Fox News implicated its own parent company, News Corp., in a pro-President Obama conspiracy theory.
Fox host Steve Doocy questioned the National Geographic Channel's decision to air a film about the Osama Bin Laden raid days before the election. Doocy stated: "They say it has nothing to do with politics ... But a controversial movie about the Osama Bin Laden raid will air on the National Geographic Channel two days before our general election. The channel says the air date was picked to promote its fall season. Hmm, coincidence. Right."
The documentary, produced by Obama supporter Harvey Weinstein is to air on the National Geographic Channel on November 4. But News Corp., Fox News' parent company, is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel.
Nevertheless, during the segment, on-screen text stated: "Political Premiere? UBL Film To Air 2 Days Before Election":
Fox News frequently accuses media of a liberal bias. Now it seems to have found liberal bias within its own parent company.
In 89 segments between September 10 and 16, Fox News reported on the Chicago Teachers Union's strike without disclosing its financial ties to the educational technology company administering the standardized tests with which the union takes issue.
Fox News parent company News Corp. acquired a 90-percent stake in Wireless Generation in 2010. Last May, the company agreed to provide Early Mathematics Assessment Services and Early Literacy Assessment Services to Chicago Public Schools. These contracts total $4.7 million. A central reason the Chicago Teachers Union decided to strike is their objection to the school district's call for heavily weighing such standardized testing to ultimately determine teacher pay and layoffs.
But Fox News anchors and reporters never once disclosed its parent company's ties to Wireless Generation even as the network routinely criticized the strike and the Chicago Teachers Union.
The programs that covered the story most often:Fox & Friends (including the First, Saturday, and Sunday editions) with 31 segments over the entire week; America's News Headquarters aired 12 segments this last weekend alone; America Live was next with 7 segments; and Fox Report with Shepard Smith and Special Report followed with 6 segments each. Not one segment disclosed News Corp.'s business relationship with Wireless Generation despite repeated mentions and discussions of the teacher evaluations at the heart of the strike.
During Monday's Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Steve Brown reported of the strike: "At issue, says the union president, is trust." Indeed. It's also an issue for Fox News. How can Fox's viewers trust that the network has provided a "fair and balanced" overview of events unfolding in Chicago when it won't disclose its financial interests?
Americans who rely on Fox News or conservative radio as their main sources of information are more likely to have negative views of Latinos and immigrants than those who watch more mainstream outlets. That's according to a new study by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which found that "[c]onservative talk radio and Fox News audiences hold significantly more anti-immigrant and anti-Latino opinions." NHMC stated that Fox News audiences are "more likely to agree that Latinos are on welfare (56%), take jobs from Americans (43%) and have too many children (42%)."
The study, done in conjunction with Latino Decisions, explained that "[c]onservative radio and Fox News program viewers are less familiar and less favorable toward Latinos and immigrants on nearly every measure included in the survey," adding:
Only 54% of those who trust Fox News, and 56% of those who trust talk radio give Latinos favorable marks. That is ten points lower than those who trust National Public Radio (NPR).
News source differences are even more dramatic when evaluating responses to the term "illegal alien", as shown below. The share of NPR audiences that rate illegal aliens poorly is 46%, compared to 70% of FOX News audiences, and 67% of talk radio listeners. About one third of NPR's audience rates illegal aliens favorably, but less than half of conservative media audiences do the same (13%).
Indeed, as NHMC noted, "language matters." But Fox News has refused to abandon the offensive terms even as other news outlets recognize it skews public debate and reinforces negative stereotypes of immigrants.
Media critic Howard Kurtz wrote in the Daily Beast today that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch gave vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan "a strong nudge" onto the Republican ticket.
Kurtz explained that Murdoch "used a combination of private persuasion, newspaper crusading, and Twitter talk to urge Mitt Romney's campaign to shake things up. And soon after Romney unveiled his running mate on Saturday morning, Murdoch posted a 140-character message of approval."
From Kurtz's Daily Beast piece headlined "Rupert Murdoch Gets His Man As Mitt Romney Picks Paul Ryan":
It would be too much to say that Rupert Murdoch pushed Paul Ryan onto the Republican presidential ticket. But he certainly gave the conservative congressman a strong nudge.
