Even as Fox News became the leader in average ratings, CNN was still able to charge considerably more for advertising. That’s primarily because advertisers and their agencies still saw CNN as a more legitimate news network, and tended to scoff at Fox News’s claims of being fair and balanced. I should also note that I was told directly by more than one Fox News sales rep at the time that Rupert Murdoch didn’t care if they couldn’t charge as much as CNN for advertising. He saw it as his calling to fight liberal media bias and to get his conservative message out to the world.
Twenty years after Fox News burst on the scene to compete with CNN (which Fox has long referred to as the “Clinton News Network”), we have the 2016 presidential election, when the former head of the even more conservative Breitbart News Web site is helping to run Donald Trump’s presidential campaign against another Clinton.
The third presidential debate is tonight, and I can’t imagine what will happen on stage. I’m sure the second debate was lower-rated than the first because a lot of parents didn’t want to watch it with kids in the room.
Trump, having been accused by several women of sexual assault, is slipping in the polls. Virtually every political pundit -- on both sides of the aisle -- says that Trump's only path to victory is to attract more women and minorities. Less than a month from Election Day, however, he seems only interested in revving up his base by bashing the Clintons, talking about perceived global conspiracies, and claiming the election is rigged. In other words, he knows he is probably going to lose, and is setting up the notion among his base that the election was stolen.
So what is Trump’s next move? I find it hard to believe that, after his rhetoric of the past month, he will simply congratulate Hillary Clinton on a hard-fought victory and move back to being a businessman. More likely he will hold one of his rallies, rail against the system and the “rigged” election, and announce the soon-to-be-formed Trump TV, headed by the man himself, Steve Bannon (of Breitbart News), and Roger Ailes (who himself left Fox News under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations), which he’ll claim will continue to give his supporters a voice and fight the corrupt Clinton machine.
Trump TV will be considerably more to the right of even Fox News. It will be, initially at least, the first alt-right television news network. What is alt-right? Well, according to Wikipedia, “The alt-right is a segment of right-wing ideologies that reject mainstream conservatism. Generally, alt-right postings (online) support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and oppose immigration, multiculturalism, and political correctness. The alt-right has no formal ideology, although various sources and alt-right figures have stated that white nationalism is fundamental.”
How will advertisers react to a Trump network ? Most will probably not want to have anything to do with it initially. But if the network starts to build an audience and hires some credible news anchors away from other channels, it could draw enough advertisers to survive.
A more interesting question is, how many cable/satellite systems will agree to carry it? Or will it simply become an online news service? Let’s keep in mind that even Fox News’s highest-rated prime-time show, “The Kelly File,” only gets a 0.4 rating among adults 25-54. So the ratings bar for a successful cable news network isn’t that high.