UPDATE: “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs a Voter Suppression Bill, and Fox News Has the Only Camera” (MotherJones) (Axios) Hard-right politicians recognize Fox “News” for what it is – the propaganda wing of the GOP, just as Roger Ailes envisioned. DeSantis baldly using them as a force-multiplier for his message, while denying all other news media access, makes Fox a political actor rendering services. Contact the FEC. (Action #4 below)
Action #1: Stop their money machine.
Right now, FOX news is mainly subsidized by our cable fees. MyPillow, Ark Encounter, Relief Factor and in-house Fox News Channel promos provide the bulk of their remaining advertisers, along with some new advertisers like “Prager U,Theraworx Relief, Hero Health, the Indianapolis Colts, Kubota and Bass Pro Shops.” Fox News received roughly $20 per year apiece from most cable news subscribers, regardless of whether they actually watch the channel. That’s way more than its competitors CNN and MSNBC. “They could have zero commercials, and still have a 90% profit margin, because they are the second-most expensive channel on everybody’s cable box.” However, Fox is in the process right now of renegotiating 40 to 50% of all of their contracts. We all have options now. Traditional pay-TV operators lost over 6 million subscribers in 2019 and “cord-cutting” is increasing. Time for change.
Click here to #UnFoxMyCableBox and join the growing coalition of people who refuse to fund hateful rhetoric from Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and the rest of the Fox political machine.
Action #2: Write to your cable company’s CEO.
(Make this sound like your voice. Personalize this fight. Discuss how Fox News’ programming has affected your family and/or your social environment. Be the letter or story that sticks in their head.)
“Dear Mr./Ms. [_____],
My family and I are customers of your cable company, and we have enjoyed many hours of entertainment and education with your service. However, I’ve learned that, through my cable fees, that I’m helping to support [Fox News, Newsmax, OAN], which I believe to more a political propaganda arm of the Republican party than an actual cable news show.
If the free enterprise system, which Fox pundits constantly extoll, were actually working correctly, the network would be struggling or bankrupt now. Most of its respectable advertisers are long gone. But we consumers now know that Fox News keeps afloat in fine style with approximately $2 billion per year from hidden subscriber fees from our cable services. Roughly $1.6 billion of those fees are paid by cable and satellite customers like me, who seldom or never watch Fox News, making them a huge moocher of our money.
I’m no longer OK with cable corporations sitting by, pretending they have nothing to do with the destructive forces that Fox News routinely unleashes against me, my family, my coworkers and friends, beamed into people’s home through their televisions. You have responsibility here and it’s past time for you and your fellow cable companies to join together to bring a true market balance to funding for Fox News.
I appreciate that some of your customers enjoy Fox News programming, and if they want to pay for it, fine. This is America. But since its anti-science, anti-immigrant, anti-climate change and white supremacist rhetoric has become more strident, dangerous and divisive, I want to be sure that none of my hard-earned dollars are being paid to Fox, and that should be respected too.
If you choose to continue carrying any part of Fox, including its news or sports programming, please ask your customers to affirmatively opt IN for those services, so there is no mistake on what is being paid for.
Also, in consideration that a lawsuit was recently dismissed against Tucker Carlson, one of their news hosts, due to the argument that no one should believe what he says, it would be helpful to viewers if you placed clear disclaimers before his shows stating exactly that. Being told lies, exaggerations and fearmongering tales that can tear this country apart, or cause one person to hurt another, should be considered as triggering as flashing lights, sex scenes, violence or bad language.
Thank you for your consideration.
- Contact information here.
Update: Why is it important to engage with the executives of cable companies? Maine recently tried to pass a law forcing cable giants to sell channels individually, but found itself quickly sued by Comcast, which claimed the law violated the company’s free speech rights (Comcast’s winning that battle so far). The cable and broadcast industry has lobbied relentlessly to ensure this shift to individual channels never happens, claiming that moving to an a la carte model would kill niche channels and raise consumer prices (both things that repeatedly happened anyway).
Action #3: Write to the NFL.
This is an excellent video.
On March 18, the NAACP wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league not to allow Fox to use it as a bargaining tool during upcoming rights fees negotiations, and thus help fund Fox News, which the NAACP called “a uniquely destructive force” that “foments racism, undermines public health recovery from the pandemic, and repeatedly attacks the legitimacy of last year’s Presidential election.” The NFL, a league where nearly 70% of the players are Black “…should not be used as a bargaining tool for Rupert Murdoch to help fund Fox News’ hatred, bigotry, lies and racism,” which includes condemning those same players for peaceful demonstrations against systemic racism. NAACP letter is here.
