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.
The video is called "Rupert Murdoch's Protocols," and it points out parallels between Beck's attacks on Soros during his Fox News shows last week and language used in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the anti-Semitic hoax fabricated in the early 20th century:
The video encourages viewers to visit a Jewish Funds for Justice webpage where they can sign a petition to urge Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News parent company News Corp., to end Beck's tenure at Fox.
According to FEC filings, News Corp. CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch gave $5,000 to Rep. John Boehner's (R-OH) political action committee, Freedom Project, in late September [Boehner figure via CNN's Jim Acosta]. Murdoch also gave $2,500 to Sen. John Thune's (R-SD) Heartland Values PAC.
During the 2009-2010 election cycle, Murdoch - a longtime donor to conservative causes - has given money to Meg Whitman's unsuccessful California gubernatorial campaign, John Kasich's successful Ohio gubernatorial campaign, and Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) PAC. News Corp. has also donated $1.25 million to the Republican Governors' Association and $1 million to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce.
Murdoch (listed as K. Rupert Murdoch) also gave $10,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Do you remember this headline from last week? It had a nice run in the buzz bin, especially online:
Pressure Builds on Obama to Shake Up Inner Circle
And the definitive lede [emphasis added]:
Some high-level Democrats are calling for President Barack Obama to remake his inner circle or even fire top advisers in response to what many party strategists expect to be a decisive defeat on Tuesday.
Slight hitch, though. The article didn't quote a single "high-level" Democrat who was actually calling for Obama to remake his inner circle. Not one. In fact, the article itself barely even addressed the idea of Obama remaking his "inner circle." There was a complete disconnect between the headline-grabbing lede and the rest of the article. (i.e. Very bad journalism.)
Folks at MediaBugs.org noticed that and contacted editors and reporters at Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal and tried to get a response or an explanation as to why a prominent article in the newspaper about the Obama White House wasn't supported by facts. The Journal's response? There was none.
Over the past week we contacted the Journal five times seeking a response to the error report. We emailed a reporter, a managing editor and a general address designated for reporting errors to the newsroom. We also called the phone number listed with corrections info in the print edition. We haven't received any response.
This isn't the first time we've encountered a void when trying to reach the Journal about an error report. And while the previous instance involved a minor mistake, this one is more substantial.
Not sure which is worse, when editors concoct headlines and ledes, or when they stonewall readers who call them out.
Boy, this is embarrassing.
Breaking political news yesterday was that newly elected Kentucky Republican senator, Rand Paul, had already flip-flopped on the issue of earmarks. The Tea Party-backed candidate announced that suddenly he would fight to to make sure Kentucky received its fair share of earmark dollars and federal pork. This, despite the fact that banishing evil earmarks is (supposedly) a central tenet of the Tea Party movement.
With that in mind, behold the caption from a news article in today's Wall Street Journal [emphasis added]:
Newly elected Republican Rand Paul is opposed to earmarks, which circumvent the competitive federal funding system.
The article itself makes no mention that Tea Party favorite Paul just announced he'll fight for Kentucky earmarks.
Possible new motto for Murdoch's Journal? "Reporting last week's news."
According to Federal Election Commission records, on September 30, News Corp. CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch gave $2,500 to the Senate Majority Fund, the leadership political action committee of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Kyl serves as the assistant minority leader for Senate Republicans, and uses the PAC to support other Republicans.
News Corp. is the parent company of the Fox News Channel.
Murdoch, a long time donor to Republican causes, has also given $1,500 to Meg Whitman's unsuccessful California gubernatorial campaign, and $10,000 to former Fox News employee John Kasich's successful Ohio gubernatorial campaign.
News Corp. recently donated $1.25 million to the Republican Governors' Association and $1 million to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce.
Murdoch is one of numerous Fox Newsers who have supported the Republican Party during this election cycle.
Rupert Murdoch has sent some new signals about where he and NewsCorp may stand in the brewing battle between the GOP establishment's preferences for the GOP presidential ticket in 2012 (led by paid Fox New contributor Karl Rove) -- which pointedly do not include Sarah Palin -- and the increasingly probable "rogue" presidential candidacy of Palin (also a paid Fox New contributor).
To date it has been established that Palin and Beck stand together in the use of divisive fear mongering and violence-inciting language that has already led to real violence (the head-stomping of a progressive activist by a Rand Paul supporter in Kentucky), a string of death threats directly linked to Beck (Nancy Pelosi and Patty Murray), and a near tragedy at the Tides Foundation directly linked to Beck by the shooter himself. In reaction to a challenge by myself and Michael Keegan in the Huffington Post, Palin said, "I stand with you with you, Glenn" in direct reference to his reckless rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and their palpable deranged consequences. It goes without saying that Beck (and Rush Limbaugh to boot) stand with Palin, but it's also clear that she, the one with the electoral political ambition, needs them more than they need her. Fox's Greta Van Susteren also seems to be on the Palin bandwagon.
