Tag: steve bannon
What Next For Fox? Ratings Collapse After Tucker Carlson Ousted

What Next For Fox? Ratings Collapse After Tucker Carlson Ousted

It’s been less than a week since Fox News suddenly pulled Tucker Carlson off the air, and the early results for the network have been devastating. Fox’s ratings are in a tailspin, and its right-wing media competitors are successfully stealing its market share by painting the network as a traitor to the conservative movement. It’s time for Fox’s executives and stars to panic – and whatever they do to reverse course is likely to be irresponsible and destructive.

Viewership for Carlson’s former timeslot is in freefall. His show drew just over 3 million viewers last Wednesday, including 357,000 in the crucial 24-54 demographic. A week later, Fox host Brian Kilmeade’s third night in the timeslot brought in only 1.33 million viewers and 124,000 in that demographic. Fox’s audience for its 8 p.m. ET hour plummeted 56% among all viewers and 65% in the demo in just a week – and still may not have hit bottom. Meanwhile, MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes scores its first ratings wins in the show's history.

The night-by-night ratings numbers show the starkness of the Fox decline.

Those numbers would be bad enough on their own – but the ratings carnage isn’t limited to Carlson’s old timeslot. Hannity and The Ingraham Angle, which follow it in prime time, each declined by at least 33 percent among all viewers and at least 40% in that demographic over the same period, suggesting that a large share of former Carlson viewers who are turning Fox off in his former hour aren’t turning it back on afterwards. Fox programs that air earlier in the evening, like The Five and Special Report, have also seen viewership decline, albeit by a smaller proportion.

Fox’s ratings are swooning as the network comes under relentless fire from its rivals in conservative media. Some influential right-wing figures have called for a boycott of Fox, including Steve Bannon of Real America’s Voice, who argued that “if you're watching Fox you're helping the people that are against you” and urged his audience to “take the clicker and turn it off.” Trumpist digital outlet Breitbart.comsplashed its front page on Friday with a story calling Carlson’s firing a “Fox News purge” in which “the Murdochs reestablish corporate control.” And hosts and guests on Newsmax, Fox’s closest direct cable news competitor, have called Carlson’s firing a case of Fox “pull[ing] the race card” and “succumbing to the woke mob” that foretells the “death of Fox News” and benefits the rival network – which has seen a ratings jump this week.

The prime time ratings collapse comes at a very bad time for Fox. The network is currently trying to make the case to several major cable carriers that its programming is so essential that it should be granted a huge increase in fees that would firm up its profits. The negotiations will surely be more difficult if Fox’s audience remains in a steep decline.

If Fox’s ratings remain soft, its leaders will be moved to act. The last time the network saw a ratings collapse of this magnitude was after the 2020 elections, when it came under pressure from the right for being insufficiently supportive of then-President Donald Trump. Fox’s executives and stars panicked at the time over the prospect of the network losing its hegemony to rivals like Newsmax. They responded by amplifying election fraud conspiracy theories they knew were not credible, and a few months later, Fox made Carlson the face of the network.

But because Fox’s viewers demand incendiary content, moves to firm up their support can come at a heavy cost to the network. The election conspiracy theories eventually triggered a massive defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, another even larger lawsuit is still in play, and revelations from the Dominion lawsuit may have cost Carlson his job.

Whatever Fox does this time won’t be pretty.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

It's Donald Trump Versus New York City

It's Donald Trump Versus New York City

If Ron DeSantis had a Stormy Daniels problem, Donald Trump would probably have invited her to dinner. He'd have massaged the facts surrounding any possible indictment related to the hush-money payments. The cameras love a porn star, and Trump loves cameras. Trump would mock Ron DeSanctimonious with Stormy at his side.

But the Florida governor and apparent candidate for president went after the New York district attorney for allegedly persecuting his chief political rival. Could you imagine Donald Trump doing that?

Trump's more formidable opponent in this case is New York City. The devil cannot endure to be mocked, it's said. And definitely beyond endurance for Trump is being ignored where all his life he's wanted recognition. The city's power players were always amused that so much of America had gone gaga over a serial bankrupt who never even made the list of top real estate moguls. Crowds have returned to Trump Tower for this latest national spectacle, but in recent years, few turned their heads when walking by.

