On January 26, The Washington Post ran an article on an open letter from Jewish Funds for Justice, signed by 400 rabbis, calling on News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch to ask "Fox News chief Roger Ailes and conservative host Glenn Beck to cut out all their talk about Nazis and the Holocaust." From the article:
A coalition of rabbis wants Fox News chief Roger Ailes and conservative host Glenn Beck to cut out all their talk about Nazis and the Holocaust, and it's making its views known in an unusual place.
The rabbis have called on Fox News's owner, Rupert Murdoch, to sanction his two famous employees via a full-page ad in Thursday's editions of the Wall Street Journal - one of many other media properties controlled by Murdoch's News Corp.
The ad is signed by the heads of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements as well as Orthodox rabbis.
"We share a belief that the Holocaust, of course, can and should be discussed appropriately in the media. But that is not what we have seen at Fox News," says the ad, signed by hundreds of rabbis and placed by the Jewish Funds for Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group. Earlier this month, the group organized a letter-writing campaign asking Murdoch to remove Beck from the air.
The rabbis were prompted by Beck's three-part program in November about liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom Beck described as a "Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps" during World War II.
Soros was a young teenager in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the war and hid with a Christian family to escape the Holocaust. He once described accompanying his surrogate father while he confiscated property from Jews deported by the Nazis.
The Jewish Funds group has received financial support from Soros's Open Society Foundations.
Ailes, in a November interview with the Daily Beast Web site, called NPR executives "Nazis" for their decision to fire Juan Williams, also a Fox commentator. He later apologized to the Anti-Defamation League, but not to NPR, saying, "I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word, but I was angry at the time because of NPR's willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough."
But Ailes, in the same interview, defended Beck's frequent use of Nazi references to describe his political opponents by attributing outrage over such remarks to "left-wing rabbis who basically don't think that anybody can ever use the word 'Holocaust' on the air." [The Washington Post, 1/26/11]
Today, Jewish Funds for Justice ran an open letter in the Wall Street Journal calling on Rupert Murdoch to "sanction Glenn Beck" for his repeated use of Holocaust and Nazi imagery. The letter was signed by 400 rabbis. From the letter:
We were...deeply offended by Roger Ailes' recent statement attributing the outrage over Glenn Beck's use of Holocaust and Nazi images to "left-wing rabbis who basically don't think that anybody can ever use the word 'Holocaust' on the air."
We share a belief that the Holocaust, of course, can and should be discussed appropriately in the media. But that is not what we have seen at Fox News. It is not appropriate to accuse a 14-year-old Jew hiding with a Christian family in Nazi-occupied Hungary of sending his people to death camps. It is not appropriate to call executives of another news agency "Nazis." And it is not appropriate to make literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom you disagree.
It is because this issue has a profound impact on each of us, our families and our communities that we are calling on Fox News to meet the standard it has set for itself: "to exercise the ultimate sensitivity when referencing the Holocaust."
We respectfully request that Glenn Beck be sanctioned by Fox News for his completely unacceptable attacks on a survivor of the Holocaust and that Roger Ailes apologize for his dismissive remarks about rabbis' sensitivity to how the Holocaust is used on the air. [The Wall Street Journal, 1/27/11, via The Washington Post]
Yet another reminder that when Rupert Murdoch's New York Post publishes a union-bashing "exclusive" that seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
Late last year the Post splashed its "exclusive" about how "selfish" union members of New York City's Dept. of Sanitation purposefully didn't clear local streets in the wake of the recent blizzard in an effort to embarrass the city's (formerly Republican) mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Why? Because he cut the department's resources.
The glaring problem with the story was that the Post's "exclusive" was built around anonymous sources. The key sources were a handful of nameless union workers who supposedly spilled the beans of the slowdown plan to a local Republican city councilman, Dan Halloran. It appeared the Post did not actually interview those sources, but rather interviewed Halloran, who relayed what the nameless sources supposedly told him. (Oy.)
But right-wing bloggers didn't fret over the sketchy sourcing. They loved the angle that evil union workers tried to screw over New York City during its time of need.
