LONDON – To read and watch the reaction of people who have hated Fox News from its creation, one might think it resembles dancing on someone’s grave, but at 92, Rupert Murdoch remains very much alive and his influence, not only on Fox, but in much of journalism, will likely continue for some time.
It may be coincidental, or not, that the announcement of Murdoch’s stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corp. coincides with the release this week of Michael Wolff’s book “The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire,” which predicts the end of the cable network. Wolff and others may wish it so, but I am doubtful. Again, critics have been predicting and hoping for the network’s demise since it was launched in 1996. Why the antipathy toward a network that should be considered part of the diversity of ideas many claim to endorse?
The answer comes from Murdoch’s note last Thursday to his employees: “Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”
If you didn’t attend the same schools as these elites, if your material doesn’t appear in elite newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, you are considered illegitimate and trespassers on their territory. They tolerate those breaking our laws to cross our southern border, but have no tolerance from especially those with a conservative worldview who seek to “invade” their spaces.
I spent 19 years as a Fox News Channel contributor and believe there would likely be no Fox News Channel, or talk radio, were it not for the monopoly the left has enjoyed for years in deciding what is news and what isn’t and slanting their reporting to fit their mostly liberal political positions. If the broadcast news divisions had hired some openly conservative reporters and producers, Fox might never have happened. Ideology and elitism have overcome sound business decisions. Opinion polls consistently show most Americans no longer trust the media.
Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, the man he hired to create the network, saw a market that felt ignored and stereotyped when attention was paid. Like any good business – and journalism is a business – they set out to reach that market. Ratings, profits and viewer loyalty quickly followed. Fox continues to dominate cable news and on occasion has beaten broadcast network ratings.
Rather than learn from Fox’s success, the elites continue to deride and put it down, deepening the loyalty of people who see the network as defenders and proclaimers of their beliefs. One of the canards hurled at Fox for years has been that it tells people what to think. In fact, it reflects beliefs conservatives already hold.
Will things change now that Murdoch’s son, Lachlan, has been passed the torch? It’s hard to predict, but he inherits a goose that is laying ratings golden eggs and while he may understandably want to put his own imprint on the network, caution is advised. Other conservative networks, like Newsmax, are waiting to jump should Fox falter.
Rupert Murdoch believes in old school journalism. He bought and saved The Wall Street Journal and the same might be said of The Times of London, which he also purchased.
He deserves the gratitude of conservatives. He ought to have the gratitude of everyone in journalism. That he doesn’t get it proves his point about elites and “self-serving bureaucracies.”