Despite having the top rated cable news network in the country, and a ridiculously undue influence over much of the rest of the mainstream media, conservatives are still not satisfied with their stranglehold on the press. That’s the only explanation for why they keep launching new right-wing cable news networks to compete with Fox News.
Most of these competing enterprises complain that Fox News has betrayed their cause and defected to the enemy liberal camp. Thus the necessity of forming a new network that is devoted to the true conservative agenda that Fox has abandoned. The disappointment with Fox’s brand of conservatism has stirred a flurry of challengers and even a boycott by some determined Tea Party “Fire Ants.”
The latest entry in the field is the ultra-rightist webzine, Newsmax. The CEO of Newsmax, Chris Ruddy, has a staunchly conservative resume going back to the days when he opposed the Clintons and accused them of murdering their friend Vince Foster. These days Ruddy claims to be on more friendly terms with his former adversaries and is positioning his NewsmaxTV as a “kinder, gentler Fox News.” But It’s hard to see where NewsmaxTV will succeed in the wake of the other recent attempts to pry wingnuts and Tea Partiers away from Fox.
In 2010, a project from Hollywood conservative (and Friend of Abe) Kelsey Grammer and former Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider, was given a flashy fanfare as it promised to bring conservative values to both news and entertainment programming. However, the RightNetwork never seemed to get past the website stage and today doesn’t even have that.
That was followed by the much hyped One America News Network in March of 2013. One America was announced at last year’s CPAC with support from Herring Broadcasting and the “Moonie” Washington Times. It’s founder, Charles Herring, said he was motivated by his perception that “the sources of national news tend to lean to the left…and all we have is Fox.” So far, that has not proven to be a sufficient justification for a new right-leaning network.
And now we have NewsmaxTV – a network that admits that much of its success will rely on the same advertising and hucksterism that fuels Newsmax. That business model is heavily reliant on two non-journalism revenue streams: 1) Selling the email lists of conservative pundits, and 2) Selling highly dubious nutritional “supplements” and medical services. Business week described Newsmax as…
“…a smorgasbord of political, health, and financial information, self-help books, and even vitamin supplements constantly pushed through the website and e-mail lists. This eclectic array of products—the company made $46 million in subscription revenue from its 17 newsletters and $6 million from vitamin supplements in 2013—makes Newsmax less of a news business and more of a strange hybrid of the Heritage Foundation and Amway.”
Given the rapidly expanding roster of competitors, Fox News is surely quaking in their Tea Party tri-corner hats and pilgrim boots as a result of this new player in the right-wing media circus. Keepe your eyes peeled because, if NewsmaxTV is anything like the efforts that preceded it, it isn’t going to be there for very long.
This week a disturbing story emerged from Afghanistan in the form of a video of U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghans presumed to be members of the Taliban. Such behavior is repulsive and contrary to the standards of the Marine Corps. The acts portrayed in the video have been condemned by the highest representatives of the military.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey: Actions like those are not only illegal but are contrary to the values of a professional military and serve to erode the reputation of our joint force.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos:[The behavior is] wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.
Nevertheless, CNN contributor Dana Loesch (who is also a Tea Party leader and the editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s BigJournalism) took to the air to exacerbate the offense and defend the soldiers saying…
“Now we have a bunch of progressives that are talking smack about our military because there were marines caught urinating on corpses, Taliban corpses. Can someone explain to me if there’s supposed to be a scandal that someone pees on the corpse of a Taliban fighter? Someone who, as part of an organization, murdered over 3,000 Americans? I’d drop trou and do it too. That’s me though. I want a million cool points for these guys.”
The subsequent controversy erupting from Loesch’s offensive remarks has generated a secondary controversy centered on the appropriate role of news analysts and the lines drawn for decency and civil discourse. Loesch, in a tacit acknowledgement that her comments crossed the line, sought to defend herself by claiming that she was not condoning the Marines, but ridiculing the media response. But the dishonesty of that excuse is apparent just by re-reading her statement. She explicitly says that she would do the same thing the Marines did and praises them for being “cool.” If that isn’t condoning the behavior, what is?
Loesch’s web site, BigJournalism has gone to work to absolve her sins, not by demonstrating that her comments were appropriate, but by attacking anyone who criticized her. They started with Politico, a news operation started by unabashed conservative journalists, and tagged them as leftists because of their article that merely reported that the controversy exists. John Nolte, editor-in-chief of Breitbart’s BigHollywood, desperately stretched to imply a bias by Politico because the article included this:
“I’ve reached out to CNN to ask for their response to Loesch’s comments, and whether or not it will have any impact on her role at CNN.” Nolte’s emphasis.
Most people would regard that as a standard inquiry in a situation where a news analyst’s big mouth got them in hot water. From there Nolte descended into an hysterical rant that accused Politico of “pushing to have Dana taken off the air or punished.” And he escalated that nonsense to claim that Politico had an even bigger agenda to “marginalize” and “silence” Loesch. The conspiracy in Nolte’s mind extended all the way to George Soros, as all conservative conspiracies do. And the entirety of this clandestine plot was drawn from Politico’s perfectly reasonable and responsible desire to get a response from CNN.
Another Breitbart hack, Dan Riehl, weighed in on the subject to accuse Media Matters of being…
“…fixated on a mission to try and silence the free speech of Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch, while also engaging upon a campaign to somehow damage her with CNN.”
Riehl’s evidence is an article by Media Matters that correctly observes that Loesch’s comments were Too Extreme For Rush Limbaugh. Riehl disputes that assessment mainly by changing the subject. He utterly ignores the fact that Limbaugh, with reference to the Marines, said explicitly that “There’s no defense of this.” But Riehl peels away from that fact to post a rambling quote from Tea Party Republican Allen West that also advocates punishing the Marines and says outright that “The Marines were wrong.” It appears that the fixation is on Riehl’s part to avoid the reality that the behavior of these particular soldiers was indefensible to almost everyone but Loesch.
As for Loesch, her own defense that she published on BigJournalism was an incoherent jumble of phony patriotism and self-aggrandizement. Her primary argument was that…
“There is a difference in advocating for the Marines to break the law, which I didn’t do, and defending them from overly-dramatic hysteria.”
Of course, defending them is precisely what she did. Even to the point of declaring that she would have “dropped trou” and joined them (which I’m sure they would have loved). Nevertheless, she contradicts herself a few paragraphs down by stating that “I won’t condemn American soldiers on the battlefield.” Not even, apparently, when they engage in condemnable acts that their commanders have no problem condemning.
