New York Magazine reported today that that the network's co-president Jack Abernethy began considering dropping the phrase after the late chief of Fox News Roger Ailes was forced out in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal last August. The network will instead push the tagline, "Most Watched".
According to the magazine, the slogan is reportedly being changed because it had "been mocked" and was "too closely associated" with Ailes. The effectiveness of Fox News as a vehicle for conservative ideology depended on it. "Most Trusted" - a statement that is at least half true, insofar as Fox News maintains some of the highest ratings in cable news.
The 21st Century Fox executive pointed to Fox anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace as "absolutely fair and balanced", noting the network believes it is "really important to understand that distinction between primetime, personality-driven opinion shows, and the more general news coverage". "You can't get away with it", Ailes once told a reporter.
Without Roger Ailes at the helm, Fox News seems to be suffering a prolonged identity crisis. "If you come out and you try to do right-wing news, you're gonna die".
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A Fox News spokesperson confirmed that the network had not used the slogan in external marketing or on-air promotions since August 2016, but said "the shift has nothing to do with programming or editorial decisions".
Fox News sued Democratic Sen. Prime-time star Bill O'Reilly was sacked in April; up-and-comer Megyn Kelly departed for greener pastures at NBC; and executive leadership has undergone a rapid succession of changes as the network's old guard, represented by Rupert Murdoch, clashes with a younger, reformist generation led by Murdoch's sons, James and Lachlan.
No longer tagged as "Fair & Balanced". O'Reilly is gone, but Sean Hannity remains (for now), and O'Reilly's successor Tucker Carlson is no less partisan than he was.
Ailes would also use "fair and balanced" as a measuring stick on whom to hire.