Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, wrote on Twitter that while Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz "bets uniting white conservatives/evangelicals enough [...] Trump appealing across party lines. Surely the winning strategy".
Fox News gave GOP frontrunner Donald Trump more than twice as much interview airtime during 2015 compared to any other candidate, totaling nearly 23 hours across 119 appearances.
Murdoch's January 15 tweet:
Cruz bets uniting white conservatives/evangelicals enough, Meanwhile Trump appealing across party lines. Surely the winning strategy.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 16, 2016
Right-wing media leapt to criticize the Iran nuclear deal following the brief detention of American sailors by Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf. However, foreign policy experts in the media are crediting the deal and the diplomatic contacts created by it for the quick release of the sailors.
As President Obama delivered his final address to Congress on the State Of The Union, conservative media personalities attacked him on Twitter, calling him "divisive," a liar, and mocking his policy proposals.
"Moderate Muslims don't speak out enough against the hijacking of their religion" Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity claimed in his first radio appearance after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.
In a year bookended by three major terror attacks against the West, blaming "moderate Muslims" for failing to condemn acts of terrorism has become a hallmark of conservative media coverage. The constant demand for penance -- from Muslims who have nothing to do with the acts of violence -- is a rigged game, aimed at convincing audiences that Islam is dominated by violent extremists.
January's Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris set the stage for a year of anti-Muslim coverage. Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News' parent company, tweeted that Muslims "must be held responsible" for terrorist attacks "until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer." Fox contributor Monica Crowley echoed his statements, claiming "I haven't heard any condemnation" of the attack from Muslim groups, while right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham claimed that similar attacks wouldn't occur if "most Muslims were against what was happening." When Paris was struck by terror again in November, Fox primetime figurehead Bill O'Reilly called for a "Million Muslim March," adding that people want to "see a mobilization of the good Muslims." Capping off the year of Islamophobic coverage, Fox daytime host Andrea Tantaros used December's terrorist attack by a Muslim couple in San Bernardino, California as an opportunity to peddle the myth that Muslims "don't come out and denounce [terrorism]."
But conservative media's calls for "moderate Muslims" to condemn terrorism are disingenuous. Muslim groups and leaders have repeatedly and roundly condemned terrorism. After November's attacks in Paris, leaders from numerous Arab states and Muslim-majority countries called them "heinous crimes" that are "repugnant," and "against all human and moral values." Eleven months earlier, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, religious scholar Reza Aslan said "anyone who keeps saying that we need to hear the moderate voice of Islam, why aren't Muslims denouncing these violent attacks, doesn't own Google." Nevertheless right-wing media routinely ignored these condemnations, choosing instead to criticize Muslims for supposedly not speaking up. After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the spokesman from Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA condemned the attack on FoxNews.com, yet on the same day Fox News personalities claimed Muslims had not. Sean Hannity doubled down in his attacks against "silent" Muslims days after leaders of predominately Muslim countries, some of the largest Islamic groups in America, and Muslims across the world denounced the November Paris attacks.
And when conservative commentators do acknowledge statements from mainstream Muslim groups, it's often only to ridicule those groups for speaking out. After the December 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the largest Islamic organizations in America, quickly denounced the attack in a press conference after the shooters were revealed to be Muslim. Executive Director Hussam Ayloush reassured the country on CNN that "all American Muslims share with the rest of the country our sorrow today, our shock, and our agony for what happened."
But rather than silencing criticisms, CAIR's response only drew outrage from conservative commentators who labeled the group a "terrorist organization" and "that Muslim group that ain't the best in the world." One Fox guest even went so far as to compare the press conference to "a pedophile sending NAMBLA out to speak for them," while others dismissed the statements as "damage control" and a "media crisis management plan." Frequent Fox guest Dr. Zuhdi Jasser somehow gathered from CAIR's statements that they "inculcate those first steps of radicalization" and see it as "sort of normal behavior."
