At the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute, Fox News settled its lawsuit with Dominion for a staggering $787.5 million.
Rupert Murdoch had no choice but to settle, the evidence against Fox was overwhelming.
Many of my liberal friends were deeply disappointed that the case did not go to trial. They were hoping that a long and drawn-out trial would expose the public to the fact that Fox News lied endlessly, and knowingly about the results of the 2020 election. They lied because they were afraid of losing viewers to even more right-wing media outlets such as Newsmax. The out-of-court settlement dashed their hopes that finally, the truth about Fox News would be unmasked and people would stop watching the channel.
This was never going to happen. In fact, if anything, the case will only enhance Fox News’ ratings. During the course, during the deeply embarrassing revelations of internal emails that pretty much nailed Dominion’s case, Fox’s ratings never changed. They were and remain the #1 rated cable news channel in America, decimating all competitors,
There was also a hope amongst my liberal friends, and many liberal newspaper columnists, that exposing Fox News for what it is, a tissue of lies knowingly told, might cause Fox viewers, the MAGA crowd, to finally begin to question the foundations of their unwavering support for their indicted hero and Presidential candidate.
Not a chance.
Trump’s numbers went up after his indictment and Fox’s numbers will go up after the settlement.
That is because both Fox and Trump have something in common. They are enormously entertaining.
People don’t watch Fox News to be informed. They watch Fox News to be entertained. Television (and all media for that matter) are about ratings. Ratings are what translate into revenue. In the news business — in the entire media world — the client is not the viewer — the client is the advertiser. The viewer is the product that the network is selling to the advertiser. The more viewers, the more revenue. It’s a pretty straightforward business.
Thus, it is incumbent upon the network to maximize the number of viewers, and what viewers of Fox News want is not to be informed or educated- they want to be entertained.
The Dominion case didn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know — that Fox News lies. That Fox News makes things up to keep them amused (and what is more entertaining than a never-ending conspiracy theory?).
Fox News is like WWE. Everyone who watches “professional” wrestling knows that it is fake. They don’t care. It doesn't affect their ratings, the massive audiences they attract, or the popularity of their ‘stars’. (If you want to understand Trump, think of him as a pro wrestler, not as a politician).
House Hunters is HGTV’s #1-rated show. It has been for years. It is pretty formulaic — a couple is in search of a new home. They look at 3 houses and then announce which one they will buy.
The show is so popular that a 30-second ad spot on House Hunters costs $100,000. (Advertiser supported).
Spoiler Alert: House Hunters is faked. When we meet the couple at the start of the show, they have already bought their home. They are shown two other similar houses, some of which are not even on the market. When they seem to agonize over which house they are going to buy, they are acting. The show is fake.
Does anyone care?
Not at all.
Does it affect the ratings?
Not at all.
Is House Hunters the Fox News of Real Estate TV — you bet it is. It’s also all lies. Doesn’t matter. It is endlessly entertaining, as anyone who has watched the show will agree — and millions and millions do.
Just like the millions who watch Fox News. They know it is all fake. They don’t care. It is also endlessly entertaining.
Unlike, say, CNN, whose ratings are pretty much non-existent. CNN’s ratings dropped 61% just last month.
Could CNN compete with Fox News without resorting to lies or conspiracy theories? (Fox has that market pretty sewn up anyway).
They could… But it would mean thinking about presenting the news in a totally different way, and yet still remaining truthful.
That would be by crafting news stories that were both entertaining and true. Having a reporter do a stand-up holding a microphone in front of a building is NOT entertaining. What is? Take a look at Netflix.
Hannity on Fox delivers 3.5 million viewers. Netflix delivers 280 million viewers. That tells you something about what people want to watch, and it actually isn’t Fox News.
Is it possible to marry Netflix's storytelling to good and honest journalism?
I am willing to be it is.
So, apparently, are a few other people.