I. The Impact of Fox
An era has come to an end at Fox News. The departure, last year, of Roger Ailes, its founder and CEO for two decades, and the departure, this year, of Bill O’Reilly, its biggest star for two decades, means that Fox will be changing. What’s said of politics is also true of TV: Personnel is policy. Tell me the names of those who are making the decisions about programming, and the names of those who are actually doing the shows, and I’ll tell you, in turn, about the network.
Yet now, post-Ailes and post-O’Reilly, Fox’s future is enshrouded in clouds. As we peer through the mist, it’s possible to cite some informed speculation about where Fox is headed, but first, let’s consider where Fox has been, and what it’s done.
As we all know, Fox changed the media, and the country, since it was founded in 1996. Most obviously, Fox gave a home to—and a voice to—the half of the country that felt ignored, even disdained, by what we have come to call the Main Stream Media.
The conservatives on Fox—there were plenty of liberals, too, on the channel, although they were less memorable— talked a different language from the conservatives that went before them. That is, prior to Fox in 1996, the leading media engine of conservative and Republican thinking was The Wall Street Journal editorial page. And close behind was William F. Buckley’s National Review.
Then came Fox. And with Fox, as we shall see, came the changes that prefigured the victory of Donald Trump in 2016.