CAIR's condemnations also did little to curb conservative media claims that Muslims weren't speaking out against terrorism. Even while acknowledging CAIR's press conference, a segment on Fox's Outnumbered still claimed that Muslims weren't sending the message that terrorists "are much different than the rest of us."
Many of the same conservative media figures who demanded penance from "moderate Muslims" for acts of terror also repeatedly suggested that Islam and Western society are fundamentally incompatible. Monica Crowley reasoned that Muslims weren't denouncing terror because "in Islam, the good Muslims are the jihadis, so the ones not carrying out violence are looked at as sort of crummy Muslims." Laura Ingraham stoked anti-Muslim fears by citing a faulty poll to falsely claim that Muslims "have a 5,000 percent greater chance of being connected with some type of jihadi group in the United States." Sean Hannity asked if "we have a clash of cultures we've got to consider?" in reference to resettling Syrian civil war refugees in the U.S., adding, "How do we know if they want to assimilate?" Bill O'Reilly called the European refugee crisis "the dramatic Muslim invasion." Fox News figures capitalized on the crisis to stoke fears that Muslim refugees may be terrorists, from Andrea Tantaros claiming "taking Islamic refugees would be suicide" to The Five co-host Eric Bolling saying male Muslim refugees are "going to be easily radicalized by ISIS."
This tactic -- assigning collective guilt and then falsely accusing "moderate Muslims" of being complicit with violent terrorism -- has become a powerful weapon in conservative media's campaign to fearmonger about Islam.
After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Caner Dagli, a professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross, pointed out that these demands are "really about political statements and maintaining a certain social hierarchy" and "an act by the powerful assigning collective guilt against the powerless":
This is really about political statements and maintaining a certain social hierarchy. Demanding that innocent Muslims always make new statements about crimes they could not have stopped, from which they do not benefit, and have always condemned anyway, is an act by the powerful assigning collective guilt against the powerless. The critics who want Muslims to "speak out" only grow more demanding when Muslims actually do speak out, because by doing so Muslims have publicly affirmed the right of others to blame them collectively, regardless of whether they are accountable or not.
Such political maneuvers -- and that is what they really are -- increase the leverage that can be exerted over Muslims in public life. Muslim voices are thus uniquely kept out of view unless they are apologizing for some atrocity they had nothing to do with.
Endlessly accusing Muslims of being insufficiently outraged by terrorism helps prime conservative media audiences for a wildly distorted view of Islam. Vox's Max Fisher shed light on the mindset that these tactics breed: "the implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise."
That implication has consequences. While right-wing media figures heightened suspicions of the Muslim community, anti-Muslim backlash in America has been on the rise. The FBI reported that in 2014, hate crimes across the board decreased -- that is, except for anti-Muslim crimes, which rose about 14 percent. And according to a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, that trend may be "destined to accelerate."
Just days after the attacks in Paris, a Muslim engineer attended a community forum to present an application for a zoning permit to replace his city's aging Islamic center. A crowd poured into the meeting to harass him. "Nobody wants your evil cult in this town," someone in the hall shouted, "because you are terrorists. Every one of you are terrorists ... Every Muslim is a terrorist, period. Shut your mouth." Vandalism at mosques reached a record high this year with anecdotal evidence suggesting that 2015 "has been one of the most intensely anti-Muslim periods in American history," as nearly twenty anti-Muslim incidents took place over the course of just one week in December.
When conservative media commentators demand that Muslims condemn acts of terrorism and subsequently ignore their voices when they do, they are insidiously suggesting that Muslims condone terrorism. These demands are meant to make audiences suspicious of the idea of "moderate Muslims" and inflate the perception of extremists within the religion. Muslims are then left with seemingly no way to win, no matter how loud or how hard they try.
News Corporation and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch cited "radical Muslim dangers" to endorse a "complete refugee pause" one day after Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a total ban on Muslims immigrating to or visiting the United States.
On December 7, Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United states until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," citing a flawed poll from an Islamophobic organization to claim that Muslims are a danger to America.
