Bright and early we learned that Don Bongino, the expert on cancel culture, was canceled by the powers that be at Fox News. Now, as the sun moves across the sky, we are hearing rumors of Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro following Bongino into the unemployment line. Are these rumors, only? Or, is Fox actually cleaning the hen house, albeit it a day late and a dollar short?
Bongino admitted “the timing’s not great” for the news, according to Mediaite, referring to the optics surrounding Fox News after settling Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against them for $787.5 million.
Maybe Fox News is testing the waters. Or, maybe the right-wing echo chamber just needs to play victim today because now dire predictions of Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro being axed are making the rounds.
I’m struggling to find the down side here. pic.twitter.com/7afgBpRscN
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) April 20, 2023
I sincerely doubt that Bartiromo or Pirro leaving the network would bother anybody too much.
So far this is all in the rumor mill, albeit with the exception of one highly credible source, which I will get to momentarily. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, takes place. The right-wing blogosphere has jumped the gun a bit, be warned. THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED YET, ITS JUST RIGHT-WING RUMOR, SHARED WITH YOU AS SUCH.
Dan Bongino Jeanine Pirro & Maria Bartiromo have all been FIRED by Fox “News.” This was an afterrmath of the Dominion Voting Systems settlement. Fox needs to to get rid of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Laura Ingraham. But Rupert Murdoch wont do that! pic.twitter.com/AgPcpAc3t5
— Dan "I Stand With Ukraine" P (@ddanpereira) April 20, 2023
& Dan Bongino
Have all been OUSTED by Fox News today. pic.twitter.com/948mOILioY
— PoliticsVerse 🇺🇸 (@PoliticsVerse) April 20, 2023
Now this is intriguing. Dylan Byers at Puck is predicting that this will happen. Byers is a credible source.
So I anticipate one of two things will happen here, or has perhaps already happened: The first possibility is that Fox News C.E.O. Suzanne Scott sits down with Bartiromo and Pirro and anyone else who came up to the line of libel and says, be careful. Alternatively, Rupert and Suzanne have already decided to elegantly and eventually show Bartiromo and/or Pirro the door. Remember, when Rupert was asked during deposition if he believed Fox had endorsed the voter fraud claims, he said, “Not Fox, no. Not Fox. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria as commentators… Some of our commentators were endorsing it.” If I’m Maria, that feels like the kiss of death. The last thing on earth that Murdoch wants is to leave himself vulnerable to another $787-million headache.
Speaking of which, Eriq, what do you think happens next, particularly with Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion lawsuit?
Eriq: First of all, if the Smartmatic case doesn’t settle—and settle soon—I’ll be surprised. Fox News will again be facing a jury pool in a liberal state (New York) that, like Delaware, doesn’t cap punitive damages. Also, this next trial would be taking place in the media capital of the world. For reporters, that means there’s no need to get on an Amtrak and book a hotel for six weeks to cover it. What’s more, thanks to the Trump indictment, New York lawmakers are now considering passing legislation that would allow TV cameras in the courtroom. So, the world might see Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Rupert Murdoch, etcetera, getting on the witness stand. It’ll be an even greater spectacle! Fox could get more favorable pretrial treatment from a judge, but I think the Dominion deal sets a framework for Smartmatic and Fox to resolve their differences too.
As for the long term, I think Fox has got a problem on its hands. I agree with you, Dylan, that their editorial strategy is unlikely to change, at least immediately. Some of this will be chalked up to the cost of doing right-wing business. On the other hand, as the public record about the inner thinking at the network expands, it becomes easier and easier to show actual malice—and more enticing for opponents to take a shot. I sense a vulnerability here that I didn’t a few years ago, and I wonder whether Trump has cursed them. Some reflection is necessary. I’m not sure that an extra week of libel training or even some blood sacrifices of a few B-list hosts is going to be enough. But, of course, all bets are off until we know more about who controls this company after Rupert.
It’s not over until it’s over. Dominion and Smartmatic have a lot of other people in their crosshairs. There may well be a blood letting and it is possible that Fox may seek to change its editorializing, but then that puts them back to square one, competition against OAN and Newsmax. If they tone it down, conventional wisdom says the hard core MAGAs will all jump ship.
That may not be the case, however, because Newsmax, OAN, Right Side Broadcasting and whomever else, needs to stay out of slander suits as well. We are only a few days into the post-Dominion settlement world. These things are difficult to calibrate.