From the February 1 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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The race for Rupert Murdoch's endorsement is on as potential presidential candidates line up to seek political support from the owner of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.
Murdoch has long been a major political player whose media companies play a substantial role shaping the debate. Last year he declared that Fox News had "absolutely saved" the Republican Party by giving "voice and hope to people who didn't like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN." Prominent politicians on the national and international stage regularly seek out Murdoch's opinion and approval.
The New York Times reported on how potential presidential candidates are engaged in a "delicate and unseen campaign underway for Mr. Murdoch's affections" in a January 27 article. Here are the details about where the would-be presidents stand.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may be the candidate most likely to find support from Murdoch in the 2016 cycle, according to the Times, which provides several anecdotes suggesting that the mogul favors Bush for his position on immigration and that their "ties have deepened over the years."
The paper highlights a Washington, D.C. conference at which Murdoch responded to a boilerplate speech by Jeb Bush on "the economic benefits of overhauling the nation's immigration system" by "swoon[ing] in his seat," "gush[ing] over its content and tone," and declaring that Bush had "said all the right things on the fraught issue." According to the Times, Bush was seated next to Murdoch at the conference at Murdoch's request. The article closes with Murdoch saying of Bush "I like Jeb Bush very much... He's moving very cleverly, very well."
Murdoch reportedly "remains fond" of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but last year "expressed doubts about the New Jersey governor, saying he expected more damaging stories to emerge about Mr. Christie's aides in the aftermath of the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge." They reportedly speak by phone on a near-monthly basis.
Murdoch reportedly "joined a group of wealthy and influential Republican leaders who encouraged Mr. Christie to enter the presidential race" in 2011. He publicly and privately criticized Christie for praising President Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy in the waning days of the 2012 race.
Murdoch reportedly "remains intrigued" by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), "extolling his appeal to younger voters and his plans for a flat tax. The two meet often in New York and Washington. But Mr. Murdoch worries that Mr. Paul may face an uphill battle in a general election, said a person who has spoken with Mr. Murdoch."
Murdoch and Fox News chief Roger Ailes reportedly sat down with Paul in November 2013 as part of his effort to "smooth concerns among Republicans and influencers about whether he shares his famous libertarian father's views on issues like national security."
According to the Times, Murdoch has privately described 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney as "vacuous," in large part due to his call during the last election for undocumented immigrants to "self-deport." The Times reports on a private 2012 meeting between the two in which Murdoch demanded Romney recant his "foolhardy" immigration position, with Romney refusing to do so because "he would look like a flip-flopper." "Those close to Mr. Romney said he had all but given up on trying to win over Mr. Murdoch" as he moves toward a third presidential run.
What happened to the extended victory lap?
Convinced that last year's midterm losses for Democrats signaled the effective end of Barack Obama's presidency and a resounding victory for all-things conservative and Republican ("On Fox News, there were smiles all around"), just three weeks into the new year Fox News is left wondering what happened to the "lamest" of the lame duck presidents. The one Fox News was going to mock for two more years while trying to tarnish his legacy.
Rebounding to approval ratings not seen since 2013, Obama, instead of floundering, is riding a crest of post-midterm successes, while Americans reward him for the country's rebounding economy. The result: Obama's the one quietly circling the victory track.
"You can hardly tell from our NBC/WSJ poll that the Republican Party was the big winner from the midterm elections just two months ago," noted NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann this week. "Somehow, Obama and the Democrats stole the Republicans' post-election honeymoon."
If that didn't sting badly enough, Fox at the same time continues to wrestle with the unfolding crisis over the network's demonstrably false and stunning claim that some parts of Europe, including in France as well as Britain's second largest city, Birmingham, have become Islamic and are "no-go zones" for non-Muslims, including for British law enforcement.
The misstep became an international punch line, with observers in Europe guffawing at Fox News' trademark ignorance. "When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool's Day," British Prime Minister David Cameron told ITV News. "This guy is clearly a complete idiot," he said, referring to Steve Emerson, who Fox had hosted to discuss recent terror attacks in Paris.
In a rare move for Fox, it apologized repeatedly for its colossal "no-go zone" blunder. Yet the story continues to haunt the network: Paris' mayor, Anne Hidalgo, announced on Tuesday that the city might sue Fox News over the bogus claim that portions of Paris remain cordoned off from non-Muslims. "The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced," Hidalgo told CNN.
Bottom line: It's not even February and Fox News is already having a really bad year.
