Fox News’ Decline

Fox News Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert notes that Fox News is getting much lower ratings this campaign season than in past years and argues that it’s their “comeuppance” for their ideological approach to news coverage.

I’d say the reason is far more mundane: Their inexplicable failure to offer a high-definition (HDTV) broadcast. As prices have dropped, millions of us have bought HD sets. Figures vary, but estimates have roughly a third of US households having HDTV and that number is rapidly increasing with every passing month.

As with previous technologies, like stereo records, CD, and DVD, this his quickly outmoded old technologies. How many of us still watch movies on our VCRs or listen to our 8-tracks?

It had been quite some time since I’d watched cable news, since I find the Internet much more efficient for information gathering, but I finally turned back to it for the New Hampshire returns and was shocked to find that Fox was still broadcasting in standard def, which looks especially bad on a large screen plasma. I switched over to CNN, which has a crystal-clear hi-def signal, and never flipped back.

via Memeorandum

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Media, Science & Technology, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I have to wonder, though, what the coverage is like. While folks with the dish get CNN in HD, a lot of cable companies haven’t started offering it.

    For example, I don’t get any news channel in HD on my cable system.

  2. Paul says:

    Yeah, how to explain their disposition to preserve existing conditions, to limit change, and to resist new ways of doing things? Isn’t there a word for that?

  3. Cernig says:

    James, did you just admit to preferring what many hardline Republicans would call liberal style over conservative substance?

    Regards, C (With tongue firmly in cheek)

  4. Michael says:

    Yeah, how to explain their disposition to preserve existing conditions, to limit change, and to resist new ways of doing things? Isn’t there a word for that?


  5. Diane C. Russell says:

    I work and write at home and I generally have a TV turned on near my monitor–a 7 inch screen.

    I couldn’t care less if the news is in HD or SD or XYZ, as long as there is news.

    I used to have Fox News on most of the day. That is no longer the case.

    Why? Because in my opinion the real content–actual news and worthwhile political discussion and analysi–has generally gone away and been replaced by celebrity crap, hysterical “breaking” coverage of non-events, and long-winded gab-fests of groups of people more interested in hearing themselves talk than in providing the viewers with significant facts or ideas to think about.

    Today’s Fox News is nothing like what it was five years ago. Then I could watch it and learn something all day, now it is pablum the vast majority of the time.

  6. Mark Jaquith says:

    30% of households own an HDTV, but according to that same article only 44% of those have HDTV service. So that’s 13.2% of households. And of those who have HDTV service, a large percentage don’t even have it hooked up correctly. For instance, they’re not using component cables or an HDMI cable to connect, or they don’t realize that the HD versions of channels are up up in the “500s” or otherwise way out of their way. Take this all together and I’ll bet fewer than 10% of households are actually watching TV in HD in their homes.

    Not to mention that “HD” over satellite is so highly compressed it is a stretch to call it HD. To get good quality HD video you need to get it over the air or through a high bandwidth terrestrial connection (fiberoptic).

  7. Triumph says:

    Fox was still broadcasting in standard def, which looks especially bad on a large screen plasma.

    HDTV would just make O’reilly and Hume look even scarier than they do now.

  8. I think it’s just that Fox’s coverage hasn’t been very good; the “HD” factor isn’t that big (and I’m 100% HD in my household). MSNBC is doing a pretty good job with its resources across NBC Universal’s platforms, and Olbermann and Matthews are consciously playing their election night coverage down the middle.

    Plus I think Fox has become overreliant on their over-the-hill Hume panel. There’s only so much Juan Williams and Charles Krauthammer one can take.

  9. Matt Dailey says:

    I tend to agree that the HD angle has very little to do with Fox News’ rating decline. I think it’s more to do with people getting tired of Fox News tabloid reporting. Their bias is alot more blatant than CNN’s. Plus their blowhard (Bill O’Reilly) is slightly more annoying than CNN’s blowhard (Lou Dobbs).

  10. dearleader nyc says:

    can you imagine what Charles Krauthammer twisted visage or O’Reilly’s several pounds of orange pancake makeup would look like in HD? Their Sunday mornig talk show would look like brunch with Freddy Kruger and Gary Oldman’s character from Hannibal.

