The investigation by the British government into phone hacking by News Corp. prompted an appearance by Rupert Murdoch today at a parliamentary hearing into the matter.
Despite the widespread phone hacking from the Murdoch-owned News of the World, he testified that "I don't believe in using hacking, in using private detectives or whatever, that's a lazy way of reporters not doing their job. But I think it is fair when people have themselves held up as iconic figures or great actors that they be looked at."
Bloomberg recently reported that there were likely over 1,000 victims of the News of the World's phone hacking.
In additional testimony Murdoch sought to downplay his involvement in British politics. From The New York Times:
The government's lead attorney for the inquiry, Robert Jay, pursued a chronological line of questioning beginning with Mr. Murdoch's entry into the British newspaper market in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Much of the questioning centered on meetings with British political leaders and the pledges Mr. Murdoch had made not to influence his newspapers' editorial policies.
He acknowledged meetings, dinners and shared quips with a series of prime ministers, but sought to dismiss suggestions that he wielded any influence.
"I don't know many politicians," he said, on one of many occasions when he denied accusations from Mr. Jay that his newspapers supported politicians whose policies might offer him some commercial benefit. As to suggestions that his power might be more subtle than such obvious exchanges, he responded, "I'm afraid I don't have much subtlety about me."
The emails showed that News Corp. and representatives of the British government were discussing government approval of the media company's purchase of satellite TV network BSkyB.
From the July 19 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Horrible Bosses - Fox News Won't Dumpster Dive|
After weeks of ignoring News Corp.'s phone hacking scandal, Bill O'Reilly finally covered the issue on his show last night. His coverage consisted of a report from Amy Kellogg, who has been reporting on the topic for Fox News from London, and a discussion with Heritage Foundation senior fellow Nile Gardiner:
In all, the segment ran for about seven minutes, and O'Reilly used most of the discussion with Gardiner to spin the scandal away. (O'Reilly falsely claimed that there hasn't been any "intrusion of this story thus far on News Corp. properties" in the U.S. In reality, Les Hinton, CEO of News Corp.'s Dow Jones division, resigned as a result of the fallout.)
Meanwhile, Sean Hannity ignored the scandal on his Fox News show yet again. Since the story escalated over the Fourth of July weekend, Hannity hasn't mentioned it at all.
Fox News has aggressively supported a Republican plan to add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. However, progressive and conservative experts alike have made clear that a balanced budget amendment would make future recessions worse and damage the current recovery.
On November 20, 2006, Bill O'Reilly interrupted his vacation to call in to his own Fox News program, guest-hosted that evening by Laura Ingraham, and gloat. Earlier that day, News Corp. had announced that Fox Broadcasting would not be airing a special based on O.J. Simpson's book, If I Did It. O'Reilly, who had been hammering at the story, wanted to crow about his influence and unquestioned independence from his corporate masters:
O'REILLY: You hit it on the head. It's a culture war victory. The folks did it, and I am the messenger.
But there's a few things that are really important to understand here. Number one, this should put to rest, once and for all, the independence of FOX News.
How many times, Laura, have you heard, FOX News is this; FOX News is that, bop-bop-bop-ba-boo? What other network, Laura, would have allowed its commentators to go on and to slam, to hammer the programming arm? FOX News Channel has nothing to do with FOX Broadcasting. We made that quite clear.
Here, FOX News stepped up big. And, once we did, the folks got it, because, obviously, we have a very big reach. And, when the folks heard it, just as you said in your "Memo," they let FOX know.
And, to its credit, to its credit, News Corporation, led by Rupert Murdoch, said: OK. We're hearing you. We're not going to run it. They did the right thing. [The O'Reilly Factor, 11/20/06, retrieved via Nexis]
It is true that, on this matter, he took on News Corp. and scored a minor victory in the never-ending culture war. In the past couple of weeks, however, as the rest of his network has slowly, begrudgingly, and inadequately covered the increasingly toxic News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, Bill O'Reilly has not uttered a single word about it on the air.
