Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Conservatives Have Growing Concern Over Fox News

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Roger Ailes, decades ago, saw something unique in a local talk show host named Rush Limbaugh--became his representative and advocate---and the rest is history.

For the past 20 years Fox News owner, billionaire Australian, liberal, Rupert Murdoch, has given Ailes free reign as he has built the most powerful and influential conservative voice in modern news media.

The profits have rolled in, while conservatives, including myself, have tuned in producing record ratings.

Now as Murdoch is turning Fox News over to his sons, things are changing, and conservatives are becoming concerned.

As long as the profits rolled in, Murdoch virtually never meddled in Ailes' world---even when his own family protested. And they did protest.

Roger Ailes told the Hollywood Reporter, one of the two most influential media publications in America--- "He lets me run it, he doesn't bother me much." That was as lately as last April.

The HR story linked above is a fascinating profile of Ailes, his life and his beliefs if you are interested in the man who actually built Fox News.

Now things are changing at Fox News.

New York Magazine, not a conservative voice, is reporting that according to highly placed sources, Murdoch is upping his presence at Fox as Ailes becomes less visible to anchors and producers, signaling a shift that marks a new chapter in the network's history.

Every day there is a secretive high level meeting between Ailes and the network's senior lieutenants where the most sensitive matters are discussed.

It has been that way since Fox News began in 1996.

Murdoch is now attending every day.

Fox News executives see this as a "striking change" from the norm.

Eighty four year old Murdoch is in the process of replacing 75 year old Roger Ailes.

Ailes threatened to quit this past summer when Murdoch announced that Ailes would now be reporting to Murdoch's sons Lachlan and James. Murdock stepped back after Ailes threatened to quit, and announced Ailes would continue to report to him---and his sons---who are taking over the entire Media Empire News Corp.

Murdoch wants an uneventful transition because Fox News is valued at a little more than $15 billion and generates as much as 30% of all Murdoch's profits.

Wall Street will certainly be watching. Conservatives should also be paying attention.

Most likely either Michael Clemente or Bill Shine, both already with Fox News, will be chosen to replace Roger Ailes.

Neither of these two share Roger Ailes' passion or understanding of conservatism which is rooted in his days working as a media adviser to Ronald Reagan.

More importantly, Murdoch's sons, Lachlan and James, are not comfortable with conservative values, much less Christian conservative values.

Several years ago I was in New York City on a business matter---nothing to do with Fox. The man I was meeting with told me over dinner that he represented one of Rubert Murdoch's sons, which led to a conversation about Fox News.

In that conversation, which I had not thought about until recently, he told me that when "Rupert's boys take over, Fox News will dramatically change." He said they "share none of the conservatism found on the news channel."

That process is apparently in motion.

I mention this today only to inform you of what is going on behind the scenes---it will, at some point, effect what you see on your TV screen.

New York Magazine notes, "During this year's fractious Republican primary, Fox isn't functioning like the disciplined campaign it's historically been."

"There's no directive on anything," one high level executive told NY Magazine.

Internally, executives are saying the clearest sign of this leadership vacuum is the network's erratic handling of Trump in the wake of his feud with Megyn Kelly.

Fox News is now facing the same kind of grassroots rebellion the GOP is facing. Conservatives, including Tea Party folks, who support one of several conservative candidates are starting to publicly express that they are fed-up with the direction Fox is going.

Rush Limbaugh said recently he "no longer watches any cable news." A friend of Limbaugh told the New York Magazine reporter the comment was directed at Fox News.

Several other prominent conservatives told the NY Magazine they're upset that Fox has been pushing Marco Rubio, while being openly hostile toward Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Michelle Malkin says she recently quit Fox as a contributor because of their position, which is Murdoch's personal position, on immigration. In fact, in her new book, "Sold Out," she calls Murdoch a "treacherous bedfellow."

She also said she is sick and tired of seeing Lindsay Graham plastered all over Fox when conservatives don't care about him.

So far, all this has not hurt Fox News ratings, but Michelle Malkin and others believe it will over time. She says, "There is nowhere else on TV to go."

"There is a big opportunity" for another alternative news source, she says.

Millions of conservatives, myself included, have looked to Fox News for coverage of events that the other networks either refuse to cover, or so revise it becomes wearisome and deceptive.

My point? There is great deception in our culture today. It is sometimes presented by direct messaging which is usually easy to see. But sometimes deception is nuanced and more difficult to spot.

Someone has said recently, "We should continue to watch Fox, but not continue to trust them. They are no longer fair or balanced."

A time for discernment.

Discernment is the ability to decide between truth and error.

Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.

The ability to think with discernment is synonymous with the ability to think biblically.

Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Blessed.