The media mogul used a combination of private persuasion, newspaper crusading, and Twitter talk to urge Mitt Romney's campaign to shake things up. And soon after Romney unveiled his running mate on Saturday morning, Murdoch posted a 140-character message of approval:
"Thank God! Now we might have a real election on the great issues of the day. Paul Ryan almost perfect choice."
The enthusiastic tone was a marked contrast from last month, when Murdoch huddled privately with the GOP nominee and seemed to come away distinctly unimpressed.
"Met Romney last week," he tweeted. "Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from his team and hires some real pros. Doubtful."
Romney declined to fire anyone, and Murdoch's Wall Street Journal continued to ding him in editorials. On Thursday, the editorial page dropped the subtlety and practically demanded: Why not Paul Ryan?
Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate marks yet another surrender by the Republican nominee to the right-wing media. On the ropes after a brutal month and with his conservative media allies threatening to abandon him, Romney was left with no choice but to pick a favorite of that crowd, even though, as the Washington Post's Ezra Klein notes, that pick both drives his candidacy further to the right and represents an abandonment of his campaign strategy to date.
Why else would a candidate who had built his campaign around the idea that business experience trumped public sector experience choose someone who had spent his life in government? Why else would a candidate who had studiously avoided giving any policy details lash himself to someone so closely associated with complex proposals to slash the social safety net?
Over the past week the leading lights of the right-wing media have demanded that Romney prove his conservative principles by selecting Ryan as his running mate, with praise for the potential pick coming from the editors of The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, and National Review.
Fox News, the most powerful right-wing media outlet in the country, has spent years praising Ryan as a "star," a "genius," and a man of "courage." News Corp. was ground zero for the GOP's rollout of Ryan's budget, which their networks heavily touted. Last year Fox contributors called for Ryan to run for president in his own right. Fox News Sunday even made Paul Ryan a birthday cake for an appearance he made on the program.
Romney leapt at the opportunity to please those opinion leaders and their audiences.
It couldn't come at a better time for the Republican nominee, who seemed to have lost the trust of his base in recent days, as woeful polls and gaffe after gaffe unfolded. What could have been the final straw came when Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul dared to tout the health care plan Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts - probably his signature accomplishment in government. The response from the right-wing media was swift and brutal, with CNN contributor Erick Erickson suggesting that the comments could have cost Romney the election and Ann Coulter calling for a boycott on Romney contributions until the campaign fired Saul.
Expect such criticisms to die away now that Romney has picked their "rock star."
Fox News is not disclosing its clear conflict of interest in defending Chick-fil-A against criticism over the fast-food restaurant's stance on marriage equality, as the controversy stands to benefit HarperCollins, a publishing company owned by Fox News' parent company, News Corporation.
Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy set off a controversy when, during a July 16 interview, he said that his company supports "the biblical definition of the family unit." Cathy later said in a radio interview, "As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' "
Amid calls to boycott the company over the anti-marriage equality remarks, The Jim Henson Company, which created toys for Chick-fil-A, spoke out against the restaurant, writing on Facebook: "[W]e have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD." Chick-fil-A then announced it had pulled the Henson toys, citing safety concerns.
Following the split with The Jim Henson Company, Chick-fil-A replaced the toys with the children's books The Berenstain Bears. As reported by NBC News, a statement on the Berenstain company website "said the books' publisher, HarperCollins, has been working on this marketing project for more than a year." The statement read, in part:
The Berenstain family does not at this time have control over whether this program proceeds or not. We hope those concerned about this issue will direct their comments toward HarperCollins and Chick-fil-A.
While all this has been going on, Fox has been defending Chick-fil-A while not disclosing that it has an interest in doing so. Both Fox and HarperCollins, the publisher of the Berenstain Bears books, are subsidiaries of News Corporation. If the HarperCollins marketing project suffers as a result of a decline in sales brought about by the Chick-fil-A controversy, News Corp. stands to take a hit to its bottom line.
Days after former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks and other journalists connected to News Corp were formally charged in relation to the phone hacking case, more journalists were arrested regarding allegations that a News Corp newspaper used stolen phones.