Trump's long-running act as the quintessentially colorful New Yorker who says what he thinks did make him seem authentic to many. But he's now facing other colorful New Yorkers sharing their unfiltered thoughts. Michael Cohen, the former fixer who enabled the payments to a porn star, now commandeers attention as he throws the book at his former boss with impeccable outer borough diction.

When TV interviewers recently confronted him by saying that he'd gone to prison, Cohen corrected them with "twice." He had thoughts on the Trump cultists again being grifted. "Who are these dummies that are giving their hard-earned dollars for a guy who gets indicted? I'm not sure," he said. "I didn't see anybody throwing that kind of money when I ended up getting indicted." Cohen was also happy to explain the arraignment process, on which he is an authority.

Cohen knows to dish inside dope on Trump's psyche. Behind the scenes, Trump is "seething," Cohen said. And the reason is the "clown car" around him — Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller — that pushed him into fights that got him into his unenviable position.

One never knows for sure, but New Yorkers are also not overly afraid that Trump's unhinged followers will turn the circus into a riot. "Don't play with the New York Police Department," Cohen advised. The NYPD's stand-ready order to 35,000 officers makes available a force reportedly larger than some countries' armies.

Robert Reilly, a former FBI agent who specialized in domestic terrorism cases, waved off fears of violent mass anarchy on the order of Charlottesville or January 6. "This is New York City," he told The New York Times. "It is too far and too many tolls and nowhere to park."

As for his own personal safety, Cohen said, he thinks about it every single day, but "I'm not changing anything in terms of my life or my routine as a result of this."

Really, the Trump base seems to want someone who fights back, regardless of what they're fighting over. When Trump entered legal peril at the hands of a Manhattan district attorney, DeSantis snapped into line like a Lego piece in the Hobbit toy set. He went after the DA with a robust defense of the man who implied he was grooming young people for sex.

Trump and his Republican servants have been framing the hush-money matter as Trump versus out-of-control New York liberals. Do note that in the 2016 primary, Manhattan Republicans preferred then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a reasonable candidate, over their neighbor in Trump Tower. The crowds and closures around Trump Tower may inconvenience the locals, but rest assured, their pain is mostly about the traffic.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Ron DeSantis

Trump Allies Blasting DeSantis Over Remarks On 'Porn Star Hush Money'

On March 20, presumed presidential candidate and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to a question about former President Donald Trump’s potential indictment with common conservative messaging, saying the Manhattan district attorney involved is a “Soros-funded prosecutor” who is imposing “a political agenda on society.” But some of DeSantis’ other commentary lit pro-Trump media up in fury.

In the middle of attacking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis also said, “Look, I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair." DeSantis’ drive-by comment, about the reason Trump is rumored to be facing indictment, echoes years of liberal and mainstream criticism of Trump. He also indicated that he would not get involved in the potential indictment “in any way,” saying that he was instead focused on “real issues.”

The governor’s commentary led to a flood of Trump supporters condemning his “catastrophic miscalculation” and “pure weakness.”

Although some of these pro-Trump voices still express appreciation for DeSantis, his comments have fueled the growing sense in some right-wing media circles that “he is establishment and will be a major disappointment to those who think otherwise.” The response to DeSantis' comments is more proof that media allies of Trump and DeSantis are moving toward open war.