The triumvirate of Loesch, Riehl, and Nolte, all touched on what they regard as an underlying evil aimed at Loesch and conservatives in general. They are convinced that any criticism they incur is an attempt to silence them. Ironically, they call for such criticism to be silenced. Conservatives believe that free speech is sacrosanct exempt when exercised by liberals. Consequently, any critique of Loesch is viewed by rightists as akin to censorship.
It is, however, perfectly appropriate to question news analysts who engage in a dialogue that advocates unlawful acts in the conduct of a war. CNN should take the responsible steps to review incidents wherein contributors bring disrepute to their network. But I don’t anticipate that they will. The current head of CNN, Ken Jautz, is the hack who gave Glenn Beck his first job on television. He also recently hired Beck associate Will Cain. These two uber-rightists share the air with CNN contributor Erick Erickson, who called former Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester.” And it was under Jautz that CNN partnered with the corrupt AstroTurf PR firm, Tea Party Express, to host a GOP debate.
The hard-right turn that CNN has taken has landed them squarely in third place. And that decline is due in large part to people like Loesch. The American people are not looking for this kind of substanceless, bombastic, hate-speech from their news sources. They can get that from Fox News. And if anyone’s job should be in jeoprady, it is the person at the helm, Ken Jautz.
Conservative blowhard, Rush Limbaugh, is blowing harder than ever at the prospect of a politically connected offspring getting hired by a news organization.
NBC announced today that Chelsea Clinton will become a correspondent for their non-political, human interest series, “Making a Difference.” That announcement has Limbaugh’s blood boiling this morning as he rants…
“Chelsea Clinton, starting today will be getting her paychecks from the National Broadcast Company – NBC. I wonder how Luke Russert feels about this? Chelsea Clinton at NBC. She is not a journalist. She is a politician in training. That’s what this means, politician in training. It’s an incestuous business, circuitous route, revolving door, politics in media, on the Democrat side, is one and the same profession.”
Limbaugh is appalled that a news enterprise would hire someone not specifically trained in journalism just because they are related to a Democratic political figure. On that point I’d have to agree with him. Journalists should have professional training and a commitment to codes of ethical conduct. But Limbaugh’s only complaint is that “this is an avenue not open to conservatives.” So he doesn’t really care about the degradation of standards, only that Republicans can’t participate in the degradation. On that score he must have forgotten Michael Reagan, Lynn Cheney, Meghan McCain, and even George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna Bush Hager, who is already working at NBC. But Limbaugh’s obliviousness doesn’t stop there. He continues with a delusional lament that only Democrats waver between media and politics:
“I guess you could say we go to the media after we bomb out in politics, and we go to Fox. But that’s after we bomb out. After we lose our elections, that’s where we get hired by Roger Ailes, and so forth and so on. But seldom do we go from Fox back to politics. I could be wrong about this. I’m trying to think off the top of my head if that happens, but we do know that Chelsea Clinton is going to go from NBC to politics. There’s no question about it whatsoever in my mind.”
Setting aside Limbaugh’s psychic aspirations, he is partially correct in that Republican losers do get swept up by Fox News. Witness Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. But if he needs help remembering Republicans who jumped from positions at Fox into electoral politics, he need not look further than the current GOP presidential primaries where both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum made that leap. He might also recall that current Ohio governor John Kasich left his Fox News program to run for that post.
Going back further in time, I can’t recall a single democratic politician whose career started in the media. However, on the Republican side I can count Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fred Thompson, Sonny Bono, Fred Grandy, and George Murphy. Going from politics to media there are a few from both sides. Bill Moyers and George Stephanopoulos were both presidential aides before landing at PBS and ABC respectively. Tony Snow went from Fox to the Bush White House to CNN. Diane Sawyer was a Nixon press aide who is currently the anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight.
It should be noted also that Limbaugh has a history of gratuitous attacks on Chelsea Clinton. On his failed TV show in 1993 he asked his audience, “Did you know there’s a White House dog?” Then he put up a picture of 13 year old Chelsea. At least the maturity level of the right is consistent.
I think what might be really bugging Limbaugh is not that Democrats have some imaginary entrée into the mediasphere, it’s that Republicans have such an embarrassing field of candidates by comparison. After all, most people would not view Chelsea Clinton, a graduate of Stanford and Oxford who is currently pursuing her doctorate, as unqualified for such a position. On the other hand, Bristol Palin couldn’t even make it through the season of Dancing With the Stars.
[Update] Limbaugh doubled-down this morning with another heaping pile of stupidity:
“Can you imagine Brian Williams, if one of the Bush twins, one of George W. Bush’s duaghters had been hired? [Responding to someone off mic] One of George W. Bush’s daughters is a correspondent on the Today Show? Really? I didn’t know that. That is interesting. And they haven’t undermined her yet?”
And he continues…
“You’ve got to get experience on television. You have learn how to use TV if you’re going to do anything in politics of a substantial nature. [...] Chelsea…what’s her degree in? History or make-up?”
For the record, Limbaugh dropped out of Southeast Missouri State University after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, “he flunked everything.”
It’s Wednesday morning, the day after Election Day. A number of significant issues were decided yesterday including the repeal of an anti-union law in Ohio, the defeat of an anti-choice “personhood” initiative in Mississippi, and the recall of State Senator Russell Pearce (the author of the anti-immigrant bill) in Arizona. But what made it to the top of the Fox Nation web site?
That’s right. The Fox Nationalists virtually ignored the electoral results. In fact, the only item they ran was one about the Ohio contest, but you had to count down 18 stories before you found it. FoxNews.com also featured the Xmas tax story just below their headline about disgraced coach Joe Paterno.
The story that trumped the election (and all other breaking news, including Herman Cain’s press conference) concerned a fifteen cent tax on Christmas trees that Fox’s headline labeled “Obama’s” tax. As usual, Fox’s reporting was somewhat less than credible.
The tax was actually a fee requested by the National Christmas Tree Association during the Bush administration. It was passed by a Republican controlled Senate and House, and was co-sponsored by John Boehner. It’s purpose was to fund research into, and promotion of, the Christmas tree industry which had been struggling to compete with artificial trees imported from China.
It was this pro-business, American job supporting, Republican legislation, that Fox chose to turn into a political cudgel with which to bash the President. It is this fee, that was proposed and supported by growers to enhance the image and sales of live Christmas trees, that Fox is implying is anti-Christian. And at the same time Fox has deployed this phony story to divert attention away from the news that conservatives had been slaughtered at the polls.
Fox has completely given up even pretending that they are engaging in honest journalism. How can any thinking person continue to regard Fox as a legitimate news enterprise?
