In the July 9 issue of its magazine, Time reported that when asked if the Fox News Channel is "an expression of his political views," News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch answered: "Yes! No! Yes and no. The commentators are not. Bill O'Reilly certainly not. Geraldo Rivera certainly not. But Brit Hume and his team on the nightly news? Yes. They play it absolutely straight!" Time, which interviewed Murdoch for the magazine's cover story, offered no challenge to this claim despite the fact that Hume, Fox News' Washington bureau managing editor, and "his team" on Fox News' Special Report have been prolific sources of conservative misinformation. Fox News Channel is a subsidiary of News Corp.
Additionally, Time offered two mutually inconsistent descriptions of Murdoch -- describing him both as "the ultimate outsider," and as someone "who influences Prime Ministers and Presidents and still poses as a scrappy outsider."
Among Hume's numerous instances of misinformation:
- Hume falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "managed to get" an amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform bill "passed," and that it "may be the killer amendment that ... ends this bill." The amendment was defeated by a vote of 55-42 -- making it impossible for the measure to have "end[ed]" the immigration bill.
- He likened Senate Democrats investigating the firing of eight U.S. attorneys to "a dog with a new bone."
- He falsely claimed that former President George H.W. Bush never criticized former President Bill Clinton or his administration -- a claim he later corrected.
- He falsely claimed that Franklin Delano Roosevelt advocated replacing Social Security with private accounts.
The reporters and correspondents who regularly appear on Special Report -- presumably the "team on the nightly news" to which Murdoch referred -- have also provided numerous examples of conservative misinformation. Among the more glaring instances:
- Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle repeatedly served up false and baseless assertions regarding the investigation into the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity (here, here, here, here, and here).
- Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron ridiculed Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) during the 2004 presidential campaign by fabricating quotes of Kerry saying, "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great?" referring to himself as "metrosexual," which were included in a story that appeared on FoxNews.com. Later that day, Fox News Channel issued a retraction and an apology, and the fake story was removed from the website.
- Fox News congressional correspondent Major Garrett falsely claimed that a House select committee report on the response to Hurricane Katrina confirmed his misleading reporting that Louisiana state officials prevented the Red Cross from delivering emergency supplies to evacuees at the Superdome.
From the Time profile, posted on Time.com on June 28:
Should the deal close as expected, Murdoch -- the ultimate outsider, the ink-stained interloper who started in 1953 with a single paper in Adelaide, Australia -- would add capitalism's daily chronicle to an empire that now comprises the Fox movie studio and television network, satellite TV systems in Europe and Asia, more than 100 newspapers and a fast-growing Internet division that includes MySpace, the massively popular social networking site. Two years ago, Murdoch's archrival, Sumner Redstone of Viacom, thought he had a deal for MySpace, but News Corp. swooped in and snatched it, bidding $580 million, $30 million more than Redstone and far more than anyone else thought it was worth. Then the site grew from 20 million members to almost 200 million, Google paid $900 million for the right to advertise on the site, and suddenly Murdoch's price looked cheap -- and Murdoch looked like an Internet visionary. "I love being called that," he says, "but the truth is, I'm just lucky and nimble." He generates his own good fortune by being perhaps the most gifted opportunist in media, a man whose nose for a deal makes him the last of the true media moguls, the one who's still building -- grabbing Dow Jones, dreaming about trading MySpace for a big chunk of Yahoo!, trying to launch a Polish TV network. News Corp.'s voting stock, of which the Murdoch family owns 31%, has gone up 18% in the past year, making him worth $9 billion.
So let's stipulate that the only thing to prevent Murdoch from wrecking the Journal will be Murdoch himself. (No editorial-oversight committee can stop him.) And let's admit the possibility that he may not be the same scorpion at 76 that he was at 51. He has always said that craving respectability is the beginning of the end for a journalist. "Journalists should think of themselves as outside the Establishment, and owners can't be too worried about what they're told at their country clubs," says the man who influences Prime Ministers and Presidents and still poses as a scrappy outsider. Yet his associates say he's finally considering his legacy and wants to run the Journal impeccably to upgrade his reputation. "He's thinking about his obit," says someone who knows him well.
I toss out a theory: Fox News is one big reason Murdoch's critics are so incensed by the idea of his controlling the Journal. "Oh, yes!" he cries. So is Fox News an expression of his political views? "Yes! No! Yes and no. The commentators are not. Bill O'Reilly certainly not. Geraldo Rivera certainly not. But Brit Hume and his team on the nightly news? Yes. They play it absolutely straight!"