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.