[Update] Fox Nation updated their web site with late breaking news that pushed the Christmas Tree Tax story out of their headline position. Did they replace it with election results or Italy’s debt/political crisis? Nope. The new headline story is “Jon Stewart Makes Mincemeat Out of Jon Corzine.”
The subject of ethics might seem like obviously foreign territory for Fox News, but the way Fox Nation positioned an article this morning serves to cement their utter lack of ethical principles.
The Fox Nationalists posted an item that linked to CSNNews, a subsidiary of the ultra-rightist Media Research Center. The headline reads: “Obama: ‘I Don’t Think Ethics’ Was My Favorite Subject.”
Fox Nation was careful to selectively highlight just the portion of the article that made it appear that Obama shunned ethics. They quoted this portion of the article:
President Barack Obama told an audience of high school students in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday that he was “not always the very best student” and that ethics “would not have made it on the list” of his favorite subjects.
“I was not always the very best student that I could be when I was in high school, and certainly not when I was in middle school,” Obama said, speaking at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.
“I did not love every class I took. I wasn’t always paying attention the way I should have,” Obama said. “I remember when I was in 8th grade I had to take a class called ethics. Now, ethics is about right and wrong, but if you’d ask me what my favorite subject was back in 8th grade, it was basketball. I don’t think ethics would have made it on the list.”
Even stopping there that would not be surprising for a typical 13 year old boy. But on a Fox web site it’s easy to imagine the responses in the comments by ignoramuses who never bothered to click through and read the article in full. The comments ranged from sorry attempts at humor to downright vile racism. They took from this excerpt that Obama had rejected ethics at an early age and that he has none today. Had they read further they would have learned what point Obama was actually making.
“I still remember that ethics class, all these years later,” Obama said. “I remember the way it made me think. I remember being asked questions like: What matters in life? Or, what does it mean to treat other people with dignity and respect? What does it mean to live in a diverse nation, where not everybody looks like you do, or thinks like you do, or comes from the same neighborhood as you do? How do we figure out how to get along?
“Each of these questions led to new questions,” said Obama. “And I didn’t always know the right answers, but those discussions and that process of discovery–those things have lasted. Those things are still with me today. Every day, I’m thinking about those same issues as I try to lead this nation.”
Clearly Obama was affected by his studies, and the lesson that he was passing on to the audience of school children was that subjects that may not seem interesting today are still valuable and will shape your character in years to come.
What a travesty! String him up. Another extremist, Marxist, attempt to indoctrinate American kids by the tyrannical Kenyan.
Fox News plainly lacks any speck of journalistic ethics. They could not have more deliberately misrepresented the facts in this story. And when you sink to these depths to twist facts that even the conservative source of the information reported accurately, you really should not be allowed to use the word “news” in your name.
Here we go again. Fox Nation posts another item whose only purpose is to mercilessly twist the truth until it chokes to death.
The item posted on Fox Nation features a headline with ominous tones for President Obama’s acceptance in the Jewish community. As you can see from the comments, it also provides an opportunity for the the Fox Nationalists to express their desire to see the President die a gruesome death, as well as their honest opinions about Jews in general. The only statistic reported is the one that shows Obama’s approval rating split (within the margin of error), but characterized by Fox negatively.
The article links to a survey by the American Jewish Committee. Those who take the time to click through to the Committee’s web site to see the full results will learn that Obama’s approval suffers from the state of the economy. By itself, that doesn’t tell us very much because the survey did not ask why the respondent’s were dissatisfied with Obama’s policies. Was it because they were too expensive or because they did not contain more spending for stimulative, job creating projects. However, a closer examination of the results may shed some light on that question.
Despite the overall split on approval, respondents overwhelming view relations between Israel and the United States positively (63% to 36%). They would also vote to reelect Obama over every Republican opponent in the poll: vs Romney by 18%; vs Perry by 30%; vs Bachmann by 38%; vs Christie by 27%.
Fox News has been trying to poison the relationship between Obama and American Jews for months. They broadcast brazenly false reports that portray Obama’s positions as contrary to Israel’s interests. The truth is that this administration has an almost identical policy toward Israel as every administration for the past thirty years. And even Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has had to correct Fox’s misinformation with regard to Obama’s positions and the fact that they are aligned with those of Israel.
Apparently Fox’s efforts are not particularly effective. American Jews still support the President, even though they are worried about the direction of the economy. And to the extent that they express reservations, it may be because Obama has not been forceful enough in opposing the GOP agenda of killing jobs programs and protecting the rich from being taxed fairly.
The Fox Nationalists are beating their heads against the wall to diminish the President’s reputation, and this item is just more proof that they will deliberately deceive their audience to advance their agenda.
The massive 5.9 earthquake that struck Washington, D.C. and caused panic throughout much of the east coast is causing rumblings across the political landscape as well.
Republicans have stepped forward to criticize President Obama for not having an effective anti-earthquake policy.
Michele Bachmann: In my administration I can promise you that, in addition to $2.00 gas, there will be no earthquakes.
Rick Perry: As I have said before, there are some problems that Washington cannot solve. That’s why I am calling for a day of prayer to bitch at God for causing these earthquakes.
Mitt Romney: If an earthquake destroyed my home in New Hampshire, I could easily relocate to California or Colorado or any of my other luxury residences. That’s why we have to run the government like a business and build several Washingtons around the country.
Herman Cain: When I ran Godfather’s Pizza I learned to be prepared for everything. After all, science knows that this ObamaQuake was caused by lunar cycles that stretch the earth’s crust like the tides. Now we have to watch out for Sue Nawmee.
Ron Paul: Audit the Federal Reserve and abolish all regulations and we wouldn’t have any problem with an earthquake every now and then.
Sarah Palin: In these troubling times the good patriotic citizens of our rich heartland know that America’s greatness relies on having real leaders who love their country and do not pal around with tyrannical tectonic plates.
Glenn Beck: Thank God I’m in Israel today. The far-left, and their cohorts in the Muslim Brotherhood, have infiltrated the political class in the Capital and the time has come for them to receive the vengeance of the Lord. And if you want to see this all happen live, be sure to sign up for GBTV right away.
In other news:
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound was overrun by rebels who, with help from the United States, have succeeded in toppling his four decades of dictatorship.
The stock market rose over 300 points despite the earthquake that rattled the east coast.
Hurricane Irene is hurtling toward Florida.
Millions of Americans are still unemployed or under-employed.
Casey Anthony did something or other.
Yet the media had several hours of blanket coverage of an earthquake that caused no injuries and did no significant damage. Stay tuned for more coverage – of Casey Anthony.