As we previously noted, neither Bloomberg nor the city's former Republican mayor, Rudy Giuliani, believe the Post story. And today the New York Times has a long piece about how the Post "exclusive" was pretty much a joke:
Mr. Halloran said he had been visited by two supervisors in the Transportation Department and three workers in the Sanitation Department. But the two transportation supervisors did not back up his story in interviews with investigators, according to two people briefed on the inquiries. And Mr. Halloran has steadfastly refused to reveal the names of the sanitation workers.
Mr. Halloran expects to testify this week before a federal grand jury looking into the question of a slowdown, according to a person familiar with his intentions, and it is not clear whether prosecutors will try to compel him, under oath, to divulge the workers' names.
Meanwhile, investigators had hoped that extensive publicity would bring out others with knowledge of the purported plot. That has not happened, according to the people briefed on the investigations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigations are continuing. This leaves prosecutors with no proof that anything occurred.
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In a January 19 Washington Post column titled, "Murdoch's Fox propagandists, degrading journalism," Harold Meyerson wrote that "[t]he political slanting of news from News Corp. outlets ... is conscious and constant." Meyerson cited a memo from Fox News Washington managing Bill Sammon directing his network's journalists not to use the phrase "public option":
Consider, for instance, the memo (subsequently leaked) that Fox News Vice President Bill Sammon sent at the height of the health-care debate, shortly after Republican pollster Frank Luntz said on Sean Hannity's Fox show that Americans were split on a "public" option but that when it was called a "government option," voters overwhelmingly opposed it. Sammon directed news staffers to "use the term 'government-run health insurance,' or, when brevity is a concern, 'government option,' whenever possible."
Meyerson further wrote that "the stuff [Rupert Murdoch's] company feeds mass audiences is the most sustained and coordinated dose of right-wing propaganda this country has ever seen. Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace and their ilk were freelancers, much as Limbaugh is today." He continued: "The choir at Fox News, by contrast, sings from Murdoch's hymnal. Their mission, promoted by Fox News president and former Richard Nixon aide Roger Ailes, is to advance right-wing causes and Republicans."
Meyerson concluded, in part: "No one did a better job of spinning and spreading the paranoid fantasies in which the right is awash than Murdoch's Fox News employees."
This was the headline in today's Journal:
Obama's speech Wins Over Critics
And the lede [emphasis added]:
President Barack Obama's speech at a service for the Arizona shooting victims came amid an effort to recast himself as a unifying figure, after two years of partisan fights.
Soon after he left the podium, it was clear he had taken another step in that direction.
On Thursday, the speech won praise from a vast swath of the political spectrum, including Democrats who have criticized Mr. Obama as insufficiently liberal and possible Republican challengers in 2012, among them former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Some commentators who have spent two years criticizing the president were lavish with their praise. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said he "wouldn't underestimate how this is going to affect the perception of the president."
All of that is true. But it's only half the story. Yes, scores of prominent conservative pundits praised Obama's speech at the Tucson memorial service. But at the same time there was, within the conservative media movement, an unhinged an at times hysterically negative reaction to Obama's speech, and the Beltway press should not ignore that unsightly phenomena.
The press should not ignore the fact that a Jim Hoft, who is viewed as one of the most influential right-wing bloggers in America, immediately (and incredibly) launched a bogus smear campaign suggesting Obama had lied when he announced at the memorial service that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had, that day, opened her eyes for the first time since surviving the assassination attempt on her life.
The press should not ignore the fact that Michelle Malkin, also viewed as a right-wing primetime player, immediately (and incredibly) launched a bogus smear campaign suggesting the Obama administration had tastelessly tried to "brand" the memorial service by handing out T-shirts. (Fact: The administration had nothing to do with the T-shirts.)
And no, the press should not ignore the fact that Andrew Breitbart, that shining beacon of the right-wing blogosphere, immediately blamed Obama for death threats Sarah Palin has received.
It's true, as the Journal reported, Obama's speech won over some of his critics. But there was also an entire online subculture of conservative voices who despised his speech and set off on wild and reckless smear campaigns in its wake. That's news, too.