  11. lebowski says:

    Fox ‘News’ tanking because of no HD? What a stretch. Face facts, people are tired of the nonstop BS.

  12. jay k. says:

    i’m sure it is all about HD and not about the majority of the country that realizes bush is f’ed, as are all of his mouthpieces at faux news. roger ailles…get right on that HD thing.

  13. John425 says:

    I just love the chatter from the lefties above who think the Olbermannequin reports right down the middle. What a joke!

    Having said that, I agree with the posters who pan Fox News for more celebrity crap and Geraldo Rivera than ever before. Even O’Reilly has too much fluff and trash. Now, I admit that I could look at Martha McCallum all day, every day, but…trivia quizzes?

  14. jay k. says:

    he is much more down the middle than faux news. the problem is that to extremists the middle looks left.

  15. jugger says:

    he is much more down the middle than faux news. the problem is that to extremists the middle looks left.

    well said jay k. and very correct in it’s assertion.

  16. This “lefty” was referring to Olbermann on the election night coverage (that I’ve seen), not on Countdown where Olbermann plays a low-rent parody of Edward R. Morrow to negligible ratings against O’Reilly and Dobbs.

  17. LiberalPercy says:

    Funny – any excuse except the most likely one – the country is sick and tired of Right Wing Bullshit from Faux Noise. The Conservatives had control of our government for six years and did their best to destroy it.
    People are tired of the wealthy getting tax cuts while they get crumbs. People are tired of being ripped off by health insurers. People are sick to death of the death WE are responsible for in Iraq.

    The nation as a whole is waking up to the fact that the Right Wingnuts, led by Faux Noise, are con artists who have had us in their thrall since Ronnie Raygun days.

    HD ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. It’s the content. And Faux’s content sucks.

  18. John425 says:

    If the Olbermannequin is the “center” then Stalin was a liberal-but misunderstood. Right?

  19. ibfamous says:

    I agree that low def was the problem. As seen on TV, in low definition, the product looked glamorous and yet practical. However once it arrived in the home it was obviously a piece of crap…

  20. Wayne says:

    First off we are talking “campaign coverage”. Otherwise Fox is still dominating in ratings.

    There are many reasons that contribute to the closeness of “campaign coverage” rating. One there is much more interest on the Dem side than the Rep side which would help CNN. Election coverage has been pretty much the same on any network. Therefore you have those changing from Fox for a fresh change. Third some like me tune in to CNN at times to see if their coverage is different from Fox. Both have been pretty lame.

    The link to media matter is obvious bias. It admits that most interest has been on Dem side and claims that Fox is losing since it only has only two of top ten debate ratings. What percentage of total debates or Dem debates has been on Fox News.? Getting 20% of top ten debates seems good when that is taken into account.
    I suspect on election night, Fox News will do as well as they have in the past.

  21. lebowski says:

    all right!! john425 wins the award for being the first to trot out the stalin reference. congrats. really, congrats. your credibility has not been diminished in the least.

  22. Demosthenes says:

    Perhaps the reason ratings on CNN/MSNBC are doing well vis-a-vis Fox is because election returns are on late at night, when Fox’s elderly audience is already asleep.

  23. Super Conservative Loser says:

    Fox could get back a lot of its viewers by appealing to their hillbilly/redneck/George W. Bush base. They should offer in depth NASCAR coverage and teach people how to cook possums they hit with their farm equipment.

    Or maybe they should try harder to appeal to out of touch old people who still think that the cold war is going on and that Stalin is somehow relevant to modern political discussions. That generation isn’t accustomed to thinking for itself, so Fox has an advantage there already. Demosthenes’s idea of earlier “evening” programming is a good one.

    All in all, though, I am crushed that Fox news is floundering. If they go under, who will tell me who to hate?

  24. Teddy says:

    That’s a lot of spin… Equivalent to what fox serves on a daily bases.

  25. Fox Rules says:

    hahahahaha Yeah… no HD that’s it! That’s the ticket…

    Oh brother – you guys will say anything to avoid the truth. Fox’s anchors all look like sweaty used car salesmen. Who the hell would want to see those faces in HD? I could forgive the horror of their appearances if they actually delivered news instead of a steady stream of crap all day long.

    Get a clue already – stick a fork in it… the “Ronnie Raygun Revolution” is over.