Fox News Intensifies Its Pro-Trump Politics as Dissenters Depart

Fox News once devoted its 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. time slots to relatively straightforward newscasts. Now those hours are filled by opinion shows led by hosts who denounce Democrats and defend the worldview of former President Donald J. Trump.

For seven years, Juan Williams was the lone liberal voice on “The Five,” the network’s popular afternoon chat show. On Wednesday, he announced that he was leaving the program, after months of harsh on-air blowback from his conservative co-hosts. Many Fox News viewers cheered his exit on social media.

Donna Brazile, the former Democratic Party chairwoman, was hired by Fox News with great fanfare in 2019 as a dissenting voice for its political coverage. She criticized Mr. Trump and spoke passionately about the Black Lives Matter movement, which other hosts on the network often demonized. Ms. Brazile has now left Fox News; last week, she quietly started a new job at ABC.

Onscreen and off, in ways subtle and overt, Fox News has adapted to the post-Trump era by moving in a single direction: Trumpward.

amounted to an existential moment for a cable channel that is home to Trump cheerleaders like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham: the 2020 election.

Fox News’s ratings fell sharply after the network made an early call on election night that Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, would carry Arizona and later declared him the winner, even as Mr. Trump advanced lies about fraud. With viewers in revolt, the network moved out dissenting voices and put a new emphasis on hard-line right-wing commentary.

the network fired its veteran politics editor, Chris Stirewalt, who had been an onscreen face of the early call in Arizona for Mr. Biden. This month, it brought on a new editor in the Washington bureau: Kerri Kupec, a former spokeswoman for Mr. Trump’s attorney general William P. Barr. She had no journalistic experience.

opinion shows at 7 and 11 — with segments that lament “cancel culture” and attack Mr. Biden — are attracting bigger audiences than the newscasts they replaced. And the niche right-wing network Newsmax has failed to sustain its postelection audience gains.

In some ways, the Murdochs are making a rational business decision by following the conservatives who have made up the heart of the Fox News audience; recent surveys show that more than three-quarters of Republicans want Mr. Trump to run in 2024.

But under Roger Ailes, the network’s founder, who shaped its look and feel, Fox News elevated liberal foils like Alan Colmes, a Democrat who shared equal billing in prime time with Mr. Hannity until the end of 2008, and moderates like Mr. Williams.

Credit…Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

“Roger’s view was you had to have some unpredictability and you had to challenge the audience; you couldn’t just be reading Republican talking points every night,” said Susan R. Estrich, a Democratic lawyer and former commentator on Fox News who negotiated Mr. Ailes’s exit from the network amid his sexual misconduct scandal.

Ms. Estrich recalled that Mr. Ailes had defended Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News host, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, attacked her in misogynist terms. Now, she said, “instead of trying to broaden their audience, Fox News is narrowing it and digging in.”

Rick Santorum, after he was criticized for remarks about Native Americans.

Ms. Brazile said she had left Fox News of her own accord.

“Fox never censored my views in any way,” she wrote in an email. “Everyone treated me courteously as a colleague.” Ms. Brazile added: “I believe it’s important for all media to expose their audiences to both progressive and conservative viewpoints. With the election and President Biden’s first 100 days behind us, I’ve accomplished what I wanted at Fox News.”

an outcry from the Anti-Defamation League.

A pro-Trump drift at Fox News is not new: George Will, a traditional conservative who opposed Mr. Trump’s candidacy, lost his contributor contract in 2017. Shepard Smith, a news anchor who was tough on Mr. Trump, left in 2019.

Some Fox News journalists, though, say privately that they are increasingly concerned with the network’s direction. Kristin Fisher, one of the network’s rising stars in Washington and a White House correspondent, left Fox News last month despite the network’s effort to keep her. She had faced criticism from viewers in November after a segment in which she aggressively debunked lies about election fraud advanced by Mr. Trump’s lawyers.

The longtime Washington bureau chief, Bill Sammon, resigned in January after internal criticism over his handling of election coverage, around the time that Mr. Stirewalt was fired. (Mr. Stirewalt was let go along with roughly 20 digital journalists at Fox News, which the network attributed to a realignment of “business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era.”)

Mr. Sammon has effectively been replaced by Doug Rohrbeck, a producer with extensive news experience on Bret Baier’s newscast and Chris Wallace’s Sunday show. Still, some Fox journalists were surprised when the network hired Ms. Kupec, the former Barr spokeswoman, to work under Mr. Rohrbeck. (In 2019, CNN hired Sarah Isgur, the spokeswoman for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as a political editor. After protests from staff, she was shifted to an on-air role and later left the network.)

