I guess as an insider in the media industry you see the conservative propaganda machine as legitimate business.
But it’s not just business. It’s also propaganda. Government-led propaganda is already illegal because of the threat it can pose to democracy and the harm it imposes on the public, i.e. citizens who are misled and misinformed are unable to properly assess their own interests.
Businesses like Fox News Channel that are promoting and enabling elected parties and politicians, giving them a free platform and propagandizing by proxy, ought to be included in these laws. Free speech be damned. They’ve de-educated their viewers, and they’ve become a national security threat.
And I’m not at all convinced that their top priority is now business, or ever was. Murdoch may be a businessman, but he started Fox because he was a conservative ideologue. Fox is fully sold out to a political cause. Ratings and profits could both go down the tubes, and they wouldn’t change their message.
Also, I know from a business perspective it feels like the audience is a fixed target and programming caters to the audience, but this doesn’t pass the common sense test in the specific case of Fox News Channel. I spend half my coffee breaks each day listening to old white Boomers recite, often verbatim, the talking points they heard on Fox News Channel the night before. They have become radicalized over the years. Their core beliefs have drifted very far from where they were 5 or 10 years ago. They are not the same people. I would estimate that their current worldviews are 95% Fox’s doing, or right-wing talk radio, and at most 5% a product of on-line research or their own reasoning. They are being cultivated to want right-wing programming, and more of it. FNC has developed their audience, not targeted it.