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  • On Fox's MediaBuzz, Joe Concha Dismisses Trump's Hostility To The Press: "He's Exercising His Right To Free Speech"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On the April 30 edition of Fox News’ MediaBuzz, The Hill’s Joe Concha asserted that, “Just because” President Donald Trump has been “criticizing reporters” throughout the 2016 campaign and into his presidency, “doesn’t mean” that Trump is “attacking the First Amendment … because he’s exercising his right to free speech.” Not only did Concha whitewash Trump’s hostile attitude towards the press throughout the 2016 campaign, which, at one point, led to an NBC reporter being harassed by the crowd at a Trump campaign rally, Concha also did not mention that, as president, Trump has repeatedly attacked the press more than 100 times over his first 100 days in office. Moreover, on the day of Concha’s comments defending the president’s stance toward the free press, Trump’s own chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said that the administration has “looked at” changing libel laws to curtail press freedom. From the April 30 edition of Fox News’ MediaBuzz:

    JOE CONCHA: I heard this a lot last night at the White House Correspondents Dinner, "the First Amendment is under attack." Here is what I'll say to that: Press briefings with Sean Spicer have never been more democratic. There are more voices in there than ever before, in terms of reporters, in terms of Skype. Journalists are still on Air Force One. Also, Trump is doing an enormous amount of interviews, not to mention he's tweeted 98 out of 100 times during his first 100 days in office -- 98 days out of 100. But this week alone, Howie, Trump has done interviews Washington PostNew York PostWashington ExaminerNew York Post, CBS News, Reuters, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Fox News. So, does that sounds like the First Amendment is under attack? Just because you criticize reporters doesn't mean you are attacking the First Amendment, actually it's the opposite, because he's exercising his right to free speech.

  • In 100 Days, Trump Has Attacked The Press Over 100 Times. Here’s How Fox News Cheered Him On.

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been defined, in part, by his administration’s hostility to the press. As Media Matters has documented, Trump has attacked the press well over 100 times to date. As Trump vilifies the press, Fox News hosts, contributors, and guests help cheer him on by supporting, enabling, and condoning his attempts to discredit mainstream media outlets.

  • Fox Contributor: Gay Men In Bars Should Expect To Be Assaulted And Women Shouldn’t Breastfeed In Church

    Erick Erickson: “Spare Me The Tirade About" Matthew Shepard, “The Dude Wearing The Tutu Shoulders Some Of The Responsibility”

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    In a blog post for The Resurgent, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson defended Sen. Mike Enzi’s (R-WY) claim that “a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars...asks for it” if he is assaulted, writing, “I’m really damn tired of all the people running around making other people extremely uncomfortable … yes, the dude wearing the tutu shoulders some of the responsibility” for being assaulted.

    After mocking the LGBTQ community in his April 27 post as “the BLT&GQ community,” Erickson argued gay men should “know better.” Erickson added, “spare me the tirade about Matthew Shepherd [sic],” referring to Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old man in Wyoming who was tortured and killed because of his sexuality:

    You know, I’m really damn tired of all the people running around making other people extremely uncomfortable then screaming about their rights and privileges when called out. If you want to go around making people uncomfortable, you’ve got the problem, not the rest of us.

    It all starts with Mike Enzi who has enraged the BLT&GQ community by declaring a simple fact. If a guy walks into a bar in Wyoming, he’s probably going to get punched. Enzi said the person would deserve it, which he apologized for, and the guy would not deserve it. But it is probably going to happen and yes, the dude wearing the tutu shoulders some of the responsibility. He should have known better.

    And spare me the tirade about Matthew Shepherd.

    I know liberals in their coastal bubbles of homogenized whiteness and skinny jeans think everyone else has to think like them — not does, but has to — but the reality is we don’t. We are a culturally heterogeneous nation with diverse cultural norms. If a guy walks into a bar in Wyoming wearing make up and a tutu, he’s probably going to be asked to leave, if not picked on or punched. If you don’t like that, don’t go to a bar in Wyoming wearing a tutu. It really is that simple. This is not a justification of violence, but let’s not kid ourselves that there won’t be an expectation of violence, however unjustified.

