From Noonan's March 18 Wall Street Journal column:
Now for the Slaughter
On the road to Demon Pass, our leader encounters a Baier.
Thursday's decision followed the most revealing and important broadcast interview of Barack Obama ever. It revealed his primary weakness in speaking of health care, which is a tendency to dodge, obfuscate and mislead. He grows testy when challenged. It revealed what the president doesn't want revealed, which is that he doesn't want to reveal much about his plan. This furtiveness is not helpful in a time of high public anxiety. At any rate, the interview was what such interviews rarely are, a public service. That it occurred at a high-stakes time, with so much on the line, only made it more electric.
I'm speaking of the interview Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "Special Report With Bret Baier." Fox is owned by News Corp., which also owns this newspaper, so one should probably take pains to demonstrate that one is attempting to speak with disinterest and impartiality, in pursuit of which let me note that Glenn Beck has long appeared to be insane.
That having been said, the Baier interview was something, and right from the beginning. Mr. Baier's first question was whether the president supports the so-called Slaughter rule, alternatively known as "deem and pass," which would avoid a straight up-or-down House vote on the Senate bill. (Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast cleverly notes that it sounds like "demon pass," which it does. Maybe that's the juncture we're at.) Mr. Obama, in his response, made the usual case for ObamaCare. Mr. Baier pressed him. The president said, "The vote that's taken in the House will be a vote for health-care reform." We shouldn't, he added, concern ourselves with "the procedural issues."
We've noted News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch's problems with the Internet in the past:
Well, News Corp wants you to know that, despite rumors to the contrary, they aren't selling MySpace.
Dylan Stableford of The Wrap's Media Alley blog writes:
On Tuesday, Business Insider reported what has been speculated for awhile now: that News Corp. and its chief, Rupert Murdoch, are dangling MySpace, the once-mighty social network that has fallen out of favor – and pop culture – since Rupe bought the then-popular site for $580 million in 2005.
The report cited a "gossiper close to News Corp. management" who claims the company is peddling MySpace to private equity firms with an asking price of – get this -- $700 million. Tech Crunch followed with a report that an investment bank, Code Advisors, is working on a possible spin-off, despite the bank's denial. (I spoke with one private equity source, who sees just about every large media deal come across his desk, but he hadn't seen a book on MySpace.)
On Wednesday, News Corp. issued this terse statement: "News Corp is committed to MySpace and is not seeking a buyer."
So, the death spiral of the one-time leading social network site continues. Congratulations Mr. Murdoch. Money well spent.
Over the past year, we've posted a few entries here on County Fair about News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch's online escapades:
Now, over on Newser.com, Michael Wolff makes the case that MySpace and the Internet could be Murdoch's downfall (cue the torrent of angry emails and phones calls by News Corp/Fox News publicists that Wolf is bound to receive):
One of the many things that Rupert Murdoch is good at is dealing with failure. It is worthy of a business school case study how News Corp. has so often managed not to acknowledge or be blamed for its messes. This includes DirecTV, TV Guide, his MCI satellite joint venture, his great investment in China, the Times of London, pretty much every newspaper he's bought in the US, including, perhaps most notably, the Wall Street Journal, as well as all of Murdoch's Internet ventures-Delphi, iGuide, Pagesix.com, and, most recently, MySpace, briefly the crown jewel of News Corp.
Sometimes he merely manages failure, as with the Times of London and the New York Post, whose losses he has shouldered for more than 30 years (representing, quite possibly, the largest aggregate loss of any media properties ever). Other times, he declares victory and sells off a troubling asset, as with DirecTV (he spent six years trying to acquire the company, then almost immediately got rid of it). Other times he just disappears the problem, as with most of his Internet investments (who even remembers them?). The job is not to be caught; the job is to keep others from perceiving him as a failure.
Be sure to read Wolff's entire piece here.
From Chapter 1 of Peter Robinson's interview with News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch: [emphasis added]
ROBINSON: David Carr, writing in the New York Times. Carr says that Robert Thomson, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, and Gerard Baker, the deputy managing editor, quote, "The two men have had a big impact on the paper's Washington coverage, adopting a more conservative tone and editing and headlining articles to reflect chronic skepticism of the current administration," closed quote. Fair?
MURDOCH: I don't think it's become conservative, maybe a little more -- a little more balanced. I -- if you read into every story very carefully, it certainly hasn't become conservative. Were there, in the past, a few correspondents there who had a bit of a left-wing tinge or what in the way they covered stories? Yes, probably.
