Stop Federal Funding Of Fox News

Defund Fox NewsA few weeks ago video pimp and propagandist, James O’Keefe, released a heavily edited and deliberately deceptive video that purported to expose an institutional bias at National Public Radio. It was quickly debunked and denounced as a fraud by analysts across the political spectrum, including those at Glenn Beck’s web site, The Blaze.

Nevertheless, partisans in Congress and agenda-driven conservatives in the press continue to behave as if the video were legitimate. The House of Representatives, on a party-line vote, passed a resolution to defund NPR – a purely symbolic gesture as the Senate is not likely to concur.

The latest attack comes from former NPR correspondent, and confessed bigot, Juan Williams, in an op-ed for The Hill. After first conceding that “NPR is an important platform for journalism,” Williams joins his conservative comrades in calling for federal defunding of NPR. But he also reveals his self-serving and vengeful motivation by slandering NPR in saying that…

“They’re willing to do anything in service of any liberal with money. This includes firing me and skewing the editorial content of their programming.”

Nowhere in the article did Williams support his contention that “liberal money” was behind either his termination or any of its reporting. This is nothing more than a personal vendetta on Williams’ part. He is merely using the funding debate to strike his own blows against a former employer for whom he obviously bears a deep resentment.

However, if the right wants to introduce the issue of federal funding of the media into the public debate, they should be prepared to see their own Fox gored. Fox News has been the beneficiary of government largess for years and it is time to stop it and make Fox pay its own way. As far back as 1999, there have been reports documenting how News Corp, Fox’s parent company, exploited loopholes in tax laws that permitted them to avoid levies that all other citizens have to pay. From The Economist:

“…News Corporation and its subsidiaries paid only A$325m ($238m) in corporate taxes worldwide. In the same period, its consolidated pre-tax profits were A$5.4 billion. So News Corporation has paid an effective tax rate of only around 6%. By comparison, Disney, one of the world’s other media empires, paid 31%. Basic corporate-tax rates in Australia, America and Britain, the three main countries in which News Corporation operates, are 36%, 35% and 30% respectively.”

The article goes on to describe how News Corp used a complex network of accounting dodges including as many as 60 shell companies that were incorporated in such tax havens as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Netherlands Antilles and the British Virgin Islands. More recently, an investigation by the New York Times revealed that…

“By taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows expanding companies like Mr. Murdoch’s to defer taxes to future years, the News Corporation paid no federal taxes in two of the last four years, and in the other two it paid only a fraction of what it otherwise would have owed. During that time, Securities and Exchange Commission records show, the News Corporation’s domestic pretax profits topped $9.4 billion.”

When giant, prosperous, multinational corporations weasel out of their tax obligations, ordinary citizens are the ones who are forced to make up the shortfall. That is effectively a tax subsidy for the corporations funded by you and me and all of the indignant Tea Partiers who claim to oppose special interest favors for the elite.

What’s more, federal bailouts to corporations like General Motors and Citigroup provided them with billions of taxpayer dollars, some of which are eventually spent on advertising that appears on Fox News, in the Wall Street Journal, and other Murdoch assets. Additionally, financial institutions that receive bailout funds use some that money to acquire shares of News Corp and to finance and insure News Corp activities including billion dollar motion picture projects like Avatar and capitalizing mergers and expansions.

USUncut is mounting a campaign to expose this sort of corporate welfare. They should add News Corp/Fox News to their list. But why aren’t there more voices objecting to these handouts? Why aren’t Democrats in Congress drafting legislation to prohibit bailout and stimulus funds from being used to enrich partisan political operations like Fox News by funneling cash into their accounts disguised as advertising expenditures. Every time you see a commercial on the Fox News Channel for a Chevy Tahoe or a Citibank Visa you are watching your tax dollars flow into the pockets of Rupert Murdoch and his wealthy associates.

The right wants to defund NPR despite the fact that they have utterly failed to demonstrate any journalistic bias on the part of NPR. On the other hand, Fox News has been documented to be brazenly one-sided over and over again, yet they receive hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer financed subsidies. Well, no more.

Stand Up! Fight Back! It is time to end the federal funding of Fox News NOW!

[Update 3/28/11:] And finally there is some media attention on the fact that there are many U.S. corporations brazenly shortchanging the country. MSNBC via Daily Beast.


24 thoughts on “Stop Federal Funding Of Fox News

  1. Has anyone started a Defund Fox News yet? If so where can we sign up. I sure would be on that list.

  2. The real way to go after Fox News is either have the FTC stop it from using the word “news” in its name, because “news” implies facts and truthfulness, such that Fox “News” is engaging in a deceptive trade practice by misrepresenting its content, or to have Congress enact a law barring “news” organizations that report as “news” information known or reasonably believed to be false from using satellites to transmit their signals. This is well within the power of Congress, and there is no First Amendment issue because the First Amendment has never been held to protect false speech. Just sayin’.

