"I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you," Air Supply once sang about a romance beyond repair, but the same lyric applies to Republicans' current relationship with Fox News.
Yes, it seems the current GOP can no longer like their television channel after the tumultuous year Roger Ailes and co. have had. Fox News has fallen out of favor with Republicans after two years of untouched supremacy as the party's brand of choice across any and every medium, according to a recent YouGov survey. YouGov measures which brands are preferred by each party (Republicans, Democrats, Independents) by adding and subtracting negative feedback on a 100 to -100 scale. In 2011, Fox News led all brands with 68 support points, a full 5 points ahead of the rest. In 2012, Fox News led with 64.5 support points, 1.7 points above the rest. This year? In 2013, Fox News didn't even make the top 10.
So where did it all go wrong? Some trace the recent Republican-Fox divorce all the way back to last November, when poor Megyn Kelly roamed through the Fox hallways looking for an answer to Karl Rove's ridiculous question: why isn't Mitt Romney president? Fox viewers who spent the months preceding the election listening to Sean Hannity tell them how rosy things were going for the Romney campaign were just as incredulous on election night as Karl Rove. In that way, he was, however briefly, a man of the people.
Right after the election, Slate's Allison Benedikt argued Republicans should stop trusting the network because of its impossibly close ties with the Republican Party if they want honest news. "After Karl Rove’s on-air freakout and the aforementioned MegynCam challenge, Fox was forced to acknowledge that Obama had won the damn election. And now what are they left with?" Benedikt asked. "A whole lot of viewers who are quite surprised to find that they are once again outnumbered by Americans who actually like better access to health care and don’t all keep Carrie Mathison-style timelines of the Benghazi cables on their living room walls." A Public Policy Poll released in January showed a serious decline in trust during the months after the election. Only 52 percent of those who identify as "somewhat conservative," said they trust Fox News, down from 65 percent last year. Hardline conservatives trust Fox News less, too: 13 percent said they don't trust Fox News anymore, compared to 6 percent last year.
Interestingly, new research says Fox News, from 1997-2002, had a noticeable effect on the way Republicans voted in federal elections. (Hint: they voted Republican, but data shows Fox News guaranteed they voted within their party.) They probably wouldn't have the same influence today. The conservative juggernaut is swaying, falling, teetering on brink of self-parody and un-truthiness. One can only presume this is why they're remaking the anchor line-up with established conservative faces and bringing in giant iPads. Fox is asking what it is without Republicans, letting the party know it's not too late to say it was wrong.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.