Fox News has been a having a rough time filling its airwaves.
Trump is out of office, Trump’s Twitter feed is out of commission, and President Biden has so far yet to transform the United States into crime-ridden socialist hellscape the network spent the better of 2020 warning their viewers was inevitable if he won the election.
This has left the network scrounging for storylines they think will rile up their viewers. They aren’t going to find many of them in Congress, where Democrats are working to pass a coronavirus relief bill. There’s not much in the White House, either, where Biden is mostly doing uncontroversial things like trying to get people vaccinated.
What’s left? Sweet, sweet cancel culture, which offered up a morsel of a storyline Tuesday morning when Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it will stop publishing six of its books because they contain racist imagery. The news came on what is both Dr. Seuss’ birthday and national Read Across America Day, which has traditionally celebrated the children’s author. This year the National Education Association is trying to diversify, and Dr. Seuss is no longer part of the programming.
Fox News descended on the news like starving dogs on a piece of meat.
What are we angry about today? pic.twitter.com/VFdjH7O1Zi
– Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) March 2, 2021
The screencaps posted by Matthew Gertz of Media Matters only represent a portion of the network’s wall-to-wall coverage of Dr. Seuss. Commentators like Charlie Kirk, Tomi lahren, and Donald Trump Jr. were all trotted out to decry the liberal assault on the children’s writer, the vast majority of whose books, including all of his recognizable titles, will remain in print without objection.
“There’s no place they won’t go,” the former president’s son lamented.
Drumming up these sorts of paper-thin cancel culture scandals is just about the only place Fox News has to go with Trump in Palm Beach. This hasn’t exactly been great for ratings. Viewership took a significant hit in January. It rebounded in February, but there were still a few nagging issues. As CNN’s Brian Stelter noted last week, the network’s total viewership in the 7 p.m. hour checked in at a “distant” third behind CNN and MSNBC. A year earlier, Fox News was “far and away” the leader among cable news programming in that time slot, Stelter wrote.
There are plenty of possible reasons for the ratings dip, but chief among them is that there simply isn’t much fodder for propaganda. As Gertz noted Tuesday morning, Monday night’s episode of Hannity focused on stale, factually baseless talking points about Biden’s mental state, even trying to take him to task for carrying notes during speeches, a routine practice for Trump, as well as anyone else who speaks publicly for a living.
Flailing. No idea how to deal with a popular president pushing a popular agenda. pic.twitter.com/b8MpavI5yQ
– Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) March 2, 2021
The Tuesday-morning frenzy over Dr. Seuss wasn’t surprising, then. The network even plumbed Congress for hot takes. It was obliged by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who along with a host of other Republican politicians spoke at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference. There, too, cancel culture took center stage, with Trump Jr. railing about the Muppets and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) going in on Mr. Potato Head’s new gender-neutral branding. It isn’t just Fox News that’s desperate for content. So is the Republican Party.
Cawthorn was plenty amped to take on the Dr. Seuss issue Tuesday morning. “I was going to go to the gym after this hit but I don’t have to know because I’m so fired up,” he said, adding that “the actual priorities of the Democrats are renaming a post office and now canceling Dr. Seuss.”
“Americans are actually struggling and this cancel culture does not help us,” he continued, apparently unaware that it is fact he who is spending his time on cable news discussing cancel culture.
Madison Cawthorn was on Fox & Friends First for an interview this morning. He was never asked about the multiple sexual harassment allegations made against him, but he was given an opportunity to rail against the purported cancelation of Dr. Seuss. pic.twitter.com/fC0XpVj8Lg
– Aaron Rupar (atrupar) March 2, 2021
It’s probably worth noting that Cawthorn is also subject of multiple damning exposes published in the past few days. On Friday, Buzzfeed dove into his history as a sexual predator, including accounts of harassment from several women. A day later, The Washington Post reported on how he lied about a friend abandoning him in the car crash that left him partially paralyzed, lied about getting into the Naval Academy and other schools, and essentially conned his way into his seat in Congress by deliberately taking comments made by his opponent out of context in order to falsely brand her as a Never Trumper.
Fox News didn’t ask him about any of this.
This article has been updated to clarify Fox News’ February ratings.