Is the love affair between the Fox News channel and the Trump administration cooling off? We’ve seen numerous indicators lately that both sides in this twisted partnership are feeling somewhat slighted, causing a strain on the relationship. Early March saw Bill Shine, former Fox News executive and protégé to former Fox CEO Roger Ailes, “resign” from his post as Trump White House Communications Director. Shine’s formal reason for leaving was that he was a “distraction” for Trump, but reports were rampant that Trump was unhappy Shine hadn’t done enough to improve Trump’s image in the media.
On the Fox News end of the partnership, a recent New Yorker article by Jane Meyer about the unnatural relationship between the White House and the cable channel led to the Democratic National Committee decision to exclude Fox News from televising any debates in the upcoming season. Whether this was a smart decision on the part of the Democrats is debatable, but it is certain to be a financial blow to Fox.
More recently two of Trump’s biggest Fox cheerleaders, Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro, have come under fire for past and present remarks they’ve made. Media Matters recently published an article which provided transcripts of Carlson calling in to a radio program where he made numerous racist, misogynist, and just plain gross and disgusting statements. Jeanine Pirro made waves with several anti-Muslim comments with regards to Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
This led to anti-Fox protests and caused several companies to pull their advertising from the offending shows. Fox News claimed to be “addressing” the matter, and this past weekend Pirro’s show was not broadcast. It’s currently unknown how long the show will be off the air, but “President” Trump was clearly upset by the show’s absence. At least three vitriolic tweets from Trump this weekend attacked “The Radical Left Democrats” and the “Fake News Media”, and encouraged Fox to “stay strong” and “fight” for Pirro and Tucker, and to stop “working soooo hard on being politically correct”.
Donald Trump is obviously frustrated by Fox’s reaction to the controversies. He expects his supporters, including Fox News, to stand by him no matter what and to do whatever is necessary to support his cause, regardless of the cost. As a business, Fox News has to be concerned with profits, a majority of which come from advertisers. While Fox will always remain a conservative-leaning media organization, it remains to be seen if they can continue to play their role as the channel of faithful Trump apologists without sustaining serious reputational and/or financial damage. It’s unlikely that the opposing goals of profits vs. unquestioning support will both be able to withstand the tests of time.
Adrienne Lilly lives in Upstate New York with her two children. She works as a manufacturing engineer.