What’s going to happen to Fox News?
After the election, it seems that conservatives and Republicans are gradually looking elsewhere for their news and commentary. But it isn’t just right-leaning consumers of content that are pivoting, the individuals who appear on these networks seem to be noticing the shift.
The Hill recently reported that GOP lawmakers are appearing more frequently on Newsmax than they have in the past. Indeed, Fox News was virtually the only conservative news outlet on which Republican leaders appeared up until recently.
“As President Trump openly feuds with Fox News, conservative lawmakers and loyal Trump officials have increasingly added Newsmax to their rotation of media stops, giving a sheen of credibility to the fledgling network as it seeks to compete for conservative viewers,” according to The Hill.
Newsmax is not yet rivaling Fox in terms of ratings, but it seems feasible that the outlet could close the gap in the next few years. GOP lawmakers told The Hill that the rise in popularity for Newsmax and other right-leaning news organizations has enticed them to appear more frequently on these alternative networks.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) stated that Trump’s feud with Fox contributed to his decision to look at smaller outlets. The Hill noted, “asked whether Trump’s criticism of Fox News is a factor for the small segment of Republicans considering the alternative networks, Harris replied: ‘It is for me.’”
The same seems to hold true for other GOP lawmakers. Newsmax anchor Sean Spicer and his co-host, Lyndsay Keith, recently interviewed newly-elected representatives August Pfluger and Tony Gonzales. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) still appears on Fox but has also made multiple appearances on Spicer’s show.
“Sean Spicer is well respected on Capitol Hill and his show with Lyndsay is both substantive and widely viewed in Congress,” Banks told The Hill. “I enjoy doing it and get feedback from constituents when I do.”
From The Hill:
“Over one 24-hour period last week, Newsmax featured new interviews with Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.).
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Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) stopped by to attack elected Republican officials in Georgia for not doing enough to root out fraud. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) hammered Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) for his office having been infiltrated by a Chinese spy. And Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) came on to blame Democrats for stalling COVID-19 relief efforts.”
Other Republican politicians have not yet appeared on Newsmax, but they seem to be taking notice of the trend. “I know back home people are watching Fox less and watching the other outlets,” a GOP lawmaker in the Midwest told The Hill.
Still, Fox News remains the dominant right-leaning news outlet. It is the top-rated network in both daytime and prime time.
Still, Fox can book anyone it wants — including Trump, who sat for an interview with Fox & Friends last week, despite his criticism of the network. Its popularity is declining in the wake of the election, but it still has a ways to go before it has to worry about competition from the likes of Newsmax and OANN. But this does not mean it can afford to rest on its laurels.
Newsmax seems to be doing everything it can to capitalize on conservatives’ dissatisfaction with Fox. Reuters reported that “the network plans to hire more staff in the United States and London, debut a new primetime host and add more weekend programming to capitalize on post-election gains and some viewers’ discontent with Rupert Murdoch’s longtime ratings king Fox News.
Axios noted that Newsmax is making a push to snag some of Fox News’ talent. They reported that the company is “trying to lure away its vital booking agents with promises of higher salaries.”
Fox News might be the outlet of choice for most conservatives currently, but it is entirely possible that this is changing. The network’s handling of the election left a sour taste in many Republicans’ mouths, and it is no surprise that they are seeking out other news sources. While it is unlikely that the outlet will fold completely, it appears to be inevitable that its competitors will grow more popular and could pose a serious challenge to the network’s dominance.