This has not been a great year for Fox News. There was the settlement reached with Dominion in April for $787 million dollars, which is quite a chunk of change. Now their FCC license is coming up for renewal, an event which happens once every eight years. Fox owns 29 individual lucrative TV station franchises, including in 14 of the 15 largest markets. That’s quite an empire. So is Rupert Murdoch going to hang onto it or is it going to go the way of Rome? American Prospect:
Fox’s license for its Philadelphia franchise, WTXF, is currently up for renewal, and is the subject of a campaign by several public-interest groups that has broad and growing support. The FCC’s criteria for renewal include “character,” defined in great detail, a test that Fox flagrantly flunks, especially given its admissions in the Dominion case. On August 23, the Commission agreed to take public comment on this question.
On the eve of that decision, the coalition of groups seeking to deny Fox’s license, led by the Media and Democracy Project, gained a powerful ally in the person of Jamie Kellner, who was the founding president of Fox News. Kellner’s letter to the FCC, requesting a hearing on the issue of Fox’s character, read in part:
Unlike the news feeds provided today by Fox News Channel, our news feeds did not prominently feature advocates like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell spouting nonsensical lies about a Presidential election … If the character requirement for broadcast licensees is to have any meaning, the FCC must designate the application for a hearing to evaluate the Murdochs’/Fox’s character qualifications to operate WTFX [sic] on the public airwaves.
Wow. This is coming from within. The vandals are not only at the gates, but people in the palace are coming out of dark corners to stab the Murdochs in the back. This is getting more like the Roman Empire by the minute.
Others who have filed objections include Alfred Sikes, a former Republican FCC chairman, former Democratic FCC Commissioner Ervin Duggan, and ex–Fox News Channel commentator Bill Kristol. Preston Padden, a former Fox exec and Murdoch confidant, has written: “Mr. Murdoch knew that Trump had lost the election. Nonetheless, Fox continued to promote news stories and guests who claimed, without any basis, that the election was rigged.” Padden supports the anti-Fox campaign.
FOX knew—from the Murdochs on down—that Fox News was reporting false and dangerous misinformation about the 2020 Presidential election, but FOX was more concerned about short-term ratings and market share than the long-term damage caused by its spreading disinformation.FOX’s lies concerning the outcome of the 2020 election caused a great injury to the American people and the institutions of our democracy. FOX’s willingness to lie demonstrates a fatal character flaw.
There is going to be a conga line of reviews, not just one or two. This first challenge will be followed by 28 more, as the Fox licenses come up for renewal one by one. Here’s the bottom line:
If Fox does get its license, we might as well scrap the FCC as meaningless. As the Media and Democracy petition puts it:
This is not a First Amendment case. Rather the issue here concerns a corporation that, with the full knowledge and approval of its management, lied to millions of Americans. The question before the Commission is not whether FOX had a right to lie, rather it is about the consequences of those lies and the impact on FOX’s qualifications to remain an FCC licensee.
Fox News aided and abetted the January 6 insurrection. I don’t think that’s an inflammatory remark, I think that’s pretty well acknowledged. So what is the FCC going to do about it? And then if Fox News goes down in flames, what about the other propaganda outlets, OAN (which, let’s face it, is practically dead but losing its license would make that death official) and RSBN, Newsmax, et al.?
This is something to keep an eye on. This is going to be big news in the very near future. Maybe Fox News will learn the truth of the adage, Everything Trump Touches Dies.