‘Family Guy’ and ‘Modern Family’ creators condemn Fox News. Why now?

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Image: 21st Century Fox

Seth MacFarlane and Steve Levitan, the creators of Family Guy and Modern Family, respectively, have had enough of the steaming bullshit Fox News ladles out on a daily basis.

“Just blindly obey Fox News,” MacFarlane (sarcastically) wrote in a Saturday tweet responding to Fox New host Tucker Carlson’s absurd claim that any media reports contradicting his own network’s reporting were invariably wrong. 

MacFarlane continued: “This is fringe shit, and it’s business like this that makes me embarrassed to work for this company.”

Levitan concurred with the Family Guy creator in a Monday tweet. “I’m disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with @FoxNews,” he wrote. “This bullshit is the opposite of what stands for.”

Former Fox TV creator Judd Apatow took some swings as well in a series of tweets posted throughout the day on Monday.

(Freaks and Geeks creator and Ghostbusters reboot-er Paul Feig also had words for Fox News.)

This is all great news, right? People in positions of influence actually using their platform to speak the truth to power. The world, and the United States in particular, could use more of that behavior. Kudos, Fox creators. I just have one question for MacFarlane and Levitan.

Why are you only speaking up now?

Don’t get me wrong: The Trump administration-authored “zero tolerance” policy that’s separating migrant kids from their families is reprehensible. People should be speaking out against it, and against Fox News for propping up ghoulish talking heads like Anne Coulter, who had the temerity to call those poor kids “child actors.”

But this garbage administration has been torching the country’s moral foundation since our Shithead-in-Chief took office in January 2017. Fox News has been openly filling the role of state-sponsored news service — the word “news” applies very loosely when it comes to Fox — for almost as long.

So why now? Why did guys like MacFarlane and Levitan, the creative forces behind two of the most popular shows on TV, wait so long to say something?

Maybe it’s because they can do so without fear now. For more than six months now, word has been flying around that media business interests are interested in acquiring a large chunk of 21st Century Fox — virtually everything that isn’t Fox News or Fox Sports programming, basically.

Why are you only speaking up now, Seth MacFarlane and Steve Levitan?

First it was Disney. Then Comcast. It’s a negotiation that’s still playing out, and no one on the outside (and possibly on the inside) is clear at this point on who will win. Really, the only thing that seems certain here is a sale is going to happen. Whichever interest ends up paying in the end, 21st Century Fox movies and TV are very likely to soon be divorced from Fox News and Fox Sports for good.

Some might call this a cynical take, but even those people have to admit that it’s possible MacFarlane and Levitan are only speaking up now because there’s no one left to offend. If Rupert Murdoch is as committed to making this deal happen as it seems from the outside, Fox brass isn’t going to make any programming changes while those conversations are happening.

In other words, MacFarlane and Levitan have nothing to lose.

I’m genuinely glad to see them speaking up, don’t get me wrong. But it’s hard to cheer them on too loudly when they’ve had a full year and a half to process Trump’s increasingly alarming Fox relationship and are only saying something now, when a deal seems more like a “when” than an “if.”

What I’d really like to see is for someone with influence to sever their business relationship with the network. Criticizing a boss doesn’t count for much when you’re still pocketing a check at the end of every pay cycle. Sure, for someone like MacFarlane to do that, it would inevitably also mean leaving his creations behind.

So what? What’s happening right now in the United States, and in the world at large, is far bigger than a popular TV show. A critical tweet is literally the least amount of effort a would-be resistance believer can put forth. It’s nice to see from people who wield influence, but seriously folks: Do better.

Getting out of a contract of the sort these two guys are probably locked into isn’t as easy as phoning the boss and shouting “I quit!” But there’s nothing stopping either of them from taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure that Fox no longer profits off of their work. Even if that means leaving their creations behind. It’s hard to imagine a bright future for either of their shows without the creators on board.

You don’t need to remain tethered to a company that is actively making the world a worse place on a daily basis. Especially not when you’re Seth MacFarlane or Steve Levitan, successful creators who are surely no more than a phone call or two away from making something new for someone else.

(Author’s note: Shortly after this story published, news surfaced that MacFarlane has donated $2.5 million to NPR and its Los Angeles affiliate, KPCC. That’s commendable! But I’d still like to see the influential creators on the entertainment side of Fox do more to bite the hand that feeds them.)

Making noise on Twitter is good PR, but maybe we should demand more decisive action from our industry giants as opposed to commending them for taking zero risk as they do the bare minimum.

UPDATED June 19, 2018 6:12 p.m. ET with a link out to Paul Feig’s tweet.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/06/19/fox-news-macfarlane-levitan-trump-tweets/

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