    Not satisfied with arguing gay men are responsible for being assaulted, Erickson subsequently shamed a mother for “making a church full of people uncomfortable” by breastfeeding. Erickson derided the woman as “rude and inconsiderate of others,” saying, “if you want to breastfeed in public, go to a different chuch [sic].” Erickson concluded, “stop your bitching that others have to go along with your ‘rights.’ Get over yourself”:

    Now the latest outrage is a mom who decided to openly breast feed in church. While I have no problem with a mother doing this, a lot of people do. It is why even freaking Obamacare demanded businesses have lactation rooms where women could breastfeed in private.

    But what does this mom do? Instead of realizing she was making a church full of people uncomfortable, she ran to the internet to shame the church. Lady, you are not a victim. You are just rude and inconsiderate of others. And now you’re going to lawyer up against a church? The rest of the congregants have a right not to be made uncomfortable by one self-centered mother.

    If you want to breastfeed in public, go to a different chuch.

    If you want to wear a tutu in a bar, go to San Francisco.

    But stop your bitching that others have to go along with your “rights.” Get over yourself.

  • Sean Hannity: A Bill Shine Departure May Be The “Total End” Of Fox News

    Hannity Tweets Support Of Sexual Harassment Enabler Amid Questions Of Shine’s Future At The Network

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following a report that Fox News co-president Bill Shine “is expressing concern about his future at the network,” Fox host Sean Hannity expressed support for Shine on Twitter, suggesting that if he departs Fox, “that’s the total end of FNC as we know it.”

    Shine was promoted to co-president after former president and CEO Roger Ailes’ ouster in August 2016 over repeated sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits. But Shine has been named in various lawsuits against the network for his “complicity,” and it has previously been reported that Shine played a key role in helping cover up Ailes’ conduct by silencing and “smearing” women who complained.

    On April 27, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Shine is privately worried about his future at Fox, and that he recently asked James and Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO and co-chairman of Fox parent company 21st Century Fox, “to release a statement in support of him, but they refused to do so.” Sherman wrote that this refusal to publicly back Shine could mean that the Murdochs are finally prepared to clean house at the scandal-ridden network:

    By refusing to back Shine at this tumultuous moment for the network, the Murdochs may finally be signaling that they’re prepared to make the sweeping management changes they’ve so far resisted after forcing out CEO Roger Ailes last summer. Shine’s continued leadership has angered many Fox News employees, especially women, who view him as a product of the misogynistic Ailes culture. Shine joined the network in 1996, served as Sean Hannity’s producer, and rose through the ranks to become Ailes’s deputy. In that role, sources say he had the power to stop multiple instances of sexual harassment, including that of former Fox booker Laurie Luhn, but did not do so. (Through a Fox News spokesperson, Shine denies this.) He’s currently a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed this week by former Fox host Andrea Tantaros.

    In response to the story, Hannity wrote several tweets in defense of his former producer:

  • STUDY: Cable News Analyses Disproportionately Relied On A Military Perspective After Major Operations In Afghanistan, Syria

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    A Media Matters review of cable news coverage of two major U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Syria found that the networks disproportionately turned to guests with military backgrounds as opposed to guests with backgrounds in foreign service, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and intelligence and national security. 

  • Right-Wing Media Figures Want Trump To Shut Down The Government So They Can Blame Democrats

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Right-wing media figures are displeased after the likelihood of a government shutdown seemed to fade following a breakthrough after days of failed negotiations and speculation. Specifically, right-wing media figures cheered the idea of a shutdown because they wanted to make sure that “Democrats get blamed” and to exact revenge after, as they claimed, Democrats made previous shutdowns “as painful as possible.”

  • Right-Wing Media Misinterpret North Carolina Post-Election Audit To Fearmonger About Voter Fraud

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Right-wing media are citing a North Carolina statewide audit of votes cast in the 2016 election to stir fears of widespread voter fraud. The audit itself, however, found that ineligible votes “represented a small fraction of the 4.8 million ballots cast” and found no evidence of rampant voter fraud in North Carolina, conclusions that align with other studies that have also found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

  • VIDEO: How News Outlets Fail Rape Survivors

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN, DAYANITA RAMESH & JOHN KERR

    April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but based on the way most news outlets cover sexual assault and harassment cases year-round, it seems they didn’t get the memo.

