Rupert Murdoch: We Did Not Start This Abuse

When News Corp released their quarterly earnings yesterday, analysts took the opportunity to address some issues that have plagued the company’s cable news division, Fox News. News Corp Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch, was characteristically combative – and dishonest.

The key question was from Brian Stelter of the New York Times:

“There was much talk in the past three months about an agreement between News Corporation and General Electric to limit the attacks between Fox and MSNBC. Is News Corporation continuing to seek to limit those attacks?”

Let’s just ignore the prejudicial framing of the question that implies that Fox has already been seeking to limit attacks. There has been absolutely no evidence of that, so it makes no sense to ask if it will continue. Murdoch, however, wasn’t going to complain about a such a propitiously delivered inquiry. He responded by whining that “they started it.”

“We did not start this abuse, which we thought went way beyond – it was personal and went way beyond – not on me, but on others, and it was finally we had to allow people to retaliate. And the moment they stop, we’ll stop.”

The truth, however, is a quite different from Murdoch’s representation. The hostility between Fox and it’s cable news colleagues was initiated by Fox from the day they launched in 1996. The utterly cynical “fair and balanced” slogan was an intentional slap at the other networks, whom they were accusing of bias. The meaning of the slogan was not that Fox would present the news with fairness or balance, but that they would serve to counter what they delusionally viewed as the imbalance of the rest of the media.

Since the ideological battle between the networks began on the day Fox debuted, Murdoch can hardly accuse the other networks of starting the abuse. But it didn’t stop there. In January of 2007, Fox ran an on-air promo that said they were “The only cable news channel that does not bring you the usual left wing bias.”

And that wasn’t all. They subsequently ran ads that accused CNN of being partisan and the Fox Nation promos declared that it was “time to say no to biased media.” More recently, they falsely claimed in a trade ad that CNN had failed to cover the Tea Bagger events that Fox itself was sponsoring. So much for fairness and balance. Murdoch himself admitted that his network’s slogan was a fraud in April of 2008 when he said…

“It’s very hard to be neutral. People laugh at us because we call ourselves ‘Fair and Balanced.’ Fact is, CNN, who’s always been extremely liberal, never had a Republican or conservative voice on it.”

People are laughing at you because you make such hysterically inane remarks like that one. Just a reminder – CNN’s lineup of conservatives: Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan, Mary Matalin, Tucker Carlson, Lynne Cheney, Lou Dobbs, etc. Fox’s lineup of liberals: Alan Colmes.

Not only was Murdoch wrong about who started this war, he also improperly asserted that it was made personal by his rivals. That doesn’t really square with the facts. How would he characterize this comment from Bill O’Reilly:

“[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down […] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would.”

Nah, that aint personal. And then there was the time that Roger Ailes threatened that he would “unleash O’Reilly against NBC and would use the New York Post as well.” That was just after O’Reilly called GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt “a despicable human being” who was responsible for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. And Ailes kept his promise about unleashing the New York Post who published hit pieces on Keith Olbermann that included his home address. No, not personal at all.

Now Murdoch is misrepresenting the entire affair. It is demonstrably evident that Fox started the name-calling and bullying long before this current imbroglio began. And it was Fox who escalated it to bitter and personal insults. Now Murdoch says that “the moment they stop, we’ll stop.” That is almost exactly what Fox said in May of last year. But since then, Fox has only become more adversarial, showing no interest in anything but conflict and confrontation.

So contrary to Murdoch’s assertion, Fox not only started the abuse, they raised it to unprecedented levels. Now Murdoch complains that he doesn’t like it. Well, he’s saddled with it now. He invented it and promoted it. It is his legacy. Along with giving the world nutcases like Glenn Beck. That is how we remember Rupert Murdoch.


7 thoughts on “Rupert Murdoch: We Did Not Start This Abuse

  1. “CNN, who’s always been extremely liberal, never had a Republican or conservative voice on it”

    That would be the same CNN that used to employ Glenn Beck? Never realised he “extremly liberal”, you learn something new every day.

    • I can’t believe I left him out. Good catch.

      • Nancy “the prosecution is always legitimate” Grace – is she still on the Headline station? I’d call her a legal conservative – very much so.

  2. Yes, calling CNN liberal leaves me scratching my head.

    On an unrelated, but possibly related note: Nancy Grace scares the hell out of me.

  3. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
    Matthew 7:24-25

    • Did you mean to post this comment on my article about Glenn Beck’s call to Build an Ark? If not, then you are, typically, not making any sense.

    • Neat! You can repeat 2000 year old nonsense.

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