Fox News debuted in 1996 with a soon-to-be-ridiculous “Fair and Balanced” slogan and never looked back. At least, the network didn’t do so until recently, when the ejection of CEO Roger Ailes (who has since passed away) provided an opportunity to ditch the label that its maker had so lovingly (and cynically) bestowed. The problem, of course — and despite Ailes crafting the slogan as a response to liberal media bias — is that the motto is widely regarded as untrue and brought mockery that included Jon Stewart mugging on the Daily Show, much to the delight of his progressive-leaning audience.
Clearly, Fox News takes a pointedly conservative slant on most stories (with Shepard Smith being the one anchor who isn’t afraid to shake off the shackles every now and then). As with most scoops involving the network, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman snagged the motto-dumping story first. He points toward two reasons (too many jokes and the difficult legacy of Ailes) as reasons for the network to officially change their marketing slogan:
The decision was made last August after Ailes’s ouster by Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy, because the phrase had “been mocked,” one insider said. Another executive explained that the tagline was “too closely associated with Roger.” Fox executives have been instructed by management to market the network by its other tagline: “Most Watched. Most Trusted.”
Presumably, this shift doesn’t mean that hosts like Sean Hannity will be deterred from attacking CNN or other perceived enemies in the future. And Fox News confirmed to Sherman not only that the slogan will go but that their editorial or programming decisions will not change. Sherman wonders, though, if Fox News doesn’t realize what a big step they’re taking — since Ailes insisted on teaching seminars based upon the motto. He reportedly told producers, “The news is like a ship. If you take hands off the wheel, it pulls hard to the left.'” Regardless, the company wants to depart from Ailes’ image (and the unavoidable taint of his sexual harassment scandal), so it’s done.
Plus, maybe Fox News realized they were fooling no one? It’s supremely hard to claim “balance” when the network’s flagship morning program announced President Trump’s MOAB strike in Afghanistan with Toby Keith lyrics while a grinning Geraldo Rivera chirped, “One of my favorite things in my 16 years at Fox News is watching bombs drop on bad guys.” Indeed, a few Twitter responses reveal that the mockery continues…