At first glance it reads like a headline out of the Onion, but according to some members of the Tea Party, the Fox News Channel is just not conservative enough.
A faction of the Tea Party movement known as the Fire Ants held its second boycott of the cable network over the weekend. The “Turn Right” boycott, which took place Thursday through Sunday, was organized via a blog called Benghazi-Truth, whose author claims that Fox News has “essentially abandoned” its conservative viewers and shifted its reporting too far to the left.
“The message [is] loud and clear to FOX,” the blog says of the boycott. “‘Stop screwing around and start serving your core audience, or your core audience will take their business elsewhere.’”
Benghazi-Truth is written anonymously under a profile named Proe Graphique. A Twitter user attached to the same blog uses the handle @FrankMDavisJR. Graphique writes that the Tea Party Fire Ants are disappointed with Fox’s “truly pathetic” reporting on the Benghazi attack and subsequent investigation. “I remain convinced, now, as do many others, that Obama wanted the people in Benghazi dead,” the blogger states.
The blogger also believes that Fox did not diligently investigate the issue of President Barack Obama’s citizenship, despite the fact that Obama made his birth certificate public in 2011 and a PDF copy of the document remains available to view on the White House website. “Obama’s birth certificate is a fake,” Graphique writes. “We want you (Fox News) to report it every night, interview experts, ask why and investigate how and why this happened.”
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Proe Graphique’s profile contains no contact information. However, IBTimes reached out to Graphique through an email found on another blog attached to the same profile. The blogger did not return a request for comment. It was a similar story elsewhere, as news of the boycott spread following a Saturday article by the Daily Beast’s David Freedlander. According to Freedlander, an organizer of the boycott named Kathy Amidon declined to comment for that story. Responding to the Daily Beast’s article, meanwhile, Benghazi-Truth wrote that Amidon “had no interest in feeding the left-wing Tea Party destruction machine.”
On Monday, the boycott was attracting its share of Twitter-born derision from users who saw the irony in Tea Party-led boycott of one of its biggest cheerleaders, but the boycott was also attracting support, as evidenced by the following tweet:
I’m a proponent of the Boycott of Fox News. They used to be a reputable news organization but they’ve become too liberal. Sad.
â€” Doug Thomas (@GodsAssociate) March 25, 2013
Fox News, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA), consistently ranks No. 1 in the ratings for cable news. A spokesperson for the network did not respond to a request for comment regarding the boycotts.
For both boycotts, organizers asked Tea Party supporters not to watch Fox News on the selected days, hoping to make a dent in its ratings large enough to send a message to Fox’s president, Roger Ailes. But whether or not the boycotts are working depends on whom you ask. Ratings data for this past weekend is not yet available, but Benghazi-Truth is already touting its first boycott -- which took place on March 8 and March 9 -- as a “giant success,” claiming that Fox News’s ratings were down a whopping 22 percent during the selected days, according to Nielsen data posted on TV by the Numbers. Freedlander challenged that figure, stating in his article that “a Daily Beast analysis of the same data showed that the boycott had little effect.”
On Sunday, Benghazi-Truth fired back at Friedman’s challenge. “Benghazi-Truth never publishes as fact anything it can't prove,” the blogger wrote. “Freedlander seemingly just relies on his supposed credibility to demean the efforts of the boycott.”
The blogger goes on to tout the extent of the Tea Party movement’s reach: “Just the one Twitter group, @WashingtonDCTea has almost 500,000 followers alone, almost fully a third of NEWSWEEK’s reported world-wide print circulation.” (It should be noted here that Newsweek abandoned its print edition at the end of last year.)
The argument may ultimately be null, however, as a spokesperson for Nielsen told IBTimes that data posted on TV by the Numbers is not supplied directly by the ratings company. In the meantime, IBTimes requested Fox’s primetime ratings data from Nielsen for the affected days, so we should know soon enough if the boycott had any real effect. An update will be posted here when the information comes in.