Hope and optimism are the real reasons Fox News dominates
LOS ANGELES, October 8, 2021 — On October 7, 1996, Pope John Paul was hospitalized for an appendectomy. Had his surgery occurred one day earlier, Fox News would not have existed to cover the breaking news out of the Vatican. Twenty-five years later, Rupert Murdoch’s upstart cable network is now the behemoth of cable news. Fox News regularly has higher ratings than MSNBC and CNN combined.
Since the days following the September 11th, 2001 attacks, Fox News topped the ratings and remain on top 20 years later.
The rationale for Fox News is a simple one.
The late columnist and Fox News personality Dr. Charles Krauthammer pointed out what should have been obvious. Rupert Murdoch found a niche market, and that market was half of the country. The news industry has always been more liberal than the nation as a whole, and Fox News provided an alternative.
Fox News has consistently gotten four big things right that other news networks have gotten wrong. The stubborn refusal of other networks to notice the obvious and change is what allows Fox News to remain the king of the news hill.
Fox News is unabashedly pro-American.
After the 9/11 attacks, Americans were not interested in hearing that there were two sides to the story. CNN took the approach that a company worried about global opinion would take. CNN was concerned about angering Muslims around the world. They gave weight to the claim that American meddling overseas gave the United States some culpability for the attacks. CNN was not anti-American, but they offered the moral equivalence argument.
In the days immediately following the attacks, Americans categorically rejected this school of thought.
CNN offered shades of gray – Fox News offered a black and white analysis in a situation where that was warranted.
CNN targeted a global audience. Fox News spoke squarely to and in defense of Americans. America was attacked, and Americans did not want to hear about multiculturalism, ethnocentrism or colonialism. America was the good guys, and we demanded our leaders take the evil radical Islamists of al Qaeda and deliver them justice. Americans resonated with Toby Keith’s vow that, “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”
Fox News has hosts who believe in American exceptionalism. Many of these hosts are deeply religious and believe in an America founded on Judeo-Christian values. These hosts also by and large believe that America is a good and noble nation. CNN and MSNBC hosts repeatedly denigrate America as a nation still steeped in systemic racism. A large portion of Americans reject what they see as open attacks on them.
Fox News is unafraid to side with free nations over anti-American dictatorships.
Similarly, Fox News tends to be pro-Israel while CNN and MSNBC side with rabidly anti-Israel nations. Fox News is supportive of Taiwan and Hong Kong while CNN and MSNBC are more pro-China. Fox News sympathetically covers the plight of people in Cuba and Venezuela. CNN and MSNBC ignore these stories.
Fox News effectively separates hard news from opinion.
The Fox News primetime lineup over the years has contained a mixture of hard news and opinion. Sean Hannity is clearly an opinion host. He is a conservative. Tucker Carlson and his predecessor Bill O’Reilly fall in the opinion category. Shannon Bream is a hard news anchor, as were Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren.
Try finding a single comment by Bream, Kelly or Susteren that crosses the line into partisans commentary. Bream’s nightly program prominently features Kevin Corke, who also plays it straight down the line. Corke’s predecessors Wendell Goler and Jim Angle also avoided any partisan remarks. Skeptics can search in vain for partisanship.
As for Hannity, he openly admits his bias upfront. There is nothing wrong with being biased as long as this is honestly disclosed to the audience. Hannity comes out swinging with a conservative bent. His audience knows exactly what to expect from him.
The problem comes when opinion hosts pretend to be a hard news anchor.
CNN’s primetime hosts Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo are liberal opinion hosts who stubbornly refuse to admit that they are liberal. Nobody is fooled. Their audience is overwhelmingly liberal. Conversely, Hannity’s audience is more conservative. Hannity levels with his audience. Lemon and Cuomo remain in denial, damaging their credibility and their ratings.
The same is true for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. She spent two years trafficking in a bizarre partisan conspiracy theory that Donald Trump was a spy for the Russian government. This story was absurd on its face, but Maddow spent two years pushing the tinfoil-hat crowd’s Trump derangement syndrome. When the Russia hoax was exposed, Maddow’s ratings collapsed.
MSNBC does not even have a hard news division.
They only have opinion hosts. The few hosts with a hard news background were subcontracted from parent company NBC. Brian Williams ended up at MSNBC when NBC fired him from the nightly news for running fictional stories about himself.
While primetime gets the most attention, Fox News has hard news commentary throughout the day. Bill Hemmer, Bret Baier, Harris Faulkner, Neil Cavuto, Sandra Smith and Martha MacCallum all offer serious hard news without a trace of political partisanship. They are ultra-professional.
Fox News obsessively keeps the clear line between hard news and opinion commentary from being blurred.
On Election night, Hannity will not be at the decision desk doing election coverage. Similarly, straight news reporters like Jennifer Griffin will not be speaking at political rallies. Election night on MSNBC features five or six liberal opinion hosts trying to cover hard news. There is no separation.
Fox News allows for real diversity of opinions.
Fox News is mistakenly labeled by leftists as a right-wing network. Yet a quick glance of the schedule over the last 25 years will show plenty of prominent liberals. Bob Beckel, Juan Williams and Leslie Marshall have all passionately and effectively advocated in favor of Democrat politicians and liberal policies. Jessica Tarlov is continuing that liberal tradition.