You can write your own letter to the NFL or just say that you agree with the NAACP. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, @NFLCommish or send him a letter to: National Football League, 280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Action #4: Write to the FEC – The Federal Election Commission
Most actions ask people to write to the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission. Hundreds of viewers have asked the FCC to revoke licenses from various networks, including CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC — except that route is trickier than it seems. The FCC doesn’t issue licenses to networks. Moreover, the FCC’s authority to respond to these complaints is narrow in scope, as they’re prohibited by law from engaging in censorship or infringing on the First Amendment rights of the press. They can’t interfere with a broadcaster’s selection and presentation of news or commentary. The FCC can act only when it has received documented evidence, such as testimony from persons who have direct personal knowledge of an intentional falsification of the news. Without such documented evidence, the FCC generally cannot intervene. If you have such evidence, however, PLEASE contact them here.
Let’s try writing the Federal Election Commission instead – Here’s a sample comment. Edit, make it sound like you.
“I’m writing to ask the FEC to investigate if Fox News acted and continues to act as a political arm of Donald Trump’s presidency, providing his administration and reelection campaign with services of unreported value. (The Making of the Fox News White House. Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda? https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/03/11/the-making-of-the-fox-news-white-house)
Fox News might be relieved to finally be recognized for their true contributions to Trump’s administration, as pretending to be a real news organization, with all the fact-checking required of basic journalism, is just slowing them down.
As an example, last weekend, FOX News stated that Biden was planning to ration meat under his climate plan. This nonsense, echoed by Larry Kudlow, Nikki Haley, MTGreene, Boebert and Trump Jr., despite easily accessible evidence to the contrary, was based on the ludicrous claims of the Daily Mail, a foreign tabloid “noted for its unreliability and widely criticised for its printing of sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories of science and medical research.” No real news organization would make this kind of error.
On April 25, Tucker Carlson urged his audience to call police and child protective services if they spotted children wearing masks outside, morphing Fox’s normal COVID-denier stance into one encouraging possible hostile engagement with law enforcement forces. Will people be harmed? Maybe. After Trump’s light-&-disinfectant press conference, accidental poisonings rose over 120% over the same period the year before. No real news organization would knowingly cause potential harm to others.
In fact, it’s their pretense at providing news, putting political propaganda before facts, that makes them a magnet for lawsuits. Here are the more recent examples.
- They were successfully sued for creating a groundless conspiracy theory entangling the tragic murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, with the leakage of Democratic party emails before the 2016 election.
- Voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion are currently pressing multibilllion dollar lawsuits for Fox’s relentless “disinformation campaign” that they helped steal the election.
- Despite access to experts and Google, FOX blamed the causes of the Texas power outage on windmills and green energy.
- Tucker Carson dodged a slander lawsuit with the excuse that no one should believe what he says. Not great qualifications for a news host, but of no issue for a master propagandist, who has taken up the mantle of White Supremacy dogwhistles for our currently muffled ex-president.
- UPDATE 5/6/21: “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs a Voter Suppression Bill, and Fox News Has the Only Camera” (MotherJones) (Axios) Fox News may say they are just a news channel, but hard-right politicians recognize them as what they are – the propaganda wing of the GOP, just as Roger Ailes envisioned.
Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch has already stated outright that his network would act as “the loyal opposition” to the Biden Administration. Take his at his word. There were at least 21 people who worked both for him and in Trump’s administration, including, most egregiously,
- Stop the fees: Cable providers could stop paying Fox News to air its content and the vast majority of their subscribers would no longer be forced to support them. “If Fox News were rightly considered a political operation, the fees they collect would be considered political contributions, contributions you’d make if you have even a basic cable package. It’s okay for a media organizations to have opinion programs, but by its own CEO’s words, Fox News is no longer interested in being a media outlet, but the loyal political opposition to the current administration.”
- Disclaimers required: Since the entire “news” network is the “loyal opposition,” these journalists and their programs need to follow political advertisement disclaimer rules. Fox News would have to provide a “clear and conspicuous” disclaimer on all of their programming stating that what is being broadcast is for political purposes and that it is paid for by the Fox News political entity.
- Donor transparency: As a political entity, Fox News would need to rely on donors to pay for its programming instead of paid TV subscribers via carriage fees. Furthermore, they should no longer be allowed to charge companies for advertisements. Fox News then must follow the appropriate reporting rules and regulations from the Federal Elections Commission with respect to who their donors are, so the American people will know who is paying to support the political activism of their network.
Thank you for your consideration of this issue.
Background – Fox News Channel was NEVER a regular cable “news” channel.
“Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Roger Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the “prejudices of network news” and deliver “pro-administration” stories to heartland television viewers,” according to his memo “A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News.” In 2010, Eric Alterman stated “Fox is something new—something for which we do not yet have a word. It provides almost no actual journalism. Instead it gives ideological guidance to the Republican Party and millions of its supporters, attacking its opponents and keeping its supporters in line. And it does so at a hefty profit, thereby turning itself into the political equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.” In reality, Fox isn’t news at all. It’s a political propaganda machine trying to pass itself off as a credible network.
