The campaign by Democrat Party front group Media Matters for America to get Fox News removed from cable TV systems is gaining ground this month with a column by The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof and a Democrat-led House hearing this Wednesday targeting cable and satellite operators who carry Fox, Newsmax and OANN.
The current push is based on accusations by liberals that Fox, Newsmax and OANN broadcast disinformation about the COVID pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. However, Media Matters has a campaign that preceded the current controversies, launched in 2019, called “UnFoxMyCableBox” urging liberals to demand that they stop being charged for Fox News and Fox Business as part of bundled fees.
As America debates whether to hold former President Donald Trump accountable for inciting insurrection, what about his co-conspirator Fox News?
…We can’t impeach Fox or put Carlson or Sean Hannity on trial in the Senate, but there are steps we can take — imperfect, inadequate ones, resting on slippery slopes — to create accountability not only for Trump but also for fellow travelers at Fox, OANN, Newsmax and so on.
That can mean pressure on advertisers to avoid underwriting extremists (of any political bent), but the Fox News business model depends not so much on advertising as on cable subscription fees. So a second step is to call on cable companies to drop Fox News from basic cable TV packages.
…“Given all the damage that Fox News has caused and the threat that it remains, they absolutely should unbundle Fox News,” Carusone told me. “It’s not a news channel. It’s a propaganda operation mixed with political smut. If people want that, they should be forced to pay for it the way that they pay for Cinemax.”
“During 2020, Fox News’ caldron of lies and extremism boiled over,” Carusone said. “They made us sicker and put up obstacles to the pandemic response by flooding the airwaves with over 13,150 instances of COVID misinformation. They fomented racial animus and promoted white supremacy as a response to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. And, in the first two weeks after the election was called for Joe Biden, Fox News laid the groundwork for the attack on the Capitol by challenging the results on 774 individual instances with wild conspiracies and flat-out fabrications.”
House Democrats wrote a letter to cable and satellite providers in advance of this Wednesday’s hearing with this direct question:
“Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax on your platform both now and beyond the renewal date? If so, why?”
The New York Times reported on the letter Monday:
The committee members also sent the letter to Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu, digital companies that distribute cable programming.
…“To our knowledge, the cable, satellite and over-the-top companies that disseminate these media outlets to American viewers have done nothing in response to the misinformation aired by these outlets,” two Democratic representatives from California, Anna G. Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, wrote in the letter, which was reviewed by The New York Times.
…The lawmakers’ letter asks the companies, “What steps did you take prior to, on, and following the November 3, 2020 elections and the January 6, 2021 attacks to monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation, including encouragement or incitement of violence by channels your company disseminates to millions of Americans?”
“Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax on your platform both now and beyond the renewal date?” the letter continues. “If so, why?”
Excerpt from Media Matters’ UnFoxMyCableBox campaign:
…Fox News makes approximately $1.8 billion per year from hidden subscriber fees–twice as much as CNN and three times as much as MSNBC.1
The network’s extra-high fees, which make up most of its revenue, protect Fox News from the advertisers that are quickly abandoning it.2
Fox News was able to get such high fees in part by leveraging its loyal audience to put pressure on the providers during negotiations while the rest of the 90 million cable and satellite customers sit quietly. With 65% of Fox’s subscriber fee revenue up for grabs in the next 20 months, it’s time for that to change.
The advertising industry has already taken big steps to reject Fox News. It’s time that consumers were empowered to do the same.
Fox News uses your money to fund a right-wing political propaganda operation.
Fox News lies all the time. A recent study tracked Fox News for months and identified at least one demonstrable falsehood just on it’s so-called “news” shows every single day.1
Fox News promotes extremism, fuels conspiracy theories, and celebrates bigotry and racism.
Lachlan Murdoch, who oversees Fox News, doesn’t think he needs to change the network’s formula because the subscriber fees — paid for by people like you — continue to make the company tons of money…