According to a report from the Daily Beast, Fox News executives are concerned about the outsized influence prime time host Sean Hannity has at the network, fearful that he will do something that will irreparably damage the network but also afraid he will leave and take his show to a competitor.
With Donald Trump already doing damage to the conservative network by telling his loyal followers to switch over to upstarts Newsmax and OAN, network officials are trying to right the ship over fears of declining viewership. That, in turn, is leading them to depend even more so on the nighttime lineup of Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Hannity who has long been one of Trump's biggest advocates.
As the Daily Beast report notes, a former Hannity producer named Porter Berry has assumed control of the digital on-line side of Fox News where he is changing the tone of the once serious news side of the network that has some executives worried and others departing.
"According to multiple staffers, Berry’s editorial vision and management style has resulted in the departure of key digital news employees like Jason Ehrich, the former executive vice president of audience development and strategic partnerships, and Greg Wilson, the former managing editor of the Fox News website, among others," the report states, adding that complaints to the HR department have soared under his leadership. The report goes on to note that Berry is in constant contact with Hannity and the evening host is helping direct the change in editorial policy.
According to one former Fox News exec who was close to former Fox head honcho Roger Ailes, management at the network feel helpless when it comes to dealing with the editorial interference.
“The fact is that Sean Hannity is untouchable, on the one hand, and they’re terrified that he’s going to do something that is so offensive that it’s going to bring everybody down,” ex-exec John Huddy explained. “He’s come really close a few times. He’s the devil in the deep blue sea. They’re terrified of him but they can’t lose him. If they lose him, they know they’re f*cked. And they don’t have a Roger Ailes to call him in and kick his ass.”
"Berry has also plucked employees from the opinion side of Fox News to staff the news website. He’s brought in a former producer for Hannity, as well as multiple former Fox & Friends producers to edit the site. Berry’s deputy, Stefanie Wheeler Choi, is a fellow former staffer on The Five who followed him over to the digital side as a managing editor and executive producer. The elevation of Choi, who is seen as Berry’s right-hand person, on the digital news side has apparently rankled other staffers as she had no previous digital experience," the report adds.
According to one staffer, Porter has few allies working for him.
“The digital staff has no respect for Porter,” the Fox employee told the Beast. “They see him as someone who is driven by everything that is antithetical to real journalism—snubbing truth for distortion that furthers an ideological agenda, prioritizing factory-scale productivity over quality that you get only through taking the time to confirm, to check, to challenge information and then writing and rewriting it to ensure a balanced and fair presentation of that news, and echoing the cable channel’s Republicans-are-always-right mantra.”
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