Author and Rupert Murdoch biographer, Michael Wolff, is reporting that Murdoch and his crime family may be staring down charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act:
“Among the areas that the FBI is said to be looking at in its investigation of News Corp. are charges that one of its subsidiaries, News America Marketing, illegally hacked the computer system of a competitor, Floorgraphics, and then, using the information it had gleaned, tried to extort it into selling out to News Corp.; allegations that relationships the New York Post has maintained with New York City police officers may have involved exchanges of favors and possibly money for information; and accusations that Fox chief Roger Ailes sought to have an executive in the company, the book publisher Judith Regan, lie to investigators about details of her relationship with New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik in order to protect the political interests of Rudy Giuliani, then a presidential prospect.”
Wolff documents the magnitude of the corruption at News Corp that has become so integral to their corporate culture that they don’t even regard what they’re doing as corrupt. Wolff also notes the mechanism by which Murdoch has evaded justice to date:
“…it’s because the fundamental currency of the company has always been reward and punishment. Both the New York Post and Fox News maintain enemy lists. Almost anyone who has directly crossed these organizations, or who has made trouble for their parent company, will have felt the sting here. That sting involves regular taunting and, often, lies.”
No kidding. Fox News, in particular, brazenly lies about their perceived enemies who include pretty much any Democrat. Certainly President Obama has been the frequent target of dishonest attacks. Currently Media Matters is the victim of a sustained campaign that misstates the law in order to challenge their tax-exempt status. And the Fox-led assaults against ACORN, Climate Change, immigrants, and voting rights have all been subject to the fabrication factory run by Murdoch and company.
The RICO statutes may be just the vehicle to rein in these crooks. Here’s hoping that the legal authorities will crack this case and bring the Murdoch Mob to justice.
Fox News has been engaging in a relentless campaign against Media Matters for more than a month. They began in June with allegations that Media Matters had violated their tax-exempt status by factually covering Fox News broadcasts as well as other right-wing media. The Fox campaign included frequent solicitations on the air (more than 30 times) by Fox anchors beseeching their viewers to file complaints with the IRS challenging Media Matters’ non-profit status. Amongst those participating in the onslaught were Bill O’Reilly, Bret Baier, Steve Doocy, Charles Krauthammer, James Rosen, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, and Bernie Goldberg.
The latest salvos come from two fronts: 1) An official filing of an IRS complaint against Media Matters by a Fox crony (more on that later), and 2) from the Fox Business Network which has just completed a three-part series on the subject.
The arguments presented by Fox Business were pitifully weak and often contradictory. For instance, the article stated that some of Media Matters’ activities were “not found in the scope of nonprofit tax law.” That’s a contorted argument because the tax law was never meant to include every imaginable activity that might occur. There is nothing in the law that says that an exempt organization can provide Italian food during meetings, but that doesn’t mean they are in violation of the law if they send out for pizza.
The article also quoted Marcus Owens, a former IRS official, as saying that his remarks in defense of Media Matters were misconstrued. The only problem with that is that the article itself quoted Owens explicitly defending Media Matters saying that their activities are “generally protected by the first amendment,” and that they are “not going to jeopardize its tax-exempt status.” So the article is disparaging its own source. It further points out that…
“Media Matters says in its tax returns that it has not engaged in political campaign activities or lobbying. But Media Matters has run items that advocate for legislation, which would violate the tax law if it became a substantial part of the nonprofit’s activities.”
And what does the article regard as “substantial?” A single 2004 posting on the Media Matters web site in support of the Fairness Doctrine. That’s it. Compare that to the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters, a conservative mirror image of Media Matters. NewsBusters conducts persistent campaigns including one in opposition to the Fairness Doctrine. They also have campaigns against immigration, George Soros, and in support of the Tea Party. These are not years-old, isolated efforts. They are current and ongoing. Yet Gray has not filed a challenge to the tax-exempt status of the Media Research Center. Or the Heritage Foundation. Or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Or the Tea party’s own Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.
The remainder of the series consists of an abundance of nonsense. It suggests that having tax-exempt status is equivalent to having a government endorsement. It cites an IRS ruling that “a nonprofit will lose its tax-exempt status if, among other things, a significant portion of its communications consist of viewpoints or positions ‘unsupported by facts.’” Of course, Media Matters is notoriously stringent about providing factual support for everything they post.
In addition to Fox News and Fox Business, the Murdoch propaganda family continued piling on Media Matters with articles on Fox Nation that still retain the first position in their “New Stories” section, despite being more than a month old. The Fox Nationalists posted links to a pre-filled-in form that could be printed out and mailed to the IRS. News Corpse has requested information from the IRS on the volume of complaints, if any, they have been receiving in the past month. That request is still pending. However, it may be safe to surmise that the response of the Fox audience was not particularly impressive, because they had to resort to filing their own complaint indirectly via former George H.W. Bush counsel, C. Boyden Gray.
In filing this complaint, Both Fox and Gray asserted that they are unaffiliated with one another. Gray insisted that he is not representing Fox and is not on the payroll. What they neglected to disclose is that Gray was previously identified as a both a Fox News Supreme Court Analyst and a Fox News contributor. This puts in doubt their claims to being unaffiliated, and it destroys any pretense of transparency.
Gray’s obviously biased perspective is well represented in the letter he sent to the IRS. The core of his complaint is the allegation that Media Matters has “declared war” on a television news channel [Fox News]. Of course the truth is that Fox News had long before declared war on Media Matters. Consequently, Media Matters may just be regarded as defending itself from a powerful, international, media megalith.
Gray’s complaint began with a claim that “Media Matters’s efforts to harm Fox News are intended to weaken the Republican Party.” Gray offers no support whatsoever for that claim. The truth is that Media Matters is merely attempting to demonstrate the bias on the part of Fox News for the GOP. And despite Gray’s charge, every example he cites of Media Matters allegedly attacking Republicans actually show that they are reporting on what others in the media are saying about the party.
Gray also makes a rather incoherent argument that the IRS is somehow violating the free speech rights of Fox News by granting Media Matters tax exempt status. The tortured case he makes seems to be that such status somehow punishes Fox News. Suffice to say that he never explains how, or establishes that Fox News’ rights have been violated in any way.
But the height of Gray’s Inanity is his contention that Media Matters has embarked on an “unsupportable attempt to tie Fox News to the Republican Party.” However, tying Fox News to the Republican Party is about as difficult as tying your shoelaces. The support is overwhelming and includes surveys that show the extreme imbalance of Republicans to Democrats on Fox News. It includes the rampant utilization of talking points directly from GOP sources on one program after another throughout the broadcast day. It includes memos from executive editors directing their anchors and reporters to frame stories favorably to right. It includes the overt hostility and racism that Fox Nation publishes repeatedly.