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:
This weekend, Fox News Watch, Fox News Channel's media criticism show, covered the following issues: The media's coverage of the Casey Anthony trial verdict; MSNBC's suspension of Mark Halperin for making vulgar comments about the president; the media's role in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case; the cancellation of In the Arena, Eliot Spitzer's CNN television show; and Vice President Joe Biden's new Twitter account.
The glaring omission from this list is any mention of the shuttering of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World, billed as the largest English-language newspaper in the world, which published its last edition today. The paper is folding following allegations that it hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl in the United Kingdom, an action which potentially impeded the police investigation and gave the girl's family false hope that she was still alive. There are also allegations that family members of soldiers who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and families of victims of the 2005 subway bombings have been phone hacked.
Murdoch's News Corp. owns Fox News, and Fox News has been slow to cover the phone hacking scandal, but how could Fox's media criticism show get away with not mentioning News of the World at all?
In a series of segments called 10 Ways to Save the Economy, Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier promoted conservative talking points on the financial crisis, stimulus package, estate tax, and deregulation. The segments also frequently echoed the viewpoint of Fox News' conservative opinion programming. None of the ten segments advocated measures favored by progressives to help the economy.
From the July 6 edition of Fox & Friends, during which Fox repeatedly aired images of Media Matters' website:
Earlier today, MSNBC indefinitely suspended political analyst Mark Halperin for unacceptable comments after the Time editor-at-large called President Obama a dick.
This is how responsible news organizations behave.
Perhaps Fox Nation should worry more about the obscenity that is permitted at Fox.
That's not accountability. That's Fox News.
As immigration reform has re-entered the public debate, Fox News has spent the past several weeks misleading on the issue and slanting its news coverage to paint immigrants in a negative light.
Fox News has been touting an outdated survey in order to falsely claim that a national polling firm says that Fox "is the most trusted television news source in the country."
In recent press releases -- including one sent out today announcing the hiring of Ed Henry as the channel's chief White House correspondent -- Fox has made the following claim:
FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service dedicated to delivering breaking news as well as political and business news. A top five cable network, FNC has been the most watched news channel in the country for nearly ten years and according to Public Policy Polling, is the most trusted television news source in the country. Owned by News Corp., FNC is available in more than 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape, routinely notching the top ten programs in the genre.
It's true that in January 2010 -- a year-and-a-half ago -- Public Policy Polling released a survey saying that respondents trusted Fox News more than any other outlet the pollster asked about. In that poll, 49 percent of respondents said they trusted Fox News, compared to 37 percent who distrusted it.
But that doesn't mean Fox is still the most trusted news outlet. "They are touting the 2010 version of that poll when the 2011 version of the poll came out differently," says Tom Jensen, the director of PPP.
Indeed, PPP published a new installment of the poll in January 2011 -- with very different results. This time, PPP found that PBS -- which wasn't included in the 2010 poll -- was by far the most trusted outlet. Fifty percent of respondents said they trust PBS, while only 30 percent said they distrust PBS. Meanwhile, trust in Fox dropped to 42 percent, while distrust of Fox increased to 46 percent.
From PPP's write-up of the January 2011 results:
The evidence continues to mount that no comments are too outrageous for Fox News.
Earlier this week, syndicated radio host Neal Boortz went on an extended, racially charged tirade about crime and "too many urban thugs, yo" in Atlanta:
You know what? I, for one, am tired of putting up with this crap. And you want to know why I moved out of Atlanta and only spend a couple of weeks a year in this town? That's one of the reasons. Carjackings, violence, people getting shot. It's ridiculous. This city harbors an urban culture of violence. And I want you to look around. You drive into the city. The railroad overpass is on the downtown connector covered with graffiti. And that-- That is just an advertisement for everybody coming into this town that we really don't give a damn about those who would screw up our quality of life around here. We really just don't care. We don't care enough to paint over graffiti on the overpasses that come into our city, advertising welcome to Atlanta, here's some of our finest graffiti, from some of our finest urban thugs and their little gang signs. And pick up the paper tomorrow morning. Read about all the carjackings. Read about the innocent people shot for the pure de-hell of it.
