In May 1985, Australian publisher Rupert Murdoch announced that he and American industrialist and philanthropist Marvin Davis intended to develop "a network of independent stations as a fourth marketing force" to compete directly with CBS, NBC, and ABC through the purchase of six television stations owned by Metromedia. In July 1985, 20th Century Fox announced Murdoch had completed his purchase of 50% of Fox Filmed Entertainment, the parent company of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. A year later, 20th Century Fox earned $5.6 million in its fiscal third period ended May 31, 1986, in contrast to a loss of $55.8 million in the third period of the previous year.
Subsequently, and prior to founding FNC, Murdoch had gained experience in the 24-hour news business when News Corporation's BSkyB subsidiary began Europe's first 24-hour news channel (Sky News) in the United Kingdom in 1989. With the success of his fourth network efforts in the United States, experience gained from Sky News and the turnaround of 20th Century Fox, Murdoch announced on January 31, 1996, that News Corp. would launch a 24-hour news channel on cable and satellite systems in the United States as part of a News Corp. "worldwide platform" for Fox programming: "The appetite for news – particularly news that explains to people how it affects them – is expanding enormously".
Introduced in December 1995, the Fox News website features the latest coverage, including columns by FNC television, radio and online personalities. Video clips are also available on Foxnews.com and Foxbusiness.com. Fox News Latino is the version aimed at the Hispanic audience, although presented almost entirely in English, with a Spanish section.
In February 1996, after former U.S. Republican Party political strategist and NBC executive Roger Ailes left cable television channel America's Talking (now MSNBC), Murdoch asked him to start Fox News Channel. Ailes demanded five months of 14-hour workdays and several weeks of rehearsal shows before its launch on October 7, 1996.
The channel was created by Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch to appeal to a conservative audience, hiring former Republican media consultant and CNBC executive Roger Ailes as its founding CEO. It launched on October 7, 1996, to 17 million cable subscribers. Fox News grew during the late 1990s and 2000s to become the dominant subscription news network in the U.S. As of September 2018 , approximately 87,118,000 U.S. households (90.8% of television subscribers) received Fox News. In 2019, Fox News was the top-rated cable network, averaging 2.5 million viewers. Murdoch is the current executive chairman and Suzanne Scott is the CEO.
In 2011, the hosts of Fox & Friends described climate change as "unproven science", a "disputed fact", and criticized the Department of Education for working together with the children's network Nickelodeon to teach children about climate change. In 2001, Sean Hannity described the scientific consensus on climate change as "phony science from the left". In 2004, he falsely alleged, "scientists still can't agree on whether the global warming is scientific fact or fiction". In 2010, Hannity said the so-called "Climategate" – the leaking of e-mails by climate scientist that climate change skeptics claimed demonstrated scientific misconduct but which all subsequent enquiries have found no evidence of misconduct or wrongdoing – a "scandal" that "exposed global warming as a myth cooked up by alarmists". Hannity frequently invites contrarian fringe scientists and critics of climate change to his shows. In 2019, a widely shared Fox News news report falsely claimed that new climate science research showed that the Earth might be heading to a new Ice Age; the author of the study that Fox News cited said that Fox News "utterly misrepresents our research" and the study did not in any way suggest that Earth was heading to an Ice Age. Fox News later corrected the story.
In Italy, FNC is broadcast on SKY Italia. Fox news was launched on Stream TV in 2001, and moved to SKY Italia in 2003.
During the September 11, 2001 attacks, Fox News was the first news organization to run a news ticker on the bottom of the screen to keep up with the flow of information that day. The ticker has remained, informing viewers about additional news which reporters may not mention on-screen and repeating news mentioned during a broadcast; it has proven popular with viewers.
In 2003, Fox News saw a large ratings jump during the early stages of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. At the height of the conflict, according to some reports, Fox News had as much as a 300% increase in viewership (averaging 3.3 million viewers daily). In 2004, Fox News' ratings for its broadcast of the Republican National Convention exceeded those of the three major broadcast networks. During President George W. Bush's address, Fox News attracted 7.3 million viewers nationally; NBC, ABC, and CBS had a viewership of 5.9 million, 5.1 million, and 5.0 million respectively.
With the growth of the FNC, the company introduced a radio division, Fox News Radio, in 2003. Syndicated throughout the United States, the division provides short newscasts and talk radio programs featuring personalities from the television and radio divisions. In 2006, the company also introduced Fox News Talk, a satellite radio station featuring programs syndicated by (and featuring) Fox News personalities.
