The end is near for the current era of Fox News. The network could be facing what is being reported as a bloodbath and outside competition from Donald Trump if the Republican nominee loses the election in November.
The always excellent Gabriel Sherman reported in New York Magazine:
Many people I spoke with believe that the current management arrangement is just a stopgap until the election. “As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox,” predicts one host. “After the election, the prime-time lineup could be eviscerated. O’Reilly’s been talking about retirement. Megyn could go to another network. And Hannity will go to Trump TV.”
The prospect of Trump TV is a source of real anxiety for some inside Fox. The candidate took the wedge issues that Ailes used to build a loyal audience at Fox News — especially race and class — and used them to stoke barely containable outrage among a downtrodden faction of conservatives. Where that outrage is channeled after the election — assuming, as polls now suggest, Trump doesn’t make it to the White House — is a big question for the Republican Party and for Fox News. Trump had a complicated relationship with Fox even when his good friend Ailes was in charge; without Ailes, it’s plausible that he will try to monetize the movement he has galvanized in competition with the network rather than in concert with it.
The worst case scenario for Fox News would involve Megyn Kelly leaving. Kelly has been positioned to be the face of the network for years. If she bolted to CNN, or even one of the broadcast networks, she would leave a hole in the Fox News lineup that couldn’t be easily filled.
If Kelly stays and O’Reilly goes, she will move to 8 PM. If O’Reilly and Hannity both go and Kelly stays, which seems like the most likely outcome, Fox News has a variety of options that they can use to rebuild the rest of their primetime lineup.
What is unavoidable is that the future direction of Fox News is tied to the fate of the Donald Trump campaign. If Trump loses and decides to launch his own cable network to compete with FNC, the current cable news ratings leader will be faced with their nightmare scenario of talent overturn and outside competition at the same time.
The house that Roger Ailes built is crumbling, and if Trump goes down to defeat in November, it could set the wheels in motion for a very different and more uncertain future for Fox News.