FNC Dominance Examined

The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik looks at FNC’s dominance…

Any day now, I am expecting to turn on the tube and see an ad that says, “More Americans get their TV news from Fox than anywhere else.”

Whether that pleases or horrifies you, it’s time to think seriously about what that says about Fox, CNN, MSNBC, the state of network news today and the role TV plays or doesn’t play in providing us with reliable, trustworthy information.

Fox News has emerged as the leader for election news and more, according to Baltimore Sun critic David Zurawik. The cable news channel is dominant, said Zurawik, who discussed this on Fox News Media Buzz. (The Baltimore Sun)
Much of the media establishment seems bent on ignoring the incredible ratings success of Fox News. Or, maybe it’s just that Fox has pounded CNN and MSNBC in the ratings for so long that another victory doesn’t seem like “news” – especially with MSNBC imploding and CNN committing to any genre but news in an effort to find new audiences.

34 Responses to “FNC Dominance Examined”

  1. Waiting to hear weeping and nashing of teeth from across this country from all the lefties out there.

    So, starting on this blog, it will start in 3, 2, 1…………

  2. Whatever the reason maybe, one should hope these viewers look beyond the FNC bubble and the right-wing blogosphere, which BTW FNC heavily relies on for most of its content.
    If FNC is the best watchdog for Obama, it’s a sad statement. Journalism is scarce at FNC because most of the time, they invite pundits to discuss the politics of news stories and repeat talking points from both sides over and over and over again rather than hiring more journalists to find out how things work and why something is the way it is. FNC would be a great watchdog if they actually did more journalism than opinion. Being against Obama isn’t enough, actual work needs to be done. Inviting some loudmouth pundit to spew out conspiracy theories or talking points is not journalism nor is piggy-backing off the work from CNN or the NYT.

  3. Waiting to hear weeping and nashing of teeth from across this country from all the lefties out there.

    So, starting on this blog, it will start in 3, 2, 1…………

    Hello, Pam. Everybody knows the prevent defense of trying to discount any opposing opinion by “predicting it” ahead of time. There’s a guy on another blog who does this all the time about Bill O’Reilly: Bill says something, then this fellow “predicts” what “the haters” are going to say, as if anything they say will naturally be unfair and wrong. It’s childish.

  4. I’ll wait and see if my criticism of FNC will be denounced as reflexive left-wing nonsense and called a communist.

    I’ll add more to my comment above. I’ll take coverage of Iraq as an example. A lot of the time, FNC just invites pundits to scream and interrupt each other. What did you learn? Nothing. How often do the displaced people get their voice heard? Not often. They sent Greg Palkott to Iraq, who is a great journalist, but he was the only one from FNC, which is disappointing for the #1 network. What Greg Palkott does is what FNC needs more of. They need more real journalists to go out and gather news and their work should be the main staple not Hannity’s circus of crazy.

  5. I generally like Zurawik, but lately he’s been talking like he needs to get out of the Fox Bubble more often.

    First, Fox News beat not just CNN and MSNBC, but also ABC, NBC and CBS on Nov. 4, the night of the mid-term elections. It did so in both total viewers and the key news demographic: viewers 25 to 54 years of age.

    Fox more than tripled the audiences of MSNBC and CNN in total viewers, while beating ABC, NBC and CBS by more than 3 million, 2 million and 1 million viewers respectively. (See figures at end of post.)

    On a watershed political night, more Americans tuned to Fox for information about the vote than anywhere else.

    Where did he get the idea that this was a “watershed political night” ? The turnout was – as usual for midterms – terrible, and nobody much cared to find broadcast network coverage of it. Fox beating broadcast for this kind of news is less fascinating than he believes.

    Then there’s the predictable matter of “the mainstream media is undercovering FNC’s ratings”. That’s meaningless PR not worth further comment, so I won’t.

  6. “Whatever the reason maybe, one should hope these viewers look beyond the FNC bubble and the right-wing blogosphere,”

    I’m assuming you feel the same about viewers of NBCCBSABCCNNMSNBC?

  7. One aspect of how people view election coverage now was completely missed by Zurawik, and shows the folly of TV being written about by people who still think TV is The Big Deal: You can get all the chatter and election results you can stand in your Twitter feed while watching reruns of I Love Lucy. The only people left still watching the whole enchilada play out on television are news junkies like me, and we go where we always go..the cable news channel we usually watch.

