Our current president is perhaps the most media-savvy executive since Ronald Reagan. However, even this expertise could not protect him from the inevitable scrutiny of the “First 100 Days.”
Any executive who does not achieve every aspect of his platform within this period will face a bloodletting – both from hardcore supporters looking for instant change and political opponents seeking every opportunity to undermine ongoing initiatives. “The honeymoon is over,” as they say.
Media plays an increasing role in the ability of the president to affect large swaths of the population after the first 100 days. We live in an era with more separation between government and civilian life than ever; however, important conversations such as net neutrality and sanctuary cities require synergy between the entire body politic in order to get right.
As the one mainstream media network that actually gives President Donald Trump a fair shake, Fox News is basically holding the banner for balance in the modern Republican narrative.
The recent shakeups at the network have done little to engender confidence in the ability of Fox News to focus on important political discourse. Executives are still trying to clean up the mess created from Bill O’Reilly’s departure.
The great news is that Tucker Carlson’s initial ratings have kept pace with The Factor so far. Some critics believe Carlson to be somewhat of a wet blanket compared to O’Reilly, but the insightful assessment of Fox executives at O’Reilly’s departure seemed to hold true: Viewers of Fox are truly attached to the network itself rather than to any individual personality, no matter how dominant it may have been.
Carlson was able to quite handily beat both Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Jake Tapper on CNN. The question is if he will be able to retain the same sharp and incisive voice that O’Reilly produced.
There is also the small matter of Megyn Kelly.
Kelly, one of the first to jump ship after the initial round of sexual harassment charges were levied on top Fox brass, received a huge contract from NBC that gave her not only her own show (to premiere in June), but also creative control over many of the other political initiatives on MSNBC.
Kelly’s shows have not performed as well as Carlson’s in any time slot. Combine this with the fact that MSNBC draws a smaller total audience, and one would be hard pressed to consider Kelly a threat to the new setup at Fox.
However, the real question is whether or not to consider Kelly an ally.
Fox isn’t the only politically-oriented network that went through a shakeup recently. MSNBC, in perhaps its smartest move in years, took a noticeable shift to the right with the hiring of Greta Van Susteren and the departure/demotion of many left wing pundits, including the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The network began running ads seeming to seek compromise with Trump, boasting slogans like, “Let’s work this out together.” Susteren seems to be having an effect on the politics of the brass there, as she was finally allowed to report on the violence befalling Christians in the Middle East from Muslim terrorists. This is something that pre-Trump MSNBC would have never touched.
Another point to consider: The people who Kelly really had a beef with at Fox are all gone, suggesting there is room for compromise between the two networks. It is also likely that Kelly knows that she cannot compete head to head with Fox in general or Carlson in particular, as MSNBC draws about a tenth of the audience that Fox regularly services.
If Kelly is as smart as her contract, she may find her job more accommodating to piggyback off of Fox until she finds her angle. Although the perspective may vary slightly to justify having a separate program, look for ideological deference from Kelly’s camp, at least initially.
The bottom line: We’ve got them surrounded. Keeping Kelly in line will mean that Trump has a chance at fair coverage from both sides of the mainstream aisle.
The rank and file should remain vigilant and punish any program that tries to sell ideological snark instead of hard news with a ratings implosion. Fox seems to be recovering well, and MSNBC wants to get in line. Let’s all help this narrative along for the good of the Trump administration and for the country.
~ Liberty Planet