Fox News used to be conservatives’ gold standard in “fair and balanced” news reporting. That all changed during the 2020 presidential election, and now former viewers are wondering if their favorite anchors will be joining the mass exodus as well.
Tucker Carlson, host of the eponymous “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show on Fox News, just came forward to quell social media rumors about a potential exit from the network. “Over the weekend, we got a lot of calls asking if we’re leaving Fox News,” Carlson said Monday. “This show is not going anywhere. It’s getting bigger.”
Carlson hosts one of the top-rated news shows in the country, so his exit would be a major blow to the network. “The people who run Fox News want more of it, not less,” he assured viewers. “And we are grateful for that.”
It may have been wishful thinking, but somehow the rumor that Carlson was leaving for the Newsmax network circulated on the social media platform Parler. Both Newsmax and Parler have surged in popularity following the recent election because of the way traditional news and social media were treating President Donald Trump’s campaign.
According to the The New York Times, it was the supposed “fact check” labels on Facebook and Twitter as well as the outright censorship of the president on Twitter that drove people to other alternatives. “Facebook started muting, deleting and labeling every conservative political post in my feed,” political comedian Corey Adam told the Times. “If you’re going to do something, you have to be fair to both sides. You don’t just get to pick one side to promote.”
Even Fox, the trusted mainstream media news network, squandered its goodwill with its viewers because of how it treated Trump late in the campaign. Besides “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace’s disaster as moderator of the first presidential debate, the network called Arizona for former Vice President Joe Biden early on Election Night when only 73 percent of the vote was counted and other networks still demurred.
This has likely damaged their previously symbiotic relationship beyond repair. With the vote close in the state and the Trump campaign still in litigation over irregularities in the process in Arizona, the president and his supporters have turned against the network which had been the last refuge for conservatives. That early call could be the turning point for the network that Trump helped to build with his popularity.
.@FoxNews daytime ratings have completely collapsed. Weekend daytime even WORSE. Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was @FoxNews!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2020
Fox should be careful not to bite the hand that feeds it. Keeping Carlson at the network will help, but they will have to do something to rebuild trust with their audience. With so many alternatives cropping up and people leaving behind cable television entirely, Fox News could soon find itself in a ratings freefall.