ROBINSON: Can I -- according to the Gallup organization, 20 percent of Americans call themselves liberals. Forty percent call themselves conservative. I think we can accept, given the various polls that have been done through the years, the various newsroom surveys, that overwhelmingly newspapers in this country are dominated by editors and reporters who are liberal. Why shouldn't the Wall Street Journal be quite straightforward about saying we intend to be a newspaper for the rest of Americans, and incidentally that market is twice as large? Or is there a danger in being explicit about it? How do you think that through?
MURDOCH: No, we want to be objective as one can be and as fair as one can be. And we think the rest of the press is monolithically very often unfair. But you forgot to mention the 40 percent of Americans who call themselves independents.
MURDOCH: Now they're the people who don't like either party. They're not about to join the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. This country is, I say, vaguely center right in mood. And if you look at me and a few people, you might say we're a little bit more right than that. But the paper, I don't think is. There's no question that the editorial writers, the opinion writers at the back of the paper of the front section are consistently -- take a pretty conservative attitude. They never endorse candidates, but they look very skeptically at big government and what's going on in Washington.
A conservative newspaper, the Herald was once owned – SURPRISE – by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
I wonder if Fox News Channel will do the right thing and confess to its own "cheerleading" for Brown.
The Financial Times' John Gapper thinks the nasty Rupert Murdoch is… back?
The Rupert Murdoch we all know and love (or love to hate) is an aggressive, insurgent media tycoon who prefers to fight against entrenched media forces and insult them while doing so.
The Rupert Murdoch we have seen in the past couple of years is a humble pussycat who says nice things about how News Corp has to learn to play nicely with the digital generation.
Thankfully, nasty Rupert seems to be back.
Had he every really left? Sure, Gapper is talking more specifically about the business end of News Corp., but surely there's more to Murdoch that one could describe as "nasty."
How about agreeing with Glenn Beck that President Obama is a racist -- errr, made a "very racist comment"?
What about letting Fox News morph from a conservative cable news outlet to an all out partisan political operation?
We could spend an entire day rattling off the evidence that regular readers of this blog are already well aware of, but we'll save our breath.
Huffington Post's Danny Shea writes:
The Wall Street Journal has scrubbed an article from its website after learning that it was plagiarized from several sources.
"A Nov. 10 "New Global Indian" online column by New York City freelance writer Mona Sarika has been found to contain information that was plagiarized from several publications, including the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine," a notice to readers now reads where the column once lived.
"In the column, 'Homeward Bound,' about H-1B visa holders returning to India, Ms. Sarika also re-used direct quotes from other publications, without attribution, and changed the original speakers' names to individuals who appear to be fabricated," the notice continued. "The column is the only work by Ms. Sarika to be published by the Journal, and it has been removed from the Journal's Web sites."
The original article — near 1,200 words — described Sarika as "a graduate student and freelance writer who hails from India and currently lives in New York City."
Now if News Corps could just get a handle on Fox News' penchant for doctoring of video, we'd have some real progress.
In 2001, several Fox News personalities criticized Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal -- who reportedly suggested that the United States' Middle East policy contributed to causing the 9-11 attacks -- and praised then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani for not accepting a $10 million disaster-relief donation from Al-Waleed. However, Rupert Murdoch has recently finalized a deal giving News Corp., which includes Fox News, a 10 percent stake in Al-Waleed's media conglomerate, Rotana, according to reports.
Last week we learned that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, agreed with Glenn Beck's assertion that the President was a "racist", because, in Murdoch's words, Obama made a "very racist comment." Of course, no one knows what "very racist comment" Murdoch was talking about.
Fox News was then forced to clean up the boss's mess issuing a statement saying that Murdoch "does not...think the president is a racist" regardless of what he may have otherwise said.
Statements and spin aside, we still don't know what "very racist comment" Murdoch was talking about. Perhaps if he was just asked directly, Murdoch would be able to clear up the confusion.
In an effort to do just that, Media Matters confronted Murdoch today on Capitol Hill for a little chat.
We are through the looking glass people. Murdoch isn't even spinning what he said about the president, now he's denying it outright. And to think we sometimes wonder where the folks at Fox News get their ethics from. Sigh.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports (emphasis added):
The New York Post editor fired after speaking out against a cartoon depicting the author of the president's stimulus package as a dead chimpanzee has sued the paper. And as part of her complaint, Sandra Guzman levels some remarkable, embarrassing, and potentially damaging allegations.