Murdoch, a top executive of Fox News' parent company, previously echoed calls by Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz to limit the admission of Syrian refugees to "proven Christians":
Obama facing enormous opposition in accepting refugees. Maybe make special exception for proven Christians.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) November 16, 2015
On December 8, amid widespread condemnation of Trump's proposal, Murdoch asked whether Trump has "gone too far," but then claimed that the "public is obsessed on radical Muslim dangers," and added that a "complete refugee pause to fix vetting makes sense":
Has Trump gone too far? Regardless, public is obsessed on radical Muslim dangers, Complete refugee pause to fix vetting makes sense.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) December 8, 2015
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a moratorium on Muslims entering the United States on December 7. Trump's statement followed widespread calls from conservative media not to allow Muslim refugees from Syria to resettle in the United States.
Twenty-eight civil rights and faith organizations have issued an open letter calling for unity and condemning media's "recent rhetoric that exploits" the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, "to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees."
Signers of the letter noted that the "bigotry and hate" found in recent rhetoric "has been sadly reminiscent" of the responses to the terrorist attacks at the Parisian Charlie Hebdo magazine in January. The letter condemned the "countless leaders and media personalities" that have exploited the attacks "to call for more discriminatory profiling" of the Muslim community, "claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS," and called for "an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror," relying "on historical context and multiple perspectives" that are inclusive.
The letter writers also condemned Fox News' anti-refugee rhetoric, and specifically called out Rupert Murdoch - executive co-chairman of Fox's parent company - for "cloak[ing] their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad," and called for public leaders to "refrain from religious bigotry and focus on unity in the aftermath" of the Paris tragedy:
We, the undersigned civil rights advocates and faith leaders, write to express deep concern about recent rhetoric that exploits the tragic attacks in Paris to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees. Dividing Americans at a time when we need to be united not only hurts our democracy -- it hurts our standing in the world.
The bigotry and hate we've witnessed in the last few days has sadly been reminiscent of the response to January's terrorist attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Media figures and public officials have taken to social media and the airwaves to claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS, disregarding hundreds of millions of Muslims who fight for the cause of freedom and democracy every day. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio compared Muslims to Nazis during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. Hosts on CNN International berated the spokesperson of a French Muslim outreach group because he would not agree that all Muslims share "responsibility" for the attacks.
It is extremely concerning that countless leaders and media personalities have also used the tragedy to call for more discriminatory profiling of American Muslims, including Donald Trump who told MSNBC "you're going to have to watch and study the mosques," and Rep. Peter King who said that increased surveillance of Muslim communities is warranted because "that's where the threat is coming from."
Others have cloaked their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad. Foxcontributors and too many others have endorsed closing US borders to Muslim refugees -- even going so far as to claim, "there are real refugees among the people fleeing Syria and they're Christians." News Corp. and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch echoed this endorsement, suggesting that President Barack Obama "make [a] special exception for proven Christians" when considering refugees in the wake of recent attacks in Paris. In recent days, more than half of governors have said they won't accept Syrian refugees even though none of them have the power to turn them away from a safe place to call home.
The American people depend on all leaders and media for an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror and ways to respond relying on historical context and multiple perspectives, including those from Muslim, Sikh, Arab, South Asian and other communities here in the U.S. and abroad. To those leaders and media figures who have responsibly relied on multiple and diverse perspectives and the facts, we thank you and ask that you continue doing so.
To those who are responsible for the divisive rhetoric we detail above, we call on you to refrain from religious bigotry and focus instead on unity in the aftermath of this tragedy. There are real consequences to creating an anti-Muslim climate.
The entire letter, which has been signed by the Advancement Project, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the American Civil Liberties Union, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the Center for New Community, Color Of Change, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Networks Group (ING), Million Hoodies For Justice, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the NAACP, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, National Sikh Campaign, Race Forward, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), The Interfaith Center of New York, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, The Sikh Coalition, UNITED SIKHS, United We Dream, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and 9to5: National Association of Working Women, can be found here:
From the November 16 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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News Corp. and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch suggested that President Barack Obama "make [a] special exception for proven Christians" when considering refugees in the wake of recent attacks in Paris.
