The pandemic is causing all sorts of problems around the globe and Fox News is having difficulties that are racking its business in America.
Rupert Murdoch’s long-running firm is currently being beset with declining ratings, upheaval in its on-air ranks and a multi-billion dollar defamation suit related to its election coverage.
It is staggering out of the Trump era. It’s blamed by many for seeding the poisonous political culture that brought a violent mob into the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol.
Yet in Britain, where TV news is regulated to avoid political bias, Murdoch and a competing group of investors are seizing this moment to create two upstart news services that will challenge the BBC and other broadcasters by borrowing heavily from Murdoch’s Fox playbook.
In the US, Fox News is being attacked by Lou Dobbs, 75, whose highly popular show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight” was canceled on Feb. 5.
He was one of the network’s most outspoken allies of former president Donald Trump. Dobbs has been angrily raging, repeating dozens of tweets supporting Trump, including many that
“Fox is in a tailspin,” radio host Mark Simone said in one of the tweets that was reposted by Dobbs. In another tweet that was shared by Dobbs, conservative Carmine Sabia wrote: “Fox News is desperate to be accepted by people who will not accept them. Canceling Lou Dobbs is not going to satisfy the blood lust of the rage mob.”
Dobbs’s cancellation has left many Fox staffers mystified, considering his show’s viewership, leaving some to speculate that it could be connected to Dobbs’s potential liability in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed the previous week. The suit accuses him and several Fox colleagues of spreading “disinformation” about election technology company Smartmatic as part of an effort to keep Trump’s hopes for a second term alive.
In addition to comments made directly by Dobbs, the lawsuit focuses on comments made by his guests, including Trump-affiliated lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. The suit also names Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, both of whom are still with Fox and hosted their shows on the weekend as scheduled.
Pronouncements set off alarm bells by some British commentators. While Britain has long had a freewheeling, unabashedly partisan newspaper industry, critics say the last thing it needs after Brexit is a Fox-like news channel — one that could sow further divisions and open the door to the kinds of conspiracy theories nurtured by Trump and amplified by Fox.