Trump turns on Fox News

Fox News Channel and radio talk show host Sean Hannity interviews President Donald Trump before a campaign rally in September. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS

Fox News faces an array of challenges after President Donald Trump leaves office: a potential ratings decline, Trump’s tweets attacking the network, and the threat that he could start a rival media outlet.

Yet Fox News has faced many obstacles during its 18 years as the No. 1 cable news network, and has managed to maintain its lead. It has weathered a sexual-harassment scandal, the death of founder Roger Ailes, the departure of stars Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly, and the arrival of right-leaning rivals, Newsmax and One America News Network.

Few observers expect Trump’s barrage of attacks to knock Fox News off its throne anytime soon.

“They have the distribution, talent and resources to be successful no matter who is president,” said Christopher Balfe, chief executive officer of Red Seat Ventures, which helps build businesses for media personalities like former HLN star Nancy Grace.

Still, Fox News’s resilience could be put to the test like never before. Axios reported Thursday, citing unidentified sources, that Trump is planning a subscription-based streaming platform similar to Fox Nation, a $6-a-month service launched two years ago.

Meanwhile, Trump is stepping up his attacks against the network after an election loss that he has steadfastly rejected. Fox News, like nearly all major media, has declared Joe Biden the presidential winner.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted that Fox’s daytime ratings have “completely collapsed” because the network “forgot what made them successful, what got them there.” Fox News was the biggest difference between the 2016 and 2020 elections because the network forgot its “Golden Goose,” he said.

Trump also amplified a series of Twitter posts from users criticizing Fox News as insufficiently loyal to the president and urging conservatives to switch to competitors such as Newsmax.

Shares of Fox News’s parent company declined more than 6% Thursday amid the attacks and speculation that Trump might back or launch a rival news service.

Newsmax, which was founded by Trump ally Christopher Ruddy, has seen an uptick in viewers in recent days. It still hasn’t declared Biden the president-elect and has used that decision to curry favor with Trump supporters who are skeptical of the results and angry that Fox News made an early call for the Democrat in the key state of Arizona.

On Thursday, Ruddy tweeted that Trump called him and “congratulated Newsmax on our ratings explosion.” Trump is “watching Newsmax,” he said, “and also wants every vote counted!”

Trump’s relationship with America’s most-watched news channel has waxed and waned over the years. He was a frequent Fox News guest long before he decided to run for president, and the network’s evening commentators have been ardent supporters of him throughout his time in office. With the ties fraying, Fox would be wise to patch things up quickly, said Jon Klein, a former president of CNN’s U.S. operations and current co-chairman of the streaming company Tapp Media.

“Many Fox News viewers adore President Trump,” Klein said. “If Trump undertook a concerted ongoing anti-Fox News campaign, that would have a real impact on Fox’s numbers because those Trump loyalists will do as they’re told.”

Still, the real estate mogul behind a book called “The Art of the Deal” could be using his attacks against Fox as a bargaining tool, Klein said.

“Everything for him is about the negotiation,” Klein said. “Once the dust settles, I’m sure he will make the best deal he can, whether it’s starting his own company or getting paid a lot of money to appear on someone else’s air.”

Trump has continued to praise Fox News’s prime-time hosts, which he sees as more sympathetic to his cause. On Thursday night, he recommended a segment by commentator Sean Hannity about voting machines.

Fox management remains upbeat that it can weather the latest turmoil. On an earnings call last week, CEO Lachlan Murdoch pointed out that the network has led the cable news industry through a number of administrations.

“We love competition,” Murdoch said. “We have always thrived with competition, and we have strong competition now.”

In response to Trump’s tweets on Thursday, Fox News said its daytime audience is up 62% — averaging 2.7 million viewers for the seven days through Wednesday — from the same period last year, citing Nielsen data. The network also was the most-watched on election night, with an audience of 14.1 million.

If Trump wants to start his own media company, he could follow the path of former Fox News star Glenn Beck, relying on his large base of grassroots supporters to pay him monthly subscriptions.

