Most of the media of the world is Left leaning or Marxist in nature. It supports Leftist ideologies, causes, people and parties. All diverse and differing non-Marxist is clubbed together and called the Right and in intellectual opinion is an exception and is usually lost in the crowd. Or it just carves out a niche in some corner and is happy.
In America, like many other countries, most of the national newspapers, news channels, newspapers, radio stations have traditionally been Leftists. It was in such a setting that Fox News was launched in 1996. How would Fox News get itself heard in a crowd and with all the odds against it? Well, it would shout the loudest. It would take an extreme stand. It would never accept that it was wrong and double-down. And it would tell non-Fox News audiences to go to hell. Well maybe they didn’t exactly say that in the launch strategy, but that’s what they ended up doing anyway.
At that time such a thing was difficult to imagine because no matter how high the bias of a media organisation and what their target audience was, they in those days would at least pay lip service to their opponents and pretend that they heard them as well.
I guess a lot of analysts would have said Fox would sink without a trace. But it didn’t and started gaining great traction and became a brand name. A “shouting” Bill O’Reilly on prime time became a staple. Now it may have ended here and Fox would become just another successful media house.
Fox ended up becoming the most demonised media house and was presented as an outcast and an anathema. But a curious thing started happening. Despite calling it the devil and shunning it, all the media houses started aping Fox News. I first started watching TV news with BBC and ITV in London in 1978 as a child and I have witnessed the Foxification of the entire media industry in the last couple of decades.
Today almost every media house shouts the loudest, takes an extreme stand, never accepts that it is wrong and double-downs. And it also tells their opponents to go to hell. Think over it. Every media channel is like that. In fact come to India and every host aspires to be a Bill O’Reilly and shouts and insults all the guests that he calls on his own show. Right wing media has also risen.
If it ended with the media, then itself would be something. It spread to other forms of media. Look at the way Disney and the spectacularly successful MCU has turned out. They have curiously decided to cater to a minority of audiences. They take an extreme stand and if they fail, then they double down and abuse those who don’t like their movies as being racists and misogynistic.
The bug even got to corporations. Now even these have decided that they will only cater to their target audiences in an aggressive way and the rest of humanity can go to hell. On failure they too double down and blame those who don’t buy their products.
The entire political discourse has become like that. You carve out a niche political world for yourself, shout, never admit you are wrong, double down and call your opponents the choicest abusive words. That’s how political parties have become. In the past they used to find common ground. Not anymore. They have all been Foxified.
Think of political discourse in the last century. Then came Bill O’Reilly thundering on his media pulpit. Now think of a few decades back Trump doing the same on the political pulpit. You could say it has been a natural evolution. Everyone hates Fox, Bill O’Reilly and Trump. But the truth is that everyone wants to be like them. You can argue that there may be many reasons for the current state of affairs, but at least I personally saw the change right after Fox News was launched.
Fox News was Fox News. Media became Fox Media. Corporations became Fox Corporations. Political parties became Fox parties. Global discourse went the Fox way. The Social Media era only made this more potent and polarised.
Hate it or love it, Fox has become the most influential brand in the world.