Fox News International, a streaming service available in 37 countries in Asia and Europe.

Despite continuing criticism from liberals, Fox News remains a financial juggernaut for the Murdoch empire; it is expected to earn record advertising revenues this year, the network said.

Even as its programming decisions seem aimed at attracting Trump supporters, Fox News does face one roadblock: Mr. Trump. The former president has maintained his stinging criticism of Fox News, which, he has claimed, betrayed him by calling the election for Mr. Biden.

On Friday, after criticism from Paul Ryan, the former House speaker, Mr. Trump wrote that “Fox totally lost its way and became a much different place” after the Murdochs appointed Mr. Ryan to the Fox Corporation board.

“Fox will never be the same!” Mr. Trump wrote.

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Fox News to Replay Prime-Time Shows on Streaming Platform

Fox News entered the streaming video market in November 2018 with Fox Nation, a digital subscription service that now encompasses hundreds of hours of original programming including political commentary, documentaries and travel specials like “Castles USA,” in which the host Jeanine Pirro tours castles around the country.

Until now, the network had resisted rebroadcasting its marquee prime-time shows on the streaming service. That is set to change next week, in a significant shift in digital strategy for the Rupert Murdoch-owned channel.

Starting June 2, episodes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “Hannity” and “The Ingraham Angle” will be available on demand on Fox Nation the day after they are shown live on cable. The shift “will add incredible value for subscribers,” Fox Nation’s president, Jason Klarman, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Fox News had reasons to initially avoid duplicating its traditional TV programming on Fox Nation. The channel earns significant revenue from cable distributors that pay to carry Fox News. And the network has the largest total weeknight audience in cable news; viewers who switch over to watch the programs on Fox Nation will not be counted by Nielsen.

Other networks, though, have seen benefits from making their cable programs available in digital venues. The shows can attract new subscribers and widen their viewership to the younger audiences that prefer streaming services.

A monthly subscription to Fox Nation costs $6. The network has declined to share its total number of subscribers. Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chairman of the Fox Corporation, said on a recent earnings call that the first quarter of 2021 had generated Fox Nation’s “highest number of customer acquisitions since launch.”

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CNN’s Chris Cuomo Advised Gov. Cuomo, Raising Ethics Questions

The CNN prime-time host Chris Cuomo offered public-relations advice to his brother, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, after a series of sexual harassment allegations threatened the governor’s political career earlier this year, an unusual breach of traditional barriers between lawmakers and journalists.

CNN said on Thursday that the conversations were “inappropriate” and that Chris Cuomo would refrain from any more similar discussions with the governor’s staff. But the network said it would take no disciplinary action against the anchor, whose program was CNN’s highest-rated show in the first quarter of the year.

The episode has — once again — raised questions about Chris Cuomo’s ability to host a flagship cable news program while his brother is a key figure in several major political stories. Besides the harassment allegations from several women who worked on his staff, Governor Cuomo has faced criticism for obscuring the number of coronavirus deaths in New York State nursing homes. Last year, before the scandals became news, Governor Cuomo commanded a national audience with his daily briefings on the pandemic.

Governor Cuomo’s office said on Thursday that Chris Cuomo had joined several strategy calls with the governor and some of his top advisers, confirming an earlier report by The Washington Post. Earlier this year, CNN barred Chris Cuomo from participating in its news coverage of the harassment allegations lodged against his brother, who has denied any wrongdoing.

he helped write speeches for Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was then a candidate for president.

Several of Fox News’s opinion hosts actively advised President Trump during his administration; Sean Hannity even appeared with Mr. Trump at a boisterous campaign rally. But CNN’s leadership often criticized Fox News for those blurred lines, with Jeff Zucker, the CNN president, describing the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox as “state-run TV.”

After Chris Cuomo joined CNN in 2013, he mostly refrained from interviewing his brother on television. (One early exception led to some backlash.) That changed last year, after Governor Cuomo’s coronavirus updates became a national phenomenon. The brothers engaged in extended prime-time interviews about the emotional burdens of the pandemic. Viewers were riveted, especially after Chris Cuomo tested positive for the coronavirus and began speaking with his brother from isolation in a basement.

CNN leaned into the moment. “You get trust from authenticity and relatability and vulnerability,” Mr. Zucker told The New York Times last year. “That’s what the brothers Cuomo are giving us right now.”

who received special access to government-run coronavirus testing facilities, including a police escort for samples so that they could be quickly processed.

At the time, a CNN spokesman defended the host, arguing that Mr. Cuomo was sick with the virus and “turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would.”

Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.