Setting all of that aside for the moment, it would interesting to hear how Gray would reconcile his assertion that Media Matters is trying to “weaken the Republican Party,” with his assertion that any attempt to tie the party to Fox News is “unsupportable.” If the party and Fox News are unconnected, then how could one be harmed by attacking the other? Gray’s arguments are an endless loop of contradiction. They can’t both be true.
Given a full examination, Gray’s complaint to the IRS is amateurish blather. He fails to prove a single point in his letter. But he does manage to prove that Fox News, and the Murdoch-led News Corp, is a deceitful and unethical enterprise for endeavoring to partner with Gray on this puerile exercise. they are exhibiting their proclivity for bullying their perceived enemies and using their media perch to smear those with whom they disagree. They are a criminal enterprise and should be treated as such. Hopefully the investigations just getting underway will put these gangsters where they belong.
This is a prime example of why political parody has become so difficult. The subjects of satire are too good at making themselves look stupid without any help. What does that leave for those of us who satirize them? Check out Fox Nation’s article on a planned mid-August bus tour by President Obama:
Really? Please note the “Obama 08″ poster on Fox Nation’s photo proving that Obama obviously used buses before Sarah Palin did. Seriously, it’s their own photo. Yet Fox implies that Palin invented the political bus tour? Are they daft? (Don’t answer that). Palin didn’t even come up with an original name for her road trip. She copied the name, “One Nation,” from the progressive and union movement that held a rally in Washington, D.C., last October.
I think that the Fox Nationalists are actually pretty close to the truth this time. They just left out a small detail. Palin didn’t invent the political bus tour, she invented the “aborted” political bus tour. As we know, the cross-country trip that Palin planned (and is still promoting on her SarahPac web site) lasted all of six days and never made it past New Hampshire. Then she blatantly lied when asked about why the tour came to a screeching halt:
Palin: “Imagine our surprise when reading media reports today that the ‘One Nation Tour’ has been cancelled…The coming weeks are tight because civic duty calls (like most everyone else, even former governors get called up for jury duty) and I look forward to doing my part just like every other Alaskan.”
The only problem is that, unlike every other Alaskan, she never showed up for jury duty. In fact, she wasn’t even in Alaska. A few days after making her jury excuse for quitting the bus tour, she turned up at the debut of her crockumentary, “The Undefeated,” in Pella, Iowa. Incidentally, the film was a rip-roaring failure at the boxoffice and is already heading to video and the discount bins at WalMart.
Sarah Palin is a pitiful joke. The only thing she’s running for is the bank to deposit the cash she cons out of glassy-eyed fans who somehow find something coherent in her word jumbles. And the only way Obama could be charged with copying Palin on this is if he rolls into a handful of towns and then jets back to Camp David for some R&R.
The fact checkers at Fox Nation are a notoriously incompetent crew. Today they are featuring an item that references an article at RealClearPolitics about Sarah Palin scheduling an appearance in Iowa on Labor Day. However, the Fox Nationalists don’t seem to know what holiday is celebrated on September 5:
This error is particularly conspicuous given that there was nothing in the RealClearPolitics article about Memorial Day. In fact, they cited Labor Day very near the top of the column. There could not have been any mix-up as a result of a transposition. Fox Nation’s editors are wholly responsible for a mistake born of ignorance.
Or was it a mistake? Fox has been castigating America’s workers for years. They characterize them as thugs, leeches, and loafers looking for handouts. Is it really so surprising that Fox would seek to suppress recognition for a holiday that celebrates working people?
Furthermore, Fox may not want to have associated their star political analyst with a day honoring Labor. Palin will be keynoting a Tea Party affair in Iowa and Fox surely wouldn’t want to confuse readers by insinuating that the event had anything to do with those socialists who work for a living. Palin’s reputation is damaged enough as it is by having been the subject of one of the biggest film flops this year.
Try as they might, Fox News cannot do away with Labor Day. They can only insult workers by pretending that it doesn’t exist.
The news is not cooperating with Fox News. The major stories of the day are presenting the network with a unique programming dilemma. They can’t report on the biggest stories because they either involve Fox News or are contrary to their ideological bias.
The biggest media story in decades concerns Fox’s parent company, News Corp, which is embroiled in a phone hacking and police corruption scandal. They certainly can’t report on that in much detail. They ignored it completely for the first week or two. When they did begin to cover it they downplayed the story and defended their Dear Leader, Rupert Murdoch.
Then there is the congressional debt ceiling debate. The most recent developments in that story involve GOP House Speaker John Boehner walking out of the negotiations and getting dressed down by President Obama. The public is fairly unified in opposing the GOP position that favors tax cuts for the wealthy and entitlement cuts for everyone else. That’s gonna be tough for Fox to cover.
Then there is the terrorism in Norway. Even though Fox began coverage of this story by assuming, without evidence, that the suspect was a Muslim with ties to Al Qaeda, it turns out that he is, in fact, a Christian right-winger with anti-Muslim views. Does this mean that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) will chair new hearings into Christian extremism? Would Fox cover that?
It’s so bad for Fox that they can’t even cover the weather. The record-breaking heat wave could be construed by many as proof of Global Warming. At least that’s the same logic Fox used when snowstorms were cited as evidence that Climate Change was a big hoax.
What does that leave for Fox to cover. If somebody doesn’t kidnap a pretty white girl soon, Fox may have to go dark. Perhaps that’s what Hannity and Geraldo are planning this weekend. Of course, they could always hack into some famous people’s cell phones and see if there is any news there that doesn’t make the network look bad. Barring that, they could switch to a shopping channel schedule and peddle gold coins and legal services for mesothemiola sufferers.
I can pretty much assure you that Roger Ailes and company are praying for an earthquake in Venezuela or a pornographic Tweet from Barney Frank.
When Keith Olbermann abruptly departed from MSNBC the network’s schedule was thrust into chaos. Lawrence O’Donnell was moved up two hours. Ed Schultz went from early evening to 10:00pm. Schultz’s old slot was a menagerie that eventually settled on Cenk Uygur for nearly six months.
All of this turmoil occurred at the same time that Glenn Beck was slated for an early termination of his contract at Fox News. That made much of the Fox schedule vulnerable as Beck’s audience formed the foundation for the evening news hour and primetime. So what did MSNBC do to take advantage of this opening?