In a November 16 tweet, Murdoch echoed comments from right-wing media figures calling for Obama to only accept Christian refugees from Syria. In the tweet Murdoch claimed "Obama facing enormous opposition in accepting refugees. Maybe make special exception for proven Christians":
And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who's fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution -- that's shameful. That's not American. That's not who we are. We don't have religious tests to our compassion.
When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn't just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn't call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable.
Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News and Wall Street Journal's respective parent companies, lashed out at media outlets for vetting GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson's autobiographical claims, stating CNN and The New York Times "hate faith based people," after they published articles challenging some of the candidate's past statements. Murdoch's criticism came just one day after his own Wall Street Journal cast doubt on the veracity of several Carson claims.
The authenticity of several stories in Ben Carson's autobiography have come under media scrutiny within the past week, including claims that he was offered a scholarship to the U.S. Military Academy and that he attempted to stab a childhood friend. After CNN reported that they could not "independently confirm" incidents described in Carson's autobiography including "stabbing, rock throwing, brick hurling and baseball bat beating," right-wing media lashed out at the network, calling the report "ruthless" for "dissecting" Carson's life. The New York Times detailed Carson's questionable statements in a November 7 article writing, "Now it is Ben Carson who appears to have shaded the facts." The Times went on to explain how Carson's response was to "engage in a practice that has become routine in this race: He harshly turned the questions back on reporters who asked them."
Murdoch defended Carson on November 7, writing "Carson seems to have won by standing up immediately and answering doubters. Seems CNN/NYT etc all hate faith based people":
Carson seems to have won by standing up immediately and answering doubters. Seems CNN/NYT etc all hate faith based people.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) November 7, 2015
However, a November 6 story that ran in Murdoch's own Wall Street Journal contributed to the scrutiny over Carson's claims. The Journal called a number of incidents described by Carson into question, including his assertion that he protected white students from a riot, and was identified by a professor as "the most honest student" in a Perceptions 301 psychology class at Yale University:
The day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968, Ben Carson's black classmates unleashed their anger and grief on white students who were a minority at Detroit's Southwestern High.
Mr. Carson, then a junior with a key to a biology lab where he worked part time, told The Wall Street Journal last month that he protected a few white students from the attacks by hiding them there.
It is a dramatic account of courage and kindness, and it couldn't be confirmed in interviews with a half-dozen of Mr. Carson's classmates and his high school physics teacher. The students all remembered the riot. None recalled hearing about white students hiding in the biology lab, and Mr. Carson couldn't remember any names of those he sheltered.
In his 1990 autobiography, "Gifted Hands," Mr. Carson writes of a Yale psychology professor who told Mr. Carson, then a junior, and the other students in the class--identified by Mr. Carson as Perceptions 301--that their final exam papers had "inadvertently burned," requiring all 150 students to retake it. The new exam, Mr. Carson recalled in the book, was much tougher. All the students but Mr. Carson walked out.
"The professor came toward me. With her was a photographer for the Yale Daily News who paused and snapped my picture," Mr. Carson wrote. " 'A hoax,' the teacher said. 'We wanted to see who was the most honest student in the class.' " Mr. Carson wrote that the professor handed him a $10 bill.
No photo identifying Mr. Carson as a student ever ran, according to the Yale Daily News archives, and no stories from that era mention a class called Perceptions 301. Yale Librarian Claryn Spies said Friday there was no psychology course by that name or class number during any of Mr. Carson's years at Yale.
Climate activists are calling on National Geographic to hire a public editor to keep tabs on its editorial approach following the magazine's purchase by a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Murdoch has repeatedly made scientifically inaccurate comments about climate change, and recently lamented "alarmist nonsense" on the issue.
The National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox announced last month an expansion of their current partnership to include National Geographic's cable channels, its flagship magazine, and other digital and social media.
As National Geographic explained, "Under the $725-million deal, Fox, which currently holds a majority stake in National Geographic's cable channels, will own 73 percent of the new media company, called National Geographic Partners. The National Geographic Society will own 27 percent."