In August 2003, Fox News sued comedian Al Franken over his use of the slogan as a subtitle for his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, which is critical of Fox News Channel. The lawsuit was dropped three days later, after Judge Denny Chin refused its request for an injunction. In his decision, Chin ruled the case was "wholly without merit, both factually and legally". He went on to suggest that Fox News' trademark on the phrase "fair and balanced" could be invalid. In December 2003, FNC won a legal battle concerning the slogan, when AlterNet filed a cancellation petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to have FNC's trademark rescinded as inaccurate. AlterNet included Robert Greenwald's documentary film Outfoxed (2004) as supporting evidence in its case. After losing early motions, AlterNet withdrew its petition; the USPTO dismissed the case. In 2008, FNC used the slogan "We Report, You Decide", referring to "You Decide 2008" (FNC's original slogan for its coverage of election issues).
Fox News publicly denies it is biased, with Murdoch and Ailes saying have included Murdoch's statement that Fox has "given room to both sides, whereas only one side had it before". Fox News host Chris Wallace has said, "I think we are the counter-weight [to NBC News] ... they have a liberal agenda, and we tell the other side of the story." In 2004, Robert Greenwald's documentary film Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism argued Fox News had a conservative bias and featured clips from Fox News and internal memos from editorial vice president John Moody directing Fox News staff on how to report certain subjects.
Fox had initially planned to launch a joint venture with Canwest's Global Television Network, tentatively named Fox News Canada, which would have featured a mixture of U.S. and Canadian news programming. As a result, the CRTC denied a 2003 application requesting permission for Fox News Channel to be carried in Canada. However, in March 2004, a Fox executive said the venture had been shelved; in November of that year, the CRTC added Fox News to its whitelist of foreign channels that may be carried by television providers.
In prime time and total day ratings for the week of April 15 to 21, 2013, Fox News, propelled by its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, was the highest-ranked network on U.S. cable television, for the first time since August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States. January 2014 marked Fox News's 145th consecutive month as the highest-rated cable news channel. During that month, Fox News beat CNN and MSNBC combined in overall viewers in both prime time hours and the total day. In the third quarter of 2014, the network was the most-watched cable channel during prime time hours. During the final week of the campaign for the United States elections, 2014, Fox News had the highest ratings of any cable channel, news or otherwise. On election night itself, Fox News' coverage had higher ratings than that of any of the other five cable or network news sources among viewers between 25 and 54 years of age. The network hosted the first prime-time GOP candidates' forum of the 2016 campaign on August 6. The debate reached a record-breaking 24 million viewers, by far the largest audience for any cable news event.
FNC ranked No. 8 in viewership among all cable channels in 2006, and No. 7 in 2007. The channel ranked number one during the week of Barack Obama's election (November 3–9) in 2008, and reached the top spot again in January 2010 (during the week of the special Senate election in Massachusetts). Comparing Fox to its 24-hour-news-channel competitors, in May 2010 the channel drew an average daily prime-time audience of 1.8 million viewers (versus 747,000 for MSNBC and 595,000 for CNN).
Between 2003 and 2006, in Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries, FNC was broadcast 16 hours a day on TV8 (with Fox News Extra segments replacing U.S. advertising). Fox News was dropped by TV8 and replaced by German news channel Deutsche Welle in September 2006.
The Fox News story fell apart within hours. Other news organizations quickly revealed the investigator was a Donald Trump supporter and had according to NBC News "developed a reputation for making outlandish claims, such as one appearance on Fox News in 2007 in which he warned that underground networks of pink pistol-toting lesbian gangs were raping young women." The family of Seth Rich, the Washington D.C. police department, the Washington D.C. mayor's office, the FBI, and law enforcement sources familiar with the case rebuked the investigator's claims. Rich's relatives said: "We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth's murderers." The spokesperson for the family criticized Fox News for its reporting, alleging the outlet was motivated by a desire to deflect attention from the Trump-Russia story: "I think there's a very special place in hell for people that would use the memory of a murder victim in order to pursue a political agenda." The family has called for retractions and apologies from Fox News for the inaccurate reporting. Over the course of the day, Fox News altered the contents of the story and the headline, but did not issue corrections. When CNN contacted the private investigator later that day, the investigator said he had no evidence that Rich had contacted Wikileaks. The investigator claimed he only learned about the possible existence of the evidence from a Fox News reporter. Fox News did not respond to inquiries by CNN, and the Washington Post. Fox News later on May 23, seven days after the story was published, retracted its original report, saying the original report did not meet its standards.
