Fox News is “Fair and Balanced” no more.
In the latest sign of change at the cable news network, the “Fair and Balanced” motto that has long been a rallying cry for Fox News fans – and a finger in the eye of critics – is gone. The channel confirmed on Wednesday (US time) that slogan and network have parted ways.
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“The shift has nothing to do with programming or editorial decisions,” the network said in a statement. Instead, the slogan was dropped in part because of its close association with Roger Ailes, network’s co-founder, former chairman and the originator of the phrase, who was fired in August in a sexual harassment scandal.
The network said that “Fair and Balanced” was shelved as a marketing tool after Ailes’ departure. In its place is a new motto: “Most Watched, Most Trusted.”
Another Fox slogan, “We Report, You Decide,” also has been retired, although the network said that it returns occasionally.
Some viewers may be surprised. Several Fox News personalities still toss the phrase “fair and balanced” into on-air conversation, though it no longer appears in on-screen graphics. Gabriel Sherman, the longtime Fox News chronicler, reported on New York magazine’s website that the motto was gone for good.
The new motto, “Most Watched, Most Trusted,” mimics the firm cadence of the previous slogans, but lacks their Ailes-tinged tone of defiance.
For conservative-leaning viewers, “Fair and Balanced” was a blunt signal that Fox News planned to counteract what Ailes and many others viewed as a liberal bias ingrained in television coverage by establishment news networks.
The network said it is dropping the slogan due to its association with former chief Roger Ailes. Photo: AP
But the slogan also caused conniptions among liberal critics of Fox News, who viewed it as an intentional needling of anyone who might question the network’s view of the news.
Ailes, who died in May, created the slogan with both of those purposes in mind. He coined the phrase when he and Rupert Murdoch founded Fox News in 1996, and it stuck.
Megyn Kelly’s exit has been a ratings problem for Fox. Photo: Chris Carlson
Executives at Fox News acknowledge that it is rebuilding.
This year, Fox News has continued its years-long streak as the top-rated cable news station overall, beating rivals MSNBC and CNN in total viewership.
Fox’s slogan has long been derided (and celebrated).
But the loss of the anchors Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly has taken a toll in prime time. In May, MSNBC was the highest-rated network in a key industry category, weeknight viewers 25 through 54, for the first time in nearly 17 years.
On Wednesday, executives at Fox News sought to play down the shedding of “Fair and Balanced,” saying the move was strictly a marketing decision and that the network’s approach to news coverage had not changed.
One senior network official emphasised that the slogan was officially dropped in August and that virtually no one had noticed.
The New York Times