"I watched CNN for a week before I went on and I kept trying to wake myself up," (Fox News President) Roger Ailes told The Associated Press. "I kept nodding off and I realized they are biased, they are boring, they looked like a network that has never had any competition."
While he cautioned not to overexaggerate Fox's influence, former CBS News President Andrew Heyward suggested industry sensitivity to Fox's popularity, coupled with shock after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, combined to dampen aggressiveness in questioning the government's assumptions leading up to the Iraq war. Ailes dismissed that theory with an epithet. Less attention has been paid to the look of Fox News. During its peak, it appeared more colorful, more graphically innovative and more urgent. It made CNN look stodgy.
But the years of explosive growth have ended at Fox. Viewership over the first eight months of the year was down 5 percent compared to 2005, with a steeper 13 percent decline in prime-time, according to Nielsen Media Research. For 12 straight months, Fox's prime-time audience has been smaller than the year before. Meanwhile, CNN viewership inched up 5 percent this year through August. On a typical day this year, Fox's audience is 845,000 while CNN's is 466,000.
"It's hard," Ailes said, "to win the Super Bowl every year."
Fox News is now into reinvention #1 of itself already, while many radio newscasts on FM still sound like they did pre-Fox a decade ago.
Are you still repeating the very same stories every half hour all morning? Using the same news that was on TV last night? When did you last cover a breaking story as it happened? Would Ailes fall back asleep if he was listening to your news today?