by Lou Aguilar
It was entirely expected that the worst year in my lifetime should have the worst election in my lifetime. Not because the second-best president in my lifetime (after Ronald Reagan) lost, but because we don’t know for sure that he did. I would rather be certain that the ghost of Joe Biden won outright than see the greatest nation on Earth embarrass itself like Venezuela. Sadly, the unprecedented goalpost-shifting and manipulation by the Left, bolstered by the usual obsequious accommodation by the Right, has created a national humiliation that will fester for a long time to come, no matter who gets inaugurated in January. Should that be Biden, I shall leave it to more expert political analysts to dissect the cause and effects of such a disaster, while I’ll focus on the cultural, media, and artistic ramifications. And I’ll start with the most astonishing example of media suicide in my lifetime — that of the Fox News Corporation (FNC).
Trump broke every other news entity even before he took office in 2017. CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the rest have always been left-wing, only with an illusory veneer of neutrality. Trump smashed the veneer, accurately calling them “fake news” amid their swirl of lies about him: Russian campaign collusion, the neo-Nazis “fine people” hoax, the impeachment-unworthy phone call to Ukraine, the “botched handling of COVID” that killed 200,000 people, and more. The visionary Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch built FNC as the singular center-right alternative to the mainstream vortex, an oasis for discouraged conservatives. The creation paid off when Fox won higher ratings and greater profit than its cable news rivals combined. All they had to do this year to stay on top was fairly cover the president, unlike the competition, and they couldn’t manage that. To cite the constantly correct O’Sullivan’s First Law (coined by eminent American Spectator contributor John O’Sullivan), “All entities that are not explicitly right-wing will become left-wing over time,” and Fox News proved the rule.
Like a million loyal former viewers, I disgustedly watched Fox install disgraced Democrat hack Donna Brazile as their new liberal commentator (to back up the insufferable Juan Williams). Watched them boost the China virus doomsday panic. Watched fake objective anchor Chris Wallace transform into a rabid Trump-sniping chipmunk. Watched normally staid anchor Melissa Francis block Newt Gingrich from linking George Soros to riot-supportive blue state AGs. Watched business anchor Neil Cavuto cut off a White House press conference because he disapproved of Kayleigh McEnany’s address. Watched them call Arizona for Biden on Election Night before anyone else did, with the final count still days away. Watched them call a Democratic House expansion before the party lost many seats instead. Watched them call the election for Biden and refer to him as president-elect minus any official recognition. Watched them ridicule the Trump campaign’s perfectly valid remedial fight, with reporter Kristin Fisher openly insulting the Trump legal team’s press conference. Read the tweet by Kathryn Murdoch, wife of Fox News co-owner James Murdoch (son of Rupert), on Biden’s apparent victory, stating, “We did it.” Then, like a million former Fox News viewers, I turned off the channel, probably for good, adding to its current ratings meltdown. Trump broke FNC too.
President Trump understands the television business as much, if not more, than his countless critics, obviously including the current Fox News hierarchy. They forget that before entering politics, Trump navigated a hit NBC primetime series, The Apprentice, for 11 years. So with his business acumen and customary bluntness, he nailed FNC’s derailment and inevitable doom in a single tweet: “Fox News daytime ratings have completely collapsed. Weekend daytime even WORSE. Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 election, and 2020, was @FoxNews.”
Ironically, they also made the same hubristic mistake the other media sources did before FNC went live in 1996 — the belief that people had nowhere else to go. From their height of success, they dismissed the once-weak competition of mini-network Newsmax. Now they’re finding out the hard way that the house that Roger built is full of drafts, and abandoners are taking shelter elsewhere. Newsmax ratings have skyrocketed since August from a viewer base of 100,000 per day to 700,000 to 800,000 at last check. And conservatives are no longer dependent on television to get real news without the Trump derangement. Entities like the Daily Wire, Glenn Beck, and The American Spectator are reaping the benefit of Fox News’ progressive seppuku.
FNC will have to do to three things get us back, but they would probably go bankrupt before doing one. First, apologize for betraying their viewer base and the vision that elevated them, the more grovelingly the better. Two, initiate a corporate Reign of Terror, firing Brazile, Wallace, Cavuto (whom I like), Fisher, Fox Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt, and other tainted anti-Trumpers. Third, place at the helm a young Roger Ailes-type who understands the original mission of FNC to be “fair and balanced” and not CNN lite. This would politically neutralize the Murdochs and their social justice warrior wives while still filling their coffers. Unfortunately for them, the usual outcome for progressive drift is to virtue signal all the way to bankruptcy.
And when they fall for betraying us, and Kathryn Murdoch has to start wearing less expensive attire to a Long Island soiree, we can make the same boast she did: “We did it.”
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Lou Aguilar is a published novelist, produced screenwriter, and arts culture essayist. His new novel, “The Christmas Spirit” — a Yuletide romantic ghost story — was intended as the perfect traditionalist Christmas gift, and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and great American bookstores.