One of Rupert Murdoch's former top editors -- Andrew Neil -- said in a BBC Radio interview yesterday that according to "sources," Murdoch is "not happy with a lot that appears" on Fox News and that he believes "Murdoch's lost control" over the network.
In October, Murdoch defended increasingly controversial Fox News host Glenn Beck to News Corp. shareholders and the following month he praised Beck as a "very genuine, extremely well-read libertarian."
Neil, a broadcaster and media consultant who served as Murdoch's Sunday Times editor for more than a decade, testified before a House of Lords committee in 2008 on Murdoch's editorial practices, saying that Murdoch essentially serves as the "editor-in-chief" of many of the newspapers he owns.
It turns out that two of the "hottest" movie scripts of 2010 aren't about zombies or vampires at all
After 17 years with Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, political editor Gregg Birnbaum has reportedly quit following an argument over the paper's coverage of President Obama's tax plan.
Gawker's Hamilton Nolton writes:
We spoke to Birnbaum, who confirmed that he is "no longer employed" by the Post. But the backstory, according to insiders, is dramatic. Sources say that Birnbaum got into a huge argument Monday night with Col Allan, the paper's famously boozy and abusive editor. After the curse-filled blowup --which apparently had something to do with coverage of Obama's tax plan -- Birnbaum left the office. For good.
Newsroom arguments are common. But for Col Allan, this is a pattern. We've been hearing reports from insiders all year that the Post's ongoing staff exodus was due largely to Allan's "awful," bullying management style. It's damn near impossible to find anyone outside of Rupert Murdoch's office to say a kind word about Allan's embarassment-filled reign at the paper --particularly not over the past couple of years, when circulation has plummeted, lawsuits have characterized the newsroom as a racist, sexist hellhole, and even admirers of the Allan's particular brand of flair have consistently started grumbling that he's lost his editorial touch. Even Liz Smith called him an "absolute total shit."
It looks like Murdoch's Daily faces some legal hurdles before anyone has a chance to download it for use on their iPad, iPhone, and/or iPod -- that is, at least when it comes to the digital publication's name.
As Jeff Bercovici writes for Forbes' Mixed Media blog:
Why does Rupert Murdoch keep picking names for his new tablet-based newspaper/publication/whatever that other people don't want him to have? First it was The Daily Planet, until DC Comics, which owns the right to that name, had its say. Now Murdoch has settled on The Daily, but IMG, the talent agency-turned-media powerhouse, is protesting.
"We are very, very concerned about this," says Brandusa Niro, vice president and editor in chief of IMG Publishing, which puts out a newspaper called The Daily that covers fashion, gossip and media.
This could be fun. Niro's Daily is a small and, outside of the fashion world, somewhat obscure publication, but IMG has serious clout. Owned by billionaire Teddy Forstmann, it's a fast-growing conglomerate whose businesses span sports marketing, modeling, events and media.
On the other hand, The Daily is about as generic a name as you can get for a daily news publication. You can trademark a specific expression of a name like that, but not the name itself. In fact, that's exactly what News Corp. appears to have done in its own trademark filing. On Oct. 22, 2010 — the day I published my story saying that was the name News Corp. was planning to use — an entity called News DP Holdings filed a trademark application seeking to use that name for "entertainment services, namely, the provision of multimedia content distributed via mobile and stationary consumer electronic devices." The logo pictured at the top of this post was part of the application.
So, if you worked for Murdoch (I said "if"), what would you suggest naming his latest venture? Remember not to pick something that's already taken. He's already done that… twice.
Wait, what's the definition of insanity?
As late fall and winter set in, it can only mean one thing.
As I wrote last winter:
Like clockwork, every time even a few inches of snow falls, out come the conservative media's anti-science crazies. To them, cold weather proves what they already believe: that there is no global climate change, and even if there were, we humans certainly aren't even partly to blame.
This is as a good a moment as any to note that there is a very real difference between weather (what we experience outside over a short period of time) and climate (the study of weather over a relatively long period of time). Got that? Conservative media figures telling you that this week's blizzards (short period of time) disprove global climate change (relatively long period of time) are either lying or shockingly misinformed. I'll let them choose which is a more apt description.
