The key to anything financial – investing, opening a business, playing blackjack in Vegas – is to determine in advance exactly how much money one is willing to lose and adhering to that decision fastidiously. This wisdom is accepted across all ideologies. It is important because pride takes over once failure sets in, and individuals are apt to hold out hope for a successful turnaround well past the point of reason. You've seen people in casinos pour more and more money into "turning around" a bad night and recouping losses. We've seen successful businesspeople open a new retail outlet or create a new brand that fails; unwilling to wear the shame of failure they pour resources into it until, inevitably, the entire business empire collapses. You've seen investors (or perhaps you were that investor) ride a stock down to zero while desperately insisting that a turnaround is imminent. Without limiting your losses, they tend to be…well, unlimited.

So…about Fox Business Network. On one hand you have to be impressed with Rupert Murdoch's sheer willingness to shovel good money after bad. On the other we have to start questioning the one part of his persona that has heretofore been unquestioned – his business acumen. Say what we will about the man, he is a businessman and he knows how to make money (mostly by identifying the lowest common denominator, undercutting it by 50%, and making it louder). Until now, that is. Because FBN can't possibly be making enough money to pay my rent let alone its overhead.

How bad is it? Well…

True story: 2009 was a terrific year for I started the year happily averaging 800-1000 hits daily and ended it close to 3500. Or as I prefer to call it, 10% of the daily nationwide audience of Fox Business Network. Seriously. They are averaging fewer than the 35,000 daily viewers necessary to be included in Nielsen ratings. So a network owned by one of the world's most powerful media entities, with daily operating costs that surely run to tens of thousands of dollars if not more, is achieving a grand total of ten times – at most – the audience of gin-and-frickin'-tacos. Total operating cost: $9 month. Eat it, Rupert.

It turns out that people interested in financial media are out to make money, not to hear cheerleading for a single ideological viewpoint. They want to know how to make a buck off Obama & Co., not to hear extended harangues about why everything he does is Evil. And I don't think the people in charge have the slightest idea of how little the intended audience wants to hear financial advice from idiots like S.E. Cupp, Sean Hannity, Jenna Lee, and Neil Cavuto. Their lineup makes Jim Cramer look like Keynes and Megan McArdle look like…someone who should probably be on FBN.

Is it going to drag down the entire NewsCorp empire? Doubtful. Its interests are diverse and many of them are very profitable. But at this point FBN is little more than an a vanity press for Murdoch. It is an expensive hobby, the kind into which we pour vast sums of money simply because we enjoy it, not because it makes any financial sense to do so. Most old white guys golf, buy Porsches, or collect rare something-or-others. Either FBN is Murdoch's version of a stamp collection or the amount of money he is comfortable losing on this "investment" was not determined in advance, hence we are watching pride and stubbornness take over.

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13 thoughts on “STARING CONTEST”

  • In the undercard matchup of Rupert vs. Logical Fallacies, the judges have come to a unanimous decision. The winner of the bout is the Gambler's Fallacy.

  • Rupert has gone way past operating news outlets in a real business sense. His propaganda machine has been terrorising politicians since '72 when he helped engineer the fall of the Whitlam Government. His support of Thatcher and Blair has resulted in at least three wars. His support of right-wing America has resulted in at least three more and no-one twists the facts to hide right-wing criminality better than the dirty Digger's smear and sneer shops.

    Rupert is Big Brother personified.

  • You point out that consumers interested in business news aren't interested in Rupert's model, but there's also a flipside, which Rupert apparently also misjudged: that the viewers of Fox News Network aren't interested in a network which might threaten to give them anything more than 3 minute rage-gasms. They have no reason or desire to switch over to FBN, because, as shitty as it is, it threatens to teach them something, and they can't have that

  • I take comfort in the thought that, when Rupie decides enough is enough and pulls the plug on his little outfit, John Stossel will have to go into the one profession he's secretly been longing for since the Seventies: gay porn. And Lou Dobbs, jobless once again, will decide to take the fight to the enemy, and parachute himself into Ciudad Juarez. I look forward to news reports about a bedraggled, incoherent Dobbs roaming the streets, extolling the superior virtues of Mexican coke.

    S.E. Cupp? Is that for real? Who else works there? Hugh G. Reckshen?

  • Big Brother, maybe–William Randolph Hearst, definitely.* Business model: Pick an instrument of political/personal expression. Pour tons of money into it. Lose tons of money but support the loss with gains in other investments. The point isn't profit, it's the addictive power of volume.

    *Minus Hearst's few ameliorating qualities such as his determined coverage of the Holocaust. Although–Hearst's support of KRAZY KAT v. Murdoch's support of THE SIMPSONS…

  • I could be wildly speculating, but most FauxNews viewers I know don't have investment portfolios. They couldn't have. Have you priced beer and cigarettes lately? NASCAR bling?

    Besides, with those 10 copies of Sarah Palin's book they bought for friends and family (even at the discounted price of $9) money is tight.

    FauxNews itself only draws an average audience per day half that who watch Judge Judy yell at defendants and plaintiffs alike. Not so good.

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  • Actually, "mass", the Washington Times, like UPI, is owned by the Moonies. Now, that's a billion $ vanity project of dumb. And frankly, I still don't get what Rev Moon has on Bush pere, why do he and Bitchface Barbara always show up to their hilarious shenanigans, like when he crowned himself king of the seas or what have you? Cuckoo! It's true, though, in a way, Moon does control a frighteningly large proportion of the world's sushi grade tuna.

  • Murdoch's propaganda machines don't have to make money. They influence (or reflect – hard to tell where the circle starts) ReichWing thought, and with it, not only the Repugnicant party but the idiot conservadems.

    And it continuously throws red meat to the very vocal faithful, who then get reported on what passes for real news outlets, Trabaggers, anyone?

    Not only can Old Rupe well afford this investment; he gets his return in ways other than high viewership or immediate financial payback. He is in the righteous business of corrupting hearts and minds.


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