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Fox News Files to Dismiss Dominion’s Lawsuit Over 2020 Election Coverage

Fox News Media, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled cable group, filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it in March by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that accused Fox News of propagating lies that ruined its reputation after the 2020 presidential election.

The Dominion lawsuit, along with a similar defamation claim brought in February by another election company, Smartmatic, have been widely viewed as test cases in a growing legal effort to battle disinformation in the news media. And it is another byproduct of former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless attempts to undermine President Biden’s clear victory.

In a 61-page response filed in Delaware Superior Court, the Fox legal team argues that Dominion’s suit threatened the First Amendment powers of a news organization to chronicle and assess newsworthy claims in a high-stakes political contest.

“A free press must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy,” Fox says in the motion, “especially when those claims prompt numerous lawsuits, government investigations and election recounts.” The motion adds: “The American people deserved to know why President Trump refused to concede despite his apparent loss.”

Charles Babcock, who has a background in media law, and Scott Keller, a former chief counsel to Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Fox has also filed to dismiss the Smartmatic suit; that defense is being led by Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush.

“There are two sides to every story,” Mr. Babcock and Mr. Keller wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.”

a novel tactic in the battle over disinformation, but proponents say the strategy has shown some early results. The conservative news outlet Newsmax apologized last month after a Dominion employee, in a separate legal case, accused the network of spreading baseless rumors about his role in the election. Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight” a day after Smartmatic sued Fox in February and named Mr. Dobbs as a co-defendant.

Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.

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Inflation Fears Rise as Prices Surge for Lumber, Cars and More

Turn on the news, scroll through Facebook, or listen to a White House briefing these days and there’s a good chance you’ll catch the Federal Reserve’s least-favorite word: Inflation. If that bubbling popular concern about prices gets too ingrained in America’s psyche, it could spell trouble for the nation’s central bank.

Interest in inflation has jumped this year for both political and practical reasons. Republicans, and even some Democrats, have been warning that the government’s hefty pandemic spending could push inflation higher. And as the economy gains steam, demand is coming back faster than supply. It’s a recipe for bigger price tags for everything from airline tickets to used cars, at least temporarily.

The Fed, which Congress has put in charge of controlling inflation, thinks the jump in prices this year will fade as data quirks, supply bottlenecks and a reopening-induced pop in demand work their way through the system. For now, officials see no reason to tap the brakes by slowing down large-scale bond purchases or raising interest rates, policy changes that would slacken demand as an antidote to accelerating inflation.

And the Fed has big reasons to avoid overreacting: The problem in the wake of the 2007 to 2009 recession was tepid price gains that risked an economically damaging downward spiral, not fast ones. Inflation far above the central bank’s comfort level hasn’t been a feature of the economic landscape since the 1980s.

data from the Gdelt Project. On Fox News Channel, mentions of inflation have surged to six times the normal rate.

Google searches for “inflation” have taken off, Twitter inflation hashtags have increased, and monthly price data reports have newly become front-page headlines.

The surge in attention comes amid stories of computer chip shortages, gas lines, and surging lumber prices, and also as overall measures of real-world price gains are speeding up.

Consumer Price Inflation surprised economists by rocketing higher in April, data released last week showed, rising by 4.2 percent. While prices were expected to climb for technical reasons, supply bottlenecks and resurgent demand combined to push the data point much higher than the 3.6 percent analysts had penciled in. Fed officials use a different but related index to define their inflation goal.

Eye-popping gains are widely expected to cool down as supply catches up with demand and reopening quirks clear, but as they catch consumer attention, inflation expectations are shooting higher across a range of measures. And that poses a risk.

highest level since 2006 last week. A consumer survey collected by the University of Michigan — and closely watched by top Fed officials — jumped in preliminary May data, rising to 4.6 percent for the next year and 3.1 percent for the next five, the highest level in a decade.

The gap between short- and long-term expectations is echoed in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Survey of Consumer Expectations. Americans’ year-ahead inflation expectations rose to the highest level since 2013 in April, but the outlook for inflation over the next three years has been much more stable.

Fed policymakers have taken heart in the fact that households seem to be preparing more for a short-term pop — something central bankers have said they are willing to look past without lifting rates — than for years of superfast price gains.

But they have been clear that there are limits to tolerable increases, without precisely defining what those would be.

If expectations started to rise “month after month after month,” that would be concerning, Mary C. Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said during an interview on May 10, before the latest Michigan data were released. She declined to put a number on what would worry her.

Inflation expectations data are notoriously hard to parse, and the consumer trackers tend to be heavily influenced by gas prices. The Fed has recently been using a quarterly measure that has moved up by less. But the speed of recent adjustments has called into question how much acceleration would be a problem, signaling that people have come to accept inflation in a way that will keep actual prices rising.

