Very sad news today from the world of entertainment: Fox News is no longer with us.
By ‘us’ I mean television viewers in Britain.
One of my favourite television comedy shows will no longer be aired here. Fox News ceased to broadcast in Britain as of 4pm Tuesday.
Tonight I tried as usual to tune in to the channel for another mirth-filled hour of fatuous alt-right opinions spouted by shrieking bimbos masquerading as news presenters. But, shock and horror, it was no longer where it should be on my Sky menu. It wasn’t anywhere on my Sky menu. It had gone. No warning. Gone! Poof! Just like that!
Now, I can’t sit here and write that it spoiled my evening. But I had become accustomed to tuning into Fox News not only for its bizarre entertainment value but also for its unabashed and raucous right-wing tendencies, which we liberals regularly need, just as junkies need a fix, in order to feed our political rants.
A spokesperson for the network, which is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his sons, who also own Sky Broadcasting, said distributing the channel here was no longer commercially viable, as it had attracted only “a few thousand viewers”.
If the spokesperson was right, I belonged to a very select group. Some would say a sad group. Of course, the Murdochs don’t do select or sad, but that family must have been in one hell of a panic about something or other to act so precipitately.
Critics of Fox immediately claimed that the real reason for pulling Fox News was nothing to do with poor viewing numbers; it was, rather, to remove a potential threat to the Murdochs’ plan, currently being reviewed by the British government, for 21st Century Fox to buy the balance of Sky Broadcasting that the entertainment conglomerate does not already own.
These same sources also noted pointedly that Fox News had several times fallen foul of British broadcasting standards, including a programme in which a commentator, during the Referendum campaign spoke favourably of Britain leaving the European Union. Another strike against Fox News was that it has also been embroiled in the United States in scandals involving charges of sexual harassment against two of its high-profile presenters, Roger Ailes, who has since died, and Bill O’Reilly.
I shall miss Fox News. I admit it. I shall miss it even though I despised its overt in-your-face political bias. I shall miss those lady presenters with their endless legs in short skirts. I shall even miss – perhaps especially miss – the demented Sean Hannity, a talk-show host who favours opinions with which even the late Senator Joseph McCarthy might have felt uncomfortable.
Having said that, I had begun to sense of late that Fox News might have been softening its slavish devotion to Donald Trump and his works, but I may just have imagined that. The Murdochs don’t do Damascene conversions either.
Whatever the case, Fox News has now departed these shores.
On thoughtful reflection, and with mixed feelings that border on the confused, all I can say is: “I’m sorry to see you go … but bloody good riddance to bad rubbish”.