Fox News president Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, have both been confronted by journalists about Glenn Beck's inflammatory and often racially charged attacks on progressives and President Obama. Ailes and Murdoch have defended, rewritten, or falsely denied the existence of Beck's claims in an attempt to downplay his reckless rhetoric.
With today's announcement that Air America is shutting down, I'm sure it'll only be a matter of minutes before conservatives start gleefully insisting that this demonstrates that there is no market for liberal news outlets.
Two quick points to keep in mind:
1) You can either claim that ABC/CBS/CNN/MSNBC/NBC/NPR/NYT/WAPO/ETC are "liberal media," or that there is no market for liberal media -- but not both. Please pick one.* Thanks!
2) The Washington Times has been losing money for two decades. In the early days of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch paid cable companies $11 per subscriber to carry FNC (and Rudy Giuliani pressured Time Warner to carry the outlet in New York City.) Point being: conservative media outlets have succeeded not only because of market forces, as conservatives would have you believe, but because right-wing billionaires like Murdoch and Rev. Moon have been willing to subsidize them.
* Or neither. That works, too.
Glenn Beck's comment that President Obama is a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" justifiably garnered a great deal of attention, but that remark was by no means an isolated incident at News Corp., owner of Fox News. Indeed, Beck's comments are indicative of a corporate culture in which racially charged commentary is frequent, goes all the way to the top, and is too often tolerated.
The New York Times' David Carr looks at the Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch's ownership, complete with complaints from the paper's reporters that the Journal has lurched rightward. One example of that shift caught my eye:
Mr. Baker, a neoconservative columnist of acute political views, has been especially active in managing coverage in Washington, creating significant grumbling, if not resistance, from the staff there. Reporters say the coverage of the Obama administration is reflexively critical, the health care debate is generally framed in terms of costs rather than benefits - "health care reform" is a generally forbidden phrase - and global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride. (Of course, objectivity is in the eyes of the reader.)
That's the kind of fairly subtle that often goes unnoticed by reporters, but it's actually quite common. During the 2007/2008 presidential primary debates, for example, it was common for the Democratic candidates to be asked only one question about health care reform: How you gonna pay for it? (The Republicans, meanwhile, were not typically asked how they would pay for their tax cuts. In one debate, MSNBC's Chris Matthews even encouraged the GOPers to propose more tax cuts, rather challenging them to explain how they'd pay for any of it.)
And this kind of thing isn't limited to health care coverage. Last March, President Obama unveiled a budget outline that cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans, while raising them on those who make more than $200,000 a year. And, as I explained at the time, much of the media focused like a laser on the tax increases, all but ignoring the cuts:
The [Washington Post] article was chock-full of details about the tax hikes, referring to "nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over the next decade on the nation's highest earners ... $318 billion in new taxes on families in the highest income brackets, who would see new limits on the value of the tax breaks from itemized deductions. ... That proposal is a fraction of the new taxes Obama proposes to heap on the nation's highest earners. ... Hedge fund managers would take an even bigger hit. ... Oil and gas companies would be asked to pay an extra $31 billion over the next 10 years ... Corporations that operate overseas could expect to pay $210 billion more over the next 10 years."
By my count, at least 484 of the article's 1,284 words were about the tax increases in Obama's proposal. Among those 484 words was this quote from House GOP leader John Boehner: "The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it." That simply isn't true, unless you make more than $200,000 a year -- though the Post simply presented Boehner's claim without rebuttal.
And how did the Post address the tax cuts in Obama's plan? The article devoted just 39 words to them. Among other omissions, the Post completely ignored the fact that the plan makes permanent the Bush tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans.
And by the following Monday, tax cuts had disappeared entirely from the Post's reporting. Under the headline "Aides Defend President's Budget; White House and Fiscal Conservatives Set for Showdown," the Post reported Obama's budget would be "raising taxes on top income earners and oil and gas companies" and again quoted a Republican criticizing the tax increases. But there wasn't so much as a hint that most Americans would see their tax bills go down.
The New York Times' coverage of Obama's proposal was little better -- and cable news was often even worse.
Here's one indication of how hysterical the media went over potential tax increases for very few Americans: both The New York Times and ABC News rushed to produce reports about wealthy taxpayers purportedly seeking to reduce their incomes to avoid paying the higher tax rates. The ABC article in particular was deeply flawed, prompting widespread condemnation that led to an editor's note and re-write that improved things -- if only a little.
