The Many Elephants in the Room at Fox News

The Fox News anchors at the RNC are determined to not say anything negative about the GOP, Roger Ailes, or their own network

What’s most significant about Fox NewsRepublican National Convention coverage, from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, was what was left unsaid. Just hours earlier, Fox News chief Roger Ailes was reported to be out after an internal review of sexual assault and harassment charges made against him. Possible targets of his advances include former anchor Gretchen Carlson and current anchor Megyn Kelly.

In Cleveland, though, neither Kelly nor the other correspondents covering the convention betrayed an inkling of dissension or discomfort with the Ailes news. Indeed, they did not present an inkling of dissension or discomfort — signs of what we might call critical thinking — about anything that occurred Tuesday night at the RNC. The Fox News graphics for the RNC included a big circle that reads “TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT” that is supposed to look like a campaign button. The button takes up the whole screen for a minute; its message seemed to take up all available space on the channel for the whole evening.

The network that Ailes built does not question the Republican Party, even if, at this point, the Republican Party deeply questions itself. Neither Ben Carson linking Hillary Clinton to Lucifer or Governor Chris Christie making his speech into a mock trial for the presumptive Democratic nominee merited much discussion from the Fox News team. When the team couldn’t think of something nice to say, they just didn’t say anything at all. Chris Wallace, the news network’s token moderate, advanced a sentence or two of speculation as to whether the entire RNC would be devoted mostly to dragging Hillary Clinton instead of promoting their nominee.

But then the panel turned to praising Donald Trump, Jr.’s speech, admiring its establishment Republican sensibilities and the vigor with which it had been delivered. Tucker asked, by way of praise, “How many kids of billionaires have you met who are kind of normal?” — a question that prompts us all to wonder if we’ve ever met any kids of billionaires. Contributor Byron York said on Fox News Wednesday morning that it was significant that Trump, Jr. had begun the work of establishing his father as a “blue collar billionaire,” as if that is a phrase that makes any amount of sense. The bar has been set so low at this convention that a halfway competent speech became manna from heaven for those determined to say nice things.

Other news networks are not necessarily more competent or better-informed. But watching Fox News overlook these events is pointed, deliberate ignorance of serious issues. Ailes, a former power-player in the Republican party, leaves behind a legacy of making the pursuit of truth look like liberal bias. As uncomfortable as Fox News has been with Donald Trump, this is a strategy the network and the candidate have in common.

It remains to be seen if post-Ailes Fox News will be significantly different from the ratings behemoth that he has created. But it will be interesting to see how a network so averse to reporting on how free market institutions and rich old billionaires can abuse their power will handle this kerfuffle, both on-screen and off. Fox News is often determined to blatantly construct narratives around the elephants in the room, narratives that bear little resemblance to the world we live in. But in the middle of an RNC that has the GOP elephant emblazoned on every available surface, this particular scandal may be too big of an elephant to ignore for long.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

  • Pod Save America Hosts on Trump

    'Pod Save America' Hosts on Trump, the Democratic Primary and What's Wrong With Cable News

    Like many Democrats, Tanya Somanader was blindsided by the 2016 presidential election. A veteran of the Obama White House and a former speechwriter and digital specialist for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Somanader was gearing up for a Hillary Clinton administration. Instead, she had to grapple with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency. “A lot [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein to Be Arraigned on New Indictment

    Harvey Weinstein is set to appear in court on Monday for an arraignment on a new indictment, the Manhattan D.A.’s office said Thursday. Prosecutors announced last week that they would seek a fresh indictment, which would allow actress Annabella Sciorra to testify at Weinstein’s trial. The move came after Justice James Burke ruled on Aug. [...]

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • Eminem Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eight Mile Style, a publishing company that holds administration rights to Eminem’s early catalog, filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content