The New York Times used precious front-page space on Monday to gripe about…the success of a rival news outlet. Yes, it's the paper’s latest attack on its successful right-leaning media rival Fox News, from media reporter Michael Grynbaum, “Boycott or Not, Fox News Bolts Past Networks.”
Grynbaum opened with a dutiful rundown of Fox News controversies.
In one sense, this has been a difficult period for Fox News: a star anchor fired after being accused of sexual harassment, a lawsuit depicting a misogynist workplace, a top writer exposed as a racist internet troll, advertiser boycotts and outrage after Tucker Carlson called protesters “criminal mobs” and questioned the patriotism of a senator who lost her legs in Iraq.
In another sense, business has never been better.
In June and July, Fox News was the highest-rated television channel in the prime-time hours of 8 to 11 p.m. Not just on cable. Not just among news networks. All of television. The average live Fox News viewership in those hours outstripped cable rivals like CNN, MSNBC and ESPN, as well as the broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC, according to Nielsen.
He overstated the dangers of hydroxychloroquine while faulting Fox News personalities for celebrating it as a wonder drug:
Complaints that Fox News prime-time hosts downplayed the coronavirus -- and, in the case of Laura Ingraham, encouraged the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug shown to be useless, and even dangerous, for Covid-19 patients -- made little difference.
Grynbaum hinted Fox viewers tuned out of two prominent funerals out of racial animus:
Two days stood out when Fox News ratings fell significantly: the funerals of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died after a police officer pinned him to the ground during a routine stop, and Representative John Lewis, the towering civil rights figure.
MSNBC, whose liberal prime time is an ideological inverse to Fox News, has increased its audience from a year ago. But Rachel Maddow, once neck and neck with Mr. Hannity at 9 p.m., has fallen behind all three of Fox News’s prime-time stars in total viewers. Ms. Ingraham, who appears in the less desirable 10 p.m. slot, has drawn more viewers than Ms. Maddow for many months.
Grynbaum did praise Fox News -- when it took on Trump:
Fox News won praise this summer thanks to several news-making interviews with President Trump, including Chris Wallace’s grilling on “Fox News Sunday” and an interview with Harris Faulkner in which Mr. Trump struggled to address racial grievances....
But the network’s critics say the language of its prime-time hosts can be reckless. Mr. Carlson has faced a particular backlash since Mr. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in late May sparked nationwide demonstrations for civil rights.
Check out some of the opinions Grynbaum and the Times find so clearly offensive:
Major advertisers, including the Walt Disney Company, T-Mobile and Poshmark, boycotted his program as Mr. Carlson denounced the protesters as violent anarchists. Later, the host called Senator Tammy Duckworth, a wounded veteran, a “moron” and questioned her patriotism….
The paper fought for Duckworth against Carlson’s “nativist smears” in July, after she suggested a national dialogue about removing statues of founding F=fathers like George Washington.
Fox News vigorously defends itself from critics who say its news coverage is biased or its commentators are extreme….
While the Times constantly places Fox News on the defensive, its “ideological inverse” MSNBC features the bigoted Al Sharpton as a host, yet never has to answer questions about bias or extremism. Former leftist conspiracy-mongering host Keith Olbermann was reliably praised by the paper. And the Times celebrated any hint that MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was gaining in ratings against Fox News (though not much anymore).