Nothing – nothing at all. Their schedule barely budged. There were no new face outside of the 6:00pm slot that Schultz vacated, and even those were often familiar faces on the network. This was the best opportunity for MSNBC to challenge Fox during a period of weakness and MSNBC slept through it.
Now MSNBC is compounding their mistakes by (reportedly) replacing Uygur with Rev. Al Sharpton. The circumstances of Uygur’s departure are disturbing, but that’s a subject for another article. While Sharpton can be an aggressive advocate for lefty issues, he is hardly the banner carrier for progressive journalism. With a background predominantly in civil rights and social activism, his lack of experience in broadcasting does not portend well for MSNBC. His areas of expertise are rather narrow and he can come off as bombastic and rigid.
The purpose of a news and public affairs network is the same as any other network – attracting and appealing to viewers. Additionally, a news network must seek to inform and stimulate dialogue. Thus, having a journalist with broadcast experience in the anchor chair gives the program a significantly better shot at success.
MSNBC already has people on the payroll who fit the bill, and also expand the diversity of the roster, which is sorely needed. However, even some members of the National Association of Black Journalists are reticent about Sharpton. Instead, MSNBC should consider someone like Joe Madison, a long-time radio host based in Washington, D.C. with a record of success on the air and in the streets. Another attractive candidate would be Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University and a frequent guest on Rachel Maddow’s program.
Maddow presently has the highest ratings on MSNBC. That makes someone like Harris-Parry particularly compelling. A black woman with intelligence, insight, and personality could reproduce at 6:00pm the success Maddow has in primetime.
Ideally MSNBC could significantly strengthen their lineup by pitting Joe Madison against Fox’s lame Glenn Beck replacement “The Five.” Then give Hardball a single airing at 6:00pm, followed by Harris-Parry at 7:00. Leave primetime in tact with O’Donnell, Maddow, and Schultz (although I wouldn’t mind seeing Schultz replaced by someone like Chris Hayes or – don’t laugh – Anthony Weiner, an articulate, passionate progressive who didn’t really do anything that should forever disqualify him from public service).
If MSNBC is serious about competing with Fox News, they need to consider more dynamic solutions. Al Sharpton is never going to beat Bret Baier. And without a stronger leadin, the primetime schedule is unnecessarily hampered. The network has come close to Fox in important demographic ratings and they could put Fox away if they act now while Fox is wobbly and their management is being investigated internationally. The travails of Rupert Murdoch and company will make it difficult for them to concentrate on issues other than staying out of jail. MSNBC should capitalize on that distraction. The question is: Is MSNBC really serious about competing with Fox News?
Now we have our first official “News Corpse”: The man who first raised allegations about hacking at the News Of The World, has been found dead. Via The Guardian
“Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.”
The Guardian reports that “The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.” The Guardian goes on to report that Hoare…
“…told the [New York Times] that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.
“In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was ‘a lie, it is simply a lie.’”
This is, first and foremost, a tragedy for the Hoare family. But the significance to the ongoing scandal cannot be dismissed. Stay tuned because, as Hoare himself had once said, “There’s more to come. This is not going to go away.”
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has published a self-serving op-ed that seeks to separate itself from the travails of its corporate parent, News Corp. The Journal argues that anyone who thinks there is any carryover from the UK scandal is overreaching. Never mind that the head of the Journal’s Dow Jones division, Les Hinton, was carried over to the states from his British perch at News International and has already resigned as a result of his association with the disgraced enterprise.
The op-ed takes a decidedly arrogant approach in suggesting that they, for some unexplained reason, are above it all and should not be tarnished. They regard the whole affair as a legal matter that is limited to the UK and that the real problem is the malfeasance of Scotland Yard for not properly investigating the crimes involved. The Journal’s editorial conveniently leaves out any mention that part of the problem with the police investigation is that they were on the receiving end of bribes from News Corp.
The only thing more grating than their arrogance is their victimehood. Apparently the only controversy is that the rest of the media world is ganging up on the long-suffering Wall Streeters and their bosses:
“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous. Fleet Street in general has long had a well-earned global reputation for the blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true.”
It’s not only Fleet Street. The “blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true,” is the standard operating procedure for Fox News. But why is the Journal so surprised about the moral outrage devoted to News Corp when it, so far, is the only party accused of hacking into people’s phones? And it is the only party, so far, accused of bribing the police for dirt on the famous. By the way, that is very different than the practice of “buying scoops” from private sources that the Journal is attempting to conflate with paying off the police.
The obvious attempt to muddy the discussion continues when the Journal addresses the critical of issue of relationships between politicians and the press:
“The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.”
Here is where the op-ed deliberately tries to steer away from the real problem. Even if we were to concede that the BBC and the Guardian seek to influence public affairs through their coverage, the activities that are being “bemoanded” are those where News Corp seeks influence through intimidation and/or alliance with politicians, not via their reporting (which, of course, they do as well).
Next we see the editorial take another stab at victimhood with an unusual kicker aimed at a favorite bogeyman of News Corp, Julian Assange.
“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”
First of all, I don’t know of any mainstream news organization that has given WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. For the most part Assange has been roundly castigated and, so far as Fox News is concerned, he is regarded as a traitor who should face a firing squad. But the Journal is being stunningly hypocritical in that they themselves have adopted the Wikileaks model in an attempt to emulate its success. That is the express mission of the Journal’s Safehouse web site. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about Safehouse, which does little to protect one’s anonymity. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.
Finally, the Journal launches into a defense of allegations that the U.S. could prosecute News Corp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But somehow they spin off such a prospect into an attack on their First Amendment rights. The implication is that any prosecution of a media entity for any crime whatsoever violates the Constitution. That’s a rather broad reading. The Journal complains that…
“Applying this standard to British tabloids could turn payments made as part of traditional news-gathering into criminal acts. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S.”
Is the Journal asserting that payoffs to police officials is an act of “traditional news-gathering?” In most places that’s a violation of law enforcement ethics and it is the reason that the commissioner of Scotland Yard resigned yesterday.
Moreover, the Journal’s closing argument is that the pursuit of criminal activity on the part of the press has, in the past, netted individuals who were not initially suspects. The example given in the editorial is that of Robert Novak who had participated in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Journal notes that others, including reporters at the New York Times, were swept up in the scandal. So What? That’s wonderful! Is the Journal suggesting that the press should keep its collective mouths shut because they might get drawn in themselves? That would be the duty of an honest, ethical press. Report the news – the truth – regardless of self-interest.
It’s as if the Journal is threatening its rivals to stay out of this mud fight lest they get dirty themselves. Really? That’s their defense?