This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I'll tell you what it's gonna take. You people, you are - you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city. And let their -- let their mommas -- let their mommas say, "He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd." And then lock her ass up.
While Boortz has been criticized for his "reckless, stupid" and "racist" comments, the right-wing provocateur found a welcoming home on Fox News today to discuss the economy.
This just one week after Fox's Eric Bolling came under fire for using racially charged language portraying hip-hop artist Common and the president of Gabon as a couple of the "hoods" that President Obama has hosted in "the hizzy." Fox News proclaimed that the controversy surrounding Bolling's comments was closed after Bolling issued a shamefully dishonest apology.
The decision to host Boortz also comes just days after Fox's Glenn Beck appeared to point to an image of President Obama after asking, "Why would you get a gun?" Beck's comments likewise fell into the accountability vacuum that is Fox News.
Given Fox's willingness to sanction in-house race bating and outrageous on-air discourse, it's only logical that they continue giving their imprimatur to those who spread the same message.
Last Friday, Fox's Eric Bolling teased a segment about the White House hosting the president of Gabon, Ali Bongo, by saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse." The tease was accompanied by a graphic of Obama and Bongo with the words "Hoods in the House."
On Tuesday, following a barrage of criticism and three days of repeatedly defending his remarks on Twitter, Bolling apologized, saying, "We got a little fast and loose with the language." As we've pointed out, Bolling's apology was not only brief but dishonest, because many of Bolling's remarks were not part of an off-the-cuff discussion, but apparently scripted and accompanied by equally inflammatory images. As Columbia Journalism Review noted:
This was no off-the-cuff rant. Bringing last Friday's show to air was a team effort. The segment was conceived and scripted, segment teasers were written, chyrons were created, footage was pulled, a photo of Gabon's president was located and a flashy tooth was digitally affixed. In other words, people (journalists, maybe even?) besides Bolling worked to make this segment happen last Friday.
Yet Bolling brushed it off as getting "fast and loose with the language." And, according to Fox Business executive VP Kevin Magee, that's sufficient:
Responding to the firestorm caused by his racially charged criticisms of President Obama, Fox host Eric Bolling has insisted that he is "[definitely] not a racist." But experts on race and culture tell Media Matters that Bolling's rhetoric consists of "very old racist imagery" and appears to "purposefully" invoke demeaning and harmful racial stereotypes.
Last month, Bolling posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts that Obama was "chugging 40's in IRE while tornadoes ravage MO." He repeated the line on Fox Business' Follow the Money later that night, and then -- after being criticized -- tried to amend his attack by saying that he "took some heat for saying Obama should have delayed his bar crawl, or whatever he's doing over there."
This past Friday, during Follow the Money, he teased a segment about the White House hosting the president of Gabon by saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse."
While introducing the segment itself, Bolling stated: "So what's with all the hoods in the hizzy? A month after the White House hosted the rapper Common, who glorifies violence on cops, the president opened his doors to one of Africa's most evil dictators. Here's Ali Bongo, the Gabonese president, who's been accused of human rights violations and plundering billions of his country's dollars."
James Unnever, professor of criminology at the University of South Florida and co-author of A Theory of African-American Offending: Race, Racism and Crime (Routledge 2011), said such comments seek to demean Obama because of his skin color.
"It is using language that is demeaning to African-Americans and characterizes all African-Americans as having or sharing the same slangs, as if Obama would use those kinds of slang words," he said. "The use of the slang words that this person used essentially are code words for typifying African-Americans as being, if you wish, ghetto residents. Buried within that is the implication of associating blacks with crime and crime with blacks."
John Durst, associate professor of sociology at Ohio Wesleyan University, is overseeing a study on race in Columbus, Ohio. He stated in an e-mail after reviewing the comments:
These are all terms more commonly used in poor African-American communities. While not exclusively found in African-American communities, used in such a context for the President of the United States by a national media organization (conservative or not) is clearly painting a picture of Obama as a BLACK MALE who has not made it beyond the ghetto and can be portrayed in such light.