But while Beck was able to attract tens of thousands of subscribers to TheBlaze, former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin shut down her online TV channel only a year after its launch.

Trump could create a meaningful media business with his own streaming service — which would be less of a major threat to Fox.

“I think a lot of people would sign up for a $5 or $6 a month subscription service to watch his show and support him,” Balfe said. “I don’t think it’s a Fox News channel competitor, but it could be a very successful streaming channel.”

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

WPBloom

Recommended for you

(23) comments

snow bird

No one with an IQ above 60 believes that the election was rigged. Trump lost and the sooner everyone can accept it, we can move forward and put some respect and dignity back in America.

Pitbull

You're joking right?

Eagle24

POTUS has the right to contest the election..no different than the "hanging chad" Florida election... It fails when he has to provide evidence to a judge it's widespread and would change the results... He wants his followers to believe it 1 occurred only in states he lost....and 2 it only applied to the top of the ticket... and what's bizarre Trumper's believe and actually try to defend him... If POTUS claims tomorrow the world is flat, they'll argue it's flat... THAT may support your IQ comment.. Regardless, the states will certify the results, and as you noted life will go on..

Pitbull

Democrat. It play out.

Eagle24

PB and RB... 2016 Trump... I didn't like it(his McCain loser comment).. but had to live with the results.... then actually agreed with his border position...renegotiation of treaties.. reduction of burdensome regulations... his mistake was thinking the country felt the same way as the attendees at his rallies... that voters accepted his wing nut crazy uncle antics(Covid!!) feeding the news cycle... That caused enough voters, even some GOPer's to swing votes, or not vote the top of the ballot... sad

Rambo

Can’t say I agree with your statement. But in our country everyone has freedom of speech. But I don’t have to accept it.

Eagle24

Of course...with some restrictions ..but basically true...

Pitbull

Only a fool of low IQ accuses a person of different opinion of low IQ. You are a perfect democrat.

hermit thrush

🍿🍿🍿

Holmes

“ It (Newsmax) still hasn’t declared Biden the president-elect” as much as they like to think, the media doesn’t ‘declare’ a President-Elect...

Eagle24

Right, so you only accept media results when it's 2016 and for Trump... You can't make this stuff up...

Eagle24

How does anyone believe that a national election was rigged in multiple states involving hundreds of pollsters from both parties counting....and it only involved the top of the ballot...not senators...not reps.. not governors...not local elections.... AND no credible evidence has surfaced... THAT's why Fox called the election... Want recounts..go for it..file challenges...go for it... Nothing's official until the states certify same... and after that if you still believe POTUS was robbed, go whine to your unicorn... or tooth fairy...

Holmes

How was your trip to Fantasyland?

Eagle24

Fantasyland is "we've turned the corner"... go water and feed your unicorn...

hermit thrush

lots of people prefer comfortable lies and nonsense to uncomfortable truth.

Pitbull

First of all, pollsters aren't counting. Seco d of all, in some states, people of both parties are not counting. PA is one.

Holmes

Fox News turned on Trump and their numbers are going south rapidly.

Pitbull

I've barely watched them since they hired Donna Brazille, the cheating debate moderator.

hermit thrush

trump cheated and you don't care.

Eagle24

Try Nickelodeon....

Pitbull

I love Nicklodean but if they hire Juan Williams, I'm out. My favorite is Blues Clues.

Pitbull

Tucker is where the truth comes out. Lets see if Hermit, Eagle, and KR tune in. 8:00 PM M-F.

Eagle24

I'll watch Tucker if you watch Chris Cuomo/Prime Time... Actually listen to NPR for most of the news... most of their money comes from public funding... ergo much more chance of unbiased reporting ... not that means much to most people... Be clear... don't complain 4 years from now.... if you, POTUS or the GOP thinks we're not going to go through this again... you're kidding yourselves.. time will tell which side is whining then...

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.