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Fox News will be 'loyal opposition' to Biden, Fox CEO says

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch said Thursday he expects the cable channel's ratings to recover after a post-election dip.
Image: Business, Tech And Media Luminaries Attend New York Times DealBook Conference
Lachlan Murdoch speaks at The New York Times' DealBook conference in New York on Nov. 1, 2018.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images file

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch said Thursday that it is the job of Fox News to serve as the opposition to the Biden administration, clearly stating the political biases of a network that until 2017 billed itself as "fair and balanced."

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley investor conference, Murdoch said Fox News stood to benefit from Biden's presidency because the network would act as "the loyal opposition" to his administration.

"The main beneficiary of the Trump administration from a ratings point of view was MSNBC ... and that’s because they were the loyal opposition," Murdoch said of the rival cable network. "That’s what our job is now with the Biden administration, and you’ll see our ratings really improve from here."

A spokesperson for NBCUniversal News Group, which includes NBC News and MSNBC, said in response that "our role, and the role of any legitimate news organization — whether it includes an 'opinion section' or not — is to hold power to account, regardless of party." Comcast NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC.

Murdoch's remark is an on-the-record acknowledgement of something that has long been obvious to fans and critics but never stated so publicly by the executive leadership itself — that Fox News is firmly aligned with Republicans and the right and intends to use its platform to fight Democrats.

Fox News has sought to cater to a conservative audience since Murdoch's father, Rupert Murdoch, launched the cable channel in 1996 under the leadership of Roger Ailes, the network's CEO for two decades. Up until 2017, even as its opinion hosts showed a clear bias against Democrats, Fox News billed itself as a "fair and balanced" news organization.

Fox News became an unapologetic bastion of pro-Trump rhetoric over the last five years and often downplayed negative news about Trump, choosing instead to attack his critics or stoke conservative anxiety about progressivism.

Many of the most notable hosts of Fox News and Fox Business Network also embraced Trump's lies and conspiracy theories. Three of them — Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro — have been named in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought by the voting technology company Smartmatic over false statements they made while trying to cast doubt on the integrity of the 2020 election. All three have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit.

Murdoch was asked about the network's ratings, which took a hit after the election. "Our audience was disappointed with the election results," he acknowledged, adding that the ratings had already started to normalize and would continue to go up.

"Seventy-five million people voted for a Republican president, sometimes in spite of his personality at times," Murdoch said. "That's what we represent. We're going to stick to the center-right. That's where our audience is."

Trump received 74.2 million votes.