Fox News, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has steadily grown into one of the most influential right-wing media tools in the United States ever since it first hit the airwaves in 1996. Fox has become known for its bias towards Donald Trump and the Republican Party, as well as manipulation of option and fact, middle-aged men with blonde sidekicks, and flashy graphics. Fox serves up just what Middle America wants to see and hear: a justification of their grievances about the state of their country.
The birth of Fox Broadcasting Company
The origins of Fox date back to the mid 80’s when Murdoch bought a stake in 20th Century Fox, along with six local Metromedia television stations broadcasting to 10 of the biggest markets in the U.S., including Dallas, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and New York. He took his assets and united them under one network to be called the Fox Broadcasting Company. The stations initially invested heavily for CNN’s news feed. Among its earliest prime-time hosts was a tabloid gossip show called A Current Affair, with Steve Dunleavy, a hard-boiled newsman who set the tone for future Fox frontmen like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.
By 1992, Murdoch had made the deacon that his stations would broadcast its own news and brought in Andrew Neil, who was the editor of Murdoch’s Sunday Times, to oversee what would become Fox News. The following year, he bought the rights to the NFL and envisioned that it would be followed by a one-hour news programme to rival 60 Minutes on CBS. It was then that Murdoch recruited Roger Ailes, CNBC president and political correspondent, to run things. Ailes had a number of sexual assault allegations made against him shortly before his death in 2017. He was CEO of Fox News from the beginning and also served as chairman, replacing Murdoch’s son Lachlan in 2005.
Corleone meets Rickles
One former deputy likened Ailes to a combination of Don Corleone and Don Rickles. Ailes is credited with creating Fox’s populist style, appealing to the typical conservative. Fox’s intentions were obvious from the start, with its anchors interviewing presidential candidate Bob Dole, Nation of Islam’s Loui Farrakhan, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Fox had made its mark just in time to be a part of the emerging 24/7 rolling news cycle and make hay from the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky story. Under the guidance of Ailes, Fox used opinion shows to develop urgent and compelling TV, often focused on star signings, such as Hannity and Colmes, presented by Alan Colmes, Catherine Crier’s The Crier Report, and The O’Reilly Factor. Opinion editor Bill Shining, and Hannity and O’Reilly, formed a tough trio who set the tone that has become a familiar one among Fox viewers. It was famously sent up by current Late Show host Stephen Colbert.
Fox showed its power in 2000 when it played a pivotal role in getting George W Bush elected. While Bush was already backed by other key influencers on the right wing, such as the National Rifle Association, a study revealed that he had an average boost of 200.000 votes in regions where voters could access Fox programming.