Whether we’re Democrats, Republicans or moderate-independent cable news viewers, we all realize that Fox News has become the most powerful news source on TV. We may believe that FNC is a conservative-only resource, or we may believe the narrative that it’s a “Republican Mouthpiece.” Though President Obama has tried to belittle FNC as “not news—only entertainment,” the channel’s huge audience advantage as a trusted news source exposes that remark as political rhetoric.
The once powerful Big Three—CBS, NBC, and ABC—still have some juice for 30 minutes a night, but they have been fading for years, and their influence is sharply limited. Likewise, the once all-powerful New York Times has now become a once-daily Liberal opinion paper, with readership dropping precipitously.
CNN has maintained its position and grown somewhat, but Fox outpaces CNN’s audience size by around 40 percent. MSNBC’s share is so low that it’s analogous to Martin O’Malley’s former position in the Democrat primary race—a footnote at best.
CNN is the oldest cable news channel by far, having pioneered round-the-clock TVnews. Ironically, Fox News—is the youngest news source, yet it has become the most broadly influential.
And because FNC may not realize the consequences of that power in this topsy-turvy election year, it’s time for voters to deliver “The Talk,” as we would for a man-sized teen who doesn’t realize how much damage he can cause.
American Voters: “OK FNC, take a seat. We need to talk.”
FNC: “What did I do now? Did I say something I shouldn’t have?”
AV: “Not exactly. But you need to be smarter about the way you’re covering these presidential campaigns. You need to look ahead to understand the consequences of your actions.”
FNC: “But I don’t see what I’ve done wrong. Haven’t I been ‘Fair and Balanced?’”
AV: “Fair and Balanced? Maybe in some ways. But bottom line, YOU HAVE CREATED DONALD TRUMP! Perhaps you didn’t realize what you were doing. When Trump first announced that he was running for President, it seemed like a nice little story. You saw a TV reality star creating a fresh new reality show. It shouldn’t have been anything more.
“But you and the rest of your media friends couldn’t resist the ‘infotainment’ value of this deliberately outrageous actor. So you all pretended that he was a real candidate. As expected, Trump attracted crowds. He regaled the audiences with outrageous remarks. He called Latino Immigrants “criminals” and “rapists.” He disrespected Senator McCain’s military record. He made misogynistic remarks about Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina. He was a modern day Don Rickles. You media guys thought it was all show, but you treated his remarks as those of a real politician.
“Then somehow, Trump began to think he could play these remarks to win the Presidency. And you let him do it. You encouraged him!”
FNC: “Hey, don’t blame me! Everyone did it.”
AV: “Yes they did, but you are the most powerful voice in cable news. You’re the favorite news source for Republicans. You have clout! And you gave Trump free air time. You gave him ten times more coverage than any other candidate. You covered some of his major campaign events live. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”
“Soon, most of your pundits were saying that he can “run the table.” If that happens, you will have severely damaged America, and possibly ended the influence of your beloved Republicans forever. “
FNC: “No! That’s not true. Maybe he’ll be elected President. He can’t be any worse than the narcissist president we’ve had for the past seven years.
AV: “Trump will not be elected president. He has BY FAR the highest ‘unelectable’ rating of any candidate in either party. Sure, he has apparently managed to attract one-third of the Republicans who are very angry. They want to send a message to the Washington establishment. But remember, the other two-thirds are voting for someone other than Trump. Sadly, they have spread their votes across five different candidates. That’s not your fault, FNC. That belongs to the knuckleheads at the Republican National Committee.”
AV: “But the way this is going, with ‘the most powerful name in cable news’ covering Trump like the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, Democrats will have a powerful slogan: “HOLD YOUR NOSE AND VOTE FOR HILLARY.” And they will win.
“FNC, you’ve got to be more responsible. If the Democrats had a better candidate (No, not Bernie) this wouldn’t matter so much. We’d be OK with a Democrat with leadership skills and high trust factors. But you may have created a Clinton-Trump election, to the detriment of all Americans.
“And FNC, here’s one more thing to consider. Look out that window, and take note of that Old Gray Lady feeding the pigeons from her park bench. She may look homeless, but she still has a few friends in Manhattan. Did you know that she was once the world’s most respected newspaper?” And take note of those two ragged magazines next to her. They’re named Time and Newsweek. They once fought for supremacy as the world’s leading in-depth news sources. Now they fight for jobs wrapping fish.
“If you wonder what happened to these three one-time world powers of media, they each made the same mistakes. They let themselves become part of their stories. Then they made story selections to push their agendas. Readers revolted. They turned to the Internet. FNC, DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN TO YOU!”
My book “The Victory that Wasn’t” offers a fictional alternate history with a different kind of Military, and better outcomes for all Americans. It’s available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1GUL8oX