Guzman has filed a complaint against News Corporation, the New York Post and the paper's editor in chief Col Allan in the Southern District Court of New York, alleging harassment as well as "unlawful employment practices and retaliation."
As part of the 38-page complaint, Guzman paints the Post newsroom as a male-dominated frat house and Allan in particular as sexist, offensive and domineering. Guzman alleges that she and others were routinely subjugated to misogynistic behavior. She says that hiring practices at the paper -- as well as her firing -- were driven by racial prejudices rather than merit.
And she recounts the paper's D.C. bureau chief stating that the publication's goal was to "destroy [President] Barack Obama."
The most outrageous charges, however, involve Allan. According to the complaint:
"On one occasion when Ms. Guzman and three female employees of the Post were sharing drinks at an after-work function. Defendant Allan approached the group of women, pulled out his blackberry and asked them 'What do you think of this?' On his blackberry was a picture of a naked man lewdly and openly displaying his penis. When Ms. Guzman and the other female employees expressed their shock and disgust at being made to view the picture, Defendant Allan just smirked... [N]o investigation was ever conducted and the Company failed to take any steps to address her complaints."
Guzman's complaint goes on:
"On another occasion, upon information and belief, Defendant Allan approached a female employee during a party at the Post, rubbed his penis up against her and made sexually suggestive comments about her body, including her breasts, causing that female employee to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearing to be alone with him."
And finally: "... [W]hile serving as the top editor at the Post, Defendant Allan took two Australian political leaders to the strip club Scores in Manhattan..."
Guzman alleges that while at the paper, misogynistic and racist behavior was directed at her specifically. According to the complaint, she was called "sexy" and "beautiful" and referred to as "Cha Cha #1" by Les Goodstein, the senior vice president of NewsCorp. After doing an interview with Major League Baseball star Pedro Martinez, she says Allan asked her whether the pitcher "had been carrying a gun or a machete during the interview" -- a line Guzman said was racist and offensive.
When she would walk by certain offices at the paper, Guzman alleges, editors would routinely sing songs from West Side Story -- a nod to her Hispanic heritage -- including the tune: "I want to live in America."
Guzman also makes the following allegations to supplement her case that the Post harbored an environment that was offensive to women and minority employees.
"A White male senior editor sexually propositioned a young female Copy Assistant, telling her that 'If you give me a blowjob, I will give you a permanent reporter job.'"
"The last five employees who were recently terminated by Paul Carlucci, the Publisher of the Post.... Have all been black and/or women of color."
Read Stein's entire piece and the compliant in full here.
Politico's Ben Smith picks up an interesting angle to the story:
The New York Post and New York Daily News, for a time, complemented their fierce competition for circulation with bitter attacks on each other's staff and on their owners, Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman.
But Murdoch and Zuckerman, as has been reported, reached a truce of sorts, and they've been reported to be in sporadic talks about some sort of merger of -- at least -- the paper's back ends. And the clearest signal I've seen in a while of that rapprochement came this week, when a fired Post employee, Sandra Guzman, filed suit against the paper and its brawling Australian editor, Col Allan.
The Daily News offered a sanitized version of the story: "A New York Post editor sacked after complaining that a cartoon likened President Obama to a monkey sued the paper on Monday, claiming rampant racism and sexism in the newsroom," but detailed none of the actual allegations.
He failed miserably with MySpace.
He launched the right-wing TheFoxNation.com claiming it was "time to say 'no' to biased media and 'yes' to fair play and free speech." Quit laughing.
He may be interested in buying Twitter.com.
He paid big bucks to settle hacking lawsuits.
Now, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, is apparently readying himself for war with Google.
The Guardian reports:
Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.
In recent months, Murdoch his lieutenants have stepped up their war of words with Google, accusing it of "kleptomania" and acting as a "parasite" for including News Corp content in its Google News pages. But asked why News Corp executives had not chosen to simply remove their websites entirely from Google's search indexes – a simple technical operation – Murdoch said just such a move was on the cards.
"I think we will, but that's when we start charging," he said. "We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story - but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."
The 78-year-old mogul's assertion, however, is not actually correct: users who click through to screened WSJ.com articles from Google searches are usually offered the full text of the story without any subscription block. It is only users who find their way to the story through the Wall Street Journal's website who are told they must subscribe before they can read further.