    Since the month of awareness was officially instituted in 2001, the goal has been to educate the public about sexual violence and teach people how to prevent it. Yet media tend to make the same three mistakes when covering cases: They blame victims, they treat offenders like the “true” victims, and they almost exclusively cover cases that confirm pre-existing cultural biases about “believable” survivors and culpable offenders.

    Although high-profile cases that dominate media coverage may make sexual assault seem like an isolated problem, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that “one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.” Similarly, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that “nearly half” of survey respondents “were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.” Given the sheer number of challenges survivors face when reporting sexual assault and harassment, these numbers are likely much higher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 63 percent of rapes and sexual assaults already go unreported.

    Beyond cases of rape and assault, sexual harassment is also rampant in the United States. Although Fox News has finally parted ways with Bill O’Reilly after multiple women reported that he sexually harassed them, the problem goes beyond him or even the network.

    After 2005 footage that showed President Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was leaked to the media last year, networks downplayed the severity of his comments -- calling them merely “vulgar” or “lewd” -- and attacked the credibility of the women who came forward with specific allegations against him.

    Sexual assault isn’t just “vulgar” -- it’s unacceptable. And what’s really “vulgar” is media’s refusal to call it what it is. This is rape culture: the willingness to treat sexual assault or harassment as natural, inevitable, or acceptable. Rape culture not only silences survivors, it’s also at the root of why stalking, domestic violence, and workplace and online harassment are so pervasive: People treat these behaviors as if they’re normal or somehow the recipients invite them.

    Media have an obligation to cover the issue in a fact-based and stigma-free way.

    First, media need to ditch the victim-blaming rhetoric and quit treating survivors as if they are even partly responsible for what happened. Survivors are not, and will never be, responsible for inciting acts of sexual violence. Period.

    When writing about sexual assault and harassment, choosing the right words is crucial to clearly, accurately, and compassionately communicate with broad audiences. A report from the Columbia Journalism Review found that when reporting on sexual assault, media rely on “leading language, scant statistics, and a whole lot of victim blaming” -- all of which contribute to downplaying and at times dismissing sexual violence allegations. Similarly, the Dart Center for Journalism instructs media to “avoid any language that might imply that the [survivor] is responsible in any way.”

    Media coverage around former Stanford student Brock Turner showed that media outlets also tend to treat offenders as the real victims -- sympathetically highlighting past accomplishments, or bemoaning the costs to their careers.

    Particularly when offenders are high-profile figures, media treat the issue as merely a “scandal.” Writing about allegations against his father Woody Allen, The Hollywood Reporter’s Ronan Farrow explained how these reactions cultivate a “culture of impunity and silence” around reporting on sexual assault allegations. By getting caught up in a cult of celebrity -- even when focusing on a deserved fall from grace -- media can either trade fact-based reporting for access or lose sight of their “obligation to include the facts, and to take them seriously.”

    Finally, media scrutinize every move made by a survivor -- how they dressedwhen they reported, and even their possible “ulterior” motives. While doing so, they tend to focus on cases that confirm pre-existing cultural biases about the identities of survivors and offenders.

    Sexual violence happens in a wide variety of contexts and communities. And more often than not, survivors know their assailants prior to the assault. Nevertheless, media fixate on the myth of the “perfect victim”: an unrealistic expectation that believable victims of sexual assault are attractive, innocent white women who unwittingly provoke attack from an unknown (usually non-white) predator. As MSNBC’s Irin Carmon reported, accounts of sexual assault shouldn’t have to “be black and white, starring a perfect victim and a perfect set of villains, in order for us to get outraged.”

    Rather than fixating on only these “perfect” examples, media should cover cases from across the spectrum of experience, and they should provide audiences with critical context about the widespread nature of sexual violence.

    Sexual assault isn’t just a problem at Fox News or in “other communities”; it’s all around us. People look to the media to tell stories about their lives and the world at large, so reporters and outlets have an obligation to educate audiences about this reality and correct harmful misconceptions.

    If the Trump-era media have shown us anything so far, it’s this: Survivors deserve far better.

