Crooks And Liars reported an interesting incident on Sean Hannity’s show on Thursday where Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor Peter Kindler (Rep) yes, a Republican, said to someone off-camera in what he thought was an off-air moment, "God, that is terrible TV,"
When one of your core audience starts calling it terrible TV, that should be setting off some alarm bells at Fox News HQ. Unfortunately, it probably won’t and here’s why.
Long ago, when I first saw Fox News, prior to the 2006 US Congressional Election, Fox News was no less extreme right wing than it is now, but because there was a Republican President, it was far less crazy, and actually managed to come across as semi-sensible sometimes, although Bill O’Reilly was already descending into craziness and madness, and Sean Hannity’s craziness was balanced out, at least a little bit, by Alan Colmes, who was a moderate Democrat, but could at least talk sensibly on some issues. Since they split up Hannity and Colmes, Sean Hannity’s descent has gone faster than Bill O’Reilly’s, which is kinda disturbing actually.
Nowadays, the craziness is like a pandemic. It’s everywhere, from Fox & Friends First, through all the so-called news shows, Outnumbered, Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Five, Special Report, to all the opinion shows, On The Record, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity & Red Eye, there’s no escape from it. Well, there is one, Shepard Smith Reporting. It’s not an entirely crazy free zone, but there is far more sanity in that programme, than there is anywhere else on the Fox News schedule.
The channel has gone from semi-sensible, to a complete crazy, bouncing-off-the-rubber-walls self parody, and whilst it remains successful in TV ratings terms, the rest of the conservative media that feeds off it, is doing less well, and eventually, those problems may come to affect Fox News as well.
One of the biggest signs that Fox News may end up falling like the rest of the Conservative Media, is what is happening currently to the biggest name in American talk radio, Rush Limbaugh. For years, Rush Limbaugh was the biggest thing in the Conservative Media, way bigger than Fox News, with way more listeners, and way more impact than Fox News has ever had. Even in 2012, it was reported that Rush LImabugh had over 15 million listeners, compared to the 3 million or so who watch Fox News.
But in 2012, the descent into madness that Rush Limbaugh had been going through since 2003, hit home to most of the American public, with a commentary Rush did on his show on February 29th 2012, yes, on leap day, when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke, a student who had given testimony to a congressional comittee, a “prostitue” and a “slut”. How appropriate that on Leap Day, Rush Limbaugh jumped the shark.
Since that day, a campaign has been underway to get Rush Limbaugh off the air, by informing sponsors and advertisers that they’re advertising on his show, and advising them to pull their sponsorship and their adverts. And this campaign isn’t just focused on the national advertisers, but on the local advertisers on each of the stations that takes The Rush Limbaugh Show.
The campaign, known both as Stop Rush and Flush Rush, has had a major impact. Rush’s show lost stations quickly in the aftermath of the Sandra Fluke controversy, and has continued to lose stations since, with rumours of Chicago talk radio powerhouse, WLS AM, about to drop the show, being merely the latest in a long line of stories about stations dropping the show. The show once aired on over 900 stations, now it’s more like over 500, and even then, in some markets, it was dropped by the major news/talk station and picked up by a smaller one.
Of course, there are problems with trying to shame advertisers away from Fox News Channel. For instance, Fox deals with its own sales for all of its national television operations, so you can’t go after Fox News Channel on its own, you have to go after all of Fox, which might be more difficult to do given they have some of America’s most popular programmes on their network.
On the other hand, given now that Roger Ailes now runs the local stations side of the Fox Television operation, as well as Fox News and Fox Business, that might give an opening to say to advertisers, you are advertising on Fox’s news output, and hurt Fox News that way, especially if backed with a boycott of said companies and products.
Perhaps the more lucrative angle here, is going after cable companies. Fox News is distributed by cable companies and satellite broadcasters, so the best way to starve it of cash, maybe by not buying the packages it is in. Where it is in basic TV packages, then write in campaigns should be used to persuade cable companies that there is a large market out there for a package that doesn’t include Fox News, and that both it and Fox Business should be pushed to a higher level package, so that if people don’t want to pay for it, they can avoid paying for it, or indeed, drop it altogether.
The more people highlight the controversial stuff that Fox News spreads, the lies, the propaganda, the craziness and the complete and utter contempt for the real world, the more likely it will be that advertisers and cable companies, will slowly drop Fox News or move it to higher end packages where it will have less subscribers and less revenue.
We can’t shame Fox News themselves, they have no shame, they are completely shameless. So others who pay for them, must be persuaded not to pay for them. TV is the only industry where you are forced to pay for products you don’t want, don’t watch and never will watch. Would Fox News be able to survive on it’s revenue it would get if those who wanted it, had to pay a separate subscription to get it? It’s not certain that it would, after all, television is an expensive business.