- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2021

Back in the day, back in the 1996 day, when Republican Roger Ailes joined up with Republican Rupert Murdoch to start the Fox News Channel as a conservative alternative to the liberal news networks, CNN mocked the competition as, well, hardly competition.

It’s a bit how Fox, in turn, treated Newsmax TV. And now, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Fox News staffers thought Newsmax was a joke,” blared one CNN headline, from commentator Brian Stelter. “But they’re not laughing anymore.”

Stelter goes on to write that “it’s clear that Fox is feeling pressure from the right like never before. Fox hosts and producers are on edge about the ratings race, a number of staffers told CNN Business. The staffers also said that the competitive dynamic is having an impact on some of Fox’s programming choices.”

Yes. Thus the revamping of Fox digital, shuffling of certain lineups, and addition of more opinion. Fox may still be winning in much of the numbers’ game, but Newsmax has taken giant bites out of its viewership. Calling Arizona early didn’t help.



“Report: Fox News Political Editor Chris Stirewalt Laid Off Amid Restructuring,” Breitbart reported, about one of Fox’s primary analysts who called Arizona for Joe Biden, with barely a ballot counted.

Neither did this: arrogance.

“Earlier this year,” CNN’s Stelter wrote, “while working on a book about Fox News and Trump, I spoke with some of the same staffers, and when I brought up Newsmax and another wannabe rival, One America News, they usually scoffed or cracked a joke. The channels were dismissed like the fleas on an elephant’s back. But the Fox staffers are not joking anymore.”

Nope.

Newsmax TV launched in 2014 and in the week before the 2020 election, was still stutter-stepping to put in any kind of strong showing in the 24-hour cable mix. Then came the election. Then came the outcry from Trump-supporters about the election — and in particular, about the media coverage of the election.

Then came headlines like this, from CNN, in December: “Newsmax TV scores a ratings win over Fox News.”

And this, from The Washington Post: “Why these Fox News loyalists have changed the channel to Newsmax.”

And this, from Vanity Fair in January: “Fox News Is Facing Ratings Battles on Multiple Fronts,” a story that went on to report how viewers are abandoning Fox for Newsmax and other news outlets.

The Guardian in January even wondered, “The fall of Fox?”

That’s hyperbolic. But no doubt, now Fox is shuffling. 

Fox is finding itself in the uncomfortable spot of trying to compete with a company it just derided and dismissed only months earlier. It’s not that difficult to understand why.

“I thought it was a great speech,” said Fox‘s Chris Wallace, on the newly anointed Joe Biden’s inaugural address. “I thought this was the best inaugural address I ever heard.”

Click. Click. That’s the sound of Fox viewers clicking to Newsmax.

It’s a tough thing to remain humble in the face of great success — to remember one’s roots, to remember the reasons for the success in the first place. Ted Turner — Ted Turner of CNN who once accused Fox of being a propaganda arm of the George W. Bush administration — learned the hard way the folly of deriding competition.

If history repeats — and it very often does — Fox may be forced to eat from the same humble pie.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Socialists Don’t Sleep: Christians Must Rise Or America Will Fall,” is available by clicking HERE.

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