  • Fox's The Five Moves To Prime Time, Calls For Anti-Abortion Violence

    Greg Gutfeld: "If You Are Pro-Life And You Believe It Is Murder, You Should Be Willing To Fight For It"

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    After the ouster of Bill O’Reilly following public reports that he sexually harassed multiple colleagues (and a subsequent advertiser boycott), Fox News was forced to shuffle its evening lineup -- a move that elevated the show The Five to the coveted 9 p.m. time slot. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for co-host Greg Gutfeld to take a page out of the O’Reilly playbook and call for anti-abortion violence.

    O’Reilly spent years at Fox not only spreading misinformation about abortion and reproductive rights, but also openly bullying abortion providers. Dr. George Tiller -- who was assassinated in 2009 by anti-choice zealot Scott Roeder -- was a frequent target of O’Reilly’s. Prior to Tiller’s death, O’Reilly referred to the doctor as “Tiller the baby killer” and insisted there was a “special place in hell” for him. After a deadly shooting attack at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, O’Reilly defended his previous attacks on Tiller, claiming his reporting on the doctor was accurate.

    Although Gutfeld did not target an individual abortion provider like O’Reilly did, his call for violence in the service of the anti-choice movement is an inauspicious start to The Five’s new time slot.

    Alongside co-hosts Kimberly Guilfoyle, Jesse Watters, Bob Beckel, and Dana Perino, Gutfeld engaged in an incendiary segment about abortion advocacy in the Democratic Party. After Guilfoyle falsely suggested that so-called “partial-birth” abortions or “abortion on demand” were issues Democrats must contend with (in reality, neither describes a medically accurate or extant procedure in the United States), Gutfeld compared abortion to slavery, saying that it would have been cowardly in the 1850s to have expressed opposition to slavery but said there's "nothing I can do about it" and that the same was true of what he called "pro-life cowards." He said he had “a problem with saying you’re pro-life but you respect the other side” because “if you are pro-life and you believe it is murder, you should be willing to fight” and “start a war” over this.

    Conservatives have frequently made inappropriate allegations that abortion providers are targeting black communities. Anti-choice groups have even gone so far as to openly co-opt the language of Black Lives Matter to attack abortion access -- this in spite of the disproportionately negative impact anti-abortion laws have on women and communities of color.

    Gutfeld’s disturbing call to arms also comes after a recent report from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) warned of a disturbing trend of escalating threats and harassment against abortion providers, patients, and clinics. According to NAF, in 2016, there was “an increase in a wide range of intimidation tactics meant to disrupt the provision of health care at facilities, including vandalism, picketing, obstruction, invasion, trespassing, burglary, stalking, assault and battery, and bomb threats” as well as “an escalation in hate speech and internet harassment, which intensified following the election in November.”

    The severity of this targeted harassment is exacerbated by the fact that evening cable news shows rarely discusses the topic. As a recent Media Matters study found, during 12 months of coverage about abortion and reproductive rights there was almost no discussion of anti-choice violence or its consequences for abortion access. Out of 354 total segments about abortion or reproductive rights on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, only four discussed anti-choice violence.

    There has been a great deal of speculation about what O’Reilly’s departure means for Fox News’ toxic culture, and in particular, its new evening lineup. If this debut performance by the The Five is indicative, we should expect more of the same attacks on abortion access and on those who obtain this legal and essential medical service.

    A transcript of the April 24 edition of The Five is below:

    KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): Since when is it OK to just be abortion on demand? Why do you have to put that -- but why can't you say yes we respect life and we respect the lives of women and we respect the lives of children and babies? And I understand the idea to say you want to have individual choice, and the state not telling everyone what they have to do. But there is a healthy interest in protecting life in terms of not going for this, with partial-birth abortions. There has to be some regulations. Just like we have regulations with the FDA or with health care, et cetera, to make sure that people are protected. That the innocent are. And so I don't think [Democrats are] currying any favor by being that strident and just really that caustic in terms of their rhetoric.

    [...]

    JESSE WATTERS (CO-HOST): Greg, quickly, how much damage do you think is done by these comments?

    GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): I don’t know. First, I would like to state the obvious: The strongest pro-choice voices have the amazing luck of being born. It’s an incredibly obvious point, but we -- a lot of people forget about that. We can’t be hypocrites here. Would a pro-choice Republican win the presidency ever? Trump is pro-life, but that’s after a lot of pro-choice-ing. So, this prison of two ideas both parties are involved in -- there’s another, I have a problem with saying you’re pro-life but you respect the other side. Because that’s a PLC -- I’m a PLC, I’m a pro-life coward, which means I believe, and it’s untethered to religion, that it is killing a baby. But I’m not going to do anything about it because I realize there’s nothing I can do about it.