From Bloomberg News:
A second journalist at News Corp. (NWSA)'s Sun tabloid was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods as part of a police probe into allegations that the newspaper used data from mobile phones that were ripped off.
Police arrested a 37-year-old journalist today, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. That follows the arrest of a 51-year-old man yesterday. Both men worked at the Sun, according to an official at News Corp.'s U.K. unit, who asked not to be identified, citing company policy.
The alleged thefts are the latest accusation against News Corp.'s U.K. publishing business, News International, whose reporters and editors have been accused of hacking into mobile- phone voice mails and e-mails, bribing public officials and disrupting police investigations. Sue Akers, the MPS deputy assistant commissioner, said last week that officers had discovered that News International journalists had information that appeared to be from stolen phones.
About 60 people have been arrested since the police investigations began last year. Eight former News Corp. journalists were charged last week with conspiring to intercept voice mail, including former News International Chief Executive Officer Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, an ex-lead tabloid editor who later became an adviser to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.
From Bloomberg News:
News Corp. (NWSA)'s British publishing unit asked a judge to keep secret a series of new claims being made by victims of phone hacking at its News of the World tabloid in preparation for a group trial scheduled for February.
The details of the allegations, which could be used to seek punitive damages, should be kept from the public unless they are approved at a Sept. 7 hearing and added to the victims' so- called generic claims, Judge Geoffrey Vos said today in London.
The claims outline "generalized activities which we think are unsustainable" if challenged, Michael Silverleaf, the lawyer for the News International unit, said at the hearing. "They may change the approach we are taking" to the case.
News Corp., the New York-based company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, is trying to move on from the scandal after the civil case and a parallel criminal probe that began last year revealed a cover up and led to the closure of the tabloid and the arrests of more than 60 people, including another journalist today.
Last week, Rupert Murdoch resigned from a number of British newspaper boards that oversee The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times. Today, the senior police officer overseeing the investigation told the Leveson committee that the investigation spawned by phone hacking at News of the World is now investigating information obtained from stolen cellphones and significant payoffs to public officials.
From The New York Times:
The phone hacking investigation of Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspapers in Britain has broadened to include allegations that information was obtained from stolen cellphones, significant payoffs were made to public officials, and "medical, banking and other personal records" were illegally accessed, the senior police officer in charge of the operations told a judicial inquiry Monday.
The officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers of Scotland Yard, gave the most detailed assessment yet of the three investigations prompted by allegations in 2009 that The News of the World tabloid had illegally intercepted voice mail messages on an industrial scale.
The newspaper was closed last summer under the weight of public outrage. But detectives now suspect a swath of related illegal activities, Ms. Akers told the panel headed by Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson.
The police are aware of information that Mr. Murdoch's papers obtained from two stolen cellphones, she said. One was in Manchester, in northern England, and the other in southwest London. She said that it seemed that one of thee phones had "been examined with a view to breaking its security code," in order to gain access to its contents. The authorities are trying to establish whether the thefts were isolated incidents, or "the tip of the iceberg," she said.
Allegations like these are why Murdoch faces a shareholder revolt over the "lax ethical culture and lack of effective board oversight" at News Corp.
This afternoon on Twitter, News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch offered his take on the controversy his network willed into existence regarding comments Obama made about small businesses. Murdoch endorsed the distorted take on the president's July 13 remarks, writing: "Yesterday Obama went off script, showed real self ie government omnipotent, individuals secondary. Must be big damage," thus getting wrong both what Obama said and when he said it.
On July 13, the president made the determinedly unremarkable observation that success in business derives from "individual initiative" as well as a community supported by public works: schools, roads, bridges, fire stations, telelcommunications infrastructure, and so forth. Led by Fox News, the conservative press (and eventually the Romney campaign) have distorted Obama's remarks, claiming that he said success in business comes solely from the government.
Murdoch's been a busy tweeter of late: he endorsed Romney and prayed that he will "save us from socialism, etc," offered encouragement to the GOP nominee, and trolled the entire liberal blogosphere. This endorsement of Fox News' distortion of Obama's remarks shows impressive message discipline throughout the entire News Corp. family, from the top (Murdoch) all the way down to the very, very bottom.