In a little-noticed interview with the Australian Financial Review, Murdoch, echoing Palin, has announced in no uncertain terms he stands with Beck -- a "very genuine, extremely well-read libertarian" was his description of his star. Perhaps to underline the point that his top talent ought to get with the extremist Beck/Palin program, he trashed top-rated host Bill O'Reilly for a relatively even-handed interview of Hillary Clinton. "Disgraceful," Murdoch called O'Reilly's handling of that interview. Murdoch's disgraceful statement -- and its message to all of Fox's on-air talent and producers -- shows once again the cynicism and deception behind the slogan "Fair and Balanced." (Bill, I have tried to be booked on your show for years without success. I would be happy to come on soon to defend your handling of the Clinton interview and analyze your boss's trashing of you.)
Could be that Murdoch wants to back the hottest Fox stars -- Beck and Palin -- for financial reasons; he observed in the same interview that Fox is "beating the shit" out of CNN in the ratings. Of Beck he said: "Millions -- millions -- watch him at 5 in the afternoon!!" Could be that he views Tea Party agitation as merely something to be ginned up by Beck and Palin, and used in the service of a victory against Obama by ANY GOP nominee, which he will do everything he can, in the accustomed role of political kingmaker, to ensure. "The Tea Party will stiffen the back of the Republican Party," Murdoch said.
This, itself, telegraphs far and wide within Fox that Murdoch's prior statement that Fox should not support the Tea Party or any political party is no longer operative (doesn't look like it ever was anyway, except when Fox humiliated Sean Hannity by yanking him off a Tea Party fundraiser at the eleventh hour). But words matter when you are the boss, and Murdoch has now flip-flopped. When asked by the Australian interviewer, "Are you worried by the attacks on Fox for bias and its support for the Tea Party and Republicans?" Murdoch replied, "Noooo...People love Fox News."
But there is more to suggest Murdoch has shown his hand -- not just in standing with Beck -- but by signaling that he will throw the weight of his powerful political apparatus disguised as a media empire behind Palin as his favored GOP nominee.
In the same interview, Murdoch quoted Mike Bloomberg as telling him that after Bloomberg met with Obama, Bloomberg "came back and said I'd never met in my life a more arrogant man." Murdoch, a close personal friend and political supporter of Bloomberg, who used the New York Post to help elect the mayor, endorsed Bloomberg's purported views of Obama.
What's behind Murdoch's Bloomberg boosterism? Probably boosting Sarah Palin.
Against the conventional wisdom, John Heilemann of New York Magazine has argued at length -- in a much-discussed piece "2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President" -- that a Bloomberg candidacy can only help Palin become President, if she is the nominee. Bloomberg is not a centrist -- centrism is not a political position, it is a non-position, and therefore attracts little support, especially in a third party frame (remember the Unity 08 flop?). He is a moderate with clear views.
What most commentators who have thrown cold water on Heilemann's thesis have missed is that they have misunderstood Bloomberg, interpreting the wrong-headed notion of his "centrism" as drawing equally from both the Democrat and the Republican ticket and thus not affecting the outcome either way.
The truth is that many of Bloomberg's views are to Obama's left in word or deed: on immigration, gay rights (he is for same sex marriage), he is a strong supporter of gun control, against the death penalty, has enacted plans to fight global warming, and talks frequently about the pressing social need to reduce the income gap between rich and poor. There was also his unequivocal position in favor of building the New York City Mosque. Would President Bloomberg -- a staunch pro-choicer -- have let the Stupak Amendment slide through? "Reproductive choice is a fundamental human right, and we can never take it for granted," Bloomberg has said.
Other views Bloomberg holds provide succor to Democrats in the financial services industry and more broadly in the business community who have been turned off by what they see as Obama's populist anti-Wall Street polemics and anti-business pro-union attitudes. "Wall Street's staunchest defender," New York Magazine dubbed the Mayor, who is also less than enamored with organized labor.
These positions altogether draw away from the Democratic nominee, not the Republican. Can a man who just said this weekend in an interview with the Wall Street Journal of the new Congress -- "If you look at the U.S. you look at who we're electing to Congress, to the Senate, they can't read" -- possibly draw many votes from Palin, or from any GOP nominee who will have to co-opt the Tea Party folks to win? Don't think so.
What about Bloomberg's fiscal conservatism? His actual record certainly won't be attractive to the right. He doesn't like taxes, but he eliminated New York's deficit and balanced the budget by raising them. Could his fiscal conservatism play well with Democratic base? Also unlikely. Bloomberg and Treasury Secretary Geithner have disagreed about the extension of the Bush tax breaks for the rich. But the smoke signals coming out of the Obama administration this weekend suggest an openness to the Bloomberg (and Congresssional Republican) position -- not a permanent extension, but maybe for a year or two.
So if some progressive Democrats who favor progressive tax policy end up interpreting the Bloomberg and Obama tax policies as in effect the same, why not pick the stronger social liberal, Bloomberg?
What is clear as this story develops is: MSNBC execs are wringing their hands over and trying to kill their marquee host, Keith Olbermann for some piddling personal donations -- after having just a few weeks ago announced a new openly progressive branding campaign -- "Lean Forward" -- for the increasingly competitive cable network, that success brought to them in the first place by Olbermann's talents as a broadcaster (MSNBC is "beating the shit" out of CNN too). Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch is swiftly maneuvering, promoting his top stars, issuing new commands to his troops with a partisan political end game in mind: "With any kind of a Republican candidate ... Obama will find it impossible to win" re-election. For now, it looks like Murdoch's preferred candidate is Sarah Barracuda. What will Karl Rove and Company do about that? Stay tuned.