As indicated by a New York Times article, based on Nielsen statistics, Fox appears to have a mostly aged demographic. In 2008, in the 25–54 age group, Fox News had an average of 557,000 viewers, but dropped to 379,000 in 2013 while increasing its overall audience from 1.89 million in 2010 to 2.02 million in 2013. The median age of a prime-time viewer was 68 as of 2015 . A 2019 Pew Research Center survey showed that among those who named Fox News as their main source for political news, 69% are aged 50 or older.
Fox News Channel began broadcasting in the 720p resolution format on May 1, 2008. This format is available on all major cable and satellite providers.
In September 2008, FNC joined other channels in introducing a live streaming segment to its website: The Strategy Room, designed to appeal to older viewers. It airs weekdays from 9 AM to 5 PM and takes the form of an informal discussion, with running commentary on the news. Regular discussion programs include Business Hour, News With a View and God Talk. In March 2009, The Fox Nation was launched as a website intended to encourage readers to post articles commenting on the news. Fox News Mobile is the portion of the FNC website dedicated to streaming news clips formatted for video-enabled mobile phones.
Fox News has often been described as a major platform for climate change denial. According to the fact-checking website Climate Feedback, Fox News is part of "a network of unreliable outlets for climate news." A 2011 study by Lauren Feldman and Anthony Leiserowitz found Fox News "takes a more dismissive tone toward climate change than CNN and MSNBC". A 2008 study found Fox News emphasized the scientific uncertainty of climate change more than CNN, was less likely to say climate change was real, and more likely to interview climate change skeptics. Leaked emails showed that in 2009 Bill Sammon, the Fox News Washington managing editor, instructed Fox News journalists to dispute the scientific consensus on climate change: "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question."
In November 2017, following the 2017 New York City truck attack wherein a terrorist shouted "Allahu Akbar", Fox News distorted a statement by Jake Tapper to make it appear as if he had said "Allahu Akbar" can be used under the most "beautiful circumstances". Fox News omitted that Tapper had said the use of "Allahu Akbar" in the terrorist attack was not one of these beautiful circumstances. A headline on FoxNews.com was preceded by a tag reading "OUTRAGEOUS". The Fox News Twitter account distorted the statement even more, saying "Jake Tapper Says 'Allahu Akbar' Is 'Beautiful' Right After NYC Terror Attack" in a tweet that was later deleted. Tapper chastised Fox News for choosing to "deliberately lie" and said "there was a time when one could tell the difference between Fox and the nutjobs at Infowars. It's getting tougher and tougher. Lies are lies." Tapper had in 2009, while a White House correspondent for ABC News, come to the defense of Fox News when Obama criticized the network for not being a legitimate news organization.
In September 2009, the Obama administration engaged in a verbal conflict with Fox News Channel. On September 20, President Barack Obama appeared on all major news programs except Fox News, a snub partially in response to remarks about him by commentators Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and Fox coverage of Obama's health-care proposal.
In September 2009, the Pew Research Center published a report on the public view of national news organizations. In the report, 72 percent of polled Republican Fox viewers rated the channel as "favorable", while 43 percent of polled Democratic viewers and 55 percent of all polled viewers shared that opinion. However, Fox was given the highest "unfavorable" rating of all national outlets studied (25 percent of all polled viewers). The report went on to say, "partisan differences in views of Fox News have increased substantially since 2007".
In late September 2009, Obama's senior advisor David Axelrod and Roger Ailes met in secret to attempt to smooth out tensions between the two camps. Two weeks later, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel referred to FNC as "not a news network" and communications director Anita Dunn said "Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party". Obama observed, "If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that's one thing, and if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another". Emanuel said it was important "to not have the CNNs and the others in the world basically be led in following Fox".
In an October 11, 2009, in a New York Times article, Fox said its hard-news programming runs from "9 AM to 4 PM and 6 to 8 PM on weekdays". However, it makes no such claims for its other broadcasts, which primarily consist of editorial journalism and commentary.
On November 8, 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported an unnamed Democratic consultant was warned by the White House not to appear on Fox News again. According to the article, Dunn claimed in an e-mail to have checked with colleagues who "deal with TV issues" who denied telling anyone to avoid Fox. Patrick Caddell, a Fox News contributor and former pollster for President Jimmy Carter, said he had spoken with other Democratic consultants who had received similar warnings from the White House.
