As Media Matters investigative reporter Joe Strupp noted Monday, "[t]he battle is on" between Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal and the New York Times:
The Wall Street Journal launched its new 'Greater New York' section today with all the fanfare of a political campaign kick-off.
Taking over the grand ballroom of The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, the Journal feted dozens of guests with a breakfast of bagels, quiche, coffee, Danish and other goodies. Large screens in the room promoted the new section's name, while top guns Les Hinton, CEO; Robert Thomson, managing editor; and Michael Rooney, chief revenue officer, headlined the event.
As the New York Observer's John Koblin writes in a post on the Media Mob blog, later Monday evening Murdoch downplayed the WSJ's ability to "kill" the Times at a Gotham Hall "launch party of The Journal's Greater New York section." The News Corp head also managed to get in a jab at Times publish Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s expense:
With the war starting, we wondered what Mr. Murdoch thought about Times publisher's Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s reaction to the whole dust-up involving what happened at Sir Martin Sorrell's apartment a few weeks ago, when Mr. Sulzberger and Journal editor Robert Thomson met for the first time. (Mr. Thomson described their conversation to us in an interview, and Mr. Sulzberger, through a spokesman, said Mr. Thomson lied.)
Mr. Murdoch's swatted the air disgustedly with his right hand, and said, "He should get a life."
The Times recently ran an ad campaign in which it provided stats about its dominance over The Journal with women readers in the New York area. What did Mr. Murdoch think?
"Bullshit," he said. "We have more women readers-total-than they do nationally."
Did he feel he could kill The New York Times?
"You can't kill The New York Times," he said. "It'll be here forever."
I guess if anyone should know about the ability to "kill" off a news outlet, it would be Murdoch. After all, this is the same News Corp chief that has presided over the decline of many newspapers and other entities like MySpace. As Newser.com's Michael Wolff noted in February, News Corp has "shouldered" the "losses" of the Times of London and the New York Post "for more than 30 years (representing, quite possibly, the largest aggregate loss of any media properties ever.)"
Like father's employee, like son?
Rupert Murdoch's son James reportedly crashed the London offices of The Independent because the paper had produced promotional ads stating, "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
The Guardian reports:
But [Rupert's] son James seems less ready to turn the other cheek, as it were. And this would seem to be the most plausible explanation for why Murdoch the younger, the chairman and chief executive News Corporation Europe and Asia, caused a media sensation on Wednesday by striding across the editorial floor at the Independent newspaper to berate its editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner.
In common with so many of the unpleasant episodes involving angry young men in modern London, it was a squall about reputation and respect. The newly relaunched Independent had produced a series of relatively innocuous promotional ads assuring readers: "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
There is no evidence that Murdoch senior has even seen the ads, but witnesses report that directly upon seeing Kelner, who was supervising the final production stages of that night's paper, Murdoch the younger began angry remonstrations. "What are you fucking playing at?" was his opening gambit.
The episode left experienced journalists shocked. "They strode in like a scene out of Dodge City," said one. "Murdoch scanned the room, you could almost hear him saying 'Where is he?'"
It looks like the younger Murdoch may be a big fan of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly who has become infamous over the years for ambushing those critical of the conservative network.
From an April 16 New York Times article:
For more than a week on his Fox News show, Sean Hannity promoted his planned Tax Day attendance at a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati. But as hundreds of Mr. Hannity's fans lined up for a pre-rally book signing there on Thursday, he was whisked back to New York, his plans scrapped by his bosses at the last minute.
Fox News executives said they canceled because they did not know that the Tea Party organizers were raising money based on Mr. Hannity's widely promoted attendance at the rally. But Mr. Hannity's producers at Fox were aware for months that tickets were being sold, said Chris Littleton, the president of the Cincinnati Tea Party, a nonprofit group. And Mr. Hannity mentioned the sales on his TV show a week ago.
The incident caused consternation inside Fox News Channel, which is a unit of the News Corporation, over its perceived closeness to the antigovernment Tea Party movement, especially in its highly rated opinion shows.
The network has faced regular accusations that it is promoting - not just covering - the Tea Party movement, something that its executives deny.
Responding to a question from the media watchdog group Media Matters last week, News Corporation's chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, said, "I don't think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party."
Whether it is promoting the Tea Party or covering it, Fox is clearly the movement's favored outlet; a New York Times-CBS News poll released this week found that 63 percent of self-described Tea Party supporters gain most of their television news from Fox, compared with 23 percent of all adult Americans.
Tickets costing $20 and $100 were sold for "Hannity seating" near his stage, according to the group's materials. Mr. Littleton said proceeds were to go to the Cincinnati Tea Party, a group that has not donated to political candidates. He said he "received calls from Fox asking about ticket sales," apparently referring to Fox producers.
Asked about the producers' and executives' knowledge of the ticket sales, Mr. Shine said Friday that "I'm doing a big post-mortem and trying to get to the bottom of it."
