“Carlson averaged more than 3 million viewers in his final week on Fox News. After he was fired, the time slot drew only 1.77 million viewers,” The Washington Post reports.
It wasn’t just Carlson’s empty 8 Eastern time slot that suffered. Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, immediately before and after Carlson, respectively, also saw dramatic declines in viewership – up to 40% in the “demo,” the working-age demographic that draws advertising dollars.
Carlson carried the whole dinosaur network, only to be stabbed by the disloyal monkey on his back when the truth he tells became too inconvenient.
One can only expose such abuses of power on corporate media for so long. The only reason Carlson got away with it for as long as he did is because he brought the eyeballs.
Fox News executives are digging their own graves because they don’t understand what’s going on here: American politics is never going back to the “respectability” politics of yesteryear. The genie is out of the bottle. The horse has left the stable. Pick your metaphor.
They can try to plug Brian Kilmeade or whatever hack into Carlson’s old time slot, but it’s not going to work. The populist right’s thirst for a true challenge to corporate power demands more than tired, decades-old GOP talking points.
It is no longer the case that all a network like Fox News needs to succeed is a red-white-and-blue themed set and Barbie doll hosts… whispering seductive sweet nothings about American exceptionalism into the audience’s ear. For far too long, Fox News successfully hypnotized its unsavvy audience into a patriotic stupor to sell more war on its shows and more pharmaceutical products on the commercial breaks.
It’s a whole new era now. That kind of theater – theater is all it ever was – won’t cut the mustard anymore.
There’s too much honest, principled, substantive media coverage out there to satisfy a curious audience. The necessary and superficial constraints of cable news, funded by corporate interests, are no longer appealing to anyone except the most propagandized geriatrics living stuck in a bygone era of Walter Cronkite.
The scam that has been corporate media for decades is coming to an ignominious conclusion, like a Ponzi scheme collapsing under its own weight.
All the superficial banality of a Sean Hannity grates on the nerves – the pretense, the condescension the O’Reilly-esque bombast.
Speaking of which, Bill O’Reilly took his “No Spin” pro-establishment, everyman, calling-balls-and-strikes shtick to the internet after he was fired from Fox in 2016 for sexting.
He hasn’t done nearly the numbers he did at Fox News, because he doesn’t understand the appeal of the internet. He’s playing the same stodgy character as ever, trying to fit a square peg (the corporate media model) into a round hole (the web).
A certain subsection of the population – the majority of the public, sadly – is just as politically illiterate, apathetic, and dumb as ever. They are still gullible enough to credibly consume corporate media slop.
But, outside of perhaps a couple of months every four years running up to a presidential election, they are not consumers of news media. Those kind of viewers are not consistently tuning in enough to sustain a network with the overhead costs of Fox News.
The politically literate subsection of the population – the one that regularly consumes news — is increasingly knowledgeable such that the pretty lies that passed for news two decades ago don’t stand up to scrutiny.
As just one example among thousands, we know, thanks to the free flow of information via the web, how closely the corporate media and government collude for the sake of narrative control. We’ve seen how the sausage is made. It’s ugly.
And Fox News is very much a corporate media legacy outlet. Peter Doocy wouldn’t get a front-row seat at the White House press briefing propaganda sessions to pitch his goofy pseudo-adversarial softballs to the diverse Press Secretary otherwise.
Whoa! Is Doocy a towering giant, or is Psaki really short? pic.twitter.com/9EYvCeZP3S
— Theo Jordan (@Theo_TJ_Jordan) May 13, 2022
If Fox News were truly independent, if it actually challenged power, Doocy would be in the back of the room with heroic African reporter Simon Ateba.
Tucker Carlson was the black sheep of Fox News in that regard. Now that he’s gone, there’s very little to entice non-lobotomized viewers.
So long, Fox News. Your days are numbered.
“I’m gonna make a toast when it falls apart
I’m gonna raise my glass above my heart
Then someone shouts “that’s what they get!”…
If you think anyone will feel badly
You are sadly, mistaken
Time has come for evolution
Fuck collusion, kill by five”
-NOFX, ‘ Dinosaurs Will Die’
Ben Bartee is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.
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