Monday, February 3, 2014

Frank Rich on Fox: Stop beating a dead Fox

On the heals of the Super Bowl day interview of President Obama by Fox's Bill O'Reilly, I harken back to a recent column by Frank Rich of the NY Times.

I could not help thinking -- during this contentious and testy exchange -- about his point:

Stop Beating a Dead Fox.
The conservative news channel’s only real power is in riling up liberals, who by this point should know better.

His point about Fox is that the ratings success of this network is only an illusion: Fox continues to hemorrhage viewers in the prize age group of 18-54. Their current demographics represent a viewership of  the church's choir.

In other words, Fox does not successfully recruit new viewers, they just preach to the faithful already committed to the party.

Fox News is losing younger viewers at an even faster rate than its competitors. With a median viewer age now at 68 according to Nielsen data through mid-January (compared with 60 for MSNBC and CNN, and 62 to 64 for the broadcast networks), Fox is in essence a retirement community.

The million or so viewers who remain fiercely loyal to the network are not, for the most part, and as some liberals still imagine, na├»ve swing voters who stumble onto Fox News under the delusion it’s a bona fide news channel and then are brainwashed by Ailes’s talking points into becoming climate-change deniers. They arrive at the channel as proud, self-selected citizens of Fox Nation and are unlikely to defect from the channel or its politics until death do them part. (As Sherman writes, “Ailes’s audience seldom watches anything” on television but Fox News.) source

And even more damning, the era of Fox News has not translated (to the popular belief) into the era of GOP domination on a national level:

The most interesting news about Fox News is that for some years now it has been damaging the right far more than the left. As a pair of political analysts wrote at Reuters last year, “When the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the ten presidential elections,” but since 1992, when “conservative media began to flourish” (first with Rush Limbaugh’s ascendancy, then with Fox), Democrats have won the popular vote five out of six times. You’d think they’d be well advised to leave Fox News to its own devices so that it can continue to shoot its own party in the foot.  source

Note to liberals and progressives:

Get out of the right-wing circular line of fire. The fact that the Fox viewer will never become progressives is moot: They are rapidly losing numbers and relevancy. It is far better to spend money, time and energy on attracting folks slightly to the right, center, left-centered and progressive than trying to appeal to Fox Nation -- let them die out!

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