Following a firestorm of media criticism, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch backtracked on controversial tweets he made following terrorist attacks in Paris, France that all Muslims should be held accountable for terrorism.
In January, terrorist attacks in France killed 17 people, including an attack on the satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. Rupert Murdoch responded to the attack by tweeting that "Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible." The tweet was roundly criticized and condemned as "incredibly irresponsible."
On January 14, Murdoch walked back his controversial comments on twitter writing that he "did not mean all Muslims responsible for Paris attack" but that the "Muslim community must debate and confront extremism":
Certainly did not mean all Muslims responsible for Paris attack. But Muslim community must debate and confront extremism.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 14, 2015
Tens of thousands of jihadi victims are Muslims and millions fighting back. But important for people of all faiths to address the threat.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 14, 2015
But Murdoch's response ignored Muslims who are speaking out against extremism. Following the Paris attacks, Muslim organizations as well as leaders of Arab states denounced the attacks as "brutal and cowardly." And as Media Matters' Karen Finney explained, Murdoch's rhetoric "alienates rather than engages Muslims who both regularly denounce and are often the victims of Islamic terrorism."
From the January 12 edition of CNN's CNN Tonight:
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Prominent media figures including News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch criticized Muslims following the Paris terror attacks, claiming that Muslims have not been outspoken against extremist violence, despite prominent Muslim organizations immediately denouncing the attack.
On January 11, millions of people rallied in Paris against violence after extremist attacks in France left 17 people dead earlier in the week. World leaders including leaders from predominantly Muslim countries Mali and Jordan, and Palestinian territory President Mahmoud Abbas marched with French President François Hollande to denounce the violence.
Prominent Muslims and Muslim organizations also denounced the attacks. As religious studies scholar Reza Aslan pointed out on the January 11 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, anyone who wonders whether Muslim organizations and individuals are denouncing extremist attacks "doesn't own Google," because "every single organization, major organization, Muslim organization throughout the world ... has condemned, not just this attack, but every attack that occurs in the name of Islam."
The French and British Muslim Councils and the Arab League denounced the attacks Charlie Hebdo. The Council on American-Islamic Relations called the attack "brutal and cowardly."
In 2014, many Muslim organizations condemned the terror group the Islamic State as "nothing to do with Islam" and "morally repugnant," with the Muslim Public Affairs Council calling on "all people of conscience" to "stand against extremism."
But prominent media figures ignored the condemnations, instead criticizing Muslims for supposedly not being outspoken enough.
On January 9, Murdoch, who chairs Fox News' parent company, tweeted that Muslims should be "held responsible" for radical Islam "until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer":
Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.-- Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 10, 2015
Fox News hosts and guests also accused Muslims of not condemning extremist violence. Fox guest Monica Crowley said that Muslims "should be condemning" the violence. Bill O'Reilly went further, repeatedly shouting over his Muslim guests who tried to explain that Muslims are not only denouncing terrorism, but actually dying in the fight against it.
In another offensive display of the media's willingness to conflate Muslims with violent extremists, CNN's Don Lemon asked an American civil rights attorney who is Muslim, "Do you support ISIS?"
Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox announced today that it had withdrawn its bid to acquire the Time Warner entertainment conglomerate.
In a statement, Murdoch said, "Time Warner management and its Board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling. Additionally, the reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders."
Time Warner had initially rejected the $80 billion offer from Murdoch, but he initially announced intentions to continue pursuing the acquisition.
21st Century Fox is the parent company of Fox Television, Fox News Channel, 20th Century Fox film studios, and several cable and satellite television networks.
Media Matters urged Time Warner shareholders and its Board of Directors to oppose the sale, arguing that the combined company, which would have created the world's second-largest media conglomerate, would reduce the viable options and opinions available for consumers.
News Corp., Murdoch's print-focused company (parent of the Wall Street Journal and Murdoch's U.K.-based newspapers), has recently had executives convicted for their role in the widespread phone hacking scandal, and has had to issue millions in payouts for privacy violations. As Murdoch's bid to buy Time Warner was revealed, two more News Corp. editors were charged with phone hacking.
UPDATE: In a statement, Media Matters Vice President Angelo Carusone said, "The prospect of Rupert Murdoch buying Time Warner presented real harms to the U.S. and global media landscape. It would have given him control of 40% of the cable market and 30% of the movie market. No one should hold that much influence but Murdoch, in particular, has demonstrated that he is far too irresponsible for that amount of power. Today's decision was a victory for the thousands of people who signed our petition urging shareholders to oppose the sale as well as media consumers across the country."
