When Joe Biden is sworn in as president on 21 January, cable information viewers might witness one of the most dramatic 180-degree turns in historical past.
After 4 years of slavishly selling the president, Fox News is anticipated to pump on the brakes inside seconds of the inauguration ceremony.
All of a sudden, the particular person in the White House shouldn’t be a Republican. More than that, the community can now not depend on the willingness of the president or his aides to name into Fox News any time of the day or night time.
The rightwing TV channel, and its huge identify hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, will spend the subsequent 4 years as the occasion of the opposition. The community has achieved this earlier than, of course – the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency weren’t that way back – however Biden presents a distinct problem.
“Of course we can expect it to be relentlessly negative, but it’s a challenge on some levels, because he’s a 78-year-old white man, fairly moderate history,” stated Heather Hendershot, a professor of movie and media at MIT who research conservative and rightwing media.
“In the past they attacked Hillary Clinton very hard not only because she was liberal, but obviously there was some underlying sexism and misogyny there – and obviously the fact that Barack Obama was African American was central to rightwing attacks on him, either implicitly or explicitly, including on Fox News.”
That’s to not say Biden’s authorities will escape assault, even when he dodges the worst.
Kamala Harris will be the first Black vice-president, and will turn into a goal for Fox News’ hosts. If Democrats win the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, the Senate will be break up 50-50, and Harris will forged the deciding vote.
“[If that happens] she’s going to be out there front and center as a tie-breaker in Congress over and over again,” Hendershot stated.
“And every time that happens that is a way to tangentially attack Biden – it gives [Fox News and other rightwing outlets] a kind of ‘red meat’ to attack Kamala Harris, because she is both a woman and a person of color.”
Biden claims he has nominated “the most diverse cabinet anyone in American history has ever announced”, with Janet Yellen set to be the first girl to be secretary of the Treasury, whereas Lloyd Austin, if confirmed, poised to turn into the first Black defence secretary.
Pete Buttigieg, an occasional Fox News visitor, is ready to be the first overtly homosexual cupboard secretary as head of transport.
Fox News has already been attacking one other numerous set of Democrats: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and different feminine, non-white members of Congress.
Matthew Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a media watchdog, stated that’s a theme that has continued to dominate, even since Biden turned the president-elect.
“A lot of what we’re seeing right now is less of a focus on Joe Biden himself and more of this idea that he will somehow be a puppet for other figures that they find easier to attack – whether that is Kamala Harris, or Bernie Sanders, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Gertz stated.
“That is an angle they pursued quite a bit during the campaign, and it’s something they’ve focused on during the transition as well.”
Fox News has been credited with serving to to gasoline the development of the Tea Party motion in 2010, which was the preliminary car for fringe rightwingers to achieve better affect in the Republican occasion.
The assault of the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012 turned a long-running story on Fox News, at the same time as the administration was cleared – by a Republican-controlled House committee – of any wrongdoing.
“We’ve seen to some extent how this will play out. Looking back at 2009, 2010, the early years of the Obama administration featured a lot of incredibly overheated and conspiracy-minded Fox News commentary. I think that is likely to be an area that they are happy to return to,” Gertz stated.
“It will likely be a source for the scandalmongering that we saw during the Obama administration – basically a return to Benghazi coverage, where the network takes a news event and spends months and months and years and years poring over it, and telling their audience that the Democratic administration is the source of horrific actions.”
Obviously, a swap from supporting one president to opposing the subsequent shouldn’t be unprecedented.
The extra liberal cable information networks will have skilled one thing comparable when Trump was elected in 2016 – though CNN and MSNBC had been by no means the identical quasi-propaganda outfits for Obama as Fox News has been for Trump.
Still, the extra liberal information organizations skilled a spike in recognition, and a lift to viewing figures, after Trump received.
MSNBC and CNN noticed double-digit growth in viewing figures after Trump received, whereas the Atlantic, the New Yorker and ProPublica all saw a boost in readers. Fox News declined to remark, however a spokeswoman pointed to Nielsen rankings exhibiting the community is persistently the most-watched cable information channel.
Hendershot stated Fox News may see an identical profit to its extra left-leaning rivals as soon as it’s in opposition to the White House.
“Politicized media, whether magazines or opinion, smaller ones like the [left-leaning] Nation or the [conservative] National Review, or larger ones like Fox News, they tend to financially prosper the more oppositional they are,” Hendershot stated.
“They will have to increase their oppositionality, by virtue of the fact that Biden is president – and at the same time they can have their cake and eat it too, in that they don’t lose Trump as a story because he will continue to promote himself, inaccurately, as the real president in exile.”
“So they may do very well financially and politically, because they can not only attack Biden, they can swing very hard at Kamala Harris, and they can also keep working the Trump story, trying to satisfy that base, because Trump isn’t going to go away.”