"We will now have the scale and reach to fulfill our mission long into the future," National Geographic Society CEO Gary E. Knell said at the time. "The Society's work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact. It's a virtuous cycle."
In an interview with Media Matters shortly after the announcement of the deal, National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg said she was "not concerned" about News Corp.'s history and its ties to Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets that routinely promote misinformation on climate change. "21st Century Fox is an enormously large creative global company that has lots of different properties operating underneath that umbrella," Goldberg said at the time. Goldberg also stressed that James Murdoch -- not his father Rupert -- is the head of 21st Century Fox. (The younger Murdoch was installed as CEO of 21st Century Fox in July, while Rupert is now executive co-chairman of 21st Century with his other son, Lachlan.)
While both National Geographic and 21st Century Fox have pledged that National Geographic will maintain its editorial independence, at least three climate advocacy groups are urging National Geographic to hire a public editor to keep watch over its editorial product and ensure it remains a science-based news outlet, especially on the issue of climate change.
Online petitions from Climate Truth, Common Cause, and SumOfUs have drawn thousands of signatures urging National Geographic to bring in an independent observer to keep watch. The petitions were launched online shortly after the deal with 21st Century Fox was announced in September.
"[Rupert] Murdoch has a troubling history of editorial meddling, and there's no measures in place to assure his denial of climate science won't taint National Geographic's historically excellent coverage," the Climate Truth petition, which has gathered more than 25,000 signatures, states.
Brant Olson, Campaign Director for Climate Truth, said a public editor would help get concerns from readers to the editors.
"There is pretty widespread concern in the press and among our members after the announcement of the deal that one of the world's most well-respected brands of science is coming under control of a man who has not been shy about saying he doesn't believe in climate change," Olson said. "Elsewhere, when we have had concerns about coverage of climate change, we have engaged their public editor."
Olson cited two issues that were recently addressed at other media outlets when public editors and ombudsmen were contacted: The New York Times' misuse of the phrase "climate skeptics"; and PBS member stations having oil billionaire David Koch on their boards.
"Having a public editor offers a forum for readers and others to discuss matters of editorial oversight and interference," Olson added. "And why not do that at National Geographic? Historically, National Geographic has been fantastic and we hope that will continue in the future."
The magazine's recent climate change issue, which was released online earlier this month, seems to take a fair approach, with stories on reducing carbon emissions, dangerous rising sea levels, and promoting wind and solar energy.
But not everyone is willing to take for granted that the climate change issue or the magazine's past climate coverage is a sign of things to come under Fox.
Common Cause Digital Campaign Organizer Jack Mumby said his group launched its petition for a public editor to help readers keep informed fairly.
"We believe that voters need a media ecosystem where scientific truth is accurately represented," he said. "We rely on a media that gives voters the information they need to cast their ballots. We want to make sure National Geographic does everything it can to make sure it remains a source of accurate information."
Noting its petition was posted in September, Mumby declares, "It will be up until the issue is resolved." He said the goal is to "make sure that the magazine is editorially independent, we want to hear what their plan is to make sure this change in ownership does not change the independent and science-based journalism voters rely on."
SumOfUs Senior Campaigner Katherine Tu also cited National Geographic's history of playing "a vital role in the fight against climate change," and expressed concern that "Murdoch has a well-known history of meddling with media outlets that he owns and could undermine National Geographic's historically excellent coverage."
More than 100,000 SumOfUs members have joined their campaign for a public editor, which Tu told Media Matters would protect the magazine's "independence" and "represent the interests of the public."
National Geographic says it has no plans to hire a public editor or ombudsman, claiming it deserves the benefit of the doubt and has no incentive to take a wrong turn in its climate coverage.
"We think our 127-year track record of science, research and storytelling in service illuminating the wonder, as well as the issues, of the planet speaks for itself, and find it interesting as well as kind of ironic that the petition was put forward the very week our all climate change issue was published," National Geographic Society Chief Communications Officer Betty Hudson said via email. "That said, we're very comfortable with the robust governance guidelines that National Geographic Partners has in place, and would repeat our shared belief that the essence of the value of the enterprise is ultimately connected to our brand integrity."
