Cause and Non-Effect…

Politico’s Jack Shafer pours a lotta cold water on the a familiar meme…

If the road to the nomination runs through Fox, it must be longer than the Trans-Canada Highway, as the network has yet to nominate a candidate despite its vigorous plumping of the political fortunes of Palin, Gingrich, Santorum and Huckabee and its willingness to serve as a second home for Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Ron Paul and all the rest. At times, it seemed that neurosurgeon Carson was employed as a contributor almost solely to muse on air about whether he’d run for president. In 2012, the party ultimately turned to the least Foxy candidate in the GOP batch, Mitt Romney, who finished first in 42 Republican primaries in 2012. The next best performer, Fox supplicant Santorum, won just 11.

By any measure, Fox News is a paper tiger. Nevertheless, the myth of the Fox Primary endures—and it returned to prominence as the 2016 race began to heat up. In February, Sherman appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources to breathe fresh life into the fairy tale. “These candidates are already courting Ailes and trying to get on his good side to get reliable coverage going into the primary season,” Sherman said. Fox News, he noted, “controls the largest bloc of reliable Republican voters.” Sherman cited Rick Perry’s recent ring-kissing visit to Ailes as new proof of Fox’s power. But bowing and puckering comes as a first instinct for most politicians for news outlets as a matter of instinct, so we needn’t dwell too long on its importance. Just this week, Marco Rubio went on Fox to “preannounce“ his candidacy, which some observers surely took as additional evidence that GOP candidates serve at the network’s pleasure.

I don’t mean to totally discount Fox’s influence. As Sherman pointed out on Reliable Sources, Fox viewership is heavily Republican, and it does vote. But that’s only half the story. The audiences for two of the network’s most popular shows—the ones hosted by Hannity and by Bill O’Reilly—tilt heavily Republican (65 percent and 52 percent, respectively), according to a 2012 Pew survey. But Pew says that 55 percent of the total Fox News audience self-describes as either Democrat or Independent, which means Republicans represent only a plurality of the network’s viewers. Plus, the Fox audience is not that large. O’Reilly, whose show is the most-watched in cable news, attracts an average of only 3 million viewers a night. (The largest audience drawn by him this year was 3.3 million.)

One Response to “Cause and Non-Effect…”

  1. About time somebody wrote something like this. The Fox haters would have you believe that Roger Ailes controls the world and FNC is the Illuminati.

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