The inflation outlook is uncertain both because of the unusual moment — the economy has never reopened from a pandemic before — and because the way the government approaches economic policy has shifted over the past year.

The Fed’s new policy approach, adopted last August, both aims for periods of higher inflation and doubles down on the central bank’s full employment goal. Practically, it means the central bank plans to leave rates low for years, and it has helped to justify continuing a huge bond-buying program that the Fed began at the start of the pandemic downturn. Those policies make money cheap to borrow, ultimately bolstering demand for goods and services and helping prices to rise.

At the same time, the federal government has drastically loosened its purse strings, spending trillions of dollars to pull the economy out of the pandemic recession. Both the fiscal and the monetary response are meant to keep households economically whole through a challenging period, so there was also a risk to having less-ambitious policies.

Things will most likely work out, economists have predicted. The demand boom anticipated in 2021 is unlikely to last, because consumers’ pandemic savings will eventually be exhausted. Supply issues should be resolved, though it is not clear when. Many analysts expect prices to moderate over the next year or so.

But some underline that expectations are the vulnerability to watch when it comes to inflation, in case they shift before the smoke clears and prices slow their ascent.

“This is something people are talking about in their daily lives, it’s not just a Washington thing,” said Michael Strain, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute. “My expectation is that expectations will remain anchored — but it’s clearly a huge risk.”

Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.

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Leslie Moonves Receives Nothing From CBS Exit Package

Leslie Moonves, who led CBS as chief executive for 15 years before he was ousted in 2018, will receive nothing from the $120 million the company had set aside in a potential severance package, according to a federal filing on Friday.

Mr. Moonves left CBS on Sept. 9, 2018, after more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, allegations that appeared in two articles in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow. Mr. Moonves has denied the allegations.

That October, as part of a separation agreement, the CBS Corporation board placed $120 million in a so-called grantor trust. That money would go to Mr. Moonves if the company found that there had been no grounds to fire him under his contract.

In December 2018, the board said it had determined that Mr. Moonves was indeed fired for cause, citing “willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract” in a statement at the time. Mr. Moonves disputed that finding and started arbitration proceedings concerning the possible exit package in January 2019.

it said.

The filing came from ViacomCBS. Mr. Moonves’s previous employer merged with a sibling company, Viacom, in December 2019, after protracted negotiations. Mr. Moonves adamantly opposed the merger plan when he was at the helm of CBS.

“The disputes between Mr. Moonves and CBS have now been resolved,” ViacomCBS said in a statement on Friday. It added that the company and Mr. Moonves would have no further comment on the matter.

Mr. Moonves, 71, was one of the most prominent figures to be toppled by the #MeToo movement. Other powerful men in the media and entertainment businesses whose careers came to an end after they were accused of sexual misconduct included the Fox News chief executive Roger E. Ailes and the film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Ailes died in 2017, months after leaving the network he had helped create, and Mr. Weinstein fell from power in 2017 and was sentenced last year to 23 years in prison for sex crimes against six women.

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Fox Earnings: Fox Acquires OutKick as Profits Jump

Fox News, the cable news giant controlled by Rupert Murdoch, kept its parent company flush in the first three months of the year, notching a slight gain in profit and sales despite a drop in viewers.

Altogether, Fox Corporation beat Wall Street expectations with a sevenfold increase in profit to $567 million and a 6.5 percent drop in revenue to $3.2 billion compared with the same period a year prior. A change in how the company valued some of its assets was a key reason for the profit surge. Investors were looking for a $332 million profit and $3.1 billion in sales.

But revenue at most of its businesses dropped as fewer viewers tuned into the company’s cable channels and the Fox broadcast network, in part because Fox did not host the Super Bowl this year. Total advertising sales fell 24 percent to $1.2 billion, with the cable segment, primarily Fox News, seeing ad revenue drop 7 percent to $283 million.

The decrease in advertising mirrors the performance at other media conglomerates and spotlights a significant shift in the advertising market. Ad revenue jumped at Facebook, Google and even smaller digital publishers in the first quarter as advertisers were more willing to spend their budget on digital platforms, often at the expense of television.

overrated” and downplayed the severity of the brewing pandemic.

In a statement announcing the acquisition, Lachlan Murdoch, chief executive of Fox Corporation and the son of Rupert Murdoch, welcomed Mr. Travis. “Clay and his team have quickly made OutKick a content powerhouse with a very large, loyal and engaged audience.”

Despite the drop in viewers at Fox News, the network benefited from contractually triggered rate increases that cable operators pay to carry the channel. Licensing fees rose 6 percent to $1.07 billion. Advertising fell despite charging higher ad rates.