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."
When I hear news reports that forecast snowfall, I grimace. Not because I don't love making a good old-fashioned snow angel as much as the next guy. It's the conservative media absurdity that follows that makes me cringe.
Ultimately, the science-mangling reports from right-wing media outlets big and small say just as much about their practice of journalism as their views on peer-reviewed climate science. Their disregard for the practice of science mirrors their disregard for the practice of journalism.
What, then, is the logical conclusion? They just can't be trusted on this or any other important issue.
So, as the American northwest is pounded with autumn blizzards now headed for the Rocky Mountains, you can expect the folks at Fox News to begin cracking wise about climate change in 3, 2, 1...
Rupert Murdoch, head of the media giant News Corp, and Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, are preparing to unveil a new digital "newspaper" called the Daily at the end of this month, according to reports in the US media.
The collaboration, which has been secretly under development in New York for several months, promises to be the world's first "newspaper" designed exclusively for new tablet-style computers such as Apple's iPad, with a launch planned for early next year.
Apple has been expected to announce a subscription plan for newspapers based on the model of its iTunes music download service, but some publishers have been unwilling to let Apple in as an intermediary or let it control pricing the way iTunes has done in the music business.
"Obviously, Steve Jobs sees this as a significant revenue stream for Apple in the future," Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W Reynolds Journalism Institute, told the San Jose Mercury News recently.
And with Apple expected to dominate the tablet market until compelling competitors are introduced, Murdoch may have no choice but to ride with Jobs. According to Women's Wear Daily, Jobs is "a major fan" of the newsprint patriarch: "When the project is announced, don't be surprised if you see Steve Jobs onstage with Rupert Murdoch, welcoming the Daily to the app world."
Interestingly, while Murdoch's News Corp contributed $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2010 to help elect Republicans and defeat Democrats, Jobs' Apple dropped its membership in the organization because of its position on climate change.
Much of Murdoch's media empire -- from Fox News to the New York Post, from Fox Business to the Wall Street Journal -- sing the Chamber's tune when it comes to climate science denial despite the media mogul's protestations that the issue "poses clear, catastrophic threats."
So, when Murdoch's new Jobs' backed digital newspaper hits iPhones, iPods and iPads early next year it shouldn't surprise anyone if it takes a hard turn to the right on any number of issues.
Heck, even if Murdoch and Jobs' Daily is a smashing success and source of purely objective journalism it is worth noting that it will help the bottom line of News Corp, propping up Fox News and any number of right-wing Murdoch media properties that are hostile not just to climate science but immigrants, LGBT people, Muslims and a good number of progressives toting around Apple products as well.
You can contact Apple with your thoughts here or call (408) 974-2042. You can even email Steve Jobs directly (he's been known to reply from time to time. If you hear back from Jobs, be sure to let us know.)
Much has been said of the fact that News Corp honcho Rupert Murdoch's Fox News currently employs several Republicans eyeing a race for the White House in 2012. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and John Bolton have all expressed such interest.
As Media Matters noted last week, the GOP shadow primary being waged within Fox News has resulted in at least $40 million in free airtime for those considering a bid, not too mention the paychecks they receive from the network.
But Murdoch is doing a bit more to help at least one employee/would be Republican nominee -- namely, as her publisher, bankrolling the upcoming book tour of a certain former half-term governor that "disproportionately dotes on the primary states."
As Frank Rich wrote in Saturday's New York Times, Murdoch has emerged as Palin's chief backer appearing to take sides in the looming primary despite pointed criticism of Palin from the likes of Fox News contributor and former Bush advisor Karl Rove and others (emphasis added):
Thanks to the in-kind contribution of this "nonpolitical" [TLC reality] series, Palin needn't join standard-issue rivals like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour and Tim Pawlenty in groveling before donors and primary-state operatives to dutifully check all the boxes of a traditional Republican campaign. Palin not only has TLC in her camp but, better still, Murdoch. Other potential 2012 candidates are also on the Fox News payroll, but Palin is the only one, as Alessandra Stanley wrote in The Times, whose every appearance is "announced with the kind of advance teasing and clip montages that talk shows use to introduce major movie stars." Pity poor Mike Huckabee, relegated to a graveyard time slot, with the ratings to match.
