I was never invited by anyone to storm the Capital, certainly not on January 6, 2021.
But slightly more than a decade before that, I was forcefully requested by a superior to “napalm Oldsmar”.
Oldsmar, Florida is the Tampa suburb that at the time housed the Nielsen Company. I worked directly for FX, and tangentially with many of the other cable networks that Rupert Murdoch and FOX controlled. But because of FOX News chairman Roger Ailes’ personal desire to keep his highly profitable businesses separate from what he saw as both financial drains and ideological counters, FOX News was rarely a group I had direct interactions with.
Yet I was part of several corporate studies, ordered by then-chairman Peter Chernin, to study what the value of the FOX brand was across the entire portfolio. These studies were conducted as the Bush-Gore election cycle was unfolding, and FOX News’ ascent to the most-viewed source of news in the United States was unfolding. Many of the FOX owned-and-operated stations were adopting the bold graphic look and overtone that FNC was displaying, in order to better identify themselves as a local arm of a popular network, much as CBS, NBC and ABC stations would work in concert with their network’s newscasts. Chernin’s team accurately believed that it was impossible for any FOX entity, regardless of how direct the association was, to not be influenced by the perception of FOX News. In FX’s parochial case, to our surprise, the connection was less significant than many had feared, if for no other reason than the lack of the letter “O” was seen as some sort of “compromise”. And, fortunately, for the likes of FOX Kids, FOX Family and FOX Sports, those entities were somehow seen as modified enough to stand–or die–ion their own, while FOX and the FOX stations, lacking any such modifier, were more linked to the kind of views and opinions coming forth from Bill O’Reilly and others.
I cite these experiences as why I am far less shocked by the news that was reported earlier this week by the Associated Press’ David Bauder:
A court filing in a lawsuit against Fox News lays bare a panic at the network that it had alienated its viewers and damaged its brand by not lining up with President Donald Trump’s false claims that he had won the 2020 presidential election.
That worry — a real one, judging by Fox’s ratings in the election’s aftermath — played a key role in Fox not setting the record straight about unfounded fraud claims, the network’s accuser contends.