by Ben Cohen
With the news that Bill Shine has been forced out as co-president of Fox News today, conservatives are beginning to panic about the rapid disintegration of the old guard that has set the network's far right agenda for the past 25 years.
The spectacular demise of Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, it has become apparent that sexual harassment is rife within the culture at Fox News, and male executives not only engaged in harassing their female coworkers, but attempted to cover it up too . According to Variety, Shine was forced out for trying to shield O'Reilly and Ailes from complaints about their sexual behavior:
Shine had been cited in at least four different lawsuits recently filed against Fox News, several suggesting he had failed to intervene and in some cases tried to shield Ailes and O’Reilly despite questionable behavior.
The Daily Beast was more specific about the cases:
In one particular case, ex-host Andrea Tantaros alleged that Shine actively coordinated a campaign to retaliate against her for her accusations against the now-deposed Fox News creator. And according to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, who first reported Shine’s resignation, female Fox News staffers considered circulating a petition calling for his firing.
After the news broke, conservatives openly began to panic at the prospect of a more "liberal" Fox News:
The ongoing purge has hit Sean Hannity perhaps the hardest with reports breaking of him eyeing an exit from the network he has worked for for over 20 years. Hannity tweeted this last week:
The Beast then reported that Hannity was indeed looking to get out:
Sean Hannity is looking to leave Fox News, according to sources, following the resignation of Fox News co-president Bill Shine officially on Monday.
Shine was Hannity’s long-time ally whom he personally recommended the network hire two decades ago to produce Hannity & Colmes. In recent days, Hannity warned it would be the “total end” of Fox News should Shine leave, and he rallied conservative activists to back him up.
Initially, insiders said, Hannity’s army of lawyers had hoped to discuss with Fox ways of protecting his 8-year-old primetime show, amid fears that Lachlan and James Murdoch—fresh off the ousting of Bill O’Reilly—were looking to push the network away from hard-right politics.
However, with Shine’s departure on Monday, one source told The Daily Beast, there’s no reason for Hannity to stay.
It is hard to convey just how big this is -- the prospect of Fox News transforming itself into a (relatively) sane network that isn't run by racist, misogynistic white men is nothing short of revolutionary and a big boost for liberalism in America. For over two decades, Fox has turned the rantings of curmudgeonly old conservative men into an actual news network -- and with predictably disastrous results.
Fox has been the major facilitator of dumbing down an already poorly educated demographic of middle Americans, feeding them non-stop xenophobia, racist and anti-scientific garbage. From climate change denial, the relentless vilification of immigrants and the ludicrously biased financial reporting (never, ever questioning free market capitalism), Fox News was undoubtedly the precursor to the mass proliferation of fake news sites having primed millions of Americans to accept the fact free assertions of bloggers in their basements as legitimate sources of information. It is genuinely scary to think that Fox News is relatively tame compared to the organizations Trump and his followers get their news from.
If the purge continues and Sean Hannity loses his job, the tightly knit cabal of hard right executives and news hosts will be dispersed into the fringes of the the media where they may command their own mini-fiefdoms, but won't have nearly the same impact working alone. A new, less hostile to women and minorities Fox News would have a ripple effect on American society that may not be felt immediately, but could lay the ground for significant shifts in attitude. The impact would be greatly felt amongst white middle Americans who have traditionally identified with the hard right.
Rupert Murdoch's son James Murdoch is a known environmentalist and political moderate, and he will most certainly be looking to change the network's tone on a number of key issues -- climate change being the most prominent. If this issue is reported on accurately at the network, it could well pave the way for the severity of the situation to be conveyed to a demographic that still believes it doesn't exist. It is unlikely your average Republican voting male in Wisconsin is going to become a vegan and stop mowing his lawn, but at the very least he may think twice before voting for a climate change denier threatening the future of his kids.
Above all, the purge at Fox symbolizes the end of a white male dominated era of network news, finally paving the way for a more diverse cast of executives and anchors that reflect the world most Americans live in (or at the very least, people who aren't inherently misogynistic xenophobes). It is no wonder the likes of Mark Levin and Sean Hannity are freaking out about this -- their entire existence is predicated on a work culture that reflects their own archaic views. Once that culture is rejected, they cease to wield the same power they are used to and will be consigned to the Siberias of the media landscape -- just as Glenn Beck was when he was finally given the boot. Beck is doing quite well for himself financially, but he is no longer relevant as a television personality or national figure. Ultimately, the angry white men at Fox News have been brought down by their own hubris, proving yet again that karma isn't just mythological, but a hard fact of life.
What this means for Donald Trump is anyone's guess, but we know that the new generation of Murdochs are not too keen on him meaning he may no longer be able to count on the network to serve as his official mouthpiece. And without a major news network doing his bidding, Trump's already disastrous presidency would become so dangerously isolated that it is hard to see how he makes it to 2020.