Burns: Press needs to treat Murdoch and Ailes "as politicans" and "hold them accountable" for promise to investigate Fox's tea party promotion.
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Last week at an event at the National Press Club, Media Matters for America's Ari Rabin-Havt asked News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch whether Fox News' extensive promotion of the tea party movement was appropriate. Murdoch replied that he didn't think Fox News "should be supporting the Tea Party" but would like to "investigate" "before condemning anyone."
Media Matters subsequently offered to assist Murdoch's investigation, sending him extensive documentation of Fox's prior glowing coverage of the tea parties. But in case that seems for some reason insufficient, we've now identified what for Fox News must be an unimpeachable source: The Tea Party Express.
Earlier today, I mentioned that Politico had published the original proposal Republican consultant Joe Wierzbicki sent to his colleagues at his firm, Russo Marsh + Rogers, laying out the plan to create the Tea Party Express," which he said would "give a boost to our PAC." Elsewhere in the memo, explaining why he believed they could "pull off a phenomenally successful tour" without the help of the "'tea party' establishment," Wierzbicki wrote:
[T]he April 15th tea parties may have been promoted by Fox News, Pajamas TV, Michelle Malkin, FreedomWorks, American Solutions, etc... however, almost all of the tea parties were organized and led by individual activists in local communities.
So there you have it. Even the guy that invented the Tea Party Express thinks that Fox has "promoted" the tea parties.
From the April 11 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Since Fox News host Glenn Beck said that President Obama is a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people" his program has reportedly lost at least 80 advertisers purportedly costing the conservative network nearly $600,000 a week.
As a result, tuning into Beck's show these days you're more likely to see ads from companies that are more at home during a 3 a.m. rerun of Golden Girls than a 5 p.m. cable news broadcast. It's been out with name-brand companies like GEICO, AT&T, and Bank of America, and in with ads featuring convicted Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy's great deals for the savvy gold investor.
Now it is being reported that Rupert Murdoch -- CEO of News Corp., parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal -- slashing ad rates for the Journal in his quest to directly compete with the New York Times.
As Roy Greenslade notes on his Guardian blog:
It is part of an aggressive attack on the New York Times, timed just ahead of the 26 April launch of the WSJ's special New York edition. Aggressive? He is virtually giving away space by reportedly offering discounts of between 79 and 83% for full-page ads.
Rightly, the FT points out that the strategy recalls the newspaper price wars Murdoch launched in 1993 by cutting the cover prices of The Times and The Sun.
Murdoch is the ultimate media warrior, prepared to risk any amount of money in order to succeed in a circulation battle against weaker rivals. (The NY Times company has nothing like the resources of Murdoch's News Corp).
News Corp evidently plans to spend $30m (£20m) in this and the next fiscal year to fund the expansion of the Journal's New York edition.
So, when should we expect to begin seeing Liddy's mustachioed mug in full-page Journal spreads?
As an avid viewer of several NBC prime-time programs -- 30 Rock and The Office among them -- I've grown accustomed to the "green" themed programming that pops up each year on the network and other NBC Universal outlets as well.
The Wall Street Journal's Amy Chozick has an interesting piece out this week looking at the "eco-friendly" programming:
In just one week on NBC, the detectives on "Law and Order" investigated a cash-for-clunkers scam, a nurse on "Mercy" organized a group bike ride, Al Gore made a guest appearance on "30 Rock," and "The Office" turned Dwight Schrute into a cape-wearing superhero obsessed with recycling.
Coincidence? Hardly. NBC Universal planted these eco-friendly elements into scripted television shows to influence viewers and help sell ads.
Since fall 2007, network executives have been asking producers of almost every prime-time and daytime show to incorporate a green storyline at least once a year. The effort now takes place for a week in April and November. Starting April 19 this year, 40 NBC Universal outlets will feature some 100 hours of green-themed programming, including an episode of the Bravo reality series "Millionaire Matchmaker" in which a 39-year-old tycoon with an eco-friendly clothing line goes into a rage after his blind date orders red meat.
While the network says it tries to incorporate green programming throughout the year, the special emphasis twice a year creates an "event" that provides opportunities to advertisers, an NBC spokeswoman says. For instance, a Wal-Mart ad focusing on locally grown produce ran this past November after an episode of the medical drama "Trauma" in which emergency medic Rabbit rescues a window washer dangling precariously from a building; medics are alerted to the situation by a man sitting in his hybrid vehicle.
Behavior placement gives marketers extra incentive to advertise at a time when digital video recorders equip viewers with an unprecedented ability to skip commercials, says Jason Kanefsky, a media buyer at Havas's MPG. "You're not forcing your way into a program in any shape or form," he says. "You're just nodding your head at a program." ABC, CBS and FOX have plenty of product placement but haven't taken the step into behavior placement, network spokesmen say.