A Public Policy Polling poll concluded in 2013 that positive perceptions of FNC had declined from 2010. 41% of polled voters said they trust it, down from 49% in 2010, while 46% said they distrust it, up from 37% in 2010. It was also called the "most trusted" network by 34% of those polled, more than had said the same of any other network.
Fox News Channel has been widely described as providing biased reporting in favor of conservative political positions, the Republican Party and President Donald Trump. Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein described Fox News as an expanded part of the Republican Party. Political scientists Matt Grossmann and David A. Hopkins wrote that Fox News helped "Republicans communicate with their base and spread their ideas, and they have been effective in mobilizing voters to participate in midterm elections (as in 2010 and 2014)." Prior to 2000, Fox News lacked an ideological tilt, and had more Democrats watch the channel than Republicans. During the 2004 presidential election, Fox News was markedly more hostile in its coverage of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, and distinguished itself among cable news outlets for heavy coverage of the Swift Boat smear campaign against Kerry. During President Obama's first term in office, Fox News helped launch and amplify the Tea Party movement, a conservative movement within the Republican party that organized protests against Obama and his policies.
In New Zealand, FNC is broadcast on Channel 088 of pay satellite operator SKY Network Television's digital platform. It was formerly broadcast overnight on free-to-air UHF New Zealand TV channel Prime (owned by SKY); this was discontinued in January 2010, reportedly due to an expiring broadcasting license. Fox News' former parent company News Corporation had a stake in both SKY and Prime until 2014.
On the night of October 22, 2012, Fox set a record for its highest-rated telecast, with 11.5 million viewers for the third U.S. presidential debate. In prime time the week before, Fox averaged almost 3.7 million viewers with a total day average of 1.66 million viewers.
Fox News provided extensive coverage of the 2012 Benghazi attack, which host Sean Hannity described in December 2012 as "the story that the mainstream media ignores" and "obviously, a cover-up. And we will get to the bottom of it." Programming analysis by Media Matters found that during the twenty months following the Benghazi attacks, FNC ran 1,098 segments on the issue, including:
On October 2, 2013, Fox News host Anna Kooiman cited on the air a fake story from the National Report parody site, which claimed Obama had offered to keep the International Museum of Muslim Cultures open with cash from his own pocket.
In August 2016, Fox News Channel began to quietly phase out the "Fair and Balanced" slogan in favor of "Most Watched, Most Trusted"; when these changes were reported in June 2017 by Gabriel Sherman (a writer who had written a biography on Ailes), a network executive said the change "has nothing to do with programming or editorial decisions". It was speculated by media outlets that Fox News Channel was wishing to distance itself from Ailes' tenure at the network. In March 2018, the network introduced a new ad campaign, Real News. Real Honest Opinion. The ad campaign is intended to promote the network's opinion-based programming and counter perceptions surrounding "fake news".
Fox News attracted controversy in April 2018 when it was revealed primetime host Sean Hannity had defended Trump's then personal attorney Michael Cohen on air without disclosing Cohen was Hannity's lawyer. On April 9, 2018, federal agents from the U.S. Attorney's office served a search warrant on Cohen's office and residence. On the air, Hannity defended Cohen and criticized the federal action, calling it "highly questionable" and "an unprecedented abuse of power". On April 16, 2018, in a court hearing, Cohen's lawyers told the judge that Cohen had ten clients in 2017–2018 but did "traditional legal tasks" for only three: Trump, Elliott Broidy, and a "prominent person" who did not wish to be named for fear of being "embarrassed". The federal judge ordered the revelation of the third client, whom Cohen's lawyers named as Hannity.
Bill O'Reilly and Fox News settled six agreements, totaling $45 million, with women who accused O'Reilly of sexual harassment. In January 2017, shortly after Bill O'Reilly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $32 million ("an extraordinarily large amount for such cases"), Fox News renewed Bill O'Reilly's contract. Fox News's parent company, 21st Century Fox, said it was aware of the lawsuit. The contract between O'Reilly and Fox News read he could not be fired from the network unless sexual harassment allegations were proven in court.
On March 14, 2017, Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News commentator, claimed on Fox & Friends that British intelligence agency GCHQ had wiretapped Trump on behalf of Barack Obama during the 2016 United States presidential election. On March 16, 2017, White House spokesman Sean Spicer repeated the claim. When Trump was questioned about the claim at a news conference, he said "All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it." On March 17, 2017, Shepard Smith, a Fox News anchor, admitted the network had no evidence that Trump was under surveillance. British officials said the White House was backing off the claim. Napolitano was later suspended by Fox News for making the claim.