Murdoch's attitude towards the internet - which appeared to have thawed when he bought social networking site MySpace for $580m in 2005 - has stiffened more recently.
Additionally, it emerged that MySpace, which has struggled in the face of competition from Facebook in recent years, was due to fall short of its targets in a lucrative search deal with Google – a slip that could cost the site more than $100m in payments from the internet advertising giant.
Actually, it might not be that bad if Murdoch pulls News Corp content off of Google. Think of the millions of people that would be inoculated from his... ummm "fair and balance" approach to journalism.
UPDATE: Google has responded. This Telegraph headline says it all: "Google: Rupert Murdoch Can Block Us If He Wants To."
Last night if you went to this link, you would have seen this Wall Street Journal story headlined "GOP Health Bill Gives Insurers More Leeway":
This morning, however, if you attempted using the very same link, you'd find an entirely different story, by an entirely different reporter, under an entirely different headline.
Why did the Journal replace an article that simply pointed out that the yet to be released House GOP health care plan would benefit insurers with a piece about how House Democrats were working to deal with the issues of "abortion" and "illegal immigrants" in their reform plan?
If you run a search for the headline of the original Journal article, you'll get a bunch of links directing you to it, though none of them actually send you to the original story. The links are either broken, to different stories or direct you to the new Journal piece focusing on House Democrats.
As if his takeover of MySpace wasn't enough.
The Guardian reports on speculation that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, "could be ready to make a play for [Twitter]."
From The Guardian (emphasis added):
As the media world's most powerful figures gather in Sun Valley, Idaho to discuss the state of the industry the topics are likely to range far and wide. But aside from subjects like the economy and the influence of the internet, one question is likely to dominate conversations among the event's moguls and millionaires: will anyone broker a deal to buy Twitter?
The hyped internet company's chief executive, Evan Williams, is one of hundreds of faces attending the shindig - a high-profile but secretive event organised by investment group Allen & Co. The fact that his fellow attendees reads like a Who's Who of the internet industry - including Google boss Eric Schmidt, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, new AOL chief Tim Armstrong, and media magnates Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch - has lead some to speculate that an acquisition could be on the cards.
Among those who believe a deal could be brokered at Sun Valley is journalist and entrepreneur Michael Wolff, who believes Murdoch could be ready to make a play for the San Francisco startup.
Talking to Yahoo, Wolff said that Murdoch showed no evidence of regretting the purchase of MySpace, the social network he bought in 2005 that recently underwent severe cutbacks.
"I don't think he feels that he was burned badly," he said. "They made a good deal and then the company soared to a theoretical valuation of $15bn. Where is it now? Certainly not at $15bn, but I think it's probably over $600m - though maybe not too much."
Wolff, who wrote a biography of the 78-year-old and now runs a news aggregation website, said that Twitter could add substance to Murdoch's online empire.
"I think they would say that they were caught," he said of the MySpace acquisition. 'They didn't have the technological heft to support this kind of company. Could they get that technological heft by adding Twitter to their formidable new media assets?"
Well, they sure will be busy.
Via the Associated Press:
News Corp. has agreed to form an external diversity council after meeting with civil rights groups about a New York Post cartoon that critics said likened President Barack Obama to a dead chimpanzee.
The company will form a "diversity community council" in New York City that will meet with senior company executives twice a year, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said Wednesday. It also will include a statement of commitment to diversity in its annual report.
So, this is a council for ALL of News Corp., and it will be meeting twice a year. Even if Fox News (owned by News Corp.) alone had daily meetings, I'm not sure it would result in much of an improvement.
After all, Rupert Murdoch launched the News Corp. green initiative two years ago, and Fox News personalities still have trouble accepting the reality of climate change science.
I'm happy the NAACP and other civil rights leaders have brought about some form of change at News Corp. It remains to be seen, though, if News Corp.'s commitment on the issue is anything more than another PR stunt.
If there was any doubt over what News Corp. (Fox News' parent company) chairman Rupert Murdoch thinks of President Obama's policies, this should clear things up.
Per Danny Shea at the Huffington Post:
Rupert Murdoch told Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto Monday morning that Barack Obama is not an extremist but that his policies "dangerous" for America. He also said that the Boston Globe will not disappear and that his recently installed #2, Chase Carey, is by no means his "heir apparent."
"I think Barack Obama would describe himself as a pragmatic leftist but he's not an extremist," Murdoch said. "I think he sees himself as a president for change and that involves bigger government. He's made no secret of that. I think that's dangerous."