The Fox spotlight is only part of Murdoch's largess. As her publisher, he will foot the bill for the coming "book tour" whose itinerary disproportionately dotes on the primary states of Iowa and South Carolina. The editorial page of Murdoch's Wall Street Journal is also on board, recently praising Palin for her transparently ghost-written critique of the Federal Reserve's use of quantitative easing. "Mrs. Palin is way ahead of her potential presidential competitors on this policy point," The Journal wrote, and "shows a talent for putting a technical subject in language that average Americans can understand."
With Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity on her side, Palin hardly needs the grandees of the so-called Republican establishment. They know it and flail at her constantly. Politico reported just before Election Day that unnamed "party elders" were nearly united in wanting to stop her, out of fear that she'd win the nomination and then be crushed by Obama. Their complaints are seconded daily by Bush White House alumni like Karl Rove, Michael Gerson, and Mark McKinnon, who said recently that Palin's "stock is falling and pretty rapidly now" and that "if she's smart, she does not run."
Rumors about Rupert Murdoch's new tablet-only subscription publication -- tentatively named The Daily and set to launch in December -- have been flying fast and furious for weeks ("sources" say it's "experimenting with an investigative secret weapon": "drone choppers"!).
Now WWD's John Koblin has weighed in with one of the most comprehensive descriptions to date of the project.
Koblin reports that the seven-days-a-week publication -- which is "expected to cost 99 cents a week" -- will indeed have a political component, but no D.C. bureau, and that the editorial page "is expected to have sort of an optimistic, populist stance":
The Daily will cover the nation. Writers have been told to find topics, establish beats and break stories. Johnson's squad, currently setting up in the MySpace building, will attempt to bring a Page Six sensibility to Los Angeles. If the TMZ and Nikki Finke world is saturated, there will be intense coverage of cocktail parties, charity events, crime and politics. There will be no foreign bureaus, and there are no plans for a D.C. bureau at the moment, but it's expected reporters from New York will take care of important political news. Daily reporters will certainly go on the campaign trail as the 2012 elections heat up.
The editorial page is expected to have sort of an optimistic, populist stance. Murdoch told the Australian Financial Review that the editorial page would have campaigns, particularly on education reform. Reihan Salam, a fellow at Economics 21, will be a columnist there.
Murdoch recently brought former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein on to the News Corp. team to advise on the education industry. Reporting earlier this week on Murdoch's education venture, Ad Age's Nat Ives wrote: "The immediate best bet is that News Corp. will seek possible investments in technology platforms that schools, public or private, can adopt to help students learn -- a kind of paid-content business, which is one of Mr. Murdoch's big media priorities."
Salam, who headlines the conservative NRO's domestic-policy blog, is also a contributor at The Daily Beast.
Rupert Murdoch gave a speech last month before the Anti-Defamation League, which was honoring the News Corps. CEO, in which he urged vigilance in fighting what he saw as the rising tide of anti-Semitism, specifically the "most virulent strains" coming from "the left."
The irony is that Murdoch has remained stoically silent in light of the ADL's public denunciation of Glenn Beck and his "horrific" and "beyond repugnant" Holocaust rhetoric employed as part of the host's crusade against George Soros. It's a campaign that is literally built around ugly, age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Yet in light of the ADL's condemnation, as well as the denunciation of other Jewish groups, Murdoch's Fox News has stood behind Beck's hateful Soros campaign.
Perhaps Murdoch should revisit his own ADL speech for some perspective [emphasis added]:
The world of 2010 is not the world of the 1930s. The threats Jews face today are different. But these threats are real.
These threats are soaked in an ugly language familiar to anyone old enough to remember World War II. And these threats cannot be addressed until we see them for what they are: part of an ongoing war against the Jews.