In April 2017, it became known that former Obama administration national security advisor Susan Rice sought the unmasking of Trump associates who were unidentified in intelligence reports, notably Trump's incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn, during the presidential transition. In May 2020, acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist, declassified a list of Obama administration officials who had also requested unmasking of Trump associates, which was subsequently publicly released by Republican senators. That month, attorney general Bill Barr appointed federal prosecutor John Bash to examine the unmaskings. Fox News primetime hosts declared the unmaskings a "domestic spying operation" for which the Obama administration was "exposed" in the "biggest abuse of power" in American history. The Bash inquiry closed months later with no findings of substantive wrongdoing.
A May 2017 study conducted by Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy examined coverage of Trump's first 100 days in office by several major mainstream media outlets including Fox. It found Trump received 80% negative coverage from the overall media, and received the least negative coverage on Fox – 52% negative and 48% positive.
A number of Fox News hosts have welcomed Bill O'Reilly to their shows and paid tributes to Roger Ailes after his death. In May 2017, Hannity called Ailes "a second father" and said to Ailes's "enemies" that he was "preparing to kick your a** in the next life". Ailes had the year before been fired from Fox News after women alleged he sexually harassed them. In September 2017, several months after Bill O'Reilly was fired from Fox News in the wake of women alleging he sexually harassed them, Hannity hosted O'Reilly on his show. Some Fox News employees criticized the decision. According to CNN, during the interview, Hannity found kinship with O'Reilly as he appeared "to feel that he and O'Reilly have both become victims of liberals looking to silence them."
On May 16, 2017, a day when other news organizations were extensively covering Donald Trump's revelation of classified information to Russia, Fox News ran a lead story about a private investigator's uncorroborated claims about the murder of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer. The private investigator said he had uncovered evidence that Rich was in contact with Wikileaks and law enforcement were covering it up. The killing of Rich has given rise to conspiracy theories in rightwing circles that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party had Seth Rich killed allegedly because he was the source of the DNC leaks. U.S. intelligence agencies determined Russia was the source of the leaks. In reporting the investigator's claims, the Fox News report reignited right-wing conspiracy theories about the killing.
In July 2017, a report by Fox & Friends falsely said The New York Times had disclosed intelligence in one of its stories and that this intelligence disclosure helped Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, to evade capture. The report cited an inaccurate assertion by Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of the United States Special Operations Command, that a major newspaper had disclosed the intelligence. Fox News said it was The New York Times, repeatedly running the chyron "NYT Foils U.S. Attempt To Take Out Al-Bahgdadi". Pete Hegseth, one of the show's hosts, criticized the "failing New York Times". President Donald Trump tweeted about the Fox & Friends report shortly after it first aired, saying "The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi. Their sick agenda over National Security." Fox News later updated the story, but without apologizing to the New York Times or responding directly to the inaccuracies.
FNC was carried in the United Kingdom by Sky, which was 40-percent owned by 21st Century Fox at the time, and operates its own domestic news channel Sky News. On August 29, 2017, Sky dropped Fox News; the broadcaster said its carriage was not "commercially viable" due to average viewership of fewer than 2,000 viewers per day. The company said the decision was unrelated to 21st Century Fox's proposed acquisition of the remainder of Sky plc (which ultimately led to a bidding war that resulted in its acquisition by Comcast instead).
Fox News's extensive coverage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in October 2017 was seen by some as hypocritical. Fox News dedicated at least 12 hours of coverage to the Weinstein scandal, yet only dedicated 20 minutes to Bill O'Reilly, who just like Weinstein had been accused of sexual harassment by a multitude of women. A few weeks later, when a number of women under the age of 18, including a 14-year old, accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of making sexual advances, Hannity dismissed the sexual misconduct allegations and dedicated coverage on his TV show to casting doubt on the accusers. Other prime-time Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham queried The Washington Post's reporting or opted to bring up sexual misconduct allegations regarding show business figures such as Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. Fox News figures Jeanine Pirro and Gregg Jarrett questioned both the validity of The Washington Post's reporting and that of the women. In December 2017, a few days before the Alabama Senate election, Fox News, along with the conspiracy websites Breitbart and Gateway Pundit, ran an inaccurate headline which claimed one of Roy Moore's accusers admitted to forging an inscription by Roy Moore in her yearbook; Fox News later added a correction to the story.
