Today, Fox News is the unquestioned ratings champion among cable news channels. One other factor determining ratings success has been the unpopularity of the hard left content being delivered by competitors such as CNN and MSNBC. Viewers interested in fair and balanced news coverage, as opposed to liberal indoctrination, had nowhere to turn but Fox News.
While it is not a liberal network, Fox News is not friendly to true conservatives either. For example, most Fox News hosts are either moderate or downright liberal. The mid-day host Shephard Smith is blatantly liberal on a wide variety of issues and just this week was blasting those conservatives who have been critical of Pope Francis.
The evening hosts such as Greta Van Susteren and Bill O’Reilly are independents who are fairly moderate on most issues. Megyn Kelly has some conservative views, but her recent efforts to derail Donald Trump are easily apparent to the viewers of her program. While Sean Hannity is a conservative, most of his favorite guests are members of the Republican establishment, who often battle conservatives on endorsements and policies.
The network consistently uses a variety of analysts who routinely criticize Trump. Supposed experts such as George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Brit Hume and Karl Rove are card carrying members of the GOP establishment who see Trump as a threat. Not surprisingly, these guests and others highlighted by Fox News attack Trump, yet the network rarely balance these views with guests representing the Tea Party or other conservative groups.
Polls show that while Trump has suffered some slippage of support, he still leads in the GOP race for the nomination. His strongest base of support is among Tea Party conservatives. These are voters who are angry at the GOP establishment and want the party to be more aggressive in dealing with the Democrats and the liberal media.
Instead of championing Trump’s level of support, Fox News focuses on issues and guests who are critical of the front runner. In fact, Trump spokesman Michael Cohen claims that what Fox News is “doing is they’re marginalizing him, they’re criticizing him, they’re trying to figure out how to get this man out of the race.”
Trump is rightly concerned about the type of coverage he has received. In the first debate, Fox News targeted Trump with a variety of hostile questions with Kelly implying that he despised and demeaned women. Trump loudly complained about Kelly until a truce was called. Earlier this week, the feud erupted again as he lambasted the network for what he called a pattern of unfair treatment. Then, the network cancelled his appearance on the O’Reilly Factor while Trump announced a full scale boycott of the network. The dispute reached the apex on Kelly’s Wednesday night show when National Review Editor Rich Lowry stated that Carly Fiorina “cut (Trump’s) b….. off with the precision of a surgeon” in the second debate.
This foul language reportedly angered Roger Ailes who now realizes that Trump has the moral high ground in this dispute. He will meet with Trump next week to discuss the type of coverage the front runner is receiving on the network. We’ll see if another truce will be declared so that Trump’s boycott will end and he will once again appear on the top rated shows.
Before a truce is achieved, Trump will undoubtedly insist on more balanced coverage from a network that in previous elections promoted the moderate Republican over the conservative in the nomination contests. George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney received much more favorable coverage on Fox News in their GOP nomination battles against more conservative opponents.
In this election cycle, it is obvious that the majority of Fox commentators and guests are pulling for any of the other candidates other than Donald Trump. The latest candidate to receive positive coverage from the network is Carly Fiorina. Viewers understand this as well as Donald Trump, but it remains to be seen if the backbone of their audience, conservatives, will stay loyal to the network if this type of coverage continues. Stay tuned.