The union representing most newsroom staffers at The Wall Street Journal is telling workers to seek "every dime" they earn in reaction to recent cutbacks and increased workload.
In a fiery email sent to 1,500 union members Wednesday, Steve Yount, president of the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees Local 1096. noted that 62 employees of parent company Dow Jones were laid off this year, including 31 in late June alone.
IAPE represents journalists at the Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Barron's, SmartMoney, SmartMoney.com, MarketWatch, and all sales, support, and technical staff within those outlets, Yount said.
The email goes on to urge staffers to seek any additional compensation -- such as comp time, vacation time, and holiday pay -- they earn, a practice that had not always been followed to the letter. According to Yount, "The company is counting, as always, on your willingness to work for free: stay late or work weekends and never charge the company," but "Those days of free labor have to end."
The email states:
Since the first of the year, Dow Jones has laid off 62 of your co-workers (31 of them in the last week of June) and once again senior management is telling you "we simply have to do more with less." That means they get more and you get less.The company is counting, as always, on your willingness to work for free: stay late or work weekends and never charge the company.
Those days of free labor have to end.
Not everyone is eligible for overtime (most reporters aren't eligible for overtime, but all are eligible for, at least, comp time) and everyone is eligible for holiday pay and a premium for working on a scheduled day off. From now on, you have to file for every dime the contract says that the company owes you. We have to clearly demonstrate that we're tired of "Doing More With Less" and that there's No More Free Labor from Dow Jones employees. I promise you that IAPE will aggressively pursue each and every claim. If you have any problems or questions, let me know or reach out directly to union organizer Tim Martell.
IAPE CWA 1096
Dow Jones reported on many of the most recent layoffs last month when it announced the shutdown of SmartMoney's print production.
Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones officials did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Make no mistake, Rupert Murdoch's decision to split his News Corp. media empire into two separate entities is being viewed as an attempt to protect his most lucrative assets from the seemingly never-ending fallout connected to the hacking scandal - focused primarily on Murdoch's British publishing titltes - that's been raging for nearly one year.
For years, founder and CEO Murdoch resisted the idea of splitting up News Corp. But this week, the board, with Murdoch's approval, okayed the deal.
By next year, two separate companies will house News Corp.'s sprawling media properties. One will operate as a newspaper, coupon, and book publishing firm, with newspapers published in Australia, Britain and the United States. The other will be an entertainment company made up of the Fox TV network, Fox News, and the 20th Century Fox movie studio.
The publishing division will be much smaller, valued at $5 billion, compared to $54 billion for the entertainment company. That's because News Corp's television and, to a lesser degree, movie divisions have long been the revenue engines that drive the company. Even though Murdoch began his career as a newspaper publisher and still sees himself as something of a print press baron, his newspaper business, in the grand scheme of things, is basically a non-starter.
In fact, many of his high-profile dailies lose money. But none has lost more than the right-wing New York Post, which has been impervious to profits since Murdoch re-purchased the daily in 1993. (He had previously owned it from 1976 to 1988.)
The paper's chronic losses have only escalated over time. The figures aren't made public, but the Post's annual estimated losses have been pegged at $30 million in 2005, $70 million in 2009, and most recently $110 million. That, according to analyst Brett Harriss.
In the past, News Corp.'s vast entertainment profits helped paper over the constant losses at the openly partisan Post, which serves as a key media megaphone for the GOP Noise Machine.
A May 15 New York Times article reported that Rebekah Brooks, a former executive in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., will be prosecuted on various charges stemming from the phone hacking scandal surrounding News Corp. Brooks was the former CEO of News Corp.'s British newspaper division, News International. From The New York Times:
Once among the most powerful figures in the British media, with close contacts stretching from her boss, Rupert Murdoch, to her friend, David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Mr. Murdoch's British newspaper empire, was told by prosecutors on Tuesday that she, her husband and four others will face charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in the hacking scandal that has burrowed into public life here.
It was the first time the charges have been formulated since police reopened inquiries into the affair in January 2011 and intensified their questioning six months later. The development brought the scandal to a watershed between criminal investigations, which have resulted in around 50 people being arrested and then set free on bail, and the prospect of trial before robed judges.
