CNN Confirms: Fox News Watch Admitted Avoiding Parent Company's Hacking Scandal

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

As Media Matters first noted, Fox News' media criticism program, Fox News Watch, avoided any mention of the scandal over the British tabloid News of the World and its publisher News Corp., which also owns Fox News. And in a video posted on FoxNews.com, panelists appeared to admit during a commercial break that they were intentionally avoiding the topic.

FoxNews.com posts "Behind the breaks" videos featuring panelists' discussions during Fox News Watch's commercial breaks. In one, Fox News contributor Cal Thomas asks, "Anybody want to bring up the subject we're not talking about today" and adds, "I'm not going to touch it."

In a report for CNN's The Situation Room last night, reporter Brian Todd "confirmed" that "they were talking about" the hacking scandal. On the topic of Fox News, Todd also reported that overall, the channel has addressed the scandal but "not as much as other news networks."

Here's video and CNN.com's transcript of the segment:

BLITZER: The British media scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has apparently put FOX News in a bit of a bind. The network has apparently gone out of its way to avoid a lot of reporting on its parent company's troubles. That may become even more obvious in the days to come.

Let's check in with Brian Todd. He's been looking at this story for us.

Clearly, they're doing some reporting on it, but by no means as much as most other news organizations.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't appear to be that, Wolf. There have been several questions raised in recent days about the extent to which Rupert Murdoch's news entities have covered the "News of the World" scandal. Questioned fuelled in part by a clip from the FOX News program about the news media, that program called "Fox News Watch." We're going to show you a clip from this past Sunday.

This is streaming video. It's meant for the public, but it's during a commercial and not part of the broadcast. Panelists are talking about a certain news story. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody want to bring up the subject we're not talking about today for the streamers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, go ahead. I'm not going to touch it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With a ten foot (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, it might may seem obvious they're talking about the "News of the World" scandal. We've confirmed that's what they were talking about.

We did a search of FOX transcripts to double check. Despite the fact that "FOX News Watch" is about the news media, we found no mentions of the "News of the World" scandal on that program, no mentions of "News of the World" at all since August 2006.

Now, as for the broader FOX News Channel coverage, it does appear to have been more extensive than that, obviously. "The L.A. Times" does report that FOX News stayed mainly silent on the scandal during prime time on Thursday. That's when it broke that Murdoch was shutting down "News of the World."

We found several mentions of the story on FOX News Channel over the past week, including one reporter piece. That's compared to the other major news networks where coverage was fairly extensive.

We couldn't get spokespeople for News Corporation or FOX News Channel to comment. We do have to say, also, though, that our CNN colleagues in Britain tell us that Sky News, one of Murdoch's other news entities, was not holding back in its coverage, going all out on that throughout this.

And our search of the mentions of the story on CNN turns up about 100 over the past week. A fair question, I guess, could be, Wolf, are we over-covering it? You can ask that fairly of us. But you and I both saw clips on FOX News -- the broader FOX News Channel. Several live shots. They've addressed it. Not as much as other news networks.

BLITZER: What about the other Murdoch newspapers? How are they handling it?

TODD: Again, it's a mixed bag. You know, we've -- as far as his U.S.-based newspapers are concerned, on the day after this was announced that "News of the World" was shutting down, we're going to show you some newspapers now.

This is the "New York Post." Extensive coverage of the Casey Anthony trial and verdict. A short mention of the "News of the World" scandal on page 29 there on a short news article. That's compared -- this again is on Friday. This is the day after Murdoch announced that "The News of the World" was shutting down. A short mention there on page 29 on his "New York Post" newspaper which he owns.

This is compared to "The New York Times." A major front-page story on that Friday after it was announced that "The News of the World" was shutting down. Same thing for "The Washington Post," major front-page story there.

Now, to be fair, "The Wall Street Journal," another Murdoch news entity -- this is his most distinguished newspaper -- did do a major front-page story. Here it is right here. "Tabloid to Close Amid Scandal" with extensive coverage on the jump page.

And Murdoch's paper, "The Times of London" today has this as its major front-page story, the headline "Murdoch Counts Cost as BSkyB Bid Shelved." So two of his major newspapers, Wolf, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting extensively on the Web and on their front page and the "Times of London" not shying away from this story.

BLITZER: And we're all going to have a lot more opportunity to cover this story, because it's clearly only just beginning this investigation in Britain right now. Thanks very much, Brian.

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