Just as News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch was attempting to put scandal behind him and acquire a major media corporation, two more of his former editors were charged with phone hacking while working at his now-shuttered tabloid News of the World.
According to Reuters, former deputy editor Neil Wallis and former features editor Jules Stenson have been charged with "conspiracy to intercept voicemails on mobile phones of well-known figures or people close to them." The tabloid's widespread hacking of the voicemails and phones of crime victims, celebrities, politicians, and British royalty in order to find fodder for stories became major international news after it was reported that News of the World had accessed the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered teenager.
Murdoch was forced to shutter News of the World in 2011 when the scandal broke, and his company News Corp. has admitted that they have paid out millions in legal fees relating to the scandal. In June, former editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiring to intercept communications at the end of a lengthy trial, though his fellow News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Stuart Kuttner were acquitted at the time.
Meanwhile, Murdoch's other company, 21st Century Fox (which owns Fox TV and Fox News), is trying to take over Time Warner, which would make it one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. However, his initial offer of $80 billion was rejected, and voices in media have suggested that putting the phone-hacking scandal behind him is key to his ability to expand and maintain his empire.
Now that more charges have emerged reminding the media of his past ethical blunders, whether such a risky merger could go forward remains to be seen.
From the July 25 edition of CNBC's Squawk on the Street:
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Australia last week became "the world's first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse-gas emissions." The country's carbon tax, which has been a passionate political topic there for more almost a decade, was finally instituted in 2012. But after a new conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, was elected in September 2013, the carbon tax was aggressively targeted and then successfully repealed by Australia's Senate on July 17.
The retreat represents a win for climate deniers in Australia who dismiss the looming dangers of climate change and the science behind it. (It's "absolute crap," claimed Abbott, echoing Tea Party-type rhetoric in the United States.) It's a win for energy and mining interests who claimed the Australian tax was too burdensome
The retreat also signals a victory for Rupert Murdoch, the Australian native whose media empire, News Corp., did everything in its power to elect Abbott last fall and to attack the tax. Days before the repeal vote, Murdoch spoke out again against climate change science, telling an Australian interviewer it should be treated with great skepticism. Murdoch's dismissal stands in stark contrast to his 2007 proclamation that "climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats."
Murdoch's anti-climate change crusade in Australia certainly mirrors his company's commitment to misinformation in America, and highlights the dangers of having news media moguls who are dedicated to propaganda efforts regarding pressing public policy issues. (Murdoch is currently eyeing a bid to buy media giant Time Warner.) Indeed, Murdoch's media properties in Australia have been shown repeatedly to be wildly unfair and unbalanced when it comes to the topic of climate change.
Australia's carbon emissions repeal represents a dramatic U-turn for a country that just a few years ago was seen as a leader on the global issue under the guidance of previous Labor Party prime minsters, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. "The Brookings Institution has previously described Australia as an "important laboratory and learning opportunity" for U.S. thinking about climate change and energy policy, as it was one of the first major countries outside Europe to adopt a carbon price," The Wall Street Journal recently noted.
CNBC panelist Jeffrey Sonnenfeld suggested that 21st Century Fox's effort to acquire Time Warner is driven by a nepotistic desire to provide Rupert Murdoch's "poor performing" sons with pieces of the family business and highlighted News Corp.'s phone hacking scandal as an example of the Murdoch family's questionable management record.
Time Warner's board of directors took measures to prevent a hostile takeover by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox by "eliminating a provision in its bylaws that let shareholders call special meetings" -- a move that would prevent shareholders from forcing a vote on the takeover until June 2015.
Panelists on the July 22 edition of Squawk Box suggested Fox's offer undervalues Time Warner. Sonnenfeld, also a dean at the Yale School of Management, went on to say the takeover effort was part of the Murdoch family's plan to "deal with potential succession" by acquiring large businesses to hand over to Murdoch's sons, James Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch. But Sonnenfeld described the sons as "poor performing" managers, saying in particular that James Murdoch had been tainted by the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.
SONNENFELD: This is basically a deal for Rupert to eventually -- an 83-year-old guy who's run the company for 62 years -- to try to deal with these perpetual succession questions by giving, you know, Lachlan, one son one piece of the business -- one, you know, poor-performing son -- the other poor-performing son, James, another piece of the business in the News Corp.-21st Century Fox split here. But all this [unintelligible] --
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN (host): So you are not a fan of the Murdoch family, it sounds like.
