Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Future Of Fox News

It should come as no surprise that nothing lasts forever.  But we sometimes do seem surprised when news of change arrives.  Even more so, when that change is a result of the classic Lord Acton phrase, "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".  We find it time and time again that those who see themselves above the law may not be inclined to follow those laws.  Such wisdom may now apply to Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News.

The success of Fox News has been acknowledged as the direct result of Ailes.  He brilliantly created a tactic that paid millions of marketing dollars in exchange for basic launches on cable systems, built a conservative point of view and attracted a huge audience to it, and created such demand for the channel that those same cable operators ultimately paid back those marketing dollars and much more in higher and higher license fees.  Add a rising ad marketplace and Fox News under the command of Ailes flourished.  The news niche attracted viewers not happy with the viewpoints of CNN or MSNBC. 

But times are changing and the Murdoch empire, owner of 21st Century Fox, is now in the hands of Rupert Murdoch's two sons.  They may see a different direction for Fox News.  And the recent allegations about Ailes regarding sexual misconduct may simply be the catalyst for his dismissal.  Per the Daily Beast, Ailes is "poised to step down in the wake of a sensational lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, filed barely two weeks ago by fired Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson."  Whether Ailes is guilty or not may not change the ultimate outcome. 

What does a Fox News, without Ailes in command, looklike?  Do notable anchors and personalities on the channel stay or leave post-Ailes?  Some may even have out clauses in their contracts that make them null and void should Ailes leave the company.  Will the channel retain its conservative viewpoint or seek another.  20 years for Fox News is a long time but as I said upfront, nothing lasts forever.  Look at almost every other cable network and it looks quite different today from 20 years ago.  With the expected end of the Ailes era at Fox News, change is coming.