deceiving himself and his readers.

If the latter it would be great to get a (suitably humble of course) recantation from him! If the former 


 well you can’t but help admiring con men sometimes, even when they’ve managed to con you.

And whenever he was right I’m afraid for me his subtle deceit is an acid that corrodes the integrity of any principles he might hold.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Very good point. The other day I wrote a comment under an article in which a trans activist was quoted describing femaleness as “a gaping a55hole”. My comment was removed, presumably for criticising the activist. Other comments similarly debunking Julie Bindel’s bigotry are also removed. It’s been happening more, recently.
As someone said, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”.

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

i noticed your comment got memory holed, i had a similar comment about that same observation and was keeping an eye on the comment thread for responses. Noticed the exact same thing on the Bindel comments just as you say. There are good writers here and a good community below the line, if theres going to be an editorial push to only allow people to say 2+2=5 then why is this place even called unherd?

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Wasn’t it “an expectant a$$h0l£ and dead, dead eyes”?

Either way, I suspect the heavily disguised expletive at the end of your post may have been the cause. I’m quite sure, however, that this peculiar description of ‘femaleness’ would lead many to draw the same conclusions.

Last edited 2 years ago by Al M
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Remember that there are commentators who flag comments because they simply disagree with you. This has happened to me quite a few times. Your comment then goes automatically into moderation. I have taken this up with them.

George Glashan
George Glashan
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

i hope the editorial team takes note of your comment. i totally agree.

Last edited 2 years ago by George Glashan
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I have just joined UnHerd because I had hoped that it would be a place of reasoned debate from all across the political spectrum – a place where views could be freely exchanged with no “cancelling”, no ad hominem arguments no “wokeness”. However, I am more and more convinced that it is just for the extreme right; any article which comes even slightly from the left evokes a massively negative response. If this is just another right-wing site then it is probably not for me, a shame because it seems as if there is now no place for a left-of-centre, free-speak loving, non-conspiracy theorist to go, which makes me very sad and worried.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Don’t give up on Unherd too soon. I think the strong reaction to this particular article is because the author appeared to have a very contemptuous attitude toward people who watch Fox News, although I recognize the author replied in the comments section he didn’t intend any such attitude.
Generally Unherd publishes a wide variety of articles from across the political spectrum. So, again, I’d say hang in there and give it a chance. Welcome. 🙂

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I can assure you that I am not ‘extreme right’. To make a generalisation like that is pretty careless.

John McKee
John McKee
1 year ago

I strongly agree.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago

Your concern is understandable. There are variable quality articles from all sides here but some are certainly met by oddly intolerant reader responses. The greater problem is that the truly Unherd remain just that, while quite a few writers already have large outlets for their news, views or opinions. Where are the stories by denisovans about newt fanciers in Grozny worshipping William Shatner? Hmm?

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

The articles are sensible, the comments section can sometimes descend into nonsense the same as any other but I find it’s more even handed than most

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I’m sensing a drift as well. Such a pity.

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Up until 6 months ago I was an avid reader and regular commenter on Unherd. Now I just skim through and rarely find anything which really engages me. The main reason for that is the narrowing of subjects covered. In the past cultural, historical, philosophical, pastoral(I particularly remember a moving piece on bereavement) and theological/ecclesiastical topics were covered. We rarely hear from Giles Fraser these days and I enjoyed usually disagreeing with a fellow priest. Unherd has become too dominated by politics and sociology in my view. Of course they must have their place in these columns, but there is more to life and Unherd once paid attention to that.
I have noticed that many commenters of a year ago have ceased. Also there were times when comments on an article exceeded 200, sometimes 300. I think it is rare if it exceeds 50 now.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

I have noticed that many commenters of a year ago have ceased. Also there were times when comments on an article exceeded 200, sometimes 300. I think it is rare if it exceeds 50 now.
I think that’s because Unherd introduced a subscription earlier this year and only subscribers can comment on articles.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

Giles Fraser pens an article most weeks, how much more do you want him to write? He does have a church to run as well you realise, he can’t be writing an article a day

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I retired at the beginning of 2020, which dovetailed with the Covid lockdowns. This afforded me time to actually watch international TV news (CNN, Sky, BBC) more often and more critically. I woke up to the fact that Trump’s claim of ‘fake news’ was actually on the button. I had previously thought this concept was just some Trump rubbish.
Note that when I realized that mainstream news outlets were hugely biased to the extent that ‘news’ was curated to present outright lies and manipulation, I had never ever watched Fox News.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago

I think this was always the case to an extent, but the whole thing went into overdrive with the election of Trump, and will probably recede at some point.
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” Frank Zappa

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

This is Fox’s world; America just lives in it.
Actually, no.
As the author notes:
every week, liberal late night talk show hosts laugh at the dumb rubes featured on Tucker Carlson Tonight or the Ingraham Angle. But what they don’t understand is that this mockery and condescension were the basis for Fox’s birth: a platform for disenfranchised, disillusioned conservatives who felt looked down upon by coastal elites and Washington.
Liberal extremism spawned Fox and its ilk. To paraphrase the author: This is the woke world; America just lives in it.”

