Bill O’Reilly has said on Fox News that Trump should accept the Paris Agreement because “it’s not that big a deal” and ‘it would buy good will.” When I read this, my first thought was that it was somebody’s idea of a joke, or was just some of that fake Internet news that we’ve all heard about. But no, there’s video here.
There’s no reason to think that Trump will pay any attention to this, so don’t get your hopes up. There have been some signs, however, that Fox News is repositioning itself a bit in the post-Ailes era. Even Ailes was giving reporters like Megan Kelly more leeway to deviate from the conservative party line. According to the NY Times, Ailes “seemed to be experimenting with ways to expand his channel’s audience, which was older, whiter and in danger of atrophying despite its longtime perch atop the cable news ratings.” That trend may continue or accelerate now that Ailes is gone.
According to Gallup, about 8% of Americans list Fox as their main news source, but Fox has an outsized influence on the Republican Party. If Fox’s views on environmental issues soften, that could spread to GOP primary voters and then to legislators. More generally, Fox has been a key part of the conservative echo chamber, and any shift in its stance is significant.
Of course, in an era where Steven Bannon is the incoming President’s chief strategists, we may all come to regard even the unreconstructed Fox News as a model of balance and good sense by comparison. Everything is relative.