The installation of Sean Hannity crony Porter Berry at FoxNews.com has amped up the Hannitization of the network as well as the internal strife, according to new reporting from The Daily Beast.
The strife at FoxNews.com says as much about Hannity’s de facto leadership as about the divisions inside the network and the vacuum created by Roger Ailes’ departure.
The Daily Beast (and NewsHounds) reported in September that Berry, a former Hannity producer and current editor-in-chief for Fox News Digital, was largely responsible for the layoffs of 25% of the network’s fact checking and research arm known as the “Brain Room.”
Today’s Daily Beast article reports that Berry reveals how deep the fissures are at Fox News and how impotent the management:
According to multiple staffers, Berry’s editorial vision and management style has resulted in the departure of key digital news employees like Jason Ehrich, the former executive vice president of audience development and strategic partnerships, and Greg Wilson, the former managing editor of the Fox News website, among others.
Berry has also been the subject of a number of HR complaints from staffers, multiple people familiar with the matter say.
According to multiple network insiders, Berry remains informally involved with Hannity, keeping in regular contact with the eponymous host, talking on the phone and texting multiple times daily and even putting him on speakerphone in his office (during the pandemic, Berry has worked from Fox’s HQ in midtown Manhattan). He’s also regularly fed ideas to Hannity’s current executive producer, Tiffany Fazio, largely after he’s already spoken to the Fox News star earlier in the day, per multiple people familiar with the situation.
At the same time, Hannity’s sphere of influence has become all-encompassing and his nominal bosses are reluctant to rein him in, former Fox News executive John Huddy, a close confidant of the channel’s late, disgraced founder Roger Ailes, told The Daily Beast.
“The fact is that Sean Hannity is untouchable, on the one hand, and they’re terrified that he’s going to do something that is so offensive that it’s going to bring everybody down,” Huddy said. “He’s come really close a few times. He’s the devil in the deep blue sea. They’re terrified of him but they can’t lose him. If they lose him, they know they’re fucked. And they don’t have a Roger Ailes to call him in and kick his ass.”
We’ve repeatedly noted the ultra-propagandistic tone of FoxNews.com of late. The ne plus ultra (so far) was the masterpiece of propaganda which strongly suggested Donald Trump won the September 29, 2020 presidential debate because the RNC and the Trump campaign said so.
The Daily Beast reveals deep resentment toward Berry, both for his heavy-handed management and his lack of journalistic principles. But while it’s nice to see that some at Fox care about journalism, it shouldn’t be news to any ethical reporter that Fox is a propaganda outlet.
Meanwhile, here’s the thing that will probably keep Berry in charge:
Fox News digital has boasted a record year of traffic under Porter with October said to be its top performing month with “multiplatform views” of close to 2.2 billion.
I highly recommend reading the entire article for a fuller picture of how Fox is being torn apart from within.
(Hannity image via screen grab)
However, Fox(not)News can rest easy: there’s absolutely no bottom to the barrel that Hannity is scooping lies and BS out of. Fox viewers will swallow anything he says so long as Trump likes him.