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The Renaissance of Conservative Media

conservative media audiences leaving Fox after the 2020 election predictions
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

It’s Inception: the news is in the news. Media powerhouse Fox News Channel is making headlines for losing viewership. Traditionally watched by conservatives, Fox News is losing their faithful following to smaller news outlets like One America News Network (OANN) and Newsmax. Fox led the ratings game for 18 years, as the most-watched cable news network. What happened to make conservative Fox viewers secede? And where are the masses going next?

The night of the 2020 presidential election, news networks were hard at work on projections, especially focusing on battleground states such as Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Late that night, Fox News was the first media company to project Arizona for Biden, and the Associated Press joined shortly after. On Thursday morning, CNN still hadn’t called the state, stating that “there are still hundreds of thousands of votes that still need to be counted across the state.

On several occasions prior to the election, President Donald Trump has promoted OANN and Newsmax on Twitter while giving the opposite to Fox. Election night was the breaking point for many conservative media viewers.

According to Axios, Newsmax overtook Breitbart to become the most visited right-leaning news site the week after the election. Their average prime time audience jumped 156% to 223,000 viewers the week of the election, and it surged past 1 million on Thursday, Nov. 5, according to The Wall Street Journal. Newsmax doesn’t provide “about” information on their site, but their Facebook page states that they “[cover] the latest news — in politics, national and world news, health, faith, personal finance and technology — often with a unique American perspective.”

It’s a true 2020 Renaissance because the mass news-exodus includes social media. Many disgruntled social media users are migrating to the new social media platform Parler, which claims to be “the solution to problems that have surfaced in recent years due to changes in Big Tech policy influenced by various special-interest groups,” according to their website.

Newsweek stated that post-election, Parler became the most-downloaded app in the U.S, and they provided data from Sensor Tower, saying that “the app saw 980,000 downloads … between Nov. 3 (Election Day) and Nov. 8.”

With the metaphor of a “nonpartisan Public Square,” the platform aims to give users a space for free speech and expression without fear of being “deplatformed” (sic). In their community guidelines, they acknowledge that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them, but they desire for Parler to reflect the “spirit” of it, using a term common in First Amendment law: “viewpoint-neutral.” The platform allows users to customize material, accounts and keywords they do or don’t see; they call this giving you the “tools you need to do your own ‘shadow-banning’.” In direct opposition to social media censorship, filtering and fact-checking, the app states that “in no case will Parler decide what content will be removed or filtered … on the basis of the opinion expressed.”

Conservative media has been making plenty of waves, and opportunists are striking while the iron is hot. It will be interesting to see where media conglomerates, as well as blue and red viewers, fall when the dust settles, if it ever does.


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