Does it really seem possible that FOX News has been with us now for 10 years? In some ways it doesn’t seem that long ago that the 4th major network hit the airwaves for the first time, but in other ways, it’s hard to imagine the network news without it.
You don’t mention FOX News without mentioning its conservative platform. (Do you Bill Clinton?) But the man behind the network, Roger Ailes probably says it best in a USA Today article: “Are you comfortable with CNN? How about CBS, ABC, NBC? What about the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times? National Public Radio? PBS? If all the media tipped to the right, I’d probably be the biggest liberal, but you’ve got to have debate”.
Bravo Mr. Ailes. You don’t go into business doing the same thing all of your competitors are doing. No matter what business you’re in. Fox is refreshing because it is different. If, when they first threw the switch in 1996, FOX did everything the other major players did, they wouldn’t have been able to find an audience.
Of course, if you buy this theory you also have to buy the theory that all of the other major news players are liberal. But we all know, surely you can at least somewhat agree, that the other players are coming to the table with a more liberal agenda.
I’m not suggesting that the other news outlets set out to be less than even-handed, but I’ve been around enough newsrooms and the folks gathering, reporting and managing the news operations have always leaned to the left.
Some far more than others.
And it’s not always seen in the most obvious ways. For instance, when I was anchoring the weekend news in Memphis during the Clinton administration, we always, ALWAYS had a vo of President Clinton walking to or from a church on Sundays. The copy always read something like this:
“President and Mrs. Clinton attended church this morning.”
After he left office and W and Mrs. Bush came in. I noticed those stories disappeared from our weekend newscasts. Curious, I asked our producer who got a bit tiffed that I would suggest we weren’t treating the two couples equally. I know Mr. and Mrs. Bush attend church, so why was this story missing?
I wasn’t suggesting our producer was being biased but rather that CBS was no longer providing the video of a President attending church services to its affiliates.
Of course, that may not be true, who knows? Would I put it past Dan Rather’s shop? Not for a minute.
So here’s a tip of the Stetson to FOX News for 10 years on the air. How are they doing? According to recent ratings, FOX draws an average of 840,000 viewers daily compared to just 448,000 for CNN and 270,000 for MSNBC.
How would have predicted those numbers ten years ago?