Fox News is becoming a network at war with itself as Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly are in a personal feud, and Donald Trump’s victory is splitting the network into divided factions.
New York Magazine spoke to Fox News insiders and things aren’t looking good:
Inside Fox there is confusion about what role the network should play in this altered media ecosystem going forward. According to three insiders I spoke to, the channel’s hosts and producers are split over how to cover Trump. Historically, in moments like this, the strategy would be clear: Punish the person who publicly crosses Fox. But network boss Ailes has tried that, and Trump not only survived the PR assaults, including one last month, but he seems to have emerged stronger than ever. The situation is even more dire because Marco Rubio, a favorite of many high-profile voices at the network, fared badly in the New Hampshire primary, only a few days after political analysts were floating the possibility that he might even beat Trump. Tuesday night, Fox’s pundit class had to accept that his robotic performance during ABC’s debate may have destroyed his candidacy. Charles Krauthammer even compared it to Ed Muskie’s 1972 implosion.
In fact, Ailes’s bigger problem this week is not Trump. It’s figuring out how to broker peace between Fox’s biggest stars, Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly. According to sources, the prime-time hosts are at war, in part over Kelly’s Trump-fueled stardom.
It is no surprise that the network is supporting Rubio. On-air talent looked suicidal after the Florida senator imploded at the New Hampshire Republican debate. It is also not a shock that Kelly and O’Reilly are at war with each other. O’Reilly may be the ratings king right now, but the network is making Megyn Kelly their star of the future.
Donald Trump is helping to bring down Fox News. Ratings and profits will remain high because Fox News has cornered the market on conservative news consumers. They have no competition, so until demographics take their toll, Fox will continue to be on top.
The biggest threat to Fox News is internal. Donald Trump has broken the Republican propaganda machine. There is no unified message coming out Fox’s programming. Roger Ailes has always viewed the true mission of Fox News as getting Republicans elected. Fox has never really been about journalism. Fox News had Republicans convinced that they had to work with the network to survive. Trump has gone against Fox and prospered. The aura of power surrounding Fox News has been diminished.
Donald Trump may unintentionally end up making America great again by destroying Fox News.