    • On Real America's Voice’s War Room, host Steve Bannon and radio host John Fredericksattacked DeSantis for his comments, with Bannon claiming it was “not an acceptable response” and Fredericks calling DeSantis’ statement “one of the most unbelievable, feckless, weasel, consultant-driven responses in a crisis you've ever heard.”
    • On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. took particular offense to DeSantis claiming the possible indictment is not a “real issue” and called his comments “pure weakness,” claiming the governor is “totally owned by Karl Rove, Paul Ryan & his billionaire donors.”
    • Trump’s other son, Eric Trump, also took to Twitter to claim that when “they do the exact same thing to him, his friends and his family,” DeSantis will “neither have the backbone, nor the resources” to defend himself against the “corrupt system.” He also said DeSantis is “not the guy I thought he was.”
    • Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiecshared a video of the comments, highlighting DeSantis’ pledge to not get involved with the investigation. Posobiec also tweeted “Et tu, Brute?” seemingly in reference to DeSantis’ comments.
    • After wishing DeSantis well, far-right troll Mike Cernovichcalled the speech a “catastrophic miscalculation” that was “disappointing to me.” Cernovich claimed the incident would make it “easier for me to remain objective” moving forward in the 2024 presidential race.
    • Daily Wire host Candace Owensclaimed on Twitter that the Florida governor's supporters “saw things in DeSantis that were never there.” In another tweet, Owens praised DeSantis for handling COVID-19 “correctly and bravely” but said he is “not America first.”
    • Blaze Media host Steve Deacetweeted a short essay that called DeSantis “the best and most successful GOP politician of modern times” but also relayed his hope that DeSantis makes a stronger statement backing Trump.
    • Failed Republican House candidate and anti-Muslim troll Laura Loomerclaimed DeSantis mocked Trump by stating he “doesn’t know much about paying porn stars off” and used the barb to address DeSantis’ supposed “shorter prison sentences for Child porn crimes.”
    • Conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souzatweeted his disappointment about the back-and-forth attacks between Trump and DeSantis and claimed DeSantis should have realized the Trump investigation and possible arrest “has NOTHING to do with paying off a porn star.”
    • Daily Wire host Matt Walshcalled the statement from DeSantis “not good.” Walsh called his decision to not back Trump more forcefully in light of the potential indictment an “unforced error here.”
    • Revolver News owner Darren Beattieimplied that DeSantis’ statement showed he is lacking “good political instincts.” Beattie said about the comments, “This is bad.”
    • Right-wing activist Raheem Kassamtweeted “Woooooow” about DeSantis suggesting the potential arrest is “not a ‘real issue.’”

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Steve Bannon

    Report: Justice Department Probing Bannon Role In Guo's Alleged Frauds

    A new report in Mother Jones cites sources that claim Steve Bannon is being investigated for playing a role behind the scenes advising his longtime associate Ho Wan Kwok, also known as Miles Guo, on his allegedly fraudulent schemes. Guo was arrested after being charged with 12 counts of fraud, financial crimes, and obstruction of justice by the Southern District of New York for his role overseeing a wide-ranging conspiracy of fraudulent ventures totalling over $1 billion.

    Bannon publicly promoted these allegedly fraudulent schemes on multiple occasions. In one instance, Bannon endorsed a cryptocoin called H Coin and its associated exchange, calling their launch “monumental” and part of the “institutionalization of the counteroffensive to the Chinese Communist Party.”

    According to the indictment, Guo and others “fraudulently obtained more than approximately $262 million in victim funds through the Himalaya Exchange.”

    Mother Jones quotes sources who had been contacted by FBI and SEC agents and “asked for details on Bannon’s role advising Guo on soliciting investment funds in 2020.” Sources also say Bannon “privately advised” Guo and his alleged co-conspirator on GTV and so-called “G|Clubs.” The SDNY release describes how Guo “touted” GTV as a “wide-ranging media company,” and made “false representations regarding how the money raised” from investors “would be used.” Investors were told that the “G|Clubs” would “provide participants with the opportunity to buy discounted stock in other Guo ventures.” Guo and his co-conspirator Kin Ming Je “misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained funds,” according to the SDNY.

    According to Mother Jones:

    Still, Bannon gave vital assistance to Guo’s operation. The former top aide to Donald Trump not only publicly cheered on companies that Guo allegedly used to rip off fans, but also privately advised Guo on how to solicit investments in those companies.

    FBI and SEC agents, who are still investigating Guo’s capers, have sought information about Bannon’s work for the Chinese mogul, according to two people contacted by agents. One source said that agents asked for details on Bannon’s role advising Guo on soliciting investment funds in 2020.

    Starting in the spring of 2020, Guo raised hundreds of millions of dollars by offering backers a chance to invest in what Guo said was a private offering of shares in GTV. Information sent to potential investors named Bannon as a member of GTV’s board.

    Bannon also played a larger role than was publicly known in the GTV offering, people familiar with the effort told Mother Jones. These sources said that Bannon privately advised Guo, Je, and others on the GTV offering. Bannon also provided advice on a follow-up venture called G|Clubs, sources said. Guo claimed that membership in this club —which cost between $10,000 and $50,000—would provide participants with the opportunity to buy discounted stock in other Guo ventures. Prosecutors said that members actually received “few to no discernible membership benefits.”

    In 2020, Bannon was arrested by postal service agents for his own separate fraudulent scheme on Guo’s yacht, which, according to the SDNY, itself was financed through Guo’s alleged fraud.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.