With Trump’s defeat, the network and the family are at a crossroads, facing far more critical scrutiny and pressure than they ever have in the United States. Fox is in the position, at this moment, of state broadcasters in unstable countries where an unpopular leader has been voted out of power but refuses to accept the result. Will the broadcaster be loyal to the defeated leader and claim that the election was rigged — a path that will probably not be successful but would nearly guarantee a higher level of post-election instability? Or does the broadcaster take the journalistically and morally correct path of reporting the fact that the president really did lose an election that was not rigged against him? In the 24 hours leading up to Biden surpassing 270 Electoral College votes on Saturday, the Murdoch properties showed added evidence of taking the latter path.
It is useful to step back for a moment and realize the deformity of this moment. Due to the unique power of Fox News — alongside Facebook, it is the most prominent platform in the U.S. for spreading right-wing disinformation — a single family with a net worth of approximately $17 billion is positioned to decide whether election conspiracy theories will have the media oxygen they need to spread widely and deeply across the country. It is a concentration of power that has been amassed and abused for decades by the Murdoch family, and has caused immense damage in the U.S. and other countries too (the Murdochs are responsible for similar harm in the U.K. and Australia, where they also have significant media holdings).