During an interview with NPR today the senior vice president for programming at Fox News, Bill Shine called his network the voice of opposition to the Obama administration. So much for the fair and balanced slogan, but at least FNC is now being honest about its intentions.
Shine said, “There were a couple of people who basically wrote about our demise come last November [and] December and were, I guess, rooting for us to go away. With this particular group of people in power right now, and the honeymoon they’ve had from other members of the media, does it make it a little bit easier for us to be the voice of opposition on some issues?” NPR’s David Folkenflik points out that FNC’s ratings are up since the election of Obama. In terms of ratings, Fox is way ahead of CNN and MSNBC.
A Pew Research survey done last year found that MSNBC and CNN split the Democratic viewership. Fifty one percent of CNN’s viewers are Democrats, and 45% of MSNBC viewers are Democrats. Only 18% of viewers on each of these two networks are Republicans.
However, Fox News has strong base of Republican viewers, as 39% are Republicans, but they also draw 33% of Democrats. It is not surprising that FNC’s ratings are increasing as the GOP is shrinking. Fox is the conservative news network. For battered and bruised Republicans, Fox News is comfort food for the ideological soul.
What Fox is doing here is mirroring the shift in the Republican Party. The GOP is moving more to the right, and FNC sees ratings in appealing to disgruntled Republicans who hate Obama. The angrier FNC gets with Obama, the happier their base viewership will be with the network. Bill Shine’s statement today was no surprise, as everyone already knew that Fox News is the mouthpiece for the GOP, just as MSNBC has become for the Democrats.
As a business strategy, declaring themselves the voice of opposition to Obama is smart. If anything it will push their ratings even higher among Republicans. At least maybe FNC will stop pretending that are an objective network. The whole notion that they are fair and balanced is an insult to anyone with more than 3 functioning brain cells. One of the interesting side effects of the Obama election might be a more unified nation that is more partisan in their cable news viewing habits.