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NY Mag’s ‘Chasing Fox’: The Takeaway for FNC

Reading the New York magazine cover story on the cable news channels, one can’t help but notice that it appears as though Fox News Channel is above it all. In a sense, it is. As the top network, FNC always has a target on its back, at the same time, it does not have the need to constantly change or adapt like its competition.

As such, the top-rated channel is barely mentioned in the story, but there are some interesting tidbits of information, like intra-network squabbling centered around Glenn Beck:

Fox, meanwhile, seems on the verge of winning an election with the help of a movement—the tea party—it did much to create. But it, too, is increasingly riven by schisms that mirror those in the Republican Party itself. Bill O’Reilly has gone RINO, palling around with Jon Stewart. Beck, a one-man tea party, is going rogue, and the Establishment is pissed and worried. “People are uncomfortable with Beck,” one person working at Fox News says. “He gets 2 million at five o’clock? He would be dying at HLN. He’s not a popular guy within Fox. Hannity’s not really happy with Beck. Beck is a hired gun who’s benefiting from Fox News.”

In the article, Sherman also writes about what he perceives to be FNC’s recipe for success:

And Fox’s secret is that viewers stay. That’s because Fox’s rightward flanking maneuver, capturing a disenfranchised part of the audience, was only part of its strategy. The news, especially political news, wasn’t something that happened. It was something that you shaped out of the raw data, brought out of the clay of zhlubby, boring politics, reborn with heroes and villains, triumphs and reverses, never-ending story lines—what TV executives call “flow.” And the beauty of it was that the viewers—the voters—were the protagonists, victims of evil Kenyan socialist overlords, or rebels, coming to take the government back. There was none of the on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand relativity crossfire that mirrors the journalism-school ideal of objectivity. All the fire went one way. The viewers, on their couches, were flattered as the most important participants, the foot soldiers in Fox’s army; some of them even voted.

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