The first time I watched Fox News, I genuinely thought it was satire. Having moved to Los Angeles as a teenager from London, England, I had grown up watching the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 for news. While incredibly dry and often off putting, they all had serious presenters reporting on serious issues, and you always knew that they regarded factual reporting and commentary as the most important element of their job. When I saw Sean Hannity ranting and raving about the Cuban immigrant Elias Gonzales case on ‘Hannity and Colmes’, I thought he was an actor who had been hired for a comedy show. Hannity appeared to be insinuating that Bill Clinton had personally invaded Gonzales’s relatives home and dragged the child kicking and screaming from his bed. After watching for several minutes it dawned on me that this wasn’t supposed to be funny. Sean Hannity was a hired political commentator, and Fox News was supposedly a real news company.
It is a moment in my life I will never forget, and part of the reason why I moved back to the States as an adult later in life. I had to get to the bottom of how something like Fox News could have sprung into existence. America was a truly crazy place, and I wanted desperately to understand it better.
Fast forward to 2017, and the news that Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, is pulling the channel in Britain due to low ratings comes as no shock to me given the general quality of news programming in my home country. Reported the Huff Post:
“Fox News is focused on the U.S. market and designed for a U.S. audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the U.K.,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement provided to CNN. “We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the U.K.”
To be frank, I’m surprised it was ever aired there given how unbelievably idiotic it is. The Brits don’t suffer fools gladly, and Fox News is stacked from top to bottom with some of the most foolish ‘journalists’ on the planet. The ‘few thousand viewers’ are likely UKIP supporters (Britain’s thinly veiled fascist party) and those watching it after stumbling home drunk from the pub and looking for a bit of light entertainment.
There are rumors that that Fox pulling the show has more to do with, as the Huff Post reports, “an attempt to smooth over the media giant’s bid to take over European satellite company Sky,” but regardless of the long term strategy, it is more proof that the American news network is a global laughing stock that no one outside of America regards as a being vaguely serious.
It’s unclear what this means for Fox News in the long term in the US, but the owners are concern about its viability abroad could extend back home. The network was hit with a series of sex scandals this year and lost several high profile pundits and executives. The misogynistic culture has come back to haunt it, and the network has come under serious scrutiny and criticism that has been reflected in its shaky audience share. The reality is, Fox News is a show designed to satiate the prejudices of old white conservative men — a demographic that is dying out rather quickly. Fox just hired ‘White Power Barbie’ Tomi Lahren in an obvious attempt to appeal to a younger, (female?) demographic, but there’s only so long they can keep peddling stupidity and hate.
The reality is, in a country that voted for Donald Trump, America may never be rid of Fox News. But at least it has now been contained within its borders.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.