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New Fox Evening Lineup Is Channeling Steve Bannon

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New Fox Evening Lineup Is Channeling Steve Bannon

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Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

Two months ago, Steve Bannon left his position as White House chief strategist and returned to his “weapons” at Breitbart.com. At the time, news reports were thick with rumors that Bannon might try to extend Breitbart’s brand from digital media and satellite radio to television. “Bannon has told friends he sees a massive opening to the right of Fox News, raising the possibility that he’s going to start a network,” Axios reported.

This talk has largely subsided. Perhaps Bannon has prioritized molding the Republican Party into the party of Trump; perhaps the formidable financial and logistical hurdles involved with launching a cable network have given the Breitbart executive chairman and his patrons, the right-wing megadonor Mercer family, pause. But it certainly doesn’t help the effort that Fox’s moves since President Donald Trump’s election have been geared toward infusing the channel’s prime-time programming with Breitbartian values.

Last month, the network announced that it is turning over the 10 p.m. hour to longtime contributor Laura Ingraham, forestalling the rumors that Bannon might hire her away (there are no hard feelings; last week, Bannon and Breitbart hosted a party for Ingraham’s new book). On Monday, when her show debuts following the programs of rising Fox star Tucker Carlson and network stalwart Sean Hannity, Fox’s evening block will feature three consecutive hours of the same cocktail — of anti-immigrant and anti-diversity invective, pro-Trump fanaticism, and vindictive opposition to the Republican establishment, the press, and cultural elites — that made Breitbart a force on the right.

Fox always takes on the spirit of the ascendant wing of the conservative movement. The network’s throughline is serving as the communications arm of the Republican Party, and its hires and the narratives they pursue tend to be in sync with the party itself. In this way, Fox mimics the official party organ, the Republican National Committee, which, following Trump’s election, hired pro-Trump pundit Kayleigh McEnany as its new national spokesperson.

After President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, for example, Fox executives declared the network the “voice of opposition” and “the Alamo,” standing shoulder to shoulder with Republican leaders who refused to compromise with the new administration. The network’s new star was conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck, hired away from CNN; Hannity and Colmes became Hannity as the longtime progressive co-host, Alan Colmes, was removed from the program; former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who emerged from the election as a leader on the right, joined the team soon after she resigned as Alaska’s governor; and Fox’s endless promotion turned the tea party into a GOP force.

As the 2012 election approached, a group of candidates who had kept themselves in the spotlight as Fox contributors fought for the GOP nomination on the network’s airwaves. When former Gov. Mitt Romney won, the network rallied around him as he pushed attacks on Obama ripped from Fox, stocked his campaign with network staffers, and picked the then-network hero Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate.

And over the past few years, Trump slowly swallowed the network until it became an authoritarian propaganda outlet for first his campaign and then his presidency.

Since then, Trump and Bannon have dominated Republican politics. Most conservative and Republican leaders publicly extol the president’s virtues and prescriptions for the country; those who do not either lack power or are leaving office before they have to face the primary challenges Bannon is backing.

With evening hosts Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Eric Bolling all having left the network since the 2016 election, Fox had a rare opportunity to reload its lineup. The result is three hosts who channel the mentality of the ascendant Breitbart wing, each with a focus on a different facet of the website’s editorial thrust.

Carlson both defends and apes the site’s winking relationship with white nationalism, which has earned him the adoration of racists and anti-Semites. He condemns the role of immigrants and Muslims in supposedly corrupting the “European culture” he holds so dear, frequently issues polemics on the dangers of diversity, and is much more interested in defending the rights of white supremacists than he is in condemning their hatred. Like the late Andrew Breitbart, Carlson seems to believe that “politics is downstream from culture,” and his show always has a new cultural enemy to mock and destroy, be it obscure college professors“Gypsies,” people who tear down statues of Confederate generals, or witches.

Hannity is the host most in line with Breitbart’s propagandistic loyalty to the president and drive to annihilate Trump’s foes, including recalcitrant Republicans. Both are particularly obsessed with convincing their audience that the mainstream press is so intrinsically opposed to Trump and other conservatives that it cannot be trusted, only replaced. Hannity’s fanaticism leads to him to provide the president with shockingly obsequious interviews and offer up despicable conspiracy theories on his behalf.

