When Media Leadership = Zero: Fox News’ Incompetent Troika
As an equal opportunity consumer of news, I make a point of reading, viewing and listening to divergent sources on TV, print, radio, and online. Podcasts became an add-on a year ago. While a centrist politically, and having voted regularly for 45 years, it’s important for me to get views from the left and the right—provided they’re legitimate news sources. Thus, the importance of going to the source and not linking off social media sites, notably Facebook.
When it comes to TV news, primarily the 24-7 channels along with news magazine shows such as CBS 60 Minutes, a few months ago I included Fox News to monitor. Fox, formerly headed by the repulsive Roger Ailes (Republican strategist and former executive with NBC) was launched in October 1996. Ailes’ vile life and management practices have become fodder for two Hollywoods movies. But that’s for another post and another time.
So I lightly watch Fox News as but one perspective slice through which I perceive the world. But oh, what a slice: perverted, revealing, insightful—all depending on which segments you’re watching and the contributing correspondents and, especially, that segment’s host. For example, my favourite Sunday news show of any US channel is that hosted by the competent, Chris Wallace, son of the legendary CBS great Mike Wallace. However, CNN (a channel I typically avoid) has the excellent Sunday show GPS 360 with Fareed Zakaria.
With that said, nothing beats BBC for world coverage, provided in a more mature manner minus the mud-slinging between CNN and Fox. Canada’s CBC and CTV also offer insult-free news shows.
What’s captivated me about Fox News (no, not the insults aimed at CNN, Barack Obama, or the Democrats) is the bizarre contrast between hosts and the time of the day. The morning and afternoon Fox hosts aren’t too bad, and the correspondents are generally good. However, it’s the evening lineup where things go off the rails. And bizarrely, these are highest paid hosts on the network. Meet Fox News’ Troika of Incompetence.
Let’s start with Sean Hannity who earns a reported whopping $40 million a year (networth, $250 million), and for being a loud-mouthed asshole who also has the ear of Donald Trump. Hannity’s one hour rant comes on at 9pm ET, following the boy wonder, Tucker Carlson, who adroitly always manages to suck up during the programming transition. Carlson, unfortunately, is relatively poor, earning only $6 million in 2019 (a paltry $20 million net worth).
And then at 10pm comes the manic Laura Ingraham, always willing to shove an icepick in the eye of any Democrat or lefty who comes across her path. Her salary is mysteriously undisclosed, though was said to be paid a miserable $2 million a year when she joined Fox in October 2017 (but with an impressive estimated net worth of $45 million).
Ingraham comes across as not the sharpest knife in the drawer, more of the butter knife variety. Indeed, her nightly contrived and factually-challenged rant is so typically off-base and idiotic that it makes Hannity’s and Carlson’s rants sound Harvardesque. And on the topic of these nightly rants, which must require the cameraman to use a squeegee to keep the lense clean from spittle emanating from the three hosts, the question is: who writes this shit?
No self-respecting staff writer would engage in this task. And it’s questionable—indeed unlikely—that Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham would be able to string the sentences together. More likely, they read a draft written by Fox writers late afternoon and add their personal touches and do some rehearsal—including faked outrage. But to be a Fox writer serving narcissistic evening hosts with outsized egos must require an individual with no professional ethics, a distorted view of the world, and no sense of grasping the vital role that the United States plays in the world.
It’s not just a pity but a travesty that FOX News has existed for almost a quarter of a century, seeking to, as during the post 9/11 geo-political events, undermine the country’s healing and forward progress. Mischievousness should be its motto. Yet, as noted earlier, the network has some competent journalists, starting with Chris Wallace and also Bret Baier.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak and ensuing pandemic has demanded an all-hands-on-deck response from the media. Indeed, Fox News seemed to get the importance of the moment, going so far as to run responsible PSAs featuring some of its lead hosts to remind Americans to social distance. And then came the horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. For the first week, Fox reported more or less responsibly. And then it lost its shit, reverting to past behaviours of pointing fingers at CNN, the Democrats, and most bizarrely President Obama.
If there were ever a time when a giant gag needs to be shoved in the mouth of a media source it’s now, and aimed at Fox News. The country is hovering on the precipice of a major recession, uncertainties on when a Covid-19 vaccine will be available, a second and perhaps third wave this fall and winter, and now extremely tense racial tensions. And the trial, let along jury selection, has yet to start for the four Minneapolis police officers who were arrested for George Floyd’s death—actually murder. Topping that is huge uncertainty whether a) criminal convictions will result, and b) if yes, the handed out sentences. If Americans don’t see justice from the criminal trials (probably 2021), then the past protests and violence will pale possibly in comparison to what may be next.
So to Fox News, smarten the fuck up. Grow up. Act like a responsible and professional media source. Your country and its citizens deserve it.
If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox — if we deny the essence of racial equality then hundreds of millions in Asia and Africa who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the … confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought. — (Edward R. Murrow, American journalist; from 1953 address)
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