Even the right-of-center hosts are far from a monolithic bloc.
Hannity is a mainstream conservative. Yet for the first 13 years of his Fox News career, he shared a program with the late liberal radio host Alan Colmes. Even after Mr. Colmes departed the show, Hannity invited liberal guests for political sparring sessions. Hannity is not even a registered Republican. He is a registered conservative who frequently calls out Republican elected officials for straying from conservative principles.
Carlson and O’Reilly lean right, but they are populists. When the Neocon wing of the GOP was ascendant, Carlson and O’Reilly argued for non-interventionism. O-Reilly and Carlson repeatedly criticized the Iraq War early on while Hannity supported it.
Greg Gutfeld, the leading late-night comedy host, is libertarian to his core.
He has repeatedly stated that being around liberals turned him into a conservative, being around conservatives turned him into a libertarian, and being around libertarians turned him into a libertarian who wants to be left alone by himself living on Libertarian Island.
O’Reilly once asked him on the air, “What the heck is wrong with you?” Without missing a beat, Gutfeld laughed and responded, “How much time do we have?”
CNN and MSNBC only allow the liberal point of view.
The only Republicans allowed on CNN and MSNBC are those who attack other Republicans in general and Trump in particular.
A diverse panel will be five liberals attacking Trump and one Republican Never-Trumper. CNN once had outstanding hard news commentators like Bernard Shaw. Bill Schneider offered political analysis without ever tipping his hand. “Crossfire” truly allowed political debate. Those days are gone. CNN and MSNBC hosts openly mock conservatives with different levels of contempt.
The people who attack conservatives the loudest become CNN and MSNBC darlings, including Michael Avenatti and the Lincoln Project people. Rick Wilson provided particularly vicious levels of anti-conservative cruelty, to the delight of Lemon.
Fox News offers optimism.
Hannity closes his program with his catchphrase, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Carlson smiles as he ends with his tagline declaring his show the “sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness and groupthink.” He does not take himself so seriously. Gutfeld is hysterically funny. He now draws larger ratings than Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel. He does this by putting humor first and politics second. Gutfeld loathes sanctimony. His competitors drown in it.
CNN hosts tend to be dour. MSNBC hosts tend to be in a state of perpetual rage.
Anderson Cooper rarely ever smiles. Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Hayes scowl and scold.
Day after day, night after night liberal networks are an accurate reflection of the angry left. They offer a dark, pessimistic view of America and the future. On issues, the message is that we are all going to die. One week it is climate change will kill us all. The next week it will be Covid. Not only will we all die a miserable death, but Republicans want us all to die.
Republicans support the Second Amendment because they want innocent people to be murdered. Republicans are stupid and evil, even though these two characteristics are contradictory.
Fox News hosts tend to be far happier.
They remind us that America is the greatest experiment in the history of human freedom. Americans by and large are a hopeful, optimistic people. Whether it is John F. Kennedy guaranteeing a man on the moon or Ronald Reagan speaking of the shining city on a hill, Americans respond well to optimism.
The CNN and MSNBC message that life is terrible because Republicans exist is not an effective sales technique.
Fox News features a pair of British men in Stuart Varney and Steve Hilton, who speak glowingly about achieving American citizenship.
This is in contrast to Joy Reid and the rest of the CNN and MSNBC hosts. They are what the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick labeled the “blame America first crowd.”
Americans have overcome tough challenges before, and most Americans truly believe that better days are ahead.
Even when polls show the country headed in the wrong direction, Americans believe in the overall American experiment. Fox News caters to those who believe in God, America and apple pie. CNN and MSNBC cater to people who believe that the George Floyd riots were justified and “mostly peaceful.”
Perpetual rage becomes tiresome. Living in a state of constant anger is unhealthy. By waging all out war on half of America, CNN and MSNBC pits people against each other. In the real world, most people like each other.
On Fox News, liberals and conservatives laugh together in the green room, spar for a few minutes in front of the cameras, and then laugh again off camera.
The friendship and camaraderie accurately reflects the relationships that most Americans want to have with their neighbors. Most people like each other and want to get along. They do not believe that their neighbor who disagrees with them politically is evil or racist.
Fox and Friends is the morning show that features a very healthy dose of positivity.
Steve Doocy might be the most optimistic man alive. And he has been with Fox since day one. He offers cooking recipes with plenty of smiles.
Fox News host Dana Perino even wrote a book called, “and the good news is…” Even in tough times, there is plenty of good news to be happy about. Fox News offers this good news in spades. Every night Bream and Corke show viral videos of people hugging each other. Gutfeld’s approach is to show drunk people falling off of the bar and pretending those inebriated klutzes are his colleagues.
Be pro-American. Separate hard news from opinion. Allow diversity of opinions. Be optimistic. This is the winning Fox News formula. It is mystifying that after 25 years on the air and 20 years of dominating the ratings, Fox News competitors refuse to even try this successful approach.
About the Author:
Brooklyn-born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist, and comedian. But he lives for football. Particularly the Raiders.