Armed with its own data showing consumers are wiling to spend more if a brand seems eco-friendly, NBC in 2007 launched "Green Week," the programming component of a larger "Green is Universal" corporate campaign. That effort brought in an estimated $20 million in advertising revenue from 20 sponsors, according to industry estimates. Many new clients, including the nutrition bar Soy Joy, came on board, NBC says. In April 2008, the network added another week of green-themed programming, when network logos go green and on-air promos tout NBC's support for the environment. But there are no obvious cues to alert viewers to the green emphasis in programming.
Chozick's story got me thinking. Wouldn't it be great if the Wall Street Journal spent 1,500 words (the length of the entire aforementioned piece) on a story delving into News Corps' efforts to go green and how its Fox News Channel spends considerable air-time attacking the science behind climate change and anything even vaguely eco-friendly?
Since the Journal is owned by News Corp, we shouldn't hold our breath. But just in case some Journal reporters happen to be reading (hello there!) I offer the following primer from a column I wrote in February:
Leading the anti-science idiocy is a host of conservative Fox News figures.
Over on the network's right-wing morning show, Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson maintained her long-held passion for dismissing climate science, saying she wanted to talk about the "dichotomy" created by "big snowstorms" occurring while "the Obama administration [is] talking about creating a new federal office to study global warming." Co-host Steve Doocy added to the nonsense, claiming that it was "interesting, though, given the fact that the weather is so rotten right now, and people are going, 'How can there be global warming if it's snowing and it's fairly cold?' "
Interesting observation? Hardly. Idiocy worth ignoring? Absolutley.
Fox News' Sean Hannity dug in deep as well, adding to his extensive history of science denial. The conservative host found it absolutely hilarious that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke had "tunneled his way through two feet of snow in D.C." to announce the proposed creation of a new Climate Service office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The very next day, Hannity was back at it, saying, "Global warming, where are you? We want you back" while discussing recent winter storms.
Ironically, Rupert Murdoch -- CEO of News Corp., Fox News' parent company -- stated in 2007 that News Corp. "can set an example" and "reach our audiences" when it comes to fighting climate change, promising to make all of News Corp.'s operations carbon neutral by this year.
Perhaps it's time for Murdoch to call an all-staff meeting and discuss just how they are reaching their respective audiences on this issue, which he has said "poses clear, catastrophic threats."
There is a whole lot more where that comes from -- 247 research items, video/audio clips, blog posts and columns here at Media Matters alone.
From the April 7 edition of MSNBC's Countdown:
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From the April 7 edition of MSNBC's Countdown:
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At this point we shouldn't expect Rupert Murdoch to have much of a grasp on reality. After all, it wasn't too long ago that the chairman of News Corp defended Fox News host Glenn Beck's comment that President Obama is a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people" by saying, "he [Obama] did make a very racist comment." We're still waiting to find out what "very racist comment" Murdoch was talking about.
Now it seems he's lost touch with reality yet again, this time at a forum tonight in Washington, DC where he attacked the objectivity of rival news outlets in one breath and struggled to name a single Democrat at Fox News in the next.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports:
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose empire includes a host of predominantly conservative-leaning institutions, accused his competitors, on Tuesday night, of being the ones with the biases.
Speaking at a forum for the public affairs TV series, The Kalb Report, the News Corp. CEO valiantly declared that his rival networks -- MSNBC and CNN -- "tend to be Democrats" while those at his own Fox News "are not Republicans."
Asked later during the question and answer session to name a single Democrat who worked for Fox News, however, Murdoch struggled.
"They are certainly there... Greta Van Susteren is certainly close to the Democratic Party," he said, after blanking on names first and insisting that Ailes would have a long list. "She doesn't do many political stories. She is just a great journalist... but people who have been involved in Democratic politics and so on, yeah we have people..."
The media mogul was peppered with a host of comments related to bias, and in each case fought the perception that he's made his fortune by catering to the conservative audience. Asked by an official at the progressive watchdog group, Media Matters, for instance, whether it was ethical for officials at Fox to promote the Tea Party movement (as has been documented on some occasion) he replied without hesitation.
"No. I don't think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party. But I'd like to investigate what you are saying before condemning anyone."
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.
From a February 24 The Guardian article:
Rupert Murdoch's media giant News International could face a judicial inquiry after a highly critical parliamentary report today accuses senior executives at its top-selling newspaper of concealing the truth about the extent of illegal phone hacking by its journalists.
The 167-page report by a cross-party select committee is withering about the conduct of the News of the World, with one MP saying its crimes "went to the heart of the British establishment, in which police, military royals and government ministers were hacked on a near industrial scale".
MPs condemned the "collective amnesia" and "deliberate obfuscation" by NoW executives who gave evidence to them, and said it was inconceivable that only a few people at the paper knew about the practice.
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.