    For the average Joe it’s simply not necessary to seek out coverage. It’s a win/lose count like the end of a ball game, and easy to check in 5 minutes on a phone. It’s ridiculous for Zurawik to write this article with no mention of how people actually consume news now.

  8. Yes because a diversity of sources is good. Surveys have shown viewers of the others are more likely to look at other sources whereas FNC and the right-wing blogosphere, not so much. I believe I posted a link to a survey from TV Newser on that issue last month.

  9. Just a housekeeping note but I think this part of the Zurawik story quoted above:

    “Fox News has emerged as the leader for election news and more, according to Baltimore Sun critic David Zurawik. The cable news channel is dominant, said Zurawik, who discussed this on Fox News Media Buzz. (The Baltimore Sun)”

    is actually Spud talking.

    Zurawik has been sucking up to FNC ever since he started appearing on Media Buzz. This is just his latest, and most fluffy, puff piece. Hopefully he will now get the FNC media pundit job he’s lobbying for on Howie’s show and in his day job at the Baltimore Sun.

    BTW I wonder what his Sun editors think of his constant pandering and fawning to Fox News. My guess. They can’t be that happy.

  10. “Yes because a diversity of sources is good.”

    I agree. Which is why it’s great FNC is around. There was no diversity prior to FNC. Yet Reagan still managed to win 49 states. Which doesn’t square with what the Fox haters argue.

    Anyway, I watch a ton of CNN. Pretty much all CNN during the day. I sometimes watch Andrea Mitchell. I watch Fox during primetime.

  11. “is actually Spud talking.”

    ^^I went back to double check and what I thought was Spud is actually the caption below the video attached to the article which I missed on first viewing. It’s not part of the actual article but not Spud either.

    Sorry Spud.

  12. Some ‘Fox haters’ hate FNC not because it’s leans to the right, it’s the presentation such as the bombastic claims by opinion hosts and guests. There’s a void to be filled but FNC isn’t doing it well. Most ‘Fox haters’ don’t often go after Special Report, it’s the opinion programmes. JER’s tone (not it’s format) that is absent in most of it’s opinion programming. I don’t recall JER being criticized often.

  13. The problem with any discussion that presents Fox as “must be doing something right because they’re popular” – a common defense – is that it presupposes ratings = quality. Which is pure bollocks. Fox is a largely terrible organization of hot babes and shouting men who pull things off the internet and toss them around for a while. It’s a rightwing circus for an adoring rightwing audience, and they feed off each other endlessly. So yay ratings!

  14. – ratings = quality –

    This must explain the veritable calibre of so many reality programmes that are on every week as they certainly capture the viewers. I’m only half joking because, while all the cables news channels now do it, Fox News clearly does it better than the others – they’re all directed with the same sort of conflict/competition/cliff-hanger choreography as are Airplane Repo, Dancing With The Stars, Deadliest Catch or Storage Wars.

    Seriously. Watch an episode of Storage Wars and note the build up in anticipation of “what’s in that box” right as the show goes to commercial. After the break, there’s the requisite review of what you just watched followed by the reveal of “what’s in the box”, which more often than not turns out to be something not very extraordinary. Compare this style of programming to any day-side or evening opinion programme on FNC (or CNN or MSNBC) and the similarities are striking.

    Once upon a time cable news attempted to offer “news” for the sake of reporting the news and tried to offer “opinion” for the sake of intelligent, informative debate. Today cable news is all about conflict and manufactured urgency, just like what’s on the reality tv shows. Fox News does that better than the others and their ratings prove it.

  15. Fox News does that better than the others and their ratings prove it.

    Correction: Fox News does it more histrionically and more dishonestly, and their ratings prove it. It is simply not accurate to say they all do the same thing, but Fox is better at it. Their game is a whole ‘nother level.

  16. I’ve watched carefully. They absolutely all do it, but Fox does it much better. From my perspective and I think yours, this is not a favourable review of Fox.

  17. ^ The judges will accept that.