Hudson also referred to a statement the society issued to the petition groups after their online protests were posted, laying out how 21st Century Fox and National Geographic plan to maintain "editorial autonomy and mutual institutional respect":
National Geographic has had a nearly two decade long relationship with 21st Century Fox, and during that time has enjoyed editorial autonomy and mutual institutional respect, which we fully expect to continue going forward. The terms of the transaction include an expanded and specific governance framework designed to ensure that the content, publications and activities of NG Partners remain supportive of the mission of NGS and consistent with the National Geographic brand.
National Geographic Partners will be governed by an eight person board comprised of an equal number of representatives from the Society and 21CF. NGS President and CEO Gary Knell will serve as first Chair, a role that will alternate annually. Under the trademark license, NG Partners must adhere to a 300+ page Standards Guide that articulates the principles of the National Geographic Society as well as its content vision. The Society has the right to review and approve the NGPartners annual content plan as well as the annual marketing plan, and has the right to remove the Chief Executive Officer and/or the Chief Marketing Officer should brand integrity be compromised.
But all involved have spoken to the shared belief that the very value of the enterprise in which the Partners are investing resides in that brand integrity, and anything that undermines or dilutes that integrity damages the institution, as well as the investment.
From the October 8 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
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Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, praised Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his wife Candy as "terrific" and called for "a real black president" in response to a New York magazine column that posed the question, "Did Barack Obama do enough for his own community?"
From Murdoch's October 7 tweet:
Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) October 8, 2015
Murdoch apologized in an October 8 tweet:
Apologies! No offence meant. Personally find both men charming.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) October 8, 2015
When it comes to covering climate change, it's not just The Wall Street Journal's editorial section that is problematic in the Rupert Murdoch era -- a new study shows the paper's newsroom has misinformed readers on the issue, too.
A new joint study from researchers at Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oslo appearing in the journal Public Understanding of Science (PUS) found major differences between the climate change reporting of The Wall Street Journal and other major U.S. newspapers. The July 30 study, titled "Polarizing news? Representations of threat and efficacy in leading US newspapers' coverage of climate change," examined non-opinion-based climate change articles in The Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post from 2006 to 2011.
The study found some disturbing trends in The Wall Street Journal's news reporting on climate change, including that the Journal was less likely than the other newspapers to discuss the threats or impacts of climate change and more likely to frame climate action as ineffective or even harmful. The authors of the study concluded that, given the Journal's conservative readership, the negative nature of its climate reporting "could exacerbate ideological polarization on climate change."
Fox News Channel founder Rupert Murdoch purchased The Journal in 2007, so this flawed reporting largely happened on his watch.
Here's how The Journal differed from other major newspapers in its climate reporting:
The Journal was far less likely than the other newspapers to mention at least one impact of climate change on the environment, public health, national security, or the economy. The Journal only mentioned climate change impacts in 21.6 percent of its climate stories, far less frequently than The New York Times (40.3 percent), Washington Post (48.8 percent) and USA Today (58.2 percent). In particular, The Journal was far and away the least likely newspaper to mention the impacts of climate change on the environment and public health.
The Journal was also least likely to cover climate change as a threat -- particularly as a present-day threat. The study found that The Journal discussed present-day threats from climate change in only 12.7 percent of its articles, whereas The Times, Washington Post, and USA Today discussed climate threats in 28.3, 39.5, and 40.3 percent of their climate coverage, respectively. Recent Pew polling shows that Americans consider climate change less of a threat than people in many other countries do, a trend that may be exacerbated by The Journal's coverage.
The Journal was by far the most likely newspaper to discuss climate change actions, particularly government actions. The Journal mentioned at least one action that could be taken to address climate change in 93.3 percent of its coverage, and mentioned government actions in 81.3 percent of its stories. By contrast, the other newspapers discussed climate actions in 82.1-83.6 percent of their climate coverage, including government action in 60.9-66.4 percent of their climate stories.