It’s too bad that Rupert Murdoch shut down the News of the World. If there were ever a time that it was needed, it’s now. The NotW’s specialty was sordid, scandalous, misbehavior by important persons and institutions. The fall of the House of Murdoch fits neatly in that mold: A billionaire media baron brought down by flagrant violations of law and morality. Numerous arrests and resignations. Billions of dollars in asset value evaporated. Just imagine how the NotW would have covered this story:
Today Murdoch’s British newspapers published his personal apology. It is reprinted below. Be sure to hover your mouse over each line for a translation from Murdochese to English.
The campaign to rescue Murdoch’s reputation, and that of his company, is in full swing. Yesterday Fox and Friends interviewed a former Nixon flack who tried to paper over the controversy as trivial and commonplace. Today on Fox News Watch, embarrassed by criticism for having avoided the subject completely last week, held a discussion that primarily castigated other media for over-reporting the scandal.
Murdoch himself is shacking up with lawyers and PR consultants this weekend in advance of his inquisition before Parliament next Tuesday. They will likely be advising him on how best to disguise his repugnant nature.
In addition, facets of the British government are edging closer to a hard line on media reform. The Liberal Democratic Party has requested an inquiry by regulators that could result in forcing Murdoch to divest his stake in BSkyB. Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, is calling for the News Corp empire to be broken up:
“I think that we’ve got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20% of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News,” Miliband said. “I think it’s unhealthy because that amount of power in one person’s hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation. If you want to minimise the abuses of power then that kind of concentration of power is frankly quite dangerous.”
Well said. We need more politicians in the U.S. with that sort of courage. It’s reminiscent Howard Dean, who said while campaigning in 2003 that he favored breaking up the big media conglomerates:
“I would say there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country.”
And look what the media did to him. Meanwhile it was disclosed that the Conservative Party’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, met with Murdoch, his son James, and Rebekah Brooks, 26 times since he took office in May 2010. That’s once every other week. So at least we have some political consistency here in that conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are equally devoid of ethics.
[UPDATE] Rebekah Brooks, who just two days ago resigned as CEO of Murdoch’s News International, has been arrested. Who’s next?
This morning on Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy interviewed PR flack Bob Dilenschneider in an attempt to whitewash the devastating scandal that has been roiling News Corp, the parent company of Doocy’s employer, Fox News. The discussion was strikingly self-serving, hypocritical, and dishonest. It began with Doocy asking Dilenschneider this question:
Doocy: What do you make of what…this particular hacking scandal with the News of the World? Dilenschneider: Well, the News of the World is a hacking scandal, it can’t be denied, but the issue is why are so many people piling on at this point? We know it’s a hacking scandal, shouldn’t we really get beyond it and deal with the issue of hacking?
Of course! Move along people. Nothing to see here. Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers were caught hacking into the phones of politicians, celebrities, murdered schoolgirls, and victims of terrorist attacks, but that’s no reason to dwell on on it for a week or two. To continue this inquiry is just more “piling on.” Especially since we don’t even know the depth to which this scandal will eventually sink. After all, Murdoch has shut down his largest circulation paper in the UK, canceled his planned takeover of BSkyB (his largest attempted acquisition ever), and accepted the resignations of his top executives at News International and Dow Jones (the parent company of the Wall Street Journal). Surely that’s proof of how unimportant this is. Shut up already.
Dilenschneider goes on to equate incidents of hacking that took place at industry and government sites with the News Corp affair. This is an awkward effort to conflate the victims of industrial hacking with the victimizers and criminals at News Corp. Then Doocy offers this bit of commentary:
Doocy: The company’s come forward and they said, “look, this happened a long time ago – at a tabloid – in London.” Somebody did something really bad and the company reacted. They closed that newspaper. All those people got fired. Even though 99% of them absolutely had nothing to do with it.
Exactly! They fired a bunch of people who had nothing to do with it. What more do you want? And it was just a tabloid, so that hardly matters. But most importantly, it was a long time ago, so drop it already. Dilenschneider told Doocy that it was “a decade ago,” which is not true. The hacking was about six years ago and was effectively covered up. However, the most recent and disturbing revelations just came out a couple of weeks ago and are still coming out by the hour. You don’t see Fox News hammering away at old stories like that, do you?. Well, except for their highly coordinated attack on Media Matters which they have been pushing for three weeks. Doocy and his Fox and Friends pals have not let up on it for even one day. They even have an article on Fox Nation telling readers how to file a complaint with the IRS which they keep bumping up to the top of the “New Stories” list despite its non-newness.
Bob Dilenschneider, it should be noted, is a celebrated PR flack and crisis consultant. He specializes in rescuing the reputations of scoundrels. He is well known for working on the rehabilitation of Richard Nixon’s image post-Watergate. And he was the spokesman for Lou Dobbs as Dobbs was being pummeled for his anti-immigrant rantings.
In this matter Dilenschneider is conducting a textbook resuscitation procedure for News Corp and Murdoch. He tries to change the subject to unrelated incidents of hacking. He insists that his clients have done “all the right things,” despite having issued false reports and engaging in a steady drip of resignations. He declares that there are more important problems for people to focus on and should therefore ignore this one. In short, who cares, look away, we’re innocent.
He’s got his work cut out for him. Luckily, he also has the Fox News platform to implement his campaign of diversion and disinformation. Expect Fox to behave like a wounded mama bear. They are likely to strike out at someone or something in order to divert attention from their own nefarious dealings. Don’t be surprised if Fox News reports this weekend that President Obama was caught sacrificing children to Lucifer.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal somehow managed to snag an exclusive interview with Rupert Murdoch who, coincidentally, owns the newspaper.
Murdoch was typically defensive in a wholly delusional manner. He insisted that News Corp had handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes.” Minor mistakes like lying as to whether there was any crisis at all and conducting an internal investigation that concluded that any wrongdoing was limited to a single rogue reporter. The shuttering of the News of the World, the abandonment of the BSkyB acquisition, and several arrests later, those mistakes don’t appear to be all that minor anymore.
Murdoch also stuck by his corrupt son whom he said reacted “as fast as he could, the moment he could.” That was six years after the scandal broke and after young James had paid off several victims in an attempt to buy their silence.
This morning comes the news that the CEO of Murdoch’s News International, Rebekah Brooks, has resigned after steadfastly refusing to do so with the support of her boss, Rupert, who just days ago said that Brooks was his highest priority. So much for that. Brooks’ resignation statement said in part…
“As Chief Executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place.”
