Journalism How can people believe Fox News
On the morning of Election Day, Donald Trump asked himself a question on Fox & Friends, on Fox News' breakfast television: "What is the biggest difference between today and four years ago? I say: Fox." The station, he said, has "changed a lot".
What had currently annoyed him was that Fox had shown a campaign speech by Barack Obama in which Obama accused Trump of irresponsibility in dealing with the coronavirus. "Fox & Friends" presenter Brian Kilmeade promptly jumped to the rescue of his station: "Unlike other stations, we try to show both sides at Fox."
On election night it became clear that the station does employ journalists
And of course that is exactly the problem. For Trump, as for his supporters. On election night, Fox News showed that it does employ journalists, people who at least strive for objectivity. The reporting on the vote count was colored red, it was obviously from the perspective of Trump voters: Moderator Bill Hemmer showed on his USA map the constituencies that fell to the Republicans. He calculated which states Trump could hold a second term in office with a victory.
But tendentious, that's CNN too. Fox News conspicuously adhered to the basic rules of journalistic work on election night. Even a powerful Democratic Party official, Donna Brazile, was on hand for live commentary. The moderators spoke to Democratic and Republican voters.
In addition, Fox declared as the first and so far only broadcaster that the important state of Arizona had fallen to Joe Biden. Trump's team was angry. Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and advisor, contacted Fox owner Rupert Murdoch, like the one New York Times reported, loudly Vanity Fair it was even Trump himself. On Wednesday morning, Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, claimed the Arizona president would win by 30,000 votes.
For the broadcaster, long considered Trump's favorite, this election night was astonishing. Fox News is home to Trump's most dedicated defenders, right-wing populist commentators Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. Even before the election, observers from the US media landscape feared that Fox News could simply declare Trump the winner if the election result was uncertain. That could have led to riots - the station is the most watched news channel in the United States.
More than 14 million viewers followed the election on Fox - a record rate
But it turned out quite differently: Those who watched Fox News on election night and followed the discussion on the program on Twitter at the same time saw that hashtags such as #FoxNewsisDead were shared - Fox News was "dead", at least it was no longer a conservative broadcaster. Viewers recommended each other to tune in to other "better" channels, such as extremely conservative Fox competitors such as Newsmax, Blaze TV and OAN. So far, the Fox has not suffered any measurable damage. On election night, the station had a record rate of 14.1 million viewers in prime time. CNN tuned in nine million.
There has been a crisis between Fox and Trump for a long time. In the run-up to the election, Chris Wallace, a serious political journalist, conducted a very critical Trump interview that caused a sensation. In addition, the gap in the station between the news journalists and the unconditionally Trump-loyal commentators has deepened. The presenter Shepard Smith therefore quit in front of the camera at the end of 2019. Trump had repeatedly complained about him on Twitter. In the run-up to an election that was predicted to be won by the Democrats, the real journalists may have got the upper hand here and there.
Nevertheless: Trump can still count on his loyal commentators. You support him in his election fraud allegation. It is "a shame" that votes are still being counted in Pennsylvania, Sean Hannity said on his Fox News broadcast: "Every American should be angry."
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