The younger Mr. Murdoch claimed victory for Fox News in a call with investors after the earnings report.

“Fox News reclaimed its leadership position as America’s No. 1 cable news network and the most-watched cable network in prime time,” he said before taking a moment to take a jab at rivals.

“MSNBC lost more than one-third of its audience and CNN lost over half,” he said. “Over half.”

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President Biden’s first formal address drew nearly 27 million viewers.

Nearly 27 million people watched President Biden’s first formal address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, a large audience for television these days but a much smaller audience than similar speeches by other presidents, according to data from Nielsen.

Shown on all major networks and cable news channels starting at 9 p.m. Eastern time, the speech attracted a much larger television audience than Sunday’s Oscars telecast on ABC, which was watched by about 10 million people. But the audience was significantly smaller than the one for President Donald J. Trump’s first formal address to Congress in 2017, which drew 48 million viewers.

The television audience for Mr. Biden’s address also fell shy of those for equivalent speeches by other recent presidents. Barack Obama had an audience of 52 million in 2009; George W. Bush drew 40 million in 2001; and Bill Clinton’s first address was watched by 67 million in 1993.

Several factors contributed to the smaller ratings. Because of public health and security concerns at the Capitol, Mr. Biden’s speech came later in his presidency than those delivered by his recent predecessors, which all took place in February. There was also less pomp on Wednesday. Instead of an in-person audience of 1,600 senators, Supreme Court justices and other dignitaries seated cheek by jowl with House members, only 200 people were present because of social-distancing restrictions.

TV ratings, in general, have sunk in recent years, as more people have dropped cable subscriptions in favor of streaming, a shift that was accelerated by pandemic viewing habits. And the number of people watching television in the spring, compared with the winter, tends to be smaller.

ABC had the biggest audience for the address, with roughly 4 million viewers, according to the Nielsen, and MSNBC was right behind, with 3.9 million. Fox News and the Fox broadcast networks had the smallest audiences, with 2.9 million viewers (Fox News) and 1.6 million (Fox broadcast).

The Fox audience came out in force for the post-speech analysis by anchors and commentators and the Republican rebuttal from Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. In the 30 minutes after the address, Fox News was the only network to have a surge in viewers, with an average of 3.2 million people tuning in.

The analysis of the speech varied depending on the network. The Fox News contributor Ben Domenech called Mr. Biden’s speech a “tissue of lies.” On MSNBC, the anchor Brian Williams hailed it as “Rooseveltian in size and scope.”

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New York Post Reporter Who Wrote False Kamala Harris Story Resigns

Ms. Italiano, a veteran Post journalist and longtime chronicler of the New York City courts, is a well-liked figure in the paper’s newsroom. She did not respond to inquiries about her resignation or how the Harris article came to be. Representatives for The Post did not respond to calls and emails on Tuesday night.

Her abrupt exit underscored some of the tensions currently roiling The Post, a classic pugilistic city tabloid that was often a vessel for coverage favorable to former President Donald J. Trump during his term in office.

Mr. Murdoch, who spoke frequently with Mr. Trump, installed a new editor at the tabloid last month, Keith Poole, who formerly served in a top position at Mr. Murdoch’s London paper The Sun. At least eight journalists at The Post have departed the paper recently, including a White House correspondent, Ebony Bowden.

Fox News and The Post, given their shared Murdoch ownership, have long demonstrated a certain symbiosis. (Just last week, The Post ran a gossip item complaining that Glamour magazine was not writing features about female Fox News stars.)

Fox News hosts including Tucker Carlson, Greg Gutfeld and Martha MacCallum discussed the Post article on their programs on Monday. Peter Doocy, Fox News’s White House correspondent, cited “a report in the last couple days in The New York Post” before asking Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, on Monday if Ms. Harris “is making any money” from her books supposedly being distributed in the shelters. Ms. Psaki said she would “have to certainly check on that,” which The Post described in a follow-up story as Ms. Psaki’s having offered “no answers.”

On Tuesday’s “Fox & Friends,” the co-host Ainsley Earhardt told viewers that the claims about the Harris book were “not accurate,” citing that morning’s fact-checking column in The Washington Post. Also on Tuesday, Fox News updated its article about the Harris book to note that only a single copy had been seen at the shelter and that it had been delivered as “part of a citywide book and toy drive.”

Fox News has faced criticism in recent days for a different false claim broadcast on the network: that President Biden was planning to restrict Americans’ red-meat consumption under his plan to address climate change. An on-air Fox News graphic declared, “Bye-Bye Burgers Under Biden’s Climate Plan,” setting off a cycle of outrage from conservative commentators.

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