    GUILFOYLE: Well, you talk about it.

    GUTFELD: Yeah, you talk about it --

    GUILFOYLE: You educate.

    GUTFELD: Yeah, but think about it. If in the 1850s there was a talk show called the Ye Olde Five Shoppe and we're sitting there and we’re going like --

    [CROSSTALK]

    GUTFELD: And you're going, "I'm against slavery, but you know, I think it's immoral, it's wrong, but there's nothing I can do about it.” If you are pro-life and you believe it is murder, you should be willing to fight for it. That’s the hypocrisy behind this whole idea is that you should be able to start a war if you believe in this that strongly, but we aren't. We aren't because we are “PLCs.” I'm a “PLC.” I'm a pro-life coward. It's what I am.

  • Fox Host: Obama Admin Researchers Put Out A "False Narrative" To Get People To "March And Go Nuts”  

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle suggested that protesters who took part in the March for Science were motivated to do so by a “false narrative” about climate change dating back to the Obama administration.

    During a discussion about Bill Nye the Science Guy’s climate activism and the March for Science on the April 24 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Guilfoyle claimed that Nye “doesn't want the facts and the science out there” about climate change, because “he might lose his show.”

    Guilfoyle also argued that Nye’s actions mirrored those of researchers during the Obama administration who “refused to comply with requests to release the internal data and the information that, really, the public has a right to see, to back these claims up. … They do this thing to try to hide it because they want to put forward a false narrative so that they can get people to come out and march and go nuts about this, saying that the earth is going to be over, and the whole deal, and get upset about cumulus clouds.”

    Guilfoyle was presumably referring to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which in 2015 refused House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s subpoena for internal communications on a study about climate change. The Hill reported at the time, “NOAA spokeswoman Ciaran Clayton said the internal communications are confidential and not related to what Smith is trying to find out. ‘We have provided data, all of which is publicly available online, supporting scientific research, and multiple in-person briefings,’ she said.”

    From the April 24 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

    GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): Why should debate scare [Bill] Nye? Because climate fear is his livelihood. It’s his game. And if you don’t play along, then you’re off the field. And that way, he can't lose. And so far, it works. It got him a new show.

    […]

    Kimberly, you’re a prosecutor, which is like being a scientist.

    KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): Yes. A prosecutor of justice, Greg.

    GUTFELD: That’s right. Science is about stating a theory, then attempting to disprove it. You want people to disprove it because that makes your theory or hypothesis stronger. He doesn't want that. Why?

    GUILFOYLE: Well, because he doesn't want the facts and the science out there because then he might lose his show, right? So there’d be a problem. And you can't walk with intention and talk with intention if the facts get in the way, right? But this is what we saw, too, during the Obama administration. Sorry to upset you, Bob. But they refused to comply with requests to release the internal data and the information that, really, the public has a right to see, to back these claims up, right? What are they so afraid of? Why don't they want to turn it over, despite subpoenas and requests? They do this thing to try to hide it because they want to put forward a false narrative so that they can get people to come out and march and go nuts about this, saying that the earth is going to be over, and the whole deal, and get upset about cumulus clouds.

    Related:

    NPR: Is This Congressman's Oversight An Effort To Hobble Climate Science?

    Mashable: A Texas Republican And NOAA Are In A Standoff Over Global Warming Emails

    Union Of Concerned Scientists: The Chair of the House Science Committee Is Harassing NOAA Climate Scientists Again

    Previously:

    San Antonio Express-News Won't Endorse Lamar Smith, Citing “Bullying Tactics” On Climate Change

    Fox's The Five Uses Earth Day To Push Debunked Climate Change Denier Myths

    Fox Host Praises Weather Channel Co-Founder's Climate Change Denial: "It's Weather, Not Global Warming

  • Fox’s New Evening Lineup Is O’Reillyism Without O’Reilly

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Bill O’Reilly, the king of cable news, has fallen. He was a victim of his own monstrosity. The network that had willingly written large checks on his behalf to make the women he had sexually harassed go away withdrew its support after the payments were revealed and his show’s advertisers ran for cover.