  18. Joe says: where did he (Zurawik) get the idea this was a watershed political night?

    From Larry Sabato maybe? Yeah, he is a real right winger right?

    http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/yup-it-was-a-wave/

    But….whatever!

  19. Oh, and that was before Alaska was called for the Republican Senate candidate AND before the debacle Keystone vote yesterday where Mary Landrieu’s chances of re-election truly blew up!

  20. “Fox News does it more histrionically and more dishonestly, and their ratings prove it.”

    I say the same thing about Obama’s election wins.

  21. Larry Sabato can talk about waves and watersheds all he wants, but it still won’t make a midterm with low turnout compelling television. As I said, this election was viewed on cable and the internet, the latter of which Zurawik didn’t even mention.

  22. savefarris Says:

    but it still won’t make a midterm with low turnout compelling television.

    If the election results don’t draw a 10.0 composite rating, they don’t count?!?

  23. I have no idea what that means, Farris. My point is that searching around for when broadcast will be televising a low turnout election is not a high priority for most people. It’s a news junkie niche, and we’re already following it on the cable channel we usually watch, plus everybody gets a rundown from Twitter on their phones. Zurawik’s decision to ignore these factors while expressing wonderment at FNC’s super awesome amazingness is a bit silly.

  24. As someone who leans to the right on the political spectrum, you would think I would like Fox News. I still prefer CNN. Here’s why. I was “forced” to choose between Fox News and MSNBC on election night because DISH has blocked CNN. It was painful for the main reason that Outsider already outlined above. I may be in the minority, but one of the main reasons I watch tv news is to get context and information about a situation/event on the scene. So when I have to watch people just talk about the story instead of report on the story, I grow weary and eventually turn off the tv.

    That being said, while I don’t like the methods of MSNBC and Fox News, the latter does it much better. Why? Because there is a sense of importance and magnitude to what they say. All of the MSNBC primetime hosts (minus Chris Matthews) come across as much too low key for what they are trying to do. Keith Olbermann worked on the network because he had that sense of magnitude to the stories he chose to report.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

  25. The science is settled. The debate is over. Fox News is America’s news network.

  26. If by “news network” you mean “more of a parody of real news shows than The Daily Show”, then yes..Fox wins. Congratulations, Rupert and Roger, you’ve successfully destroyed cable news. Don’t spend it all in one place!

  27. They didn’t destroy cable news. Fox simply picked a better wave of change to monetise. The era of cable news, as originally conceived by Ted Turner, peaked 15 years ago and has been on the decline ever since. It thrived in a time when 24-hour access to news was a market needing to be filled. That’s not the case any longer so they’ve all had to change their business model.

  28. Oh horsehockey. FNC traffics in political campaign propaganda disguised as “news and opinion”, and it’s bad for the country. We have a completely polarized electorate now which considers compromise the devil. Fox News created that.

  29. It’s reality-style television and they do it for ratings in order to make money. Similar examples of this type of marketing for profit, which you’ve labelled “propaganda” , would be the activism of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. While not political, Dr Phil does the same thing.

  30. savefarris Says:

    Oh horsehockey. FNC traffics in political campaign propaganda disguised as “news and opinion”

    CowLacrosse: FNC doesn’t do anything that CNN/MSNBC don’t do. The only difference is FNC is willing to criticize both sides of the fence.

    And that’s why libs are so hell-bent on destroying FNC and other media outlets are willing to go along: because they don’t want the public to know there are multiple sides to the story they’re telling.

  31. Fox haters show the close mindedness of today’s liberal. It’s all cool as long as you agree with them. There is zero diversity amongst the left today. Have one network that doesn’t toe the line? Well, that can’t be tolerated. They’re evil, dangerous propagandists dontcha know.

  32. ^ And don’t forget… FNC’s ratings aren’t really that impressive and don’t mean anything, but at the same time FNC is primarily responsible for the partisan divide in the country.

    Makes perfect sense.

  33. ^ I can’t believe Reagan won 49 states without the help of Fox News. Nobody would vote for Republicans if FNC wasn’t around presenting the other side of the story. Or so I’m told.

  34. Thanks for the rewrite, but I didn’t say Fox’s ratings haven’t had an impact on the country. I said them beating broadcast on election night wasn’t as impressive as Zurawik thinks. Reading comprehension is a thing.

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