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

That is absolutely the wrong way round, though whether ‘woke’ was coming anyway I don’t know.

From the Right, decades before identity politics we had the politicisation of the abortion issue, which it had never been before, similar with the right to bear arms (ignoring the rather important word ‘militia’ in the Constitution), and later the utterly absurd but sinister ‘birther’ movement to deligitimise Obama. Was that racial? Who knows but nothing quite like it had happened before.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

i was around then and believe me it wasn’t the right who politicized abortion. it’s not a political issue to begin with and it was wrongly decided.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Obama was illegitimate in more ways than one. The oddly-named mainstream media gave him a pass on that and other elements of his strange and even dark background.

John McKee
John McKee
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Utterly true. I was a lifelong Democrat who voted twice for Obama. I left because of Hilary’s actions on Libya: “We came, we saw, He died”, referring to Gaddafi. I thought I would come back to the Party shortly, but it only became more extreme, and the way the MSM parrots the Party LIne is truly frightening, as is the arrogant abuse of power by the administrative state, which does not even make the tiniest gesture towards fairness.
I am not a dumb rube either. I hold degrees from Rutgers and Stanford.

Last edited 1 year ago by John McKee
Mo Brown
Mo Brown
2 years ago

This author seems to know something of the early history of Fox News, for what it’s worth (not much) but little else. He is clearly dismissive and disdainful toward his subject, but at the same time considers himself able to explain its success. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense. I wonder what he thinks his audience is here. Dumb rubes?

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  James Billot

The thought that came to mind as I read this piece was “But James, the rednecks are right – you are the enemy”
One of us is being too clever by half and I don’t think that it is me.

Karl Schuldes
Karl Schuldes
2 years ago
Reply to  James Billot

In your defense, I don’t believe you were at all critical of the Fox audience, but you were certainly disdainful of the news content. I believe your last paragraph tells the true story, but it doesn’t quite say the same thing as the main part of your article.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Schuldes

To be fair the news content is negligible. It’s an opinion piece dressed up as a news channel, and doesn’t pretend otherwise.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  James Billot

CNN and MSNBC are anything but “staid, austere.” They are a bubbling cauldrons of left-wing hysteria at night. Jim Acosta, Christine Amanpour, Don Lemon (!!!), etc. etc. Do you even watch CNN?

Don Butler
Don Butler
2 years ago
Reply to  James Billot

If this article was not meant to be “disdainful and dismissive”, then you lack self awareness or you just can’t write. But you can write. Obama received “grim levels of racist coverage” on Fox? Examples please. And your examples need to be grim and multiple. We’re waiting.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  James Billot

You just can’t help it can you. It is just like a remainer explaining the Brexit vote

John T. Maloney
John T. Maloney
2 years ago
Reply to  James Billot

“Cleanup on aisle four.”

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  James Billot

You gave an entirely different impression. If you didn’t actually work for the BBC, your worldview has been shaped by it. The thing about living in a bubble is you are not aware of it.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

To put Fox news in context, this is what the opposing side of media (CNN, MSN, the tech giants, NYT etc) projects on a daily, 24*7 basis:
– America is a deeply racist country, even though it twice elected a president from a minority group that also happen to be the biggest recepients of welfare and affirmative quotas
– That same minority group that commits over half of violent crimes, and almost all inter-racial crime, is the one that is being “attacked” based on a few random incidents (and ofc most violent deaths within that community is committed by other members of the same community)
– The 2016 elections were stolen by Trump based some Facebook ads, without any evidence, and against a candidate who had far more monetary and media support
– If you question the 2020 elections, you are a wacko because all those weird statistical deviances, strange late voting trends in key states, whistleblower reports are a figment of imagination
– Objecting to excessive illegal immigration is equivalent to being a n**i – who were ofc famous for refusing entry to millions of Jews and Russians trying to migrate to Germany

But yes, Fox, Trump and Republicans are the ones who are paranoid, resentful and angry.

