On any given day, it’s almost impossible to find a good word for Fox News in America’s mainstream liberal media, but conservative readers of the New York Times Magazine are in for a pleasant surprise with a profile of star Fox host Megyn Kelly.
And liberals might be in for a shock. This one’s going to hurt.
Couched in “The Megyn Kelly Moment,” a glowing overview of Kelly’s rise in television journalism from a once-a-week stringer in Albany, N.Y., to a cable power in her own right are nuggets about Fox News’ prominence that fly in the face of every liberal media characterization of the network.
The article is full of charming anecdotes about Kelly’s life, her off-screen behavior and her relationship with other Fox News hosts — particularly mentor/competitor Bill O’Reilly. So Kelly fans should have a field day.
But it’s the data that really stand out to make nonsense of the left’s narrative that Fox News watchers are somehow a fringe element of the American public.
As any trip in an airport, restaurant or any public television viewing area shows, Fox News viewers pretty much are the American public. As the magazine’s senior political correspondent Jim Rutenberg reports:
By the end of 2012 — a presidential-election year, with higher-than-typical news viewership — its prime-time audience of more than two million was the third-biggest in all of basic cable and larger than those of MSNBC (905,000) and CNN (677,000) combined. By last year, its share of that news pie had climbed to 61 percent, and it had moved to second place in the prime-time rankings for all of basic cable, behind ESPN.
In short, the network liberal websites and columnists love to portray as out of the mainstream is as mainstream as it gets.
And Kelly’s personal numbers? In November 2014, the midterm election month when magazine senior political Rutenberg was reporting the piece:
Her audience of 2.8 million was four times as large as Rachel Maddow’s on MSNBC and six times larger as that of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” the Mike Rowe program on CNN about people who devote their lives to odd passions. In fact, “The Kelly File” was the highest-rated nonsports program in her time slot in all of basic cable in 2014. For Roger Ailes, the Fox News Channel chairman and chief executive, who put her there and raised her in his television image, Kelly has become his “breakthrough artist,” the one who will define Fox’s future.
That might be in part because Kelly isn’t predictable. As prominent Republicans can find out when they’re on her program, she’ll grill spokesmen for the right just as hard as those on the left when their stories don’t add up. (Her “Decision Desk” walk on Election Night 2012 and the public humiliation of Karl Rove, for instance, are legendary.)
It’s that kind of honesty the article headlines the “Megyn Kelly Moment.”
Every word of the nearly 7,000-word article is likely to be resented by the Times liberal readership (except for the Rove story), but for conservatives, it’s worth the read.
What it boils down to is, no matter how many libs think Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” is gospel, or laugh at another “Saturday Night Live” jab at Fox News, the American viewing audience in the cable field is turning more and more to Fox over the liberal competition.
“They used to laugh at us in the mainstream media,” Ailes told the magazine in an unrebutted statement. “But we’re becoming the place most people go to get the truth.”
For a liberal Times reader, that one had to hurt.
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