This weekend, Fox News Watch, Fox News Channel's media criticism show, covered the following issues: The media's coverage of the Casey Anthony trial verdict; MSNBC's suspension of Mark Halperin for making vulgar comments about the president; the media's role in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case; the cancellation of In the Arena, Eliot Spitzer's CNN television show; and Vice President Joe Biden's new Twitter account.
The glaring omission from this list is any mention of the shuttering of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World, billed as the largest English-language newspaper in the world, which published its last edition today. The paper is folding following allegations that it hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl in the United Kingdom, an action which potentially impeded the police investigation and gave the girl's family false hope that she was still alive. There are also allegations that family members of soldiers who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and families of victims of the 2005 subway bombings have been phone hacked.
Murdoch's News Corp. owns Fox News, and Fox News has been slow to cover the phone hacking scandal, but how could Fox's media criticism show get away with not mentioning News of the World at all?
It would be surprising, except for the recent history of Fox News Watch. In the last couple of years, Fox News Watch has ignored Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon's admission that he linked President Obama to socialism even though he "privately" believed the link to be "far-fetched" at the time, ignored the fact that Sammon sent an e-mail directing Fox reporters to skew reporting on climate change, ignored the fact that Fox pulled the plug on Sean Hannity's decision to charge admission for a taping of his show and direct all proceeds to the Cincinnati tea party, kept silent about Fox Business' host Andrew Napolitano's 9-11 conspiracy theories, and ignored donations made by News Corp. to Republican-aligned groups.
In April 2010, Joe Strupp reported that Eric Burns, who hosted Fox News Watch from 1998 to 2008 said that in his final year hosting the program, "The show was getting to be more and more of a struggle to do fairly." So this decision to ignore the Murdoch scandal is not a surprise. But it does delegitimize any claim the show has to thoroughly covering the media landscape.