When the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election intensified in October 2017, the focus of Fox News coverage turned "what they see as the scandal and wrongdoing of President Trump's political opponents. In reports like these, Bill and Hillary Clinton are prominent and recurring characters because they are considered the real conspirators working with the Russians to undermine American democracy." Paul Waldman of the Washington Post described the coverage as "No puppet. You're the puppet", saying it was a "careful, coordinated, and comprehensive strategy" to distract from Mueller's investigation. German Lopes of Vox said Fox News' coverage has reached "levels of self-parody" as it dedicated coverage to low-key stories, such as a controversial Newsweek op-ed and hamburger emojis, while other networks had wall-to-wall coverage of Mueller's indictments.
On October 30, 2017, when special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and revealed George Papadopoulos had plead guilty (all of whom were involved in the Trump 2016 campaign), this was the focus of most media's coverage, except Fox News'. Hosts and guests on Fox News called for Mueller to be fired. Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson focused their shows on unsubstantiated allegations that Clinton sold uranium to Russia in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation and on the Clinton campaign's role in funding the Donald Trump–Russia dossier. Hannity asserted: "The very thing they are accusing President Trump of doing, they did it themselves." During the segment, Hannity mistakenly referred to Clinton as President Clinton. Fox News dedicated extensive coverage to the uranium story, which Democrats said was an attempt to distract from Mueller's intensifying investigation. CNN described the coverage as "a tour de force in deflection and dismissal". On October 31, CNN reported Fox News employees were dissatisfied with their outlet's coverage of the Russia investigation, with employees calling it an "embarrassment", "laughable" and saying it "does the viewer a huge disservice and further divides the country" and that it is "another blow to journalists at Fox who come in every day wanting to cover the news in a fair and objective way".
A FiveThirtyEight analysis of Russia-related media coverage in cable news found most mentions of Russia on Fox News were spoken in close proximity to "uranium" and "dossier". On November 1, 2017, Vox analyzed the transcripts of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, and found Fox News "was unable to talk about the Mueller investigation without bringing up Hillary Clinton", "talked significantly less about George Papadopoulos — the Trump campaign adviser whose plea deal with Mueller provides the most explicit evidence thus far that the campaign knew of the Russian government's efforts to help Trump — than its competitors", and "repeatedly called Mueller's credibility into question".
During the Republican primaries, Fox News was perceived as trying to prevent Trump from clinching the nomination. However, under Trump's presidency, Fox News remade itself into his image, as hardly any criticism of Trump could be heard on Fox News' prime-time shows. In Fox News' news reporting, the network dedicated far more coverage to Hillary Clinton-related stories, which critics said was intended to deflect attention from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump provided significant access to Fox News during his presidency, giving 19 interviews to the channel while only 6 in total to other news channels by November 2017; The New York Times described Trump's Fox News interviews as "softball interviews" and some of the interviewers' interview styles as "fawning"; similarly, The Economist has described the network's coverage of Trump's presidency as "reliably fawning". From 2015 to 2017, the Fox News prime-time line-up changed from being skeptical and questioning of Trump to a "Trump safe space, with a dose of Bannonist populism once considered on the fringe". The Fox News website has also become more extreme in its rhetoric since Trump's election; according to Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the Fox News website has "gone a little Breitbart" over time. At the start of 2018, Fox News mostly ignored high-profile scandals in the Trump administration which received ample coverage in other national media outlets, such as White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter's resignation amid domestic abuse allegations, the downgrading of Jared Kushner's security clearance and the existence of a non-disclosure agreement between Trump and the porn star Stormy Daniels.
From 2015 into 2018, Fox News broadcast extensive coverage of an alleged scandal surrounding the sale of Uranium One to Russian interests, which host Sean Hannity characterized as "one of the biggest scandals in American history". According to Media Matters the Fox News coverage extended throughout the programming day, with particular emphasis by Hannity. The network promoted an ultimately unfounded narrative asserting that, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton personally approved the Uranium One sale in exchange for $145 million in bribes paid to the Clinton Foundation. Donald Trump repeated these allegations as a candidate and as president. No evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton had been found after four years of allegations, an FBI investigation, and the 2017 appointment of a Federal attorney to evaluate the investigation. In November 2017, Fox News host Shepard Smith concisely debunked the alleged scandal, infuriating viewers who suggested he should work for CNN or MSNBC. Hannity later called Smith "clueless," while Smith stated, "I get it, that some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining. I get that. I don't work there. I wouldn't work there."
