“Rupert Murdoch is a symptom”: Fox’s future politics look just like the past – The Guardian

Fox News

Analysts say little will change at Fox News under new leadership as Republicans can expect even more outrage and division

Republican kingmaker Rupert Murdoch’s abrupt separation from his Fox News empire may have marked a sea change in the media landscape in the United States, but little is likely to change, at least politically, analysts say.

That could be good news for those on the right side of the Republican Party, who can expect the network to move into the 2024 presidential election – even without its longtime flagship – with the worst of the political bias and disinformation on which it is based. has made a name for itself.

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“They will maintain the same business formula that creates hysteria around manufactured crises. They will continue to stoke outrage and division and support conservative causes. “I don’t think that’s going to change dramatically anytime soon,” said Victor Pickard, a professor of media policy and political economy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

“If you look at the bigger picture and Rupert Murdoch resigns, you can’t expect any change. I agree that he was a politician, a very influential political figure himself, and certainly he had personal connections with Lachlan that might not continue [Murdoch’s son, the Fox Corp chief executive].

“But Fox News’ actions will be driven primarily by economic concerns and maximizing shareholder value, and right now they’re doing quite well. They’re still the most-watched cable news channel and incredibly profitable. So I don’t think they’re going to mess up their formula.”

Pickard’s view is shared by other analysts who see a business-as-usual approach as the network continues to deal with the fallout from its $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over the spread of Donald Trump’s Big Lie claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

That episode cost Fox its most-watched right-wing host, Tucker Carlson, who left in April after spreading the worst falsehoods and complaining that he had been fired as part of the deal. Fox and Dominion both say this was not the case.

Fox still faces another, potentially more costly defamation lawsuit from a second voting machine maker, Smartmatic, which is seeking $2.7 billion in damages for several inventions distributed through the company. The legal turmoil is having a profound impact on Fox’s future, experts say.

“The massive Dominion settlement and the underlying wrongdoing uncovered by the defamation trial are inextricably linked to the future of the network,” said Carl Tobias, Williams Chair in Law at the University of Richmond School of Law.

“Because the Smartmatic litigation, which involves strikingly similar allegations of misconduct uncovered in Dominion’s lawsuit, could cause similarly damaging reputational and economic harm to Fox, accompanied by loss of viewers, Lachlan Murdoch seriously consider reaching an agreement with Smartmatic.”

“Tucker Carlson’s departure may indicate that Fox learned from the Dominion debacle and may have sought to limit the spread of misinformation uncovered in the Dominion litigation, but that remains unclear.”

Others believe Rupert Murdoch will continue to wield significant power at News Corp, the parent company of his global media operations, and at Fox itself, despite the Australian-born billionaire making this known in an announcement Six paragraph farewell statement On Thursday, he announced he was moving to “chairman emeritus” of the companies.

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Preston Padden, a veteran media industry executive who served Murdoch in various roles including president of telecommunications at News Corp and senior vice president at Fox Broadcasting Company, made such a claim on X, formerly Twitter. in a post refers to efforts by US ethics groups to have Fox’s US broadcasting licenses revoked by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“Given [Murdoch’s] statement that “I engage in news and ideas every day and that will not change”, the fact that the trust he controls holds a majority stake in Fox, the fact that his son remains chairman and CEO, and the fact “If the same cadre of executives who knowingly and repeatedly spread false news remain, this announcement will have no impact on FCC records,” he wrote.

Padden, who testified in the Dominion case, is one of three former Fox executives who have become vocal critics of Murdoch and the network, writing in a blog post earlier this year that they regretted their defense of the network. “We never imagined nor knowingly activated the disinformation machine that we believe Fox has become,” they wrote.

Pickard, meanwhile, said the tried-and-tested political playbook that Fox has followed for so long will continue to embolden Republican politicians and help the network fend off the rise of young broadcasters seeking to appeal to a larger share of conservative and right-wing viewers.

“Fox News will continue to fear being outsmarted by these upstarts, One American News Network or Newsmax, but there is simply no comparison, no real competition,” he said.

“They will continue to play this central role in right-wing political discourse, whether we’re talking about Fox News and its audience, Fox News and the Republican Party, Fox News and Trump. These relationships are all mutually beneficial and mutually reinforcing.

“They will make serious business decisions when it comes to how they serve their audience. You will still see this endless parade of Republican politicians on Fox News, and Fox News will continue to amplify their talking points, along with a lot of white resentment, disinformation and conspiracies, but very little journalism.”

Ultimately, Pickard believes, it makes little difference which Murdoch name is on the chairman’s office door.

Power and scandal: How Murdoch drove Britain, the US and Australia to the right

“We need to ask questions about the impact this is having on democracy and the corrosive, toxic impact Fox is having on political discourse in civil society at large,” he said.

“It’s a very dramatic, personality-driven narrative about the resignation of Rupert Murdoch. But at the end of the day, Rupert Murdoch is a symptom of these larger political-economic relationships, and I think we really need to draw attention to that.”


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