The six were accused variously of concealing documents, computers and archive material from officers investigating the scandal last July.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, News Corporation's second biggest shareholder, has reportedly said that the company's phone hacking scandal "is not helping the name of the company" and is "not something to be proud of."
Alwaleed also said that his backing of embattled News Corp. CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch "is definitely unwavering." A British government panel recently concluded that Murdoch is "not a fit person" to lead a major company, citing his "willful blindness" to unethical behavior.
From The Guardian:
Alwaleed said that although News Corp was "very diversified," with interests covering books, magazines, newspapers, television and film, the phone-hacking scandal was having a company-wide effect. "I really hope that this is behind us because really it is not helping the name of the company," he said. "We hope that this page is folded and put behind us because really it is not something to be proud of."
News Corp investors have voiced concerns about the phone-hacking scandal since it erupted last year and, at the company's AGM in October, several shareholders, including powerful pension fund CalPERS, called for the appointment of an independent chairman. Murdoch currently holds the position of chairman alongside that of chief executive. Alwaleed is one of Murdoch's staunchest supporters and had never before spoken publicly about the wider impact of the scandal.
His most public previous involvement was to suggest the resignation of Rebekah Brooks as chief executive of News Corp's UK newspaper division, News International. Brooks was editor of the News of the World when its journalists hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and in July last year Alwaleed told the BBC's Newsnight: "If the indications are for her [Brooks's] involvement in this matter is explicit, for sure she has to go, you bet she has to go ... Ethics to me is very important." Brooks resigned the following day.
News Corp holds a significant stake in Alwaleed's Saudi Arabian film, TV and music business Rotana Media Group and he said: "We have a strategic alliance with Rupert Murdoch for sure and I have been with him for the last 15 or 20 years. My backing of Rupert Murdoch is definitely unwavering."
Alwaleed said that although the scandal had had an impact on News Corp's reputation, its financial results had not been damaged. "The share price is really separating from what is happening in the UK," he said. "We see the price is hovering around $20 and the results are very good."
In his May 5 column, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller noted that the "Fox News Primary probably did more to nominate Mitt Romney than New Hampshire or Michigan" and that despite the "acid rain of criminal charges" against News Corp. for its recent scandals, "at least for Americans -- Fox News is Murdoch's most toxic legacy":
In this beleaguered family of news enterprises, Fox is the good son. It is the most reliable profit center, expected to net a billion dollars this fiscal year. It is untainted so far by the metastasizing scandals. It is a source of political influence more durable than Murdoch's serial romances with British prime ministers. This year the Fox News Primary probably did more to nominate Mitt Romney than New Hampshire or Michigan.
And yet I would argue that -- at least for Americans -- Fox News is Murdoch's most toxic legacy.
My complaint is that Fox pretends very hard to be something it is not, and in the process contributes to the corrosive cynicism that has polarized our public discourse.
I doubt that people at Fox News really believe their programming is "fair and balanced" -- that's just a slogan for the suckers -- but they probably are convinced that what they have created is the conservative counterweight to a media elite long marinated in liberal bias. They believe that they are doing exactly what other serious news organizations do; they just do it for an audience that had been left out before Fox came along.
But we try to live by a code, a discipline, that tells us to set aside our personal biases, to test not only facts but the way they add up, to seek out the dissenters and let them make their best case, to show our work. We write unsparing articles about public figures of every stripe -- even, sometimes, about ourselves. When we screw up -- and we do -- we are obliged to own up to our mistakes and correct them.
Fox does not live by that code. (Especially the last part. In a speech at the University of North Carolina last month, [Fox News chairman Roger] Ailes boasted, "In 15 years, we have never taken a story down because we got it wrong." Gosh, even the pope only claims to be infallible on special occasions.) For a salient point of reference, compare Fox's soft-pedaling of the Murdoch troubles with the far more prominent coverage in The Wall Street Journal, which has managed under Murdoch's ownership to retain its serious-journalism DNA.
Keller went on to ask if "anyone [could] imagine Fox airing an unloaded profile of anyone left of center."