In December 2017, Fox News escalated its attacks on the Mueller investigation, with hosts and guest commentators suggesting the investigation amounted to a coup. Guest co-host Kevin Jackson referred to a right-wing conspiracy theory claiming Strzok's messages are evidence of a plot by FBI agents to assassinate Trump, a claim which the other Fox co-hosts quickly said is not supported by any credible evidence. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro called the Mueller investigation team a "criminal cabal" and said the team ought to be arrested. Other Fox News figures referred to the investigation as "corrupt", "crooked" and "illegitimate", and likened the FBI to the KGB, the Soviet-era spy organization that routinely tortured and summarily executed people. Political scientists and scholars of coups described the Fox News rhetoric as scary and dangerous. Experts on coups rejected that the Mueller investigation amounted to a coup; rather, the Fox News rhetoric was dangerous to democracy and mirrored the kind of rhetoric that occurs before purges. A number of observers argued the Fox News rhetoric was intended to discredit the Mueller investigation and sway President Donald Trump to fire Mueller.
FNC presents a variety of programming, with up to 15 hours of live broadcasting per day in addition to programming and content for the Fox Broadcasting Company. Most programs are broadcast from Fox News headquarters in New York City (at 1211 Avenue of the Americas), in its streetside studio on Sixth Avenue in the west wing of Rockefeller Center, sharing its headquarters with sister channel Fox Business Network. Fox News Channel has eight studios at its New York City headquarters that are used for its and Fox Business' programming: Studio B (used for Fox Business programming), Studio D (which has an area for studio audiences; and is used by The Greg Gutfeld Show, Fox & Friends First), Studio F (used for The Story with Martha MacCallum, The Five, and America's Election Headquarters, Fox & Friends, Outnumbered, Outnumbered Overtime, America's News HQ, Justice with Judge Jeanine) Studio G (which houses Fox Business shows), Studio H (Fox News Deck used for Shepard Smith Reporting and breaking news coverage), Studio J (used for America's Newsroom, Hannity and Justice with Judge Jeanine) Starting in 2018, Thursday Night Football had its pregame show, Fox NFL Thursday, originating from the Fox News studio.
In 2018, the Fox News was rated by Nielsen as America's most watched cable network, averaging a record 2.4 million viewers in prime time and total day during the period of January 1 to December 30, 2018.
In June 2018, Fox News executives instructed producers to head off inappropriate remarks made on the shows aired by the network by hosts and commentators. The instructions came after a number of Fox News hosts and guests made incendiary comments about the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant children from their parents. Fox News host Laura Ingraham had likened the child detention centers that the children were in to "summer camps". Guest Corey Lewandowski mocked the story of a 10-year-old child with Down syndrome being separated from her mother; the Fox News host did not address Lewandowski's statement. Guest Ann Coulter falsely claimed that the separated children were "child actors"; the Fox News host did not challenge her claim. In a segment on Trump's alleged use of racial dog whistles, one Fox News contributor told an African-American whom he was debating, "You're out of your cotton-picking mind."
On June 29, 2018, Fox News broadcast a segment by news anchor Bret Baier entitled "Whatever happened to the Benghazi investigation?" which repeated some of the accusations the network had previously made about Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton, but for which the women had been exonerated by the official investigations.
In August 2018, Fox News was criticized for giving more prominent coverage of a murder committed by an undocumented immigrant than the convictions of Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his long-term personal attorney, Michael Cohen. At the same time, most other national mainstream media gave wall-to-wall coverage of the convictions. Fox News hosts Dana Perrino and Jason Chaffetz argued that voters care far more about the murder than the convictions of the President's former top aides, and hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity downplayed the convictions.
In October 2018, Fox News ran laudatory coverage of a meeting between Trump-supporting rapper Kanye West and President Trump in the Oval Office. Fox News had previously run negative coverage of rappers and their involvement with Democratic politicians and causes, such as when Fox News ran headlines describing conscious hip-hop artist Common as "vile" and a "cop-killer rapper", and when Fox News ran negative coverage of Kanye West before he became a Trump supporter.
On November 4, 2018, Trump's website, DonaldJTrump.com, announced in a press release that Fox News host Sean Hannity would make a "special guest appearance" with Trump at a midterm campaign rally the following night in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The following morning, Hannity tweeted "To be clear, I will not be on stage campaigning with the President." Hannity appeared at the president's lectern on stage at the rally, immediately mocking the "fake news" at the back of the auditorium, Fox News reporters among them. Several Fox News employees expressed outrage at Hannity's actions, with one stating, "a new line was crossed." Hannity later asserted that his action was not pre-planned, and Fox News stated it "does not condone any talent participating in campaign events". Fox News host Jeanine Pirro also appeared on stage with Trump at the rally. The Trump press release was later removed from Trump's website.
