On Tuesday, the fate of the Republicans’ attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act dominated news out of Washington. Phones rattled with alerts about the decision to delay a vote until mid-July. Camera crews jostled for shots of senators meeting with President Trump, then boarding a bus that took them past jeering protesters.
A viewer tuning into Fox News that night hardly saw any of it.
The network’s prime time shows, ratings kings of cable news, ignored the health-care story. Fox’s 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows began with stories about a sting video that caught a CNN producer dismissing his network’s coverage of Russia and the 2016 election. “The Five,” Fox’s 9 p.m. show, began with the “bombshell” news that President Barack Obama had said — in October 2016 — that it would be “impossible” to rig the election. Nine minutes were spent on the Senate bill before a segue way into the CNN story.
The lack of “Obamacare repeal” coverage, unthinkable just six months ago, reflected a general decline of conservative interest in what had united Republicans for seven years. Conservative grassroots groups have either ignored the latest health-care details, like Americans for Prosperity, or lobbied against the bill, like the Club for Growth.