SONNENFELD: Well, they've not distinguished themselves as leaders. You know, Lachlan had a temper tantrum and left a couple years ago and just came back in this spring with this deal for News Corp. liberation of sorts. And then the 21st Century Fox, we have James, who certainly has soiled himself in the whole scandal -- the phone hacking and all the rest in the U.K. And at minimum, a failure of management oversight is awful. Even Fox's shareholders were pretty upset with him.
Andy Coulson, a former editor of the now-shuttered Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid News of the World, was found guilty of conspiring to intercept communications, concluding a lengthy trial focused on criminal activity at the British paper. According to the Associated Press, fellow News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Stuart Kuttner were acquitted.
Coulson and fellow former News of the World employees Brooks, Kuttner, and royal editor Clive Goodman were on trial for charges stemming their alleged roles in the tabloid's widespread hacking of the voicemails and phones of crime victims, celebrities, politicians, and British royalty in order to find fodder for stories. The scandal became major international news after it was reported that News of the World had accessed the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered teenager.
Brooks' personal assistant Cheryl Carter, her husband Charlie, and Mark Hanna, a former security official for News International, were "acquitted of perverting the course of justice by attempting to hide evidence from police."
The AP reports that the jury is "still considering two further charges of paying officials for royal phone directories against Coulson and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman."
While the hacking allegations gathered steam in 2011, News of the World, which had been operating for 168 years, was shut down.
From the June 19 edition of MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes:
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Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox News' parent-company 21st Century Fox, penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, a stance in stark contrast to Fox's callous coverage of the immigration system and immigrants, which frequently disparages migrants as akin to garbage, criminals, and terrorists.
In a June 18 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch, also the executive chairman of the Journal's parent company News Corp, urged legislators to pass comprehensive immigration reform, citing it as "one of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy." Murdoch emphasized:
Immigrants enrich our culture and add to our economic prosperity.
I don't believe that people come to America to sit on their hands. The vast majority of America's immigrants are hardworking, family-minded individuals with strong values. They are drawn here from many different places by a common belief that this is still the land of opportunity for those willing to work hard.
Murdoch even urged lawmakers to provide "a path to citizenship" for "those individuals who are already here," and called it "suicidal to suggest closing our doors to the world's entrepreneurs, or worse, to continue with large-scale deportations."
It's a stance that runs in stark contrast to his news organization's recent extreme immigration rhetoric.
Last month, Fox reported on President Obama's speech urging immigration reform by deceptively editing footage to pretend the president was advocating for the release of criminal immigrants.
Evoking connections between immigrants and garbage, criminals, and terrorists is standard fare for the network, especially in light of a recent surge in migrant children entering the US to flee growing violence in Central America.
The June 4 edition of Fox & Friends reported on the undocumented immigrant children being dropped off at a Phoenix bus station awaiting deportation proceedings with on-screen text that read "illegal dumping," a phrase commonly used to describe the unlawful disposal of garbage or other unwanted items.
Fox has used the humanitarian crisis to attack President Obama and hype fears that the migrant children may be terrorists and violent cartel members. One Fox host said she "wouldn't be surprised" if the unaccompanied immigrant children were fronts for drug dealers or terrorists.
On June 13, Fox News reported on news that some military bases would open up to house immigrant families by portraying the immigrants as "whining" and accusing them of complaining "of conditions in free lodging," while denouncing the administration for "serving illegals while soldiers wait."
Rupert Murdoch and his Fox family have a history of conflicting on immigration -- Murdoch has been consistent in his support for immigration reform and has built a reputation for breaking with the network to back such reform, while Fox has been known to temporarily clean up their act when the boss is around.
Just today, Fox News' America's Newsroom took a uncharacteristically sympathetic stance on immigrants to report on Murdoch's op-ed, emphasizing the man's entrepreneurial success as an immigrant himself. The hosts followed suit with the network's tradition of abandoning typical anti-immigration rhetoric for more positive coverage when it comes to Murdoch, underscoring Murdoch's focus on America's entrepreneurial history of imagination and ambition and highlighting the importance of strengthening border security. No mention was made of Murdoch's advocacy for a path to citizenship for immigrants already residing in the U.S.
The defense continued to present its case in the fifth month of the trial of several News Corp. employees for allegedly compromising the privacy of crime victims, British royalty, entertainers, and politicians.
Former News International editors and executives -- including Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, and Stuart Kuttner -- are on trial in England for their accused roles in conspiring to hack phones and voicemails to find fodder for news stories.
On the stand in April, Kuttner denied paying off the investigator who did the phone hacking, while Coulson testified at length about his actions surrounding the disclosure of the hacking.