Whenever I see reports of Trump tweeting crazy things (which admittedly is basically every single day) the first thing I do is go to his Twitter feed directly to read for myself. Of course, that is one thing that is so fascinating (and dare I say, refreshing) about Trump’s Twitter obsession. You never have to wonder what he’s thinking or what he meant. It’s all right there.
The second thing I do is ask myself, “Is it true?”. Sometimes Trump is being a jerk, but sometimes he is actually saying something meaningful and it gets lost in the hysteria.
On Wednesday, Trump launched a rant against Fox News. The lovebirds have been on the outs lately, and Trump seems to have more and more complaints about his fans at Fox every day. After watching a particularly annoying segment, Trump ripped into the channel.
….are all in for the Open Border Socialists (or beyond). Fox hires “give Hillary the questions” @donnabrazile, Juan Williams and low ratings Shep Smith. HOPELESS & CLUELESS! They should go all the way LEFT and I will still find a way to Win – That’s what I do, Win. Too Bad!….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
….I don’t want to Win for myself, I only want to Win for the people. The New @FoxNews is letting millions of GREAT people down! We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
There is no doubt that Trump is stomping his feet.
There is also no doubt that he is absolutely right.
Whether or not Fox gives him fair coverage is beside the point. The right-leaning network first launched in 1996 with the promise of being “fair and balanced”. Of course, we all understood they were right-wing friendly. The “balance” didn’t really refer to their coverage, the “balance” referred to them. They were the balance in a world where the progressive narrative had infected the daily news cycle. They gave us stories and points of views that had traditionally been squashed in our mainstream news sources. So while they were surely lopsided in their coverage, they were the only right-wing channel out there…thus, balance.
But this is 2019 and the internet has changed everything. Where once there was only Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, those two media giants have now inspired a glut of blogs, streaming commentary and alternative news sources. None of them are as powerful and successful as Fox.
What Trump is actually doing is voicing a fear that Fox may be looking to shift more to the center moving into this new media era. They have received so much undue criticism over the years that it wouldn’t be hard to believe the powers-that-be are tired of being insulted and want a little more street cred in the mainstream. I don’t watch Fox enough to know what things are like over there, but I do know that in any case Trump is right. In this day and age it is ridiculous that we still look to one channel to be the torchbearer for all of right-leaning/conservative media.
When I first started in this industry it seemed like a show on Fox was the brass ring. It was certainly the most lucrative outcome any conservative commentator could hope for at the time. As the industry progressed, I realized Fox can’t be the only home for right-wing coverage. Not all of us fit into that (very successful) mold and not all of us want to. While there are other projects out there looking to give them a run for their money, nothing has been able to yet match the success of Fox.
I disagree with Trump’s view of how Fox should be covering things – they can and should do what they want. They’ve built the most successful business model in media. It behooves us all to remember that. However, I think we should take seriously his concerns that it is time to expand our media reach.
We can’t depend on this one channel to cover the entire conservative universe. Not only is it limiting in the aspect of style and entertainment, but – as Trump pointed out – it is dangerous. Fox is the only mainstream channel that houses a consistent conservative/Republican presence. If/when they decide to shift away from the right, what will happen? Who will be the standard-bearer in the mainstream? We are just as much a part of the problem. We, the viewers have elevated the channel to near unassailable status. We have depended on them so much for alternative coverage that we have handed them a lot of unearned power.
Trump is pointing this out. He is saying that the mainstream “creep” is in danger of watering down our only ally in the media. Let’s not pretend that the media (and I say this as a member of new media) is neutral. The media has gone from reporting to outright advocacy. The right has Fox as an advocate. The left has…well, everyone. Every other successful cable outlet that is not Fox is shilling for the whole left, all the time. It is why so many on the left mistakenly believe their opinions represent most of America.
We need to continue investing in and supporting new media outlets. We need to be building new media empires. We need to be expanding the buffet instead of just standing around staring at same dish all day long. The country and the voters need more dependable sources for their information. Fox cannot be our only “ally” in the mainstream. At the end of the day they’re a business…hell, it’s all business. They’re just going to do what looks best for the bottom line. The business of the voters would be best served to have a wider array of media options, just in case someone decides to wimp out – which is basically what Trump is complaining about.
Trump may be an egomaniac. Trump may be blowhard. But Trump is also right.