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Malice of Absence

Claim:   The Fox News Channel will be shutting down for routine maintenance on 21 January 2013.

FALSE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2013]

Heard a rumor that Fox networks will not broadcast on Monday, January 21, because "there is nothing of interest to their viewers that day". They will be doing technical work and will resume broadcasting on January 22. Is this true?

 

Origins:   The 19 January 2013 Borowitz Report column in The New Yorker opened with the following item about the Fox News channel's plans to shut down for “routine maintenance” on the upcoming Monday:
Fox News Channel announced today that it would shut down for what it called “routine maintenance” Monday morning at 11:30 E.T.

Fox News president Roger Ailes explained the timing of the shutdown, which will be the first in the history of the network: “We wanted to pick a time when we were positive nothing would be happening that our viewers would want to see.”

Mr. Ailes said that Fox had considered shutting down only once before, exactly four years earlier on January 20, 2009, and later regretted the decision to continue broadcasting that day: “It turned out that no Fox viewers wanted to watch TV that day. And I mean none.”

According to Mr. Ailes, for the twelve hours Fox News is off the air on Monday the network will broadcast a continuous photomontage of white people.

“Regular viewers of Fox probably won’t notice anything unusual,” he said.
For those who didn't see this piece in its original context (which, based on the number of inquiries we've received about it, appears to be a substantial number of readers), we note that The Borowitz Report is the product of humorist Andy Borowitz, whose columns regularly satirize political figures and issues.

In this case the basis of the joke is that the referenced date for a putative shutdown of the Fox News Channel is far from a day on which "nothing will be happening": Monday, 21 January 2013 at 11:30 E.T. is the date and time of the inaugural ceremony at which Barack Obama will be sworn in for a second term as President of the United States, an event which will be covered live by a number of different U.S. television networks and cable channels.

Last updated:   19 January 2013

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