When watching Fox News Channel over a 24-hour period, it is safe to assume that it is a finely tuned operation as there is uniformity across all dayparts when it comes to what is being reported and how it is being reported.
Cohesion would be the order of the day.
But the latest trove of texts, emails, and other documents from Fox News talent and executives unsealed from Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit would indicate tension existed between the opinion and the news sides of Fox News.
It seems like Fox News’ opinion hosts weren’t fond of their news side counterparts, especially during the timeline surrounding the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
In one instance in November 2020, Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy sent texts attacking their news side colleagues.
“‘News’ destroyed us,” Hannity complained.
“Every day,” Doocy replied.
“You don’t piss off the base,” Hannity said.
“They don’t care. They are JOURNALISTS,” Doocy texted back.
Hannity said he has “warned” people at the network “for years,” and there is “NOTHING we can do to fix it.”
In another instance, in a group text, Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham revealed how they really felt about their news side colleagues.
Hannity said, “Guys, I’ve been telling them 4 years. News dept that breaks no news ever.” He later added, “They hate the three of us.”
“Good,” Ingraham replied,
“They are embarrassed by us,” Hannity responded.
“I don’t want to be liked by them,” Ingraham said.
Carlson chipped in, saying, “They’re pathetic. Thais (sic) why they’re so angry.”
“That would embarrass ME,” Ingraham replied.
“All Shep Smiths,” Hannity said, in reference to former Fox News anchor Shephard Smith.
“They aren’t Smart,” Ingraham said, adding, “they like the sound of being a television Journalist …and the trappings.
“Exactly,” Carlson said.
“In one week and one debate, they destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build, and the damage is incalculable,” Hannity added.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the news side of Fox News was also unhappy with how the news network was covering the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
Former Fox News DC managing editor Bill Sammon, in a series of private messages to former political editor Chris Stirewalt, alluded to the fact the network was experiencing an “existential crisis.”
“More than 20 minutes into our flagship evening news broadcast, and we’re still focused solely on supposed election fraud – a month after the election,” Sammon said.
He added, “It’s remarkable how weak ratings makes good journalists do bad things,” he continued.
“It’s a real mess,” Stirewalt responded.
“In my 22 years affiliated with Fox, this is the closest thing I’ve seen to an existential crisis – at least journalistically,” Sammon said.
“What’s most worrisome is that there doesn’t seem to be much conflict,” Stirewalt said.
“What I see us doing is losing the silent majority of viewers as we chase the nuts off a cliff,” Sammon replied.
The two men lost their positions within the company in early 2021.
Fox Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch also showed disdain for his network’s news side, especially the political desk saying, on Nov. 7, 2020, in an email to former New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan.
“CNN declares and FOX coming in minutes….I hate our Decision Desk people! And pollsters! Some of the same people, I think. Just for the hell of it, still praying for Az to prove them wrong!”
Murdoch, as well as his opinion hosts, feared Fox News would suffer steep viewer erosion, which they did because the network news side accurately called the outcome of the election and the speed by which they did it.
However, the network is pushing back on these latest fillings and fear of viewer erosion, saying in a statement that Dominion “cherry-picked” and “misrepresented” the content included in its summary judgment filing.
The network cites testimony by Fox Corp co-chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch, who said under oath that he was “concerned” but “not overly concerned” by declining Nielsen ratings after the election.
In the meantime, these latest revelations may re-open healed wounds and affect the morale within the Fox News newsrooms. Learning how executives will try and smooth things over will be interesting to know.
NOTE: This is an analysis piece.