FNC’s 15th: Changing the Face of Journalism…

The Washington Post’s Ellen McCarthy and Paul Farhi write about FNC’s 15th Anniversary…

Fox veterans speak with dreamy nostalgia about the early days, which they characterize as a David-vs.-all-the-Goliaths experiment. Though Murdoch spent tens of millions to launch, Fox staffers remember having a two-person crew, when the other networks had seemed to have a dozen people per crew. They were operating with a try-this mentality and doing it with the awareness of a protective, if frustrating, fact: No one’s really watching.

Murdoch was paying cable companies to pick up the new network, but many markets declined. “In the beginning, it was strange, because no one could see what we were doing,” said Jay Wallace, who started as a 25-year-old overnight producer and is now vice president of news.

Fox staffers point to coverage of various events that catapulted the network to prominence. Perhaps it was the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the 2000 Florida recount, Sept. 11, 2001, or Hurricane Katrina. By its 10th anniversary, executives had put together a video montage of quotes from early critics who pooh-poohed the channel’s chances. The not-so-subtle message: “Eat crow, wouldya?”

Among the things that set the channel apart was an underlying belief that news needed to double as entertainment. Even his sharpest critics agree that Ailes’s skills as a TV producer are unsurpassed. He made the graphics flashier, the segment titles more arresting and pushed the pacing to match that of a multi-tasking public.

41 Responses to “FNC’s 15th: Changing the Face of Journalism…”

  1. Translation: Ailes turned the national news into one giant 24-hour local-news/tabloid crapfest. With bimbos. Awesome.

  2. FOX HAS permanently changed the face of journalism. Now, facts no longer matter, and the media has to push an agenda.

  3. Unlike its competition, Fox thought enough of its American audience to actually dare to consider stories from a conservative as well as the liberal aspect. Instead of clamouring for congressional and presidential action on every issue, now someone was doing televised reports on how the individual states can make a difference.

    Most of their female talent once worked for one or more of the other networks. Interesting how they’re only called “bimbos” once they are on FNC’s payroll.

  4. Sudden transformations of bra size and hair color have that effect. I like a pretty girl as much as the next guy, but the Fox-ification (irony alert) of female anchors is a little out of control.

  5. Just dead-reckoning, but I think FNC’s female talent are older than those of its competition on average.

  6. I have no idea how that changes the fact that when Heather Childers or Harris Faulkner tosses to Maria Molina, it’s so over-the-top that you couldn’t parody it.

  7. Note to ICN comment section lurkers: It’s the liberal who’s making fun of how the women look.

  8. Eh, that’s all I got for this tired topic. When picking on Fox for being – Fox – becomes tiresome, the terrorists have won. Oh well.

  9. Uh, no, I’m making fun of the morons who dress ’em that way, but thanks for playing. I don’t consider wedging women into an extreme ‘porn look’ to be “liberating” for them.

  10. “Porn look”? You really should get out more.

  11. Bimbo as a derogatory term reflects not only on a woman’s appearance but also intelligence. I’m not sure what ‘sudden transformation of hair color’ refers to. Hasn’t Greta always been blonde? Was Harris Faulkner something other than a brunette before suddenly changing to one? I’m not aware of ANY sudden changes in the appearance of either Heather Childers OR Harris.

    And how is Maria Molina any different than when she was at the Weather Channel and appeared now and then on CNBC and MSNBC? The only difference I know of is that she is now a CBM: Certified broadcast meteorologist, awarded after an additional regimen of advanced education and training from the American Meteorological Society. So if anything she’s even smarter than she was before, and yet is trotted out as an example of a ‘bimbo’.

    Tiresome doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  12. Gerri Willis is almost unrecognizable from her CNN days. You can pick out particular examples all you want, but anyone with eyes can see that the Fox women are tarted up in a hyper-sexualized way, and ‘bimbo’ is a stock phrase to reflect that. No, I don’t think they’re dumb. I think Ailes and Co. make a concerted effort to bury their females in hair and makeup and cleavage so it looks more like a fashion shoot than a newscast. Gimme a break.