    The O’Reilly Factor was the linchpin in an evening lineup that was once the most stable in the industry. But in less than a year, O’Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, and Megyn Kelly have all left or been shown the door, along with the man who hired them, former Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. The only remaining host from the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time block the network was rolling out a year ago is Sean Hannity.

    Removing O’Reilly gave the network’s top executives the opportunity to dramatically reshape their network’s programming. But the new evening lineup, which debuts tonight, presents as much of the status quo as possible -- O’Reillyism without O’Reilly. The result will test whether hosts actually matter at Fox, or whether the network’s audience will sit for any pro-Trump conservative put in front of them.

    Since Fox’s inception in 1996, O’Reilly has been the anchor of the network’s ratings and the keystone of its “fair and balanced” mantra with his so-called “No Spin Zone.” After an undistinguished career as a broadcast newsman, O’Reilly used his position at the newly launched Fox to reimagine himself (falsely) as a son of working-class Levittown, Long Island, who was looking out for “the folks.” His show became the platform for his “culture warrior” mentality, presenting the average American as under constant attack by never-ending waves of elitist secular progressives who hate Christianity and traditional American values and want to reshape the country in the image of Western Europe.

    O’Reilly became the incandescent exemplar of white male rage at the rising tide of diversity, feminism, and modernity. And the ratings -- and money -- rolled in, with his success breeding imitators.

    Fox’s executives were not ready to lose O’Reilly -- earlier this year, they signed him to a new deal through 2020 with a raise to an annual salary of $25 million, in full knowledge that The New York Times was investigating the network’s sexual harassment payouts. They were betting that his high ratings, which spill over to the benefit of the rest of the evening’s programming, would be difficult to retain with only the other personnel they had under contract.

    Tucker Carlson, Jesse Watters, and Eric Bolling, the three hosts who will benefit the most from the shakeup, built their careers at Fox by imitating the same “culture war” racism and misogyny O’Reilly helped weave into the network’s DNA. Like O’Reilly, each has gained attention during the presidential campaign and the early days of Donald Trump’s administration as stalwart supporters of the president.

    Where each rising Fox star's O’Reilly imitations fall short, however, is in their ability and skill in grounding their commentary as coming from a working-class “man of the people.”

    Carlson, who spent virtually his entire life living among the elite, is the son of a U.S. ambassador and former head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the stepson of a scion of the Swanson frozen foods empire. He has hosted shows at two other networks and remains known for the bow-tied prepster image he cultivated at CNN.

    While Bolling grew up without Carlson’s privileged background, he evinces an on-air contempt for the working class rooted in his previous career as a commodities trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where he eventually became a member of its board of directors. And Watters, who spent his career as an O’Reilly minion, conducting ambush interviews of the leading Fox host’s various perceived enemies, bills himself as a “political humorist,” not a commentator.

    None of the three has O’Reilly’s on-air presence or skill. But Fox’s hope is that aping O’Reilly is enough to keep his audience on board.

    Fox’s promotion of three white, male, grievance-mongering Trump sycophants is no accident. The network had other options available. Executives could have given a show to Dana Perino, a more substantive conservative who has been much more skeptical of Trump. They could have tried to pivot to airing more hard news by promoting one of the reporters who contribute to the flagship news program Special Report.

    They could have even tried to bring someone in from outside the network, though admittedly it’s hard to imagine that journalists are banging down the doors to join a network mired in a year-long series of sexual harassment reports.

    No, instead, Fox doubled down on pro-Trump racism, sexism, and xenophobia because that is what the network wants to put on its airwaves. Its executives are priming the resentment pump because they think O’Reillyism will keep their audience coming back for more.

    Without O’Reilly, we will now be able to see whether Fox’s audience is stable and willing to keep watching no matter who hosts the network’s programs, or whether O’Reilly’s talent was the key factor in retaining his viewers.

    If the network’s ratings stay the same, -- or even improve -- it should be cold comfort for Fox’s executives. They kept O’Reilly around, even though they knew about the many reports that he was sexually harassing his colleagues, because they thought he was essential for the network’s ratings. If that turns out not to be the case, they enabled a predator for no reason at all.

    Images by Sarah Wasko.