But that's not actually a good thing, because The Journal tended to frame those actions as difficult or ineffective. The study found that The Journal included "positive efficacy" -- framing climate actions as manageable or effective -- in just 20.1 percent of its climate coverage. It included "negative efficacy" -- framing climate actions as unsuccessful or costly -- in 33.6 percent of its climate stories.
The New York Times was the only other newspaper to frame climate actions negatively more often than positively. The Times included "positive efficacy" in 16.8 percent of its climate coverage, and "negative efficacy" in 23.9 percent.
Finally, The Journal was the most likely newspaper to use "conflict" framing -- presenting the issue as "a conflict or power struggle between politicians or stakeholder groups (e.g. Democrats and Republicans battling over legislation, international disputes over climate policy, climate change as an election issue)." It did so in 53 percent of its climate coverage.
While Fox News continues to promote and defend Donald Trump's presidential campaign, other parts of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and Murdoch himself have criticized the candidate in what appears to be an internal proxy war.
New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reports that the divergent tone in coverage of Trump's campaign may be evidence of a split between Murdoch and Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who recently signed a new contract that will extend his tenure beyond the 2016 election.
Sherman reports that Fox "insiders" say Ailes "is pushing Fox to defend Trump's most outlandish comments." Trump has called Mexican immigrants "rapists" and criminals, and attacked Sen. John McCain's military record -- remarks that many on Fox have defended. Sherman also reports that Ailes told his senior executives that Murdoch asked him to "back off the Trump coverage" and that in response Ailes told his superior that he would cover Trump "the way he wanted to."
A Sherman source indicated that "Ailes has instructed The Five co-host Eric Bolling to defend Trump on air." Bolling recently called companies boycotting Trump for his racist remarks "economic terrorists," and attacked conservative pundits who criticized Trump. Fox News contributor Pat Caddell is also reportedly helping Trump behind the scenes. Sherman notes, "According to a source with direct knowledge, Caddell has been speaking to Trump 'almost every day' about his campaign."
A New York Times article reported that Murdoch personally does not like Trump, and the feeling is mutual. The Times reports that Murdoch "often described" Trump as a "phony" to his friends, and disagrees with him on immigration. Murdoch said Trump was "wrong" to characterize Mexican immigrants as "rapists," and tweeted after his anti-McCain remarks, "When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?"
The Times reports that despite his past feuds with Murdoch, Trump has "set his sights" on "wooing" Ailes. They note, "his treatment by Fox News is much more crucial because of the influence the channel wields among the Republican Party's base."
Associates of Ailes told the Times they believe that promoting Trump could be a win-win for Ailes, since "it could buy time for other Republican contenders to hone their messages and become more seasoned campaigners" while Fox ratings benefit from covering the ongoing spectacle of Trump's campaign.
Murdoch's other media properties have gone after Trump in recent days.
The Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial calling Trump a "catastrophe" and noted, "His only discernible principle is the promotion of his personal brand." The Journal even said, "The conservative media who applaud him are hurting the cause." But they didn't mention Fox News.
Trump pushed back against the Journal by writing, "Look how small the pages have become @WSJ. Looks like a tabloid--saving money I assume!" Trump also said, "The ever dwindling @WSJ which is worth about 1/10 of what it was purchased for, is always hitting me politically. Who cares!"
The Murdoch-owned New York Post covered the McCain story with a front page that said Trump was "toast," adding, "DON VOYAGE!"
Trump has used his Twitter account to amplify criticism from his supporters targeting Fox News, including one tweet directed at the network that read, "tell your owner Murdoch we are turning Fox off if he keeps belittling @realDonaldTrump. No Fox!" Another post he promoted accused Fox of trying to "push Jeb on their viewers."
Overall, Trump's relationship with Fox has been a positive one. He reportedly privately met with Ailes and tops the network for most time given to the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. At a recent campaign event, he praised Fox & Friends, calling co-hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck "great people."