In 2017, Fox News relieved themselves of their embarrassing “Fair and Balanced” motto, and this year, Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch stated outright that the conservative network would act as “the loyal opposition” to the Biden Administration. However, Fox has been acting like political operative warehouse for a long time. Now we’re just waiting for them to remove the word “news“ from their title. Highlights:
- Mixing business and politics: Fox paid at least at four likely Republican candidates for president in 2012: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum, limiting their availability to other news organizations without first getting Fox’s permission.
- Mixing business and politics: NYTimes’ Jim Rutenberg noted that Fox News Channel analyst Carl Rove was “also playing a leading role in building what amounts to a shadow Republican Party, a network of donors and operatives that is among the most aggressive in the Republican effort to capture control of the House and the Senate.”
- Mixing business and politics: Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, other Fox hosts and paid contributors attended Republican fundraisers and stumped for GOP candidates. Real news organizations typically prohibit their employees from associating themselves with political causes, candidates or organizations in any public way. Fox still allows non-paid and “non-employee” appearances.
- Slanting news: Fox DC Managing editor Bill Sammon instructed producers to not use the phrase “public option” when discussing President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill, instead using negative terms like “government option” or “government-run health insurance” and to use the qualifier “so-called” before any mention of the public option. He also ordered network’s reporters to couple any mention of global climate change with skepticism about the data.
- Doctoring visuals: Fox has repeatedly aired digitally altered photos, incorrectly attributed photos and and manipulated videos. Dept. of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign when Fox repeatedly Fox ran Andrew Breitbart’s deliberately doctored video of her meeting with the NAACP.
- Snuffing negative stories: FoxNews.com reporter Diana Falzone obtained proof of the Trump/Daniels relationship. The story didn’t run, she was demoted, and ultimately sued them.
- Mixing business and politics: List of former Fox contributers hired by the Trump administration, including Bill Shine, former co-president of Fox News, as director of communications and deputy chief of staff at the White House.
- Mixing business and politics: Fox acted as a “force multiplier” for Trump, solidifying his hold over the Republican Party and intensifying his support. “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature,” she says. “It’s a radicalization model.”
Walter Cronkite, back in the beginning, understood exactly what Fox was. “It was quite clear when they founded the Fox network that they intended to be a conservative organization. Beyond conservative, a far right-wing organization.”
Their behavior was so egregious during the Obama administration that Anita Dunn, then Obama’s White House director of communications, stated that Fox News was not a legitimate news organization. “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” Ms. Dunn told the New York Times in 2009. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.” Then came Trump and in the last two years, “many people who watch the network closely, including some Fox alumni, say that it has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States.” Former Fox News Analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters called his former employer a “Destructive Propaganda Machine.” Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of Presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the author of “Messengers of the Right,” a history of the conservative media’s impact on American politics, says of Fox, “It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV.”
- (VOX) How Fox News evolved into a propaganda operation. A media scholar on the dangerous evolution of Fox News.
- (New Yorker) The Making of the Fox News White House. Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?
- (Gawker) Roger Ailes’ Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News
- (document cloud) “A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News”
- (NAACP) DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE NAACP DEMANDS FORMAL MEETING WITH NFL TO DISCUSS UNSCRUPULOUS PARTNERSHIP WITH FOX
- (hrealsports.substack.com) Defund Fox News. Like sports channels, the conservative propaganda network makes most of its money from people who aren’t viewers. What if it didn’t?
- (occupydemocrats.com) Republican calls for Fox News to be classified as a political organization instead of a news network
- (hearyourselfthink.org) The Truth about Fox “News” Fox wants people to believe that it’s a “Fair and Balanced” source of news and information but the facts don’t back that up.
- (npr) Fox News Again Urges N.Y. Court To Dismiss Smartmatic’s $2.7 Billon Lawsuit
- (wikipedia) Fox News controversies
- (gawker) Roger Ailes’ Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News
- (American Progress) Just What Exactly Is Fox News?
- (cjr.org) What is Fox News? Researchers want to know.
- (Pewreseartch) Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, but Are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver. Deep political divides in many nations on satisfaction with news media; greatest is in the U.S.
- (sportsmediawatch) FOX Extends MLB Deal Through 2028
- (Techdirt) Thanks To Crappy Cable Channel Bundles, Non-Watchers Hugely Subsidize Tucker Carlson And Fox News
- (businessinsider) Hope Hicks is returning to the White House — here are 21 people who have gone through the revolving door between Fox and the Trump administration
- (businessinsider) It’s time that Fox News is considered a political organization, not a news network
- (Nation) Fox News Has Always Been Propaganda. The cable news channel has poisoned political discourse from the moment it went on the air.
- (RichlandLibrary.com)The Fox Effect – How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine