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Fox News considered a breakup with Trump. 2021 changed those ...

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   Negativity   57.49%
The New York Times
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The biggest threat Fox now faces is a pair of looming lawsuits from two voting technology companies that claim the network, far from turning away from Trump, allowed Trump-allied personalities — including on-air hosts as well as guests — to falsely malign them with bogus conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud in 2020.Over the course of the year, Fox managed to reassert itself as the No. 1 ranked cable programmer — and wholeheartedly realigned itself with the former president and his supporters.It’s a hard-fought triumph that has allowed Fox executives to shrug off two other recent developments that, at least to outsiders, further undermined its credentials as a news broker — the departure of veteran anchor Chris Wallace and the revelation of panicked text messages that three of its hosts sent to Trump’s chief of staff, urging him to get the president to calm the Jan. 6 rioters at the U.S. Capitol.And it highlights a dynamic affecting the entire cable news industry at a time when the era’s polarized politics increasingly steer viewers’ decisions about what to watch.“The universe of cable news viewers is declining, so you need to get more out of the existing viewers,” said Chris Stirewalt, a former politics editor for Fox News who compares cable news to “the tobacco industry circa 1988, where you have addiction as your path to profit” — and a strong motivation for channels to give their most loyal audiences the worldviews they desire. But that recovery comes after a year of high-profile defections, criticism and lawsuits challenging the claims it allowed to be disseminated.And Fox’s resurgence tracks with the growing influence within the company of Tucker Carlson, prime-time host of the network’s most-watched show.In November, Carlson produced a documentary series — released on the network’s streaming service, Fox Nation, but promoted on Fox News — that floated unfounded theories that the Jan. 6 attack was an inside job by the government to target Trump supporters.

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