The problem for Brooks is that if she did not know what had taken place before this she is utterly incompetent. And, of course, if she did know, she is guilty of despicable and criminal behavior. It’s interesting that News Corp’s second largest shareholder, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal al Saud, told BBC’s Newsnight that she should resign if her involvement in the phone hacking scandal was “explicit”. Hours later she resigns. And remember, it was Brooks who warned that the next year would bring more trouble:
“We have more visibility perhaps with what we can see coming our way than you guys can. I am tied by the criminal investigation but I think in a year’s time, every single one of you in this room might come up and say ‘OK, well, I see what she saw now.’”
She’s right. In all likelihood there are still more revelations to come. The severity of the reactions to date suggest that all we have seen thus far is the tip of the iceberg. Murdoch, a notorious brawler, would not passively close a profitable, 168 year old newspaper, ditch the biggest business acquisition he has ever attempted, throw his trusted lieutenant under the lorry, and acquiesce to an inquisition by members of Parliament, if there weren’t something dreadful that he was trying to keep clamped down. His announcement that he will convene an “independent committee” to conduct his own inquiry is laughable, especially considering that he was forced to assign an unnamed “distinguished non-employee” to lead the effort. Presumably there no distinguished employees to call upon.
There are now a half dozen American lawmakers calling for various investigations from Congress, the Department of Justice, and/or the FBI (which has reportedly already opened an investigation). There have been at least seven arrests. The possibility of this affair crossing the Atlantic and involving allegations of the hacking 9/11 victims is the subject of much speculation. Fox News and its master, Roger Ailes, are not immune to this calamity. And if it goes there Rupert can kiss his evil empire goodbye.
Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones & Co., has resigned, becoming the latest News Corp. executive casualty in the phone-hacking and bribery scandal in Britain.
Hinton served as executive chairman of the British unit that oversaw News Corp.’s U.K. tabloid newspapers at the heart of the scandal for 12 years. A member of the board of The Associated Press, Hinton became head of Dow Jones in December 2007.
Hinton said in a statement that he was “ignorant of what apparently happened” but felt it was proper to resign.
The classic defense of scoundrels: Ignorance and/or victimhood. As the chief executive of Dow Jones, Hinton was responsible for the Wall Street Journal as well. And while he ran Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers for 12 years, he worked for Murdoch for 52 years, beginning the association in Australia at age fifteen. With Hinton leaving, and Murdoch’s honorary daughter Rebekah Brooks gone as well, Murdoch is shedding his closest and most trusted allies. Can Roger Ailes be far behind?
This is looking more and more like some horrific news has still yet to bubble up from the Murdochian Hades. I’m beginning to wonder if there are bodies stashed somewhere.
Fox Nation has posted another item that grossly misrepresents reality. Their featured story this morning concerns an interview that President Obama gave to CBS News.
Notice the headline from the Reuters article to which the Fox Nationalists linked: Obama: Seniors could be hurt without debt deal. The article quotes Obama saying that…
“I cannot guarantee that those [Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”
However, the Fox Nation headline is: Obama Threatens to Withhold Social Security Checks from Seniors and Vets. That, of course, is a lie. There is nothing in the article or Obama’s remarks that even implies that he would withhold any payments. He simply pointed out a potential consequence of the Republican’s intransigence and unwillingness to compromise.
There is a huge difference between an alert and a threat. If I were to tap you on the shoulder and warn you not to cross the street because of oncoming traffic, Fox would report it as me threatening to shove you off the curb into the path of a speeding truck. In the world of Fox News no distortion is too twisted if it casts Democrats in a bad light.
Anyone waiting for the next shoe to drop in the News Corp hacking affair would be wise to seek cover. It’s about to hail footwear. No matter how hard Rupert Murdoch and his minions struggle to hold back the sea, they are continuing to get battered by higher and more powerful waves of corruption. And the tsunami is reaching across the Atlantic to American shores.
Here are a few of the late breaking stories that threaten to being down many of News Corp’s highest ranking officers:
“The watchdog group Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is calling on Congress to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for evidence that the company’s sprawling phone hacking scandal reached the United States.”
“British media said Monday that Brown was one of thousands whose personal details — including his bank account and his son’s medical records — were targeted by people working for News International titles including the Sun and the Sunday Times.”
“A group of News Corp. shareholders have sued the company over a phone-hacking scandal at its now-closed News of the World tabloid in London. The lawsuit accuses News Corp. of large-scale governance failures.”
The scandal is reaching into the executive suites of Rupert Murdoch, who may lose his bid for the BSkyB satellite business. Even worse, he may be liable for prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Murdoch’s man at Dow Jones (parent of the Wall Street Journal), Les Hinton, has been implicated in a cover up. Even conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron called Hinton out saying…
“There is now a large-scale and well-resourced police investigation. Of course, in 2006 we did have a police investigation, but we can now see that it was plainly inadequate. This in itself requires investigation.”
That 2006 investigation was overseen by Hinton who concluded that only one NotW reporter had done anything wrong. Clearly that was untrue. We now know that more than 4,000 people were victims of the hackers. Either Hinton was utterly incompetent or he was deliberately complicit in the cover up. And while Hinton was running Murdoch’s British papers, Rebekah Brooks was the editor of NotW. Brooks was briefly in charge of conducting the most recent inquiry into the scandal, but she has been removed as more speculation arises as to her involvement.
As an illustration of the depraved nature of these weasels, BBC’s Newsnight hosted actor/comedian Steve Coogan who confronted the former deputy features editor of NotW, Paul McMullan. Coogan told McMullan that he was morally bankrupt after McMullan explicitly defended the unlawful practice of hacking into people’s cell phones:
McMullan: I’ve always said that I try to write articles in a truthful way, and what better source of getting the truth is to listen to someone’s messages?
McMullan could also get the truth by breaking into people’s homes and hiding in their closets. He went on to make the ludicrous claim that freedom of the press would be at risk if he were prohibited from invading the privacy of anyone with a phone. And he mocked Coogan for profiting from his celebrity while complaining about having his phone hacked.
Today Rupert Murdoch withdrew his offer to spin off Sky News as a condition to win approval of his acquisition of BSkyB. That condition was key to the bid going forward due to concerns that he would control too much of the British media. By withdrawing the offer he casts the bid back into the Competition Commission for a review that will likely take six months. Murdoch’s purpose is to delay the decision in hopes that the hacking scandal would fade away. But there is now the risk that the Commission will decline approval for the acquisition. This move shows both how cynical and how desperate Murdoch is.
Stay tuned. This thing is getting worse by the hour. And don’t expect to see much about it on Fox News. Roger Ailes must be running scared himself. I wonder why.