Donald Trump's New Year's Resolution—Give Up Fox News?

As 2021 dawns, many people will be considering New Year's resolutions. For soon-to-be former President Donald Trump, a new year could mean giving up Fox News.

Trump and Fox News have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Many of the network's opinion hosts have promoted Trump, giving him extended time during live broadcasts. In return, Trump has been a major ratings draw, though this has also been true for other news outlets.

However, the president has become increasingly critical of Fox News, especially since his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. Many of his supporters are following suit and some are turning to alternative news sources.

"Watching @FoxNews is almost as bad as watching Fake News @CNN," Trump tweeted on Wednesday. "New alternatives are developing!"

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tweeted about two of those potential "alternatives" - One America News (OANN) and Newsmax.

"Hearings from Atlanta on the Georgia Election overturn now being broadcast. Check it out .@OANN @newsmax and many more," he wrote.

Trump has mentioned Newsmax and OANN many times on Twitter since the presidential election on November 3, often pairing praise of the two outlets with criticism of Fox News, writing on December 6 that the network's "daytime is not watchable."

"In a class with CNN & MSDNC [MSNBC]. Check out @OANN ,@newsmax and others that are picking up the slack. Even a boring football game, kneeling and all, is better!" he wrote.

Watching @FoxNews is almost as bad as watching Fake News @CNN. New alternatives are developing!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020

But Trump's criticism has also been aimed at Fox News' ratings. The president has sometimes claimed news networks and shows are suffering poor ratings, despite figures showing otherwise.

"Can't believe how badly @FoxNews is doing in the ratings. They played right into the hands of the Radical Left Democrats, & now are floating in limboland," Trump tweeted on December 16.

However, Nielsen data released on Tuesday shows that Fox News led all news and basic cable networks in 2020, averaging 1.9 million viewers a day. This is the fifth year in a row that Fox News has led other networks.

Trump's attacks on Fox News and calls for alternatives have re-ignited speculation that he could enter the media world himself. As the 2016 election drew to a close and it seemed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win, discussion turned to a potential "Trump TV" to rival Fox News.

"So far, it seems Trump's criticism has inspired his fans to try even more deeply ideological media sources, like Newsmax and One America News Network," NPR TV critic Eric Deggans told Newsweek.

"But, as with all things Trump, his criticism of Fox News is inconsistent and erratic. He still retweets stories from Fox News he agrees with and praises commentators there that he believes are supporting him.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he was criticizing Fox News as a way to push the channel into limiting voices critical of his administration and soften up owner Rupert Murdoch for the eventual negotiations to secure him an an exclusive contributor."

Andrew G. Selepak is a professor at the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. He told Newsweek the president will probably continue to watch Fox News after leaving office.

"At 74-years-old, it is unlikely that Donald Trump would start a new television network," Selepak said. "But it is very likely that Donald Trump would make a deal with an existing network not to become a regular host or even contributor, but to have a platform to influence the political landscape over the next four years.

"While OAN and Newsmax are conservative media startups compared to Fox, they have had a surge in ratings since the election with OAN and Newsmax hosts unwilling to concede the 2020 presidential election results," Selepak said.

"While Donald Trump's positions on issues have often fluctuated over the years, one thing we do know about him is he rewards loyalty. By not championing Trump's legal challenges to the election, Fox went out of favor with the President."

Media Matters Senior Fellow Matt Gertz agreed it was unlikely that Trump would start a network from scratch.

"Trump is setting off a race to the bottom, as Fox News responds to increased ratings pressure from its upstart competitors by amping up its on-air support for the president's conspiracy theories and giving more airtime to its right-wing ideologues at the expense of its supposedly independent 'straight news' division," Gertz told Newsweek.

"Starting a full-fledged cable network is a huge, complex, expensive undertaking. It's hard to predict what exactly Trump will do, but I'd bet on him doing something that produces as much money for as little work as possible," he said.

Deggans also doubted that Trump would go as far as setting up a rival to Fox News once he leaves the White House.

"I still think Trump will not want to do the work or take the risk required to start a new media outlet from the ground up," Deggans said.

"My hunch is that he will entertain lots of pitches from Fox News' competitors, but Rupert Murdoch will back up several trucks filled with money to keep him off Newsmax or One America News Network.

"If he does land at either place, they would instantly garner a higher profile, get more clearances in cable systems around the country and challenge Fox News as the biggest and most trusted source of information for conservatives. If Murdoch lets that happen, it would be a tremendous blow to Fox News, which has been printing money since its inception."

"Trump's attacks on Fox News are more saber-rattling than anything else" Selepak said. "Fox still has a larger overall audience than Newsmax, Blaze, or OAN, and Trump has loyal followers as hosts on Fox like Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade, so he will most likely continue to appear on Fox because it allows him to reach a larger audience.

"But this will only happen if Fox hosts remain loyal to Trump or he will turn his back on the entire network and promote Newsmax and OAN, and maybe even purchase an ownership stake in one of the media companies."

The Trump campaign and Fox News have been contacted for comment.

Trump Waves While Leaving the White House
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump has recently criticized Fox News. Al Drago/Getty Images