While Fox News grows more extremist, CEO Lachlan Murdoch is trying to gaslight advertisers into believing that the network is a mainstream operation.
Last week, I wrote about Murdoch's ridiculous claim, at the MoffettNathanson’s Media and Communications Summit on May 13, that Fox’s opinion programming is “center right."
But Murdoch is not the only one telling that lie. Two days earlier, the executive vice president of ad sales, Jeff Collins, told the same whopper during the network’s “upfront” presentation to advertisers. From Variety:
During the presentation, Collins told advertisers Fox News remains the only mainstream outlet that aims to reach consumers with a “center right” leaning.
Fox and Collins seem to be trying to assuage concerns about, say, Tucker Carlson’s promotion of white supremacy (which Lachlan Murdoch pretends is not happening) or maybe the fact that the network is being sued for more than $4 billion over its lies about the 2020 election, which it continues to promote.
But in addition to covering up its current extremism, it looks like Fox plans to infuse its conservative, divisive propaganda into weather, sports and other “lifestyle and entertainment” programming.
More from Variety:
Fox News hopes to sell commercial inventory in a range of new venues the company hopes will appeal to core viewers of the conservative news outlet while branching out from the politics that has been such a focus of the last four years.
“We are in no way leaning back from politics. We are leaning into It,” says Jeff Collins, executive vice president of ad sales for Fox News Media in an interview. “But the overall political cycle has lessened significantly. It has opened up a lot more time.” …
Fox News Media is eager to integrate advertisers into its flagship network’s new “Gutfeld!” late-night program; to interest clients in the launch of Fox Weather, a live-streamed service that will focus on national and local conditions using Fox-owned stations and new personnel; and to weave sponsors into certain programs on Fox Nation, its streaming service, that, if popular enough, may find their way on to Fox News Channel on Sunday nights.
The company sees a chance to create “more diversified content, around lifestyle and entertainment,” says Collins, and even sports. Fox Corporation recently purchased Outkick, a sports-news and talk site with a reputation for offering a conservative lens on that sector.
In a separate article about Fox’s Outkick acquisition, Variety reported:
After making a business in delivering news with a conservative point of view, Fox Corporation is looking to do the same with sports.
[Clay] Travis, a former attorney, founded the site as an extension of his work doing sports columns for CBS, Deadspin and FanHouse. He is known for outspoken, even flip, commentary, and many people who are not close followers may best know him from a CNN appearance in which he was taken off the air by anchor Brooke Baldwin after he made references to female anatomy.
During his MoffettNathanson remarks, Murdoch gave a taste of what he considers "lifestyle" programming when he falsely recast streaming service Fox Nation as a “lifestyle brand.” Media Matters demolished that claim:
Fox executives portrayed Fox Nation as a haven of “feature documentaries, travel series and other lifestyle programming.” This is misleading. Data show that extremist and political programming led by former President Donald Trump and Fox host Tucker Carlson is actually driving growth of the platform. (And for the record, this “lifestyle” programming also includes things like extremist Fox host Jeanine Pirro visiting castles and Tomi Lahren offering daily political rantings; one attempt to start a lifestyle show on the platform had a QAnon conspiracy theorist as a host; and Fox parted ways with other Fox Nation hosts after they pushed deranged conspiracy theories about the pandemic.) By any measure, Fox Nation offers the same misinformation that you see on Fox News.
Fox is also deceitfully trying to make its daytime programming more palatable to advertisers who may want to distance themselves from the primetime propaganda. More from Media Matters:
Fox executive Collins hilariously claimed that “lighter fare” from Fox News is found in “feel-good reporting throughout its daytime news lineup.” This is quite simply a lie. Media Matters has watched Fox News’ daytime programming for years, and it’s as full of grievance-mongering as ever. But even beyond all the individual examples from the last four months, data show Fox’s daytime programming has ramped up clips from Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham (but especially Carlson).
Media Matters notes that Fox News earns more from cable and satellite fees than from advertising. But Variety reported that Fox News ad revenue is estimated to be about $990 million in 2021. Not enough to cover the defamation suits if Fox loses, but definitely not chump change, either.
(Murdoch image via screen grab)
As well as compensation for the actual damage to their reputations, Dominion and Smartmatic should be given massive exemplary damages that reflect the cynical nature of the offences – these people knowingly committed slander and libel thinking there would be no comeback. It would be extra satisfying if Dominion and Smartmatic shared their windfall with people working to make voting easy for every American.