Last edited 2 years ago by Samir Iker
Diana Durham
Diana Durham
2 years ago

Have you watched Carlson lately? He doesn’t have to spin things anymore, the facts are shocking and crazy enough, and he is about the only one doing it on mainstream broadcast TV in America.

Ian Moore
Ian Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

I saw his piece, or one of them, on Fauci and Xmas tonight. Like you say it is currently writing itself right now.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

Tucker seems to be struggling now to parody the left and their fantasies precisely because they have become a parody of themselves

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

I watched Fox pretty frequently through the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. I don’t recall a single example of “grim
racist coverage”.

I hope this article and last night’s anti-Boris piece are not part of a trend because they seem to me to be the epitome of Herd thinking.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Whilst I don’t always agree with the articles, I’d rather read both sides of the argument than have the site descend into an echo chamber personally

Last edited 2 years ago by Billy Bob
Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Totally – not sure some agree, but it must be kept broad, in a way broadsheets may not be.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

The entire disdainful tone of the author explains the success of Fox. He doesn’t seem to understand the significance of his own last paragraph.

Last edited 2 years ago by Francis MacGabhann
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

Yes, the article certainly seems to regard white middle-class America as rather grubby and not really quite the thing, old chap.
I think it is more sensible to think of FoxNews viewers as middle-class Commoners and Responsibles, people that go to work, obey the law and follow the rules. No angrier or more resentful that your average BLMer or AntiFa activist.
Your mileage may vary.

Cat Fan
Cat Fan
2 years ago

I look forward to the accompanying hit piece on the left-wing MSNBC. Waiting, waiting, waiting…
Actually, why not on CNN? I have lived in the US for over a decade now and CNN’s descent from being the relatively non-biased news channel, to vacuous and celebrity obsessed, to Trump obsessed and part of ‘the resistance’ has been quite something.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Cat Fan

The odd thing about CNN is even the presenters, like Cuomo, seem uncomfortable with the party line. Don Lemon has no difficulty however being quite nasty about any opposition viewpoints.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Cat Fan

Yes, their tone has become increasingly shrill about even seemingly benign issues now that the richly paid CNN shills no longer have Trump as their main news story.

James Watson
James Watson
2 years ago

“ the writer wasn’t reply trying very hard”. I think that sums it up. Recently gave up with the pop ups and subscribed, but I’m thinking that was a mistake. The last few days has been a procession of shoddy writing and left wing bias. Not worth the price

M Doors
M Doors
2 years ago
Reply to  James Watson

I am feeling exactly the same .. and I think I am still in my 2 week window to get my money back !

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  M Doors

I think I may have missed it
.. I certainly won’t be getting my tote bag.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

the organisation did very little in the way of original reporting. Instead, it decided what the news was, telling its viewers what to care about

We have that here too. It’s called the BBC.

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

According to a Harvard media study, main stream media news coverage of Donald Trump was 90% negative. Coverage by Fox News was 50/50, according to the same study. That’s why Fox News is “fair and balanced.” Thank God for Fox News.

Ps, I’m canceling my unheard subscription . I get articles like this for free on Yahoo.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Batlle
John T. Maloney
John T. Maloney
2 years ago

Is james_billot angling for a position at the NYTs, Salon, or Mother Jones?
The author definitely gets props for snarky, irascible bias, that is likely subconscious. The prose is passable, but, the author’s vulgar ethnocentric tilt, such as “Irish-American walruses” is enough to create a ‘woke’ mania. Not to mention the reprehensible and misogynistic “chopstick-thin blonde” body-shaming insult. Of course, Mr. Billiot, reflexive, conditioned, and common had to add the fetishistic Left-wing incantation, “…racist coverage…,” without offering even a scintilla of evidence. 
Maybe james_billot could have noted, after 25-years, Fox News is still bigger than MSNBC and CNN combined, and just leave it at that.
Fox News Channel is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a win—easily defeating its cable news competition in third-quarter ratings compiled by Nielsen, with an average prime time audience of 2.372 million viewers, well ahead of MSNBC (1.267 million viewers) and CNN (822,000 viewers).” –Forbes, 28-Sept-21

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

Fox News sounds rather attractive – upfront and candid. I think I would prefer that to what I get from the BBC, viz. a little bit of supposedly impartial news buffered between great slabs of comment and illustrated by hard-luck stories featuring single mothers from Basingstoke.
They don’t call it comment, of course: it’s ‘explaining’, ‘contextualising’, ‘balancing’ or ‘fact checking’ but I know comment when I see it. And when the Tories are concerned the comment always comes from the left.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