    • Can’t agree with you here. False speech IS protected under the Constitution. It may result in civil action (if a plaintiff can show harm), but the government cannot be the arbiter of what is true of false. If a Tea Bagger wants to say there death panels in the health care bill, they can. It isn’t true, but it is protected. However, the Constitution doesn’t provide for federal subsidies to spread their lies.

      • Sorry but you’re wrong. I’ve been practicing First Amendment law for 25 years. False speech is not protected. This is precisely why libel plaintiffs can recover damages–because the defendant’s speech is not protected by the constitution. False speech is criminalized or outlawed in a variety of contexts, from deceptive trade practices acts, to criminal libel statutes, to statutes that make it a crime to lie to the police or FBI. And the government is very much the arbiter of what is true or false, whether it’s by a judge, a jury, or some administrative agency. Context is everything, the commercial context being the most significant. Thus, Tea Baggers can lie about the HC bill all they want at their rallies because that has not been criminalized, but if some Bagger promotes a health insurance scam to the public based on false representations about the HC law, then there is no protection for the false speech because it violates consumer protection laws. And to the extent that public airwaves are involved, false speech can be highly regulated for the public protection on the theory that the public owns the airwaves, and that users of those airwaves may do so only conditionally, the condition being no false speech.

        • If that’s the case, then why can’t Fox News be prosecuted for asserting the existence of death panels? That is false speech. Are you saying that it isn’t protected? And if it isn’t, what’s the remedy?

          I don’t like the fact that Fox lies, but I don’t think there is a Constitutional argument to stop them.

          • — why can’t Fox News be prosecuted —

            First of all, I am not a lawyer so this is just what I believe.

            To prosecute they would have to commit a criminal act such as lying to a police officer or lying under oath.

            Under civil law you may have a cause of action if you can show that you were harmed by the lies. It would probably be libel or slander. You would probably have to show that the person telling the lie knew it was a lie and intended to cause you harm. In other words, there was malicious intent.

            Public figures and politicians have a higher threshold than private citizens. You can get away with saying much more vicious things about them.

            The problem with Fox is they claim they are merely stating an opinion. How do you prove an opinion is malicious? Or even wrong? That’s how they get away with it.

            We don’t have the equivalent of the rules that Canada has. Fox couldn’t expand into Canada because they can’t go on the air and say the kind of things they get away with here.

            Really not much anyone can do about it. At least not for now.

            • The bottom line is that media can get away with just about anything. Especially FOX News. Several years ago, a Florida court ruled against two former FOX broadcasters who were fired for refusing to lie on air about the outcome of their investigative report. Their ruling said that FOX is not obligated to tell the truth during its news broadcasts.

  3. The worst event in many years is the GOP USA Supreme Court 5 decreeing that Transnational & Multinational corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money anonymously on political campaigns right up through election day effectively decreeing that corporations are just people and the people of the USA don’t need to know who buys their politicians. The ‘FOX’ network should be called the ‘PROPAGANDA’ network etc.

  4. Read this.

    SKIP the part about the Royals; it’s irrelevant. Read past it to all the OTHER victims. And KNOW that News Intl. is doing exactly the same thing over here; they just haven’t been caught yet, at least not by anyone who will admit it. This is the way to bring pressure on Fox News. I’ve been following this story for months and I can’t believe no US journalists (apart, of course, from the NYT which as usual I think knows a LOT more than it’s telling) are on it with any degree of seriousness.

  5. This Economist article you’re quoting is over 12 years old! I dislike FOX and Murdoch as much as any liberal progressive. I’ve repeatedly told my conservative friends that for any other network news division to have as liberal a bias as FOX’s conservative bias under FOX NEWS president Roger Ailes, they’d have to hire James Carville as their news division president. I would love to call my Representative and Senators and tell them to stop Newscorp’s tax breaks, but you have to me much fresher ammunition to do battle with than this stale powder. I’m just glad I looked at the Economist article before sharing your piece with my friends list.

    • Excuse me but I clearly stated above that the Economist article was from 1999. I included it to demonstrate that this goes way back. Then I also quoted from a more recent article in the NY Times.

      I think you can still share this with your friends.

  6. The airwaves belong to “we the people”.. using them is a matter of the Publics Trust. Fox news has betrayed that trust, and they should not be allowed to use “our” airwaves. They lie, defame the character of innocent citizens, and use sensationalism to control rather than inform the public.

  7. Damn, way to start a conversation Mark. This is good stuff.

    • Thanks. This is getting a lot of play from Alternet and Truthout. It’s great to see the message get out.

  8. If Fox News could be stopped constitutionally then the National Enquirer and other publications like it would have been put out of business a long time ago. Fox News is the National Enquirer of network tv news. Sometimes they report actual news facts i.e., there is a disaster going on in Japan, however, did the Obama administration have something to do with the failure of the nuclear power plants to stand up to the disaster? It’s the way they report it and yes they make shit up all the time too!

  9. “TAX” Faux Noise into being fair and balanced taxpayers…
    its refreshing that its catching on finally

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