While the national polls proclaim Joe Biden as the clear frontrunner, just like they did for Hillary Clinton back in the summer of 2016, signs of growing dissatisfaction with Biden, who has spent the last five months cowering in his basement in Rehobeth, abound, especially as more Americans grow weary of the progressives insistence on economy-crushing social distancing measures, even in areas where case numbers have declined substantially. They continue to hysterically condemn President Trump for causing 160,000 deaths (the number of Americans who have succumbed to the virus so far) without saying one word about the lapses in Wuhan that opened Pandora’s Box in the first place.
As spread slows dramatically from New Jersey to Arizona to California, Americans consistently rate President Trump as “better” on the economy than Biden, though some carefully worded polls have pointed to a surge in public frustration with a federal response that has been characterized as slow and inept.
But through it all, as the mainstream press doubled-down on its progressive slant – openly referring to violent rioters as “peaceful protesters” and reporting on ultra-progressive concepts like “white supremacy” and “the patriarchy” as if these theoretical interpretations are indisputable realities – conservative outlets like Fox News have picked up steam.
And this week, even the New York Times is being forced to admit that – love it or hate it – Fox News is America’s most popular news organization in television. And as the NYT’s Michael Grynbaum reported, while Fox has struggled with several recent “scandals”, things at the cable news channel “have never been better,” as it maintained its ratings dominance in June and July. And not just for cable: for all of television.
In one sense, this has been a difficult period for Fox News: a star anchor fired after being accused of sexual harassment, a lawsuit depicting a misogynist workplace, a top writer exposed as a racist internet troll, advertiser boycotts and outrage after Tucker Carlson called protesters “criminal mobs” and questioned the patriotism of a senator who lost her legs in Iraq.
In another sense, business has never been better.
In June and July, Fox News was the highest-rated television channel in the prime-time hours of 8 to 11 p.m. Not just on cable. Not just among news networks. All of television. The average live Fox News viewership in those hours outstripped cable rivals like CNN, MSNBC and ESPN, as well as the broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC, according to Nielsen.
And nowhere is Fox more dominant than the prime-time slot, between 8 to 11, where Martha McCallum, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity rule the day. And even the return of sports didn’t shake Fox’s grip on an audience that has tuned in to its brand of news during a crisis that many complain has been politicized by both the left and the right.
Of course, Fox isn’t the only news channel that’s benefited; news consumption is up overall. But Fox has seen by far the biggest benefit as CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC etc all seem to speak with one voice that’s controlled by radical leftists masquerading as journalists.
Even the return of live sports did little to stop the momentum: The Fox News programs hosted by Mr. Carlson and Sean Hannity drew more live viewers than competing baseball and basketball games, including a Yankees-Nationals matchup on Opening Day.
Fox News’s big summer has been boosted by a rise in audience for news programming in general, an increase driven by interest in the pandemic, civil rights protests and the presidential election. ABC, CBS, and NBC, meanwhile, have more reruns on the summer schedule; the coronavirus has suspended most TV productions; and viewers are being lured away by streaming services and on-demand Hollywood movies.
But the Fox News ratings also demonstrate the size and resilience of America’s audience for pro-Trump opinion, and the loyalty of Fox News viewers who shrug off the controversies that routinely swirl around the network.
As Lachlan Murdoch bragged during last week’s earnings call, Fox’s advertising revenue is actually up over the past year. And though the NYT doesn’t come out and say clearly, the various “scandals” being pushed by leftists surrounding Trump’s handling of the virus simply don’t land with conservatives.
In other words, conservatives don’t blame Trump for the outbreak like liberals do.
“Massive news events that conservatives view through a highly partisan lens are driving the ratings, and none of the controversies really land with loyal Fox News viewers,” said Nicole Hemmer, a scholar at Columbia University and a historian of American conservative media.
Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox News’s parent company, bragged on an earnings call last week about the network’s “astronomical” ratings. He also said its ad revenue was up from a year ago — a reminder that Fox News, for all the flak it takes from critics, politicians and the advertisers that fled Mr. Carlson, remains an unrivaled profit engine for the Murdoch empire.
But perhaps the biggest reason why Fox has enjoyed such heightened popularity can be found in the NYT story itself, as America’s paper of record claims hydroxychloroquine has been “proven” to be “useless and even dangerous”. The medication has been in use treating malaria patients for more than half a century, and a study claiming it caused serious medical complications in COVID-19 patients was later corrected.
Complaints that Fox News prime-time hosts downplayed the coronavirus — and, in the case of Laura Ingraham, encouraged the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug shown to be useless, and even dangerous, for Covid-19 patients — made little difference.
But the NYT doesn’t care, and why? Because that’s the narrative that the NYT, and Fox News’s main TV-based competitors, are working together to propagate.