One of my favorite movies is Patton, about the legendary World War II General. The final line of the movie is probably echoing uncomfortably right now in the halls of Fox News.
The final line comes after George C. Scott, as Patton, relates how Roman Generals would parade through conquered cities in all their glory while simultaneously a single slave whispers in their ear “all glory is fleeting”. According to the CNN’s ratings report, Fox appears to be at the end of their ratings-conquering march.
I guess that makes CNN the slave.
CNN ranked #1 in cable news in prime time in April. CNN beat Fox News for the fifth time in the last eight months in M-Su prime time (four of the past eight in M-F prime) among adults 25-54. The last time CNN had this many prime time wins in an eight-month period versus Fox News was over 14 years ago (Nov. 2001).
Most analysts are ascribing Fox’s stumble to the divisive success of Donald Trump. Not since the 1976 battle between incumbent Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan has the GOP been so split.
Fox, of course, has been inserting themselves- or been inserted, depending on your view of things- into much of Donald Trump’s campaign which appears to be costing the news behemoth in viewership.
That seems to be the general narrative at least. I’m not so sure it’s that cut and dried. Sure, I understand viewers literally being turned off by Fox’s schizophrenic assessment of the Blonde One.
Depending on whom you watch on the network you get either constant defense and adoration of the man, or nonstop attacks. However, that doesn’t answer why generally right-leaning viewers would just submit to CNN (Clinton News Network) -unless it’s for a good laugh at Wolf Blitzer.
My thought is that two separate things are happening in tandem.
- During a Presidential election, news viewership always spikes more than in off years. Many undecided and left-leaning voters are seriously dismayed at the Democrat primaries and are looking to CNN for liberal guidance–is anybody out there still qualifying MSNBC as an actual “network”?. As both primaries get more and more polarized, voters are desperate for either a reason to vote for or justification to rage against specific candidates.
In all this Trump brough ha-ha, it’s important to not lose sight that many on the Left are not exactly certain on either Clinton or Sanders. Some may argue that casual Fox viewers would happily switch to CNN if they think Fox is too pro-Trump, but in these days, how many people are actual casual anything when it comes to politics? I think the more likely drop in Fox’s numbers is …
- Conservatives are getting smarter and more discerning about who watch. For all the years of Fox’s ratings dominance, they were perceived as the only real conservative game in town. Liberals could choose between the networks, MSNBC, CNN and a host of others. In order to stand out on the Left, the mainstream outlets had to cater to differing political leanings, even within the “Left”.
Thanks, in large part to the perceived contrasts between Trump and Cruz, Trump and the establishment, Cruz and the establishment et. al. conservatives are seeking better outlets that address their specific leanings. Sure on Fox, you can eventually find somebody to articulate your viewpoint as long as you’re willing to sit through all the other talking heads who just spew the status quo –according to you. By just assuming right leaning viewers will always go to Fox for the “official” conservative news, Fox has become the Republican Wal-Mart of news.
What will be really interesting is to see if Fox has the kahones to actually decide on a dedicated POV and recover its ratings dominance. Often, once the stamp of irrelevance has been slammed on somebody’s head, it doesn’t come off.