Review: Watching Fox Nation, conservatives’ Netflix: Will MAGA viewers pay for the rage they get for free?

Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano hosts the inaugural broadcast of "Liberty File" on the new streaming service Fox Nation, in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano hosts the inaugural broadcast of “Liberty File” on the new streaming service Fox Nation, in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.
(Richard Drew / AP)
Television Critic

Think of it as an echo chamber inside an echo chamber, wrapped in a conspiracy theory, with a cooking show thrown in for good measure.

Fox Nation, Fox News’ new subscription streaming service, launched Tuesday as a sort of Netflix for conservative viewers who want more commentary and less news from the Rupert Murdoch empire.

For the record:

12:05 p.m. Nov. 30, 2018In an earlier version of this post, the last name of Fox News Network personality Brian Kilmeade was misspelled as Kilmead. Elsewhere, the article said that the average age of the network’s viewers was 67. The median age in the third quarter of this year was 66, according to Nielsen data.

Its lineup is a cornucopia of repurposed themes and crowd-pleasing evergreens of documentaries, specials, roundtables and series on the dishonest, scheming Washington puppeteers the Clintons, in-depth investigation and expert commentary into the Russia hoax, the documentary “13 Hours in Benghazi,” a behind-the-scenes series on the bucolic family life of the Trumps and bad Hillary, bad Bill, more bad Hillary.


“Opinion Done Right!” is the tagline for the $5.99 a month streaming service, which offers 90% original content but has no plans to cover breaking news. Shows such as the daily “Reality Check With David Webb” or “UN-PC” (with WWE wrestler Tyrus as co-host) are free to rail against the system, liberals, the Rev. Al Sharpton, the FBI, the Department of Justice or so-called racism without the pretense of weaving their predetermined talking points into a fast-moving news cycle.

The star power of Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, Laura Ingraham and Dana Perino is also featured on Fox Nation. They appear or will appear in multiformat shows that range from Kilmeade’s history lesson, “What Made America Great,” to Perino’s book club series and Doocy’s cooking show.

And can you guess what “Gregg Jarrett’s The Russia Hoax” is all about?

While the Fox Nation agenda is clear — enrage, divide, placate, repeat — the execution of the media giant’s new platform is a more muddled and confusing affair.

The streaming service, like Netflix or Hulu, organizes its shows under various genres: Scandalous, Patriotic, History, Politics, Military. But while some content, such as the “Tangled Clinton Web” doc on the political careers and finances of you know who, or “Hannity’s America: The Clarence Thomas Story,” appears to be consistently available on the site, other productions such as the daily “Tom Shillue Show” are recommended one minute then disappear the next.

Subscribers might find his show an hour later in the audio-only portion of the service, which shouldn’t be confused with the Fox News radio offerings or the Fox News channel’s audio-only section.


If this service is meant to lure the network’s regular viewers (whose median age in the third quarter of this year was 66, according to Nielsen data) to pay extra for dependably right-wing programming minus the catheter and LifeLock commercials, it’s going to be a hard sell unless they team up with the Cricket cellphone team and create a senior-friendly interface. After all, cable news outlets like Fox News or CNN or MSNBC often serve as background noise — wallpaper TV — in seniors’ homes across America, ambient, mildly stimulating and occasionally informative.

If the service is meant to lure in younger subscribers who may already be getting their deep state updates from Breitbart or Alex Jones, then Fox Nation has some stiff competition in the outlandish fabrications department. And the established brand can’t go too far into Sandy Hook deniers’ terrain on its streaming outskirts without losing its cable channel advertisers and perhaps some fans.

So what was in the queue on Day 1 of Fox Nation?

The “Scandalous” doc series, complete with reenactments, had several episodes ready for viewing: “The Mysterious Story of Tawana Brawley,” a show that “goes in-depth on the lie that made Al Sharpton famous.” “Chappaquiddick,” about another depraved Democrat. And a director’s cut of the first “Scandalous” series on the network’s original sinner — a retrospective of the Bill Clinton impeachment that aired in seven parts on Fox News earlier this year. Curiously, there’s nothing on Watergate in the “Scandalous” cupboard of shows.

RELATED: Fox News launches ‘Fox Nation’ as news networks try to catch the streaming wave »

The crime series “The Fuhrman Diaries” is hosted by “America’s most controversial detective,” according to the site. Left out are the reasons LAPD investigator Mark Fuhrman became controversial — a no-contest plea to perjury committed during the O.J. Simpson trial after he was caught on tape using the N-word freely and bragging about his involvement in Men Against Women, a secret group of LAPD officers who tried to drive female officers from the force through harassment and intimidation. In his show, the former detective takes an alternate look at the Simpson/Goldman homicides, JFK’s assassination, the 1975 slaying of teenager Martha Moxley, the crimes of the Golden State Killer and “what really happened” during the police shooting of Michael Brown. Because who would know better than this guy...


The show kicks off with Fuhrman telling his story: “On the evening of June 12, 1994, I stopped at an ampm mini market in Pomona, California. I filled up my gas tank, bought a burrito and a Snapple from inside the store, and continued on my journey home to Redondo Beach, California. Forty-nine miles away, there was a murder taking place in Brentwood. Little did I know this was the moment I was dragged into the crime of the century.” With a burrito and Snapple in hand.

Host Judge Andrew Napolitano, of the commentator-guest show “Liberty File,” opened his show with this effervescent greeting: “It’s launch day. … You are watching the first-ever episode of ‘Liberty File.’ This is where we’ll be monitoring the government as it infringes on your personal liberty, takes your private property and interferes with your economic opportunities.” Who needs news events from the outside world when you’ve created your own realm of paranoia and separatism?

Napolitano tackles the history of impeachment with his “dear friend” Ken Starr, former prosecutor and author of “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation.” Is President Trump a candidate for impeachment if he fires or tries to dismiss those who investigate him? asks the judge.

Trump firing Jim Comey should not be seen as an obstruction of justice, advises Starr.

Settled. Next?

A candid, behind-the-scenes look at the folks running this country — and perhaps Fox Nation — “The First Family: Donald J. Trump” shows the president’s family members are just like us! But with lots more money and unlimited power. And for those of us who can’t relate to a family with live-in chefs, there’s always that cooking show.


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