The conservative framing reporters are detecting in Wall Street Journal articles lately is certainly not limited to news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch. It's quite common across the board, and is a key piece of evidence that the "liberal media" is no such thing.
P.S.: Look back at those examples of complaints from WSJ reporters: "global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride." That's pretty clearly true of the Washington Post (among others), too.
The Financial Times' John Gapper thinks the nasty Rupert Murdoch is… back?
The Rupert Murdoch we all know and love (or love to hate) is an aggressive, insurgent media tycoon who prefers to fight against entrenched media forces and insult them while doing so.
The Rupert Murdoch we have seen in the past couple of years is a humble pussycat who says nice things about how News Corp has to learn to play nicely with the digital generation.
Thankfully, nasty Rupert seems to be back.
Had he every really left? Sure, Gapper is talking more specifically about the business end of News Corp., but surely there's more to Murdoch that one could describe as "nasty."
How about agreeing with Glenn Beck that President Obama is a racist -- errr, made a "very racist comment"?
What about letting Fox News morph from a conservative cable news outlet to an all out partisan political operation?
We could spend an entire day rattling off the evidence that regular readers of this blog are already well aware of, but we'll save our breath.
In 2001, several Fox News personalities criticized Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal -- who reportedly suggested that the United States' Middle East policy contributed to causing the 9-11 attacks -- and praised then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani for not accepting a $10 million disaster-relief donation from Al-Waleed. However, Rupert Murdoch has recently finalized a deal giving News Corp., which includes Fox News, a 10 percent stake in Al-Waleed's media conglomerate, Rotana, according to reports.
From Rupert Murdoch's December 1 speech at the Federal Trade Commission's workshop, "From Town Criers to Bloggers: How will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?":
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From the November 29 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Last week we learned that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, agreed with Glenn Beck's assertion that the President was a "racist", because, in Murdoch's words, Obama made a "very racist comment." Of course, no one knows what "very racist comment" Murdoch was talking about.
Fox News was then forced to clean up the boss's mess issuing a statement saying that Murdoch "does not...think the president is a racist" regardless of what he may have otherwise said.
Statements and spin aside, we still don't know what "very racist comment" Murdoch was talking about. Perhaps if he was just asked directly, Murdoch would be able to clear up the confusion.
In an effort to do just that, Media Matters confronted Murdoch today on Capitol Hill for a little chat.
We are through the looking glass people. Murdoch isn't even spinning what he said about the president, now he's denying it outright. And to think we sometimes wonder where the folks at Fox News get their ethics from. Sigh.
It seems like Mr. Murdoch is on a tear, last week he went after President Obama with an invented quote, and now he's made some tasteless remarks about NY governor David Paterson who became legally blind after an ear infection he suffered as an infant.
From the Huffington Post:
At Tuesday's Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, Murdoch was asked about the state of civil discourse, but he wanted to speak about the problems in American politics. In doing so, he trashed New York Governor David Paterson by describing him as "a very nice, honest man who's blind and can't read braille and doesn't really know what's going on."
Michael Calderone's November 10 Politico blog post:
News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch has drawn criticism following an interview with Sky News Australia, where his comments were interpreted by some as being in agreement with Glenn Beck's view that President Obama's "a racist."
But News Corp. spokesperson Gary Ginsberg tells POLITICO that Murdoch did not intend to suggest that he had the same opinion as Beck.
"He does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist," Ginsberg said.
Murdoch, in the interview, said that the president "did make a very racist comment" and seemed to indicate he thought Beck was right in making the controversial claim. Media Matters, and others, quickly seized upon the interview as evidence that Murdoch shared the same view as the Fox News host.
Ginsberg said that's not the case, but did not comment further on the interview.
In his interview with Sky News Australia, Murdoch said of Beck's comment that President Obama is a racist, "that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right":
SPEERS: The Glenn Beck, who you mentioned, has called Barack Obama a racist, and he helped organize a protest against him. Others on Fox have likened him --
SPEERS: -- to Stalin. Is that defensible?
MURDOCH: No, no, no, not Stalin, I don't think. I don't know who that -- not one of our people. On the racist thing, that caused a [unintelligible]. But he did make a very racist comment, about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right.
From the November 10 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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From The Guardian:
Labour hit back at the Sun today after the paper caused Gordon Brown to apologise to the mother of a dead serviceman who took offence after he sent her a handwritten letter of condolence that misspelled her name.
Lord Mandelson said that, although Brown's handwriting was "not great", people should understand that the row was being orchestrated by a paper that was actively campaigning against Labour.