However, certain Fox personalities have not had as much of a favorable reception from Trump: news anchors Shepard Smith (who retired from Fox in 2019) and Chris Wallace have been criticised by Trump for allegedly being adversarial, alongside Fox analyst Andrew Napolitano, who said Trump's actions in the Trump–Ukraine scandal were "both criminal and impeachable behavior". Trump was also critical of the network hiring former DNC chair Donna Brazile, in 2019. The relationship between Trump and Fox News – and other Rupert Murdoch-controlled outlets – soured following the 2020 U.S. presidential election as Trump refused to concede that Joe Biden had been elected President-elect. This negative tonal shift led to increased viewership of Newsmax and One America News among Trump and his supporters due to their increased antipathy towards Fox; and as a result, Fox released promotional videos of their opinion hosts disputing the election results, promoting a Trump-affiliated conspiracy theory about voter fraud. By one measure, Newsmax saw a 497% spike in viewership, while Fox News saw a 38% decline.
In March 2019, Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker that Fox News.com reporter Diana Falzone had the story of the Stormy Daniels–Donald Trump scandal before the 2016 election, but that Fox News executive Ken LaCorte told her: "Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert [Murdoch] wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go," and the story was killed. LaCorte denied making the statement to Falzone, but conceded, "I was the person who made the call. I didn't run it upstairs to Roger Ailes or others...I didn't do it to protect Donald Trump," adding "[Falzone] had put up a story that just wasn't anywhere close to being something I was comfortable publishing." Nik Richie, who claimed to be one of the sources for the story, called LaCorte's account "complete bullshit", adding "Fox News was culpable. I voted for Trump, and I like Fox, but they did their own 'catch and kill' on the story to protect him."
Fox News released a poll of registered voters, jointly conducted by two polling organizations, on June 16, 2019. The poll found some unfavorable results for Trump, including a record high 50% thought the Trump campaign had coordinated with the Russian government, and 50% thought he should be impeached — 43% saying he should also be removed from office — while 48% said they did not favor impeachment. The next morning on Fox & Friends First, host Heather Childers twice misrepresented the poll results, stating "a new Fox News poll shows most voters don't want impeachment" and "at least half of U.S. voters do not think President Trump should be impeached," while the on-screen display of the actual poll question was also incorrect. Later that morning on America's Newsroom, the on-screen display showed the correct poll question and results, but highlighted the 48% of respondents who opposed impeachment rather than the 50% who supported it (the latter being broken-out into two figures). As host Bill Hemmer drew guest Byron York's attention to the 48% opposed figure, they did not discuss the 50% support figure, while the on-screen chyron read, "Fox News Poll: 43% Support Trump's Impeachment and Removal, 48% Oppose." Later that day, Trump tweeted "@FoxNews Polls are always bad for me...Something weird going on at Fox."
Rich's parents, Joel and Mary Rich, sued Fox News for the emotional distress it had caused them by its false reporting. In 2020, Fox News settled with Rich family, making a payment that was not officially disclosed but which was reported to be in the seven figures. Although the settlement had been agreed to earlier in the year, Fox News arranged to delay the public announcement until after the 2020 presidential election.
According to the Los Angeles Times on August 19, 2020: "Fox News Channel had six of last week's 11 highest-rated prime-time programs to finish first in the network ratings race for the third time since June" 2020.
In mid-November 2020, following the election, Fox News began to use the slogan "Standing Up For What's Right" to promote its primetime lineup.
In December 2020, Dominion Voting Systems sent a similar letter demanding retractions to Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who had promoted the allegations on Fox programs. On March 26, 2021, Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, alleging that Fox and some of its pundits spread conspiracy theories about Dominion, and allowed guests to make false statements about the company.
In December 2020, Smartmatic sent a letter to Fox News demanding retractions and threatening legal action, specifying that retractions "must be published on multiple occasions" so as to "match the attention and audience targeted with the original defamatory publications." Days later, each of the three programs aired the same three-minute video segment consisting of an interview with an election technology expert who refuted the allegations promoted by the hosts, responding to questions from an unseen and unidentified man. None of the three hosts personally issued retractions. Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion defamation suit against the network, the three hosts, Powell and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani in February 2021.
Writing for the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in February 2021, senior media writer Tom Jones argued that the primary distinction between Fox News and MSNBC is not right bias vs. left bias, but rather that much of the content on Fox News, especially during its primetime programs, is not based in truth. The Poynter Institute operates the PolitiFact factchecking site.