Ingraham, the newest member of the lineup, shares many of the Breitbartian attributes of her colleagues, combining Hannity’s loyalty to the president and disdain for establishment Republicans and Carlson’s fixation on the perils of immigration and diversity. What she adds is Breitbart’s interest in trying to directly shape the Republican Party by pushing out officeholders considered insufficiently loyal to the president and his agenda. Indeed, Ingraham teamed up with Bannon to back a primary challenger to Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) earlier this month. Her show will likely end up featuring a parade of anti-establishment politicians seeking her support.

Fox’s prime-time lineup has historically been extremely stable, and bearing future surprises, Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham could spearhead the network for years to come. It’s in Fox’s interest to stay in Breitbart TV mode until a new aspect of the party gains preeminence, so we shouldn’t expect any of their shows to vary widely from what we’ve seen recently.

The establishment wing of the Republican Party seems exhausted, unwilling to fight back against the insurgent Breitbarters who have seized control of the party’s base. Any shift in the conservative movement may be some time in coming.

Until then, if Bannon turns on his television during Fox’s prime-time hours, he’ll have reason to smile.

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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7 Comments

  1. bojimbo26 October 29, 2017

    So , Mr Bannon WILL be taking over the Presidency when Trumpy is impeached .

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 30, 2017

      Bannon has been whistling Dixie ever since he left the Navy it would seem. Something happen out at sea to alter his mind for the worse.

  2. idamag October 29, 2017

    Faux news is almost fascist in their goals to destroy the two-party system.

    Reply
  3. Thoughtopsy October 29, 2017

    That’s what you get when news shows don’t legally have to actually provide real news.

    Most other countries have laws that require any show that styles itself as “News” to be factual and evenhanded. If not then they get complaints and fined large dollar amounts.

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly October 29, 2017

      I always wanted to complain to the FTC that “Fox News” was a false and deceptive label. One can’t stifle free speech but one can enforce truth in advertising and labeling.

    2. dtgraham October 30, 2017

      It’s interesting to me that you brought this up. I know you’re a New Zealander, and few at the National Memo would know it, but this concept has been tried once north of the border in Canada.

      Roger Ailes once had a dinner meeting in NY with a Canadian Conservative Prime Minister and a few of his staff, regarding the possibility of a Canadian all-conservative cable news network. It did eventually get off the ground and got licensed, by presenting a false business model to the CRTC. It got the nickname Fox News North.

      It never did take off. It’s ratings were so low that they couldn’t even be properly measured. They lost incredible sums of money, but that’s not what finally did them in…although it surely would have eventually.

      A Canadian regulatory agency called the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) always had a rule on prohibited programming content that includes broadcasting false or misleading news, and this led them to finally scupper them in the end. In other words, lying and specious/disingenuous news could be fined, denied certain privileges, or even eventually banned. The Canadian Parliament had always determined that this rule did not run afoul of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which like the U.S. Constitution, guarantees press freedoms.

      One can agree or disagree with this. Depends on how much of a fan of total free speech you are. I like freedom of the press as much as anyone, but when you look at the political atmosphere in America today, you realize that total unrestricted free speech in the media does come with a cost. Many in America feel that this cost is worth it for a bigger principle. That’s a debate to be had.

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 29, 2017

    I have the distinct impression that Bannon is using Trump to promote Steve’s own egocentric purposes. Having attended elite schools, served in the military, had a brief and mundane stint in movie-making, and exposure to the financial world at Goldman-Sachs, Steve has become quite impressed with himself. Even a brief glimpse of him pontificating, listening to his ideas, and his body language, betray his corrupt nature, self-centered focus, and white nationalist views.

    When Steve talks about crafting the GOP in the image of Trump, he doesn’t mean to imply that Trump is own the same page ideologically as he, nor does he entertain any notion that Trump has the intellect to follow any philosophy or concepts, no matter how skewed and hare-brained Bannon’s views are.

    Steve’s vision is to implement a racialist/nationalist model for governance which can only isolate the nation even more than it is now.

    Nationalism and racialism are the bane of America, and can only retard the nation and its citizens’ progress. In the end though, this strategy of FOX to team up with Bannon is just what is needed to help flush out this crap in America’s system of governance—a very useful and necessary enema to relieve a constipated society of its racialist and partisan nature. It will be a painful process in the long interim.

    Reply

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