  13. God forbid an anchor looks attractive. Please joe, this tirade of yours is pathetic. Look on ANY cable news channel, tell me you wont find one attractive female. Of all the things to criticize FNC on, you pick the females are too pretty. Wow…

  14. I don’t see a difference… looks thinner maybe, like she’s been working out or something. Hard to believe she’ll be 60 nest year.

  15. ^ No, I didn’t read the thing. She was born in 59 so she’s… 52.

  16. Jacky, don’t be coy. You know I’m not criticizing their beauty. I’m criticizing the fetishistic way it’s presented by the men they work for. I realize if y’all agree with me, then you’ll have to feel guilty for digging it, so I understand that will never happen. But there’s a reason “Fox Babes” is a cottage industry on the internet. Hey, I look, too..but I’m not in denial about it.

  17. Fine then blame all television media. Hell, blame all of television for putting on pretty people. Gee, maybe you should travel to New York (you should make a stop in Atlanta as well) and tell the women there how they are being objectified by the big bad wolf Ailes and company.

    Gerri Willis looks the same…

  18. Uh huh. Flip between FNC, CNN, and MSNBC, then tell me they all have the same presentation. I’m sorry, but Fox has a noticeably “hotter” look, which is a mystery to exactly no one in the industry. It was one of the first things they were known for: Suddenly this “Fox Babe” thing was being talked about.

    If you want to pretend I’m actually picking on the women, you’re on your own. My point is clear, and it is directed at the sleazballs who run that network.

  19. Now please have the last word, last word havers. This topic is ancient, endless, and makes my brain itch.

  20. Your point is quite clear. You hate FNC so much you have run out of stuff to criticize them for. I know, lets start making stuff up! Damn those sleazeballs for creating a 24 hour news network, curse them for using lighting and flashy graphics, tar and feather them for blah blah blah. It gets old you know. Ah well, whatever issue you have with the way the FNC women or the staff is your prerogative.

  21. Jacky, my man, this isn’t “running out of”. This is a very old subject, and the “Fox Babe” thing itself is a very old subject in cable news. That you seem to be unaware of it a mystery to me. God, why am I still talking about this? Ahhh!!

  22. Agree to disagree, let’s move on to a real topic.

  23. motownman Says:

    I’m a liberal, but I watch a lot of Fox News. The article is right. Fox delivers it in an entertaining way, and that includes the women. There are beautiful women on network TV as well as cable, and ALL networks use that to their advantage. It used to bother me that the line between news and entertainment was blurred, but I’ve come to realize it’s like at a baseball game, when the first thing the leadoff batter does is wipe out the back line of the batter’s box. That argument’s gone and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  24. ” the “Fox Babe” thing itself is a very old subject in cable news.”

    Well, that must mean it’s true. Because nobody would ever harp on something that wasn’t based in actual fact. That never happens.

  25. Johnny, does your head ever get cramped up there?

  26. I think Joe’s right… but is far too subtle in his argument. What it really boils down to is women can really only be one or the other. Either their hot and stupid, or they’re ugly and smart. How could it it possibly be both?! Those people don’t exist.

    Besides, doesn’t evertone already know that men are only guided by their ding-dong? Yup… no thought for us guys. We’ll just sit around watching an attractive woman read things, just because of her looks. Sure, we could watch something more “physical,” but nope… if we stumble on a news reader first, we are powerless to change the channel.

    Clearly the FOX babe thing is real… because people are really that black and white.

  27. Pay attention, Blue. I didn’t say the Fox womem were dumb. I said their bosses tart them up more than the other channels. Rocket science, this is not.

  28. ^ Riiight. You called them “bimbos,” and then tried to change it’s definition.

    And really… you think that FNC was the first network to try to make their talent look good?

