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According to a recent survey, 69 percent of Republicans find Fox News a credible source, up from 59 percent last year. The network just completed its 81st consecutive stint as the highest-rated cable news network as CNN and MSNBC both reported rating losses. On an average night, 2.554 million viewers tune into the conservative network, up 3 percent over last year.
According to Forbes, “The Five drew an average total audience of 3.676 million viewers. FNC swept the top five shows for the quarter, with The Five followed by Tucker Carlson Tonight (3.617 million viewers), Jesse Watters’ Primetime (3.124 million viewers), Hannity (3.057 million viewers) and Special Report with Bret Baier (2.72 million viewers).” It would appear that Trump’s 2019 call for a boycott of Fox News claiming the network “isn’t working for us anymore” has lost its hold on supporters.
On October 7, 1996, Fox News first used the phrase “We report. You decide,” on air, and on April 4, 1998, the company trademarked the slogan. However, that tagline, along with “Fair & Balanced,” were dropped by the network in August 2016. They were replaced with, “Most watched. Most trusted.”
The shift was subtle but undeniable, which brings us to the decision to stick with its usual prime-time lineup instead of airing the January 6th Commission’s Public Hearing.
Laura Ingram defended the network’s choice, citing that they “cater to our audience.” A Fox News spokesman went on to state that they would “cover the hearings as news warrants.”
Sinclair Lewis gives a more honest assessment of Fox’s scheduling decision in his prescient work It Can’t Happen Here: “An honest propagandist for any Cause, that is, one who honestly studies and figures out the most effective way of putting over his Message, will learn fairly early that it is not fair to ordinary folks–it just confuses them–to try to make them swallow all the true facts that would be suitable to a higher class of people. And one seemingly small but almighty important point he learns, if he does much speechifying, is that you can win over folks to your point of view much better in the evening, when they are tired out from work and not so likely to resist you, than at any other time of day.”
Fox News’s choice to air Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and friends in lieu of the Congressional hearings should provoke its viewers to ask “Why?” followed closely by, “What don’t they want us to see?” However, as George Orwell wrote in 1984, “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”
Every generation has its moment when it must come to terms with its own immediate state of affairs: the McCarthy hearings, the Warren Commission, the Watergate hearings, the Starr Report, and now the January 6th hearings. What people watch on Thursday night will tell the country a lot about itself. Will we watch the news unfiltered or through the sieved mouthpieces of talking heads? “[Our father] He’d tell us that in a democracy,” writes Philip Roth in The Plot Against America, “keeping abreast of current events was a citizen’s most important duty and that you could never start too early to be informed about the news of the day.”