Fox News won the ratings war in the US election hands down. But its candidate lost, even if that is taking a while to sink in. Ironically, Fox’s statisticians were the first to call the poll for Biden, something that has brought them condemnation from the station’s headbanger Alt-Right poster boys who are wildly popular with its audience and have been made wildly wealthy by the station.
Approaching his 90th year, Rupert Murdoch might have thought he couldn’t face a new kind of problem; how do you steer a rabid product that has served its purpose back towards the mainstream now that its cause celebre has gone? And how do you do it without shedding its audience of ‘unreconcilables’. Particularly as Mr Trump, as he will soon be, seems likely to bring a new TV channel to market to the right of Fox. Perhaps the character of Fox will naturally evolve as some of its unreformable anchors jump ship to Trump TV. Mind you, well as they would know their new boss, they might be rather worried about their maga (I mean mega) wages being paid.
Since the departure of Roger Ailes – first from Fox for sex assaults, then from the mortal coil – Fox has been leaderless and somewhat out of control, as can been seen by the ‘rats in a sack’ infighting now. The election of Biden is a time for Murdoch managers to get it reined back in and go for a refresh. He’s already doing it for his newspapers with the New York Post suddenly seeming sane and reasonable, just as he has done it before with The Sun in the UK.
Murdoch wants to make governments in order they owe him something. He prefers they are right-wing, but he doesn’t mind going off-piste; see Tony Blair. The important thing is he is on the inside, or at least onside.
And, at least he’s pretty open about. It’s a ‘you might not like me but at least I stab you in the front’ kind of attitude. Sadly, despite undoubtedly being a fan of journalism, Murdoch’s strained relationship with the truth has recently seemed to break down altogether. But he is still a publisher and broadcaster and so has some fundamental legal constraints on him. Unlike, say, the Russians, or Facebook, for example.
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