You’ve helpfully summarised some of the favourite BBC euphemisms for bias.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

Fox News is pretty much the only news site that is reporting on the parents protesting CRT ideology being taught in their children’s schools. Shockingly, the current regime is now lumping these parents with ‘domestic terrorists’. One politician has even outright said that parents have no business interfering in their children’s education. The FBI said they will be investigating these parents.
https://nypost.com/2021/10/05/parents-pols-slam-fbi-probe-into-crt-related-harassment-in-schools/
NY Post is pretty good too. They’re the ones who Twitter blocked from reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop affair.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

How dumb can Fox be? They noticed that roughly half the US didn’t have any TV news to watch, so they filled this rather large market segment.
I think it’s the heavily censored mainstream news and social media that’s dumb. They’re all fighting over just half the country, while obviously behaving as privatized sections of the Ministry of Truth. How is all ideology, all of the time, a good business model? Didn’t any of these “briiliant experts” every hear the fable of the boy who cried wolf? Since Trump lost, mainstream outlets like CNN and MSNBC have lost audience massively.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

Such was Fox’s influence that Republican leaders would beg Ailes and other executives to ordain them; even Barack Obama — who faced grim levels of racist coverage before and during his presidency — held a behind-closed-doors meeting, agreeing to do more interviews in exchange for dialling down his coverage.

I’m sorry, what? How did I miss grim levels of racist coverage? And I was really paying attention.

By 2010 Fox’s power was so great that the chairman declared that he wanted to “elect the next president”.

So great, indeed, that they couldn’t unseat Obama in 2012 after he revealed himself to be a stammering dilettante and demagogue.

No one ever points out the obvious: Fox has dominated for 20 years because they’ve been the only conservative network. If you acknowledge that the US is essentially 50/50 GOP/Dem then the math is easy. Left-of-center Americans get there cable news from CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC. Right-of-center Americans they get their news from FOX. The Dem 50% is split five ways.

Before Charles Krauthammer passed away, FOX hosted the best 20 minutes of political commentary on TV: The FOX All-Stars – a panel of liberal and conservative pundits – which appeared every weekday at the end of Bret Baer’s news hour. It was the only 20 minutes of cable news I watched. In its absence I realize how badly the world needs Charles Krauthammer right now.

John T. Maloney
John T. Maloney
2 years ago

Fox News is entertaining. Their anchors are amusing, cheerful, attractive, sympathetic, affable, and joyful. CNN & MSNBC anchors are bitter, unhappy, mean, discourteous, bigoted, and immoral prevaricators, mostly.
In addition, the mainline segments are gay-power advocacy from Cooper, Lemon, et al @CNN, Maddow, Capehart, et al @MSNBC. No reasonable person expects or needs the ‘woke’ nonsense shoved down their throats every-single-day
Again, most reasoned persons don’t want to watch sour, unattractive CNN & MSNBC anchors give morose opinions as boorish political activists. Sensible people want logical and intelligent news and smart opinion that is uplifting and positive delivered in a fun, polished, and urbane style. Fox News delivers.

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago

 Sensible people want logical and intelligent news and smart opinion that is uplifting and positive delivered in a fun, polished, and urbane style. Fox News delivers.

ï»ż

I’m sorry, that is the biggest load of bilge I’ve read for a while.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Cattell
John T. Maloney
John T. Maloney
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

Obviously, like most ‘experts,’ you do not watch Fox News. The suggestion is to seek immediate treatment for your reality allergies and bitterness. There are logical and intelligent reasons why Fox News absolutely dominates cable news. It is possible to be pleasant, attractive, factual, funny, and serious all at the same time. Unfortunately and obviously, you do not possess or appreciate any of these important qualities.

