Back in September of last year, in a Washington Post column, we discussed possible challenges to the Fox News juggernaut. Front and center was a talent exodus. We are seeing the beginning of that with Megyn Kelly jumping to NBC.
You just can’t treat someone that badly.
Forget Roger Ailes’s harassment, station star Bill O’Reilly said she should eat it, report infractions to human resources, take one for the team.
But no one ever went to human resources, they were afraid, it was a toxic environment, and the truth is women don’t want to work in a place like that. Donald Trump may have won the Presidency, but most things in America did not change. Women want opportunity and equal rights and a safe environment to work and raise their kids.
That’s been the explanation, that Kelly took this gig so she could see her kids. And I’m sure that’s a factor, but it turns out that she did not drink the kool-aid, she was not a dyed-in-the-wool conservative oblivious to the plight of most Americans.
Never forget that Fox News missed the Trump phenomenon. That Kelly tried to attack him and lost. Sure, the right wing outlet may be preaching to delusional oldsters angry that our nation has changed, but they’re not the ones who got the Trumpster elected, those were the white disenfranchised, many of whom used to vote Democrat, they were worried about their jobs. They’ve got no problem with gay marriage and if an immigrant is not looking to take their job, they’re cool with him or her.
But we keep hearing from Fox that half of America are takers and the rich know better and if you think this plays across our country you’re believing the b.s. they’re feeding you.
But Megyn Kelly did not.
She’s got more at risk than Fox here. They can groom another bimbo. Whereas the bimbo paradigm doesn’t work so well on the rest of the stations. That was Ailes’s genius, appealing to dirty old men like himself. But now he’s gone too, and if you think Fox News can survive you probably felt the Doors would triumph after the death of Jim Morrison. Sure, some bands haves survived the loss of their lead singer, but most haven’t. You need a visionary (can you hear me Apple?) Despite all this hogwash about team-building, getting along, the truth is one person makes a difference, can move mountains, and usually the one who does has rough edges on his personality.
Kinda like Andy Lack. Who came in to fix the record business and showed no respect, thought he knew better. Well, we fixed that, didn’t we? The rootkit fiasco was just an excuse to finally kick his butt out. Lack went back to news, he was the one who signed Kelly. He who believes he can jump from career to career, wreaking havoc and lording it over workers everywhere, has been reading too much press. You’re lucky if you can do one thing well. Pick an industry and stay in it, assuming you want to get to the top, exercise a bit of power.
Now the truth is Megyn Kelly was a creation of Roger Ailes. He groomed her. In the Fox mold, she was beautiful. But also educated and intelligent. And a free-thinker. That’s why she’s triumphed while the other one note Fox anchors have failed to gain traction with the non-believers. But take her out of the band…
A daytime show? Does she know how hard it is to gain traction? Her special failed, she’s a newsreader and should continue to be so, asking a few questions along the way. But she believes her own press and thinks she can be something more. Hell, all those correspondents on “60 Minutes” needed Don Hewitt to mint and maintain their fame, there’s still a show on CBS with that name but it’s a far cry from what once was, a joke where talking heads try to get serious but too often only skim the surface, or play for entertainment value.
And how did we get here to begin with? Where we think people reading lines on television are geniuses who we should listen to otherwise? Better to promote someone from print.
And the truth is print rules, even if it usually appears as pixels on a screen.
Kim Kardashian is about how you look.
News is about what you have to say.
Used to be you left the other outlet for the ratings juggernaut. Greta Van Susteren left CNN for Fox. But now she’s gone too.
And who is going to pick and groom the new Megyn Kelly? It’s hard to start from scratch. And if you think picking stars is easy, you’ve never run a record label. Stars have this charisma, this je ne sais quoi. They shine, but they’re not easily found. And oftentimes they need seasoning. After all, David Lee Roth could not replace Howard Stern.
So, chances are Megyn Kelly will fade away. She’s no Barbara Walters, who asked the unaskable and made a career out of it. And the even more beloved Katie Couric and Connie Chung couldn’t sustain, and Jane Pauley never equaled her status on the “Today Show.”
You see sometimes it is the show, like it is the band.
I would have told Megyn Kelly to stay. Or to ask for an equal gig at a rival outlet. Host of the news every night.
But one thing’s for sure, TV no longer controls the narrative. It’s subservient to print, but the “New York Times” is still trying to figure out how to adjust to the election of Trump, paying lip service to the disenfranchised but circling the wagons around its myopic coastal liberal elite viewpoint all the while.
And the “Wall Street Journal” is an analog of Fox News. Shrinking with little content, it’s the right wing paper of record. It gave up its stranglehold on business news and now we’re not sure what the paper is for, it’s been marginalized, all by itself.
And none of these outlets have conquered the web. Just like MTV missed music online before it.
Their game just doesn’t apply. We don’t need reporters when there’s someone living the subject online. Someone who’s in the trenches of that vertical every day.
And the public is tired of the shouting. the constant debate by the bloviators on TV. I’d rather go to a boxing match, a UFC cage fight, but really, I don’t want to watch that either.
But I’m an information junkie. Today everybody’s an information junkie. What we’re looking for is facts and honest analysis. Sure, there’s skewing in the political sphere, but that does not work elsewhere. They tell us movies are good and we tell them they are bad and don’t go. The decline of marketing power is the story here. Truth and honesty rule. And what blows the mind of even Trump voters is how little truth and honesty there was in the campaign, even from their candidate.
But they wanted change. They wanted someone to listen to them.
So they flipped the table over.
Megyn Kelly moving to NBC may flip the table over at Fox, but basically it’s inside baseball, most don’t care.
And last I checked they didn’t care about the NFL either.
That’s one of the big lessons of 2016, that the conventional wisdom is wrong. That nothing is forever. And if you don’t think change is coming, you’re gonna be wiped out by the tsunami.
So Megyn Kelly jumped from a sinking ship. She’ll get paid, maybe she’ll land on her feet.
But one thing’s for sure, Fox News has taken two bullets in the last six months. People die from less. How are they gonna staunch the bleeding?
They’re probably not.
That’s the big news here. Who’s gonna fill the vacuum?
Someone will. And it won’t be a pretty face, but a visionary, like Shane Smith of Vice Media or some other young ‘un in touch with what their generation wants.
Because believe you me, the younger generation does not want to sit down in real time and watch pretty people argue about the news.
That’s an oldster’s pastime.
Youngsters want the facts on demand. He or she who delivers this will own the narrative in the future.