Jacqui Janes, the mother of Grenadier Guardsman Jamie Janes, who was killed in Afghanistan on 5 October, received the letter days after her son's death. But, according to today's Sun, Janes had only read the first few lines before she "threw it across the room in disgust".
Downing Street said that the prime minister called Janes last night after he learned that she had contacted the newspaper. "He apologised for the letter and the way she feels about the letter," the prime minister's spokesman said.
Brown, who writes a handwritten letter to the relatives of every serviceman killed in action, has notoriously bad handwriting. Some attribute this to his eyesight, which has been poor since a rugby accident in his teenage years left him blind in one eye.
The Sun is one of several media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., including Fox News Channel and the NY Post.
In an interview with Australia's Sky News, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch falsely claimed that Fox News hosts had not "likened" President Obama to Josef Stalin. In fact, Fox News hosts and contributors have repeatedly drawn comparisons between Stalin and members of the Obama administration, including Obama himself, and have also compared Stalin's policies to Obama's policies.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports (emphasis added):
The New York Post editor fired after speaking out against a cartoon depicting the author of the president's stimulus package as a dead chimpanzee has sued the paper. And as part of her complaint, Sandra Guzman levels some remarkable, embarrassing, and potentially damaging allegations.
Guzman has filed a complaint against News Corporation, the New York Post and the paper's editor in chief Col Allan in the Southern District Court of New York, alleging harassment as well as "unlawful employment practices and retaliation."
As part of the 38-page complaint, Guzman paints the Post newsroom as a male-dominated frat house and Allan in particular as sexist, offensive and domineering. Guzman alleges that she and others were routinely subjugated to misogynistic behavior. She says that hiring practices at the paper -- as well as her firing -- were driven by racial prejudices rather than merit.
And she recounts the paper's D.C. bureau chief stating that the publication's goal was to "destroy [President] Barack Obama."
The most outrageous charges, however, involve Allan. According to the complaint:
"On one occasion when Ms. Guzman and three female employees of the Post were sharing drinks at an after-work function. Defendant Allan approached the group of women, pulled out his blackberry and asked them 'What do you think of this?' On his blackberry was a picture of a naked man lewdly and openly displaying his penis. When Ms. Guzman and the other female employees expressed their shock and disgust at being made to view the picture, Defendant Allan just smirked... [N]o investigation was ever conducted and the Company failed to take any steps to address her complaints."
Guzman's complaint goes on:
"On another occasion, upon information and belief, Defendant Allan approached a female employee during a party at the Post, rubbed his penis up against her and made sexually suggestive comments about her body, including her breasts, causing that female employee to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearing to be alone with him."
And finally: "... [W]hile serving as the top editor at the Post, Defendant Allan took two Australian political leaders to the strip club Scores in Manhattan..."
Guzman alleges that while at the paper, misogynistic and racist behavior was directed at her specifically. According to the complaint, she was called "sexy" and "beautiful" and referred to as "Cha Cha #1" by Les Goodstein, the senior vice president of NewsCorp. After doing an interview with Major League Baseball star Pedro Martinez, she says Allan asked her whether the pitcher "had been carrying a gun or a machete during the interview" -- a line Guzman said was racist and offensive.
When she would walk by certain offices at the paper, Guzman alleges, editors would routinely sing songs from West Side Story -- a nod to her Hispanic heritage -- including the tune: "I want to live in America."
Guzman also makes the following allegations to supplement her case that the Post harbored an environment that was offensive to women and minority employees.
"A White male senior editor sexually propositioned a young female Copy Assistant, telling her that 'If you give me a blowjob, I will give you a permanent reporter job.'"
"The last five employees who were recently terminated by Paul Carlucci, the Publisher of the Post.... Have all been black and/or women of color."
Read Stein's entire piece and the compliant in full here.
Politico's Ben Smith picks up an interesting angle to the story:
The New York Post and New York Daily News, for a time, complemented their fierce competition for circulation with bitter attacks on each other's staff and on their owners, Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman.
But Murdoch and Zuckerman, as has been reported, reached a truce of sorts, and they've been reported to be in sporadic talks about some sort of merger of -- at least -- the paper's back ends. And the clearest signal I've seen in a while of that rapprochement came this week, when a fired Post employee, Sandra Guzman, filed suit against the paper and its brawling Australian editor, Col Allan.
The Daily News offered a sanitized version of the story: "A New York Post editor sacked after complaining that a cartoon likened President Obama to a monkey sued the paper on Monday, claiming rampant racism and sexism in the newsroom," but detailed none of the actual allegations.