Ian Moore
Ian Moore
2 years ago

Given that most of the opinion on Fox News in the UK is overwhelmingly negative, to put it nicely, imagine my surprise when I occasionally see a snippet that suggests Fox is actually presenting what most would consider common sense. I watched a piece on Fauci tonight, in which they had clips from CNN claiming Fauci is victim of a smear campaign, because certain news sources are pointing out his chameleon views on the pandemic, including his every shifting goalposts and hypocrisy. It seems that CNN is becoming most Beeb like, or maybe it’s higher other way around.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Moore

I always watch Tucker on you tube. Funny, articulate entertaining and uncomfortably insightful

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
2 years ago

Another tentative, timid outing by Unherd. The author lacks the courage of his convictions, fearing to state outright that nasty, right wing Fox controls, manages and dictates the mindset of deplorable middle America. He fails to understand, or does understand but plays down, the post Eisenhower growth of the military industrial complex, the deep, deep effect of individuals like Kissenger and the Clintons and the economic and foreign policies that drove into the heart of Middle America. Does the Fourth Estate initiate or react? The author clearly thinks Fox imitates. But the clever hilarity of liberal late night talk show hosts and their guests is less comfortable, less sure. We see it here as Brexit settles and the media desperately decrys the idea of levelling up and seeks to meet the challenge of news and entertainment providers who reflect areas like the erstwhile Red Wall.

Steve Bouchard
Steve Bouchard
2 years ago

If you want to watch tennis, go to the Tennis Channel. If you want to watch golf, go to the Golf Channel. If you want to watch opinions, go to all the news channels. Looks like Fox has more opinion appeal than the rest.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Bouchard

Brilliant comment

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
2 years ago

This article is ridiculous. As an American who has had an active role inbipartisan politics, this is little more than reiterating the most extreme leftist talking points about conservative media.
Fox News deserves criticism and has its faults, but this straw man ain’t it.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago

The hand on the Unherd editorial rudder has seemed confused by the winds or else struggles with the tide. It started with the headline writers topping articles with random clickbait. Hopefully it will pass. There’s still much to read.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt B

.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

The relationship is symbiotic. The media aligns itself to its audience and vice versa. It can sway that audience’s opinion, but fundamentally people pick and choose their news source according to their interests. So if 40% of the population find their interests aren’t being properly served by the mainstream, that’s a huge unmet need. The problem is that many of that 40% aren’t interested in news at all, which is why Fox’s audience is actually relatively small compared to the potential population.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

Gee, I hope this guy never hears about the popularity and influence of the late Rush Limbaugh.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Hickey
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago

Many thanks for the on-the-ground review !

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago

I take it this writer has a BBC background.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

The article accomplished it’s purpose: to be critical. It regurgitates the standard line. Fox viewership speaks volumes and ad revenue follows their success. Fox gains eyeballs still because their news coverage seems evenhanded. The opinion shows continue with strong viewership because they often do present opinion backed by information. They have lost some ground to Newsmax and ONN by being a bit less partisan but that seems planned.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago

The article credits Fox more narrative power than it ever wielded. People are not that dumb and many other opinion formers and chanellers were out there on all sides in the Newt era – Rush Limbaugh to name but one. More variety than in the UK for sure. The wider contextual impact of the end of Cold War cannot be overstated, though, accompanied as it was by a sentiment of domestic politics being the only game left in town with no global Yin to balance Yang. How wrong that was, encouraging the US immune system to turn in on itself and eat its babes while 9/11 brewed and China stirred.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt B

I noticed this way back in the 1990s too. With no really enemy or ideology to compete against, the US started to turn against its own people. CRT (mentioned in another article released today on Unherd) is the apotheosis of that. It’s basically the curriculum of a nation held in subjugation.

Mark S
Mark S
2 years ago

One study showed that in districts where Fox News was available, there was a Rightward drift in voting patterns while another found that if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008.
err correlation doesnt equal causation.. It could be, other the hand, it may not be related.. The districts may already be predisposed to drifting rightwards and Fox was in a favourable market
Rule of Thumb: when writers trot out “studies” to support their arguments, its a sophisticated version of Fox news .. Thats what studies show anyway

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago

Billot confuses cause and effect. Imagine there were no Fox – it is absurd to think that the conservative leaning half of the US would be blissfully marching along with the Democrats and their media arms in the MSM to achieve their truly radical agenda: racism taught in school; Western Civilization is evil; merit doesn’t exist, open borders, wrongThink; etc. The existence of OANN and Newsweek demonstrate the people’s desire for other than Pravda-like reporting available from legacy media.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

I guess until a right-wing news channel comes along, Fox News will have to do.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

Fox News is dreadful. Unfortunately, most other news sites are much worse.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Olives are disgusting. Of course, most pizza toppings are worse.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

Except capers! Don’t you just love capers ?

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago

If you’re very, very stupid, how can you possibly realise you are very, very stupid?
You have to be relatively intelligent to realise just how stupid you really are.
That explains almost the entirety of Fox News. – John Cleese.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

Wasn’t John Cleese cancelled recently?

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett