JAs change looms in the White House, a fresh wind appears to be blowing through the established right-wing media system, with a collage of television stations and social media seeking to attract ardent and dissatisfied Donald supporters. Trump.
For years, Fox News has dominated the conservative landscape. The network has spent four years fawning over Trump and promoting sometimes false stories about rivals in the past four years.
But for Trump, even that has not been enough. In large part thanks to the president, Fox News now has competitors, in the form of One America News and Newsmax. The two relatively new channels have seen their audience grow in recent months.
Both OAN and Newsmax are more right-wing than Fox News, a great feat, and each has pushed bizarre conspiracy theories, including the fact that there was a deep state or a Democratic-led plot. infect Trump with coronavirus, and that Anthony Fauci, the Director of NIAID, founded the creation of the coronavirus.
In December, Newsmax outperformed Fox News in ratings, very briefly and on a very specific schedule, for the first time.
Among the 25-54 year old demographic, Newsmax’s flagship program, hosted by Greg Kelly, garnered 229,000 viewers, compared to 203,000 for Fox News’ Martha MacCallum.
That may be a close comparison, but it’s true that the overall Newsmax audience has risen in recent months. During the summer, Newsmax recorded around 25,000 viewers a day, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter. In election week, that increased to 182,000 viewers.
Still, the channel has seen a real surge since the election, after Fox News was attacked and Newsmax’s late-night shows drew 700-800,000 viewers. according to Nielsen. Republicans’ perception of Fox News has also changed: since the election, Fox News’s preference among Republican Party supporters It has decreased from 67% to 54%.
The increase has been fueled by Donald Trump’s frequent flips on Fox News. It’s hard to say how serious Trump’s spin on the web is. He’s criticized Fox, but repeatedly connects segments, segments that favor him, on Twitter, mostly clips from the Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson show.
Still, the outgoing president has frequently criticized other parts of Fox News programs, particularly the network’s daytime programming, which tends to focus on more direct news than right-wing views.
He has specifically suggested People should watch Newsmax and OAN instead, particularly after Fox News called for Biden’s election, and after at least some of the Fox News anchors refused to indulge in Trump’s desperate quest to overturn the election results. .
“It appears to be the result of those election calls,” said Matthew Gertz, principal investigator for Media Matters to America, a left-wing media watchdog group.
“That has sparked a little riot, and Trump has incited it by telling his Twitter followers that they should be watching OAN and Newsmax instead of Fox, especially during those ‘news hours.’
Gertz said that Trump himself appears to have changed his viewing habits.
“He watches hours and hours of cable news every day. Usually it’s been Fox News, but more than I’ve seen before in the last few weeks, it’s also been watching and responding to OAN and Newsmax coverage. “
In the looming post-Trump world, or at least the post-Trump world as president, Fox News seems to have responded. The already right-wing network has shifted its coverage even further to the right in an attempt to thwart its upstart rivals, a new shift in the right-wing media ecosystem.
Gertz said in mid-November that Fox News started a new tactic: posting videos of right-wing hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity during their more “ upright ” daytime shows, and sometimes asking guests to respond to what they say. Carlson or Hannity could have defended.
“That seemed to me like an attempt to regain the audience during ‘news hours’, when there is red meat somewhat less conservative than prime-time, giving [viewers] more of that from the familiar faces of Fox’s biggest right-wing stars.
“That, I think, was an attempt to respond to an audience that was considering or was already moving toward some of its competitors.”
Where Trump goes, many of his supporters follow, and that has accelerated the growth of OAN and Newsmax, in particular. The Newsmax app went from 4,000 daily downloads at the end of October to 230,000 in the days following the elections. One Zero reported That app downloads have dropped, a lot, since then, to 32,000 a day, but that still represents a big increase compared to the days before the elections.
A Fox News spokeswoman declined to comment, but noted Nielsen ratings showing that Newsmax and OAN had experienced a decline in viewers from the highs they saw in the days after the election. According to Nielsen, Fox News daytime viewers also declined.
But be it Newsmax or OAN, the spread of more extreme news sources has been going on for quite some time.
“It has not started this year, it has lasted a decade or more,” he said. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, professor at the school of public affairs of the American university. The spread and proliferation of extreme and hyperpartisan sites that pretend to be news, Miller-Idriss said, “is really dangerous in terms of media literacy and democracy.”
“Now you only have dozens and dozens and dozens of potential news sources, many of which have tremendous bias,” he said.
Rise of right-wing social media
Away from the emerging cable news channels, another source on the right has drawn attention and numbers: Parler, a conservative “alternative” to Twitter and Facebook. Founded by John Matze and Jared Thomson, it was funded by Rebekah Mercer, nicknamed the “first lady of the alt-right” by none other than Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy.
In the week following the election, Parler grew from 4.5 million user accounts to 9 million users, COO Jeffrey Wernick told the Washington Post.
“There has been an avalanche of people joining,” Miller-Idriss said.
“It has a real potential, I think nobody knows exactly if it is a permanent potential. People get there and then get frustrated, decide not to stay? “
There is certainly not much diversity of opinion on Parler, where almost all the accounts belong to rightists.
Ted Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas, has one of the most-followed Parler accounts, with 4.8 million followers as of mid-December.
Proud Boys, the right-wing extremist group, has a popular account, and one of Parler’s most active users is Laura Loomer, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who was a Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives in November. (Loomer lost by 20 points).
Loomer has been banned from Twitter and Facebook for spreading hate speech, while Twitter has also restricted accounts associated with Proud Boys for violating its policy on “violent extremist groups”, but they have found a home in Parler.
“The things that concern me with Parler are if people are abandoning other platforms where there might be a broader range of ideological opinions, or a broader range of arguments they hear, and they land in an echo chamber where they are less exposed to belief. conflicting with theirs, ”Miller-Idriss said.
“The more time you spend with like-minded people, research shows that the more likely you are to migrate to more extreme versions of your own beliefs.”
A key motivator for right-wingers to spend time on Twitter appears to be fighting or antagonizing people with different political or social beliefs. For the most part that does not exist in Parler. There are also signs that the platform’s growth is slowing. Parler saw some 300,000 daily downloads in mid-November, according to One Zero, and that number dropped to about 40,000 by mid-December.
Whether the nature of preaching to Parler converts ultimately turns people off depends on “what are your motivators, why are you here, what makes this site the place you go,” said Renee DiResta, research manager. technique the Stanford Internet Observatory.
“If your main reason for getting involved in social media in a political sphere is to fight with people who are different, to fight with people who are on the other side, or to make trolls, or to throw memes that you think will trigger them, then you are not going to to be able to do that with Parler. “
There have been other right-wing platforms that have risen in popularity, only to disappear.
Gaby I we They exist in the same sphere as Parler, but they have never gained a following of the dominant right. It’s unclear if Parler’s popularity will endure.
“There are always these apps and social networks that come out of nowhere and peak and then usually go down again,” DiResta said.
Away from television and social media, other traditional players are seeing numbers drop. Drudge Report, the influential conservative news aggregator, has seen your visitors fall since he began distancing himself from Trump in 2019.
As its readers have fallen, new players have emerged. Whatfinger, a site similar to Drudge but loyal to Trump, increased its traffic by 40.8% through 2019, to 3.2 million readers per month. according to the Washington Times, equally right-wing.
It remains to be seen how many of the more traditional Republicans, as opposed to ardent Trump supporters, are willing to abandon their less conventional sources.
In 2019, 22% of Americans said they use twitterand 68% use Facebook, dwarfing their use of Parler. Fox News has consistently been the most viewed cable news channel in the US.
The newcomers have a great hill to climb to overcome the established order. Time will tell if they can.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.