McHistory: Fox Launched to Counter Nonexistent Leftism of MSNBC

Al Neuharth (cc photo: Scott Henrichsen/Knight Foundation)

Al Neuharth (cc photo: Scott Henrichsen/Knight Foundation)

The headline of Al Neuharth’s column in USA Today (7/15/11) summed up his case: “Murdoch Media Give You What You Want.”

That sort of depends on who “you” is. Neuharth explains:

Murdoch has an uncanny knack for figuring out what a sizable segment of readers and viewers want and giving it to them. Straight or slanted.

His Fox News television network is as blatantly right-wing as Murdoch intended it to be when he started it in 1996 to counter the left-wing MSNBC.

Oh, so that’s what explained the launch of Fox News Channel in October 1996–the rampant left-wing bias of MSNBC, which had been on the air for… just about three months. The channel with all the left-wing hosts–like the show that featured Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. The channel that made a big deal of hiring Don Imus in 1998.

The channel that would go on, in those early years, to bring viewers the likes of Michael Savage, Tucker Carlson, Alan Keyes, Oliver North and Joe Scarborough. Yep, Fox was launched to counter all of that.

Or maybe Neuharth means that Murdoch is so smart that he started a right-wing cable network knowing that his competitors would try to imitate his political slant for the better part of a decade, until finally deciding that counter-programming made more sense. So that in the late 2000s, Fox would finally have a liberal foil.

If that’s what he means, then Murdoch really is an evil genius.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.