    They look good and are good at their jobs. So why is that a bad thing?

  29. Yes, smart person, I misused a generic term. Anyone who’s read anything I’ve written here the last three years can discern what I’m saying from last night’s “Fox Babe” debate.

    For the hundredth time, I’m not criticizing THEM. They’re gonne “look good and be good at their jobs” regardless. My complaint is with the extra layer of makeup, the blonde’s getting blonder, the hair getting bigger, the pushups getting pushupier, and the strategically placed “leg lights”.

    You can BS me about “attractive, who cares” all you want, but FNC objectifies their female anchors/hosts/guests in a particularly blatant way. Period.

  30. I’d argue the extra layer of makeup is because of the high-definition cameras and I see the push-ups obvious on even the local broadcast channels, for those women who have such features.

    Now, we do know from watching Janice Dean on Red Eye that she’s a natural redhead and she used the term “Fox-ified” to describe her transformation when she hired on. Thing about that is, given her notoriously “fun” personality, we can’ treally tell whether or not she said that with tongue firmly in cheek especially given her, “Nope, the curtains don’t match the carpet” quip.

  31. I made the connection between FNC and the local news ethos earlier. Check the Los Angeles market for the Fox-ified Effect. Murdoch and Ailes may have nationalized their particular version of entertainment/tabloid news, but they didn’t invent it.

  32. It could be that FNC simply allows its talent to srpuce it up some within their own comfort zone. From the background chit-chat we sometimes hear on Red Eye, Fox & Friends, and even America Live, the ladies chose the styles they want to wear and their wardrobe department makes it happen. There are also hosts and newsreaders on the channel who never wear anything low-cut.

    I don’t consider wedging women into an extreme ‘porn look’ to be “liberating” for them.

    Hyperbolise much?

  33. ^ Well it is important to remeber, Al, that the only way to really liberate women, is to make sure they dress to our (men’s) standards. The more we can tell them what is and isn’t appropriate, the more “free” they are.

  34. Blue, the irony in that comment is hilarious.

  35. harry1420 Says:

    Fox doesn’t do journalism. it does talk radio on teevee. What’s even more sad is its audience can’t distinguish between NEWS (the reporting of facts)…from opinion (one’s thoughts about something). No doubt what they do they do it very well but to call it journalism would be like calling a pile of crap art.

    Fox knew it had to do something to get the ratings so instead of doing news it got into the talk radio on teevee format in which its conservative audience just loves. And just watch Ailes will do the same to FBN. It will become a talk fest just like fox noise is…..

  36. harry1420 Says:

    Al, I watch the NEWS to be informed NOT to drool over who is delivering it. Ailes knows he has to doll up his anchors to pull in the ratings because is for the OLD, angry, hard of hearing crowd whose wives have seen better days…

  37. imnotblue Says:

    I’m not going to bother correcting Harry’s lies, because we all know they’re lies. And besides, Harry posts like a panda hitman on sites like this… so there’s extra no point.

    My only question is, “Why?” Why bother saying things that are so overtly wrong? Why lie to people who will know you’re lying? And if you’re so angry at FNC, why bother talking about them at all?

    I just don’t get it.

  38. imnotblue Says:

    @ Joe

    I worry that the “irony” you see, is not the sarcasm I intended.

    Should I be concerned?

  39. As far as I’m concerned, concerning your concerns, you should always be concerned.

  40. It’s good that Harry chose to try interacting a little instead of just leaving a dumb post. And he’s entitled to his opinion even though a simple look at the ratings proves him wrong. FNC draws the younger crowd, too.

    …whose wives have seen better days.

    I’ll assume Harry didn’t mean that because, otherwise, he’d be a pig.

  41. I enjoyed that bit of irony, too, Al. I don’t think you can agree with me that Fox presents a slightly ludicrous standard of beauty/sexuality, AND pick on the looks of viewers’ wives. Pick a side, brother!

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