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Karl Frisch

Author ››› Karl Frisch
  • If Murdoch really cares about climate change, he'll fire Bill Sammon

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH & BEN DIMIERO

    This morning, Media Matters exposed a directive sent by Fox News Washington Managing editor Bill Sammon to the network's journalists questioning the "veracity of climate change data" and ordering them to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question." Sammon added that "It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies."

    Sammon's email was sent during crucial global climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, and came amid the network's relentless promotion of the manufactured "Climategate" scandal.

    It's important to point out that what Sammon calls "notions" about climate change are anything but -- as far as the science is concerned, the fact that the planet is currently warming is well-established. As the National Climatic Data Center explains, the warming trend "is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change" and "is also confirmed by other independent observations."

    In contrast to Sammon, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has stated unequivocally that "climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats," and that "we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction."

    In 2007, Murdoch announced an initiative to make News Corp. carbon neutral in the hopes that it would inspire their audience to also reduce their carbon footprint. In his words, "we can do something that's unique, different from just any other company. We can set an example, and we can reach our audiences. Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours... That's the carbon footprint we want to conquer."

    Murdoch is right. The carbon footprint of News Corp.'s audience is "10,000 times bigger than" the company's, which is why the benefits of his company's attempt to become carbon neutral pale in comparison to the damage done by the network's ongoing war on climate science.

    For his part, Murdoch has repeatedly stressed the division between Fox's "news" and "opinion" programs in order to defend the network from criticism. But Sammon is firmly in the supposed "news" camp, and is using his position to order the network to poison the well of public opinion on an issue Murdoch thinks -- and the world's climate scientists agree -- poses "clear, catastrophic threats."

    As CEO of News Corp., Murdoch can either profess to care about them setting an "example" for their audience on climate change, or he can employ a Washington managing editor that directs his staff to push phony stories to cast doubt on the science behind it.

    He can't do both.

  • Former Fox News booker charged with "impersonating a Congressman" had other phony identities

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Yesterday, Media Matters highlighted news of a former Fox News booker and senior producer for Fox contributor Laura Ingraham's radio show that is reportedly facing charges of unlawful possession of a Congressional pin.

    Well, it appears there's more to the bizarre story.

    Nelson Lewis, the former Fox Newser, was apparently impersonating more than a member of Congress. You can now add Rolling Stone features writer/columnist AND Minister Plenipotentiary for Artistic Endeavors at the Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to his list of Catch Me If You Can worthy gigs.

    The Hill's Christina Wilkie reports:

    The 26 year-old man who allegedly impersonated Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) last month is facing new questions about his background and work history.

    Walter Nelson Lewis, of Savannah Ga., claimed in a video interview in October to be a Bahamian diplomat, a claim which was denied Friday morning by a spokeswoman for the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

    Wait, there's more. Really.

    As Mediabistro FishbowlDC blogger Matt Dornic noted yesterday:

    According to Lewis's Facebook page, he is a currently a classic rock features writer and columnist for Rolling Stone. FishbowlDC contacted the magazine's HR department who could not verify his employment and a web search produced no Lewis-penned articles for the magazine. Another source at the mag said, "never heard of him."

    Be sure to check out Dornic's post from today detailing just how much effort Lewis went to in order to create his bogus diplomatic identity.

  • After success at ballot box, Fox News seeks increase in cable subscriber fees

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    After successfully morphing into the communications arm of the Republican National Committee and big wins at the ballot box this past fall, News Corp. is seeking a bump in its subscriber fees for Fox News Channel.

    Broadcasting & Cables' Jon Lafayette reports:

    News Corp. is looking to increase subscriber fees for Fox News Channel in a new round of negotiations with distributors.

    Chase Carey, COO of News Corp., speaking at the 38th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference Wednesday, said Fox News gets only a small fraction of what ESPN gets.

    "That channel in the cable world is right there with ESPN, as important a channel as exists out there," he said. "Clearly a lot of customers [would] move if it weren't there."

    ESPN is the highest priced national cable channel at about $4 per subscriber per month. After its launch deals began expiring in 2006, Fox News, which has grown into the top-rated cable news channel, was able to increase its rate to about $1. Now some of those deals are expiring, opening the door to a new round of negotiations.

    I guess it could be argued that Fox News has really ramped up its efforts to smear the President, Democrats in Congress, progressives in general, LGBT people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women, Media Matters, etc. over the past two years so perhaps the cable network is in need of more mullah to keep its perpetual right-wing campaign going. Such redoubled efforts can't be cheap, right?

    Of course you can always call your local cable company and tell them what you think about Fox News wanting more money for the lies and venom they broadcast each day.

  • Health care reform advocates slam Sammon, Fox News over leaked emails showing effort to slant coverage

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Today, health care reform advocates responded to Media Matters' release of leaked emails obtained from a Fox News source showing the network's Washington managing editor Bill Sammon directing staff not to use the phrase "public option" when discussing health care reform legislation.

    In a statement given to Media Matters from the office of Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin -- chair of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee – communications director Kate Cyrul said:

    "Today's revelation shows just how far Fox is willing to go to slant their news reporting. The fact is, they had to spin because they know that as more Americans benefit from things like free preventive care, and increased access to more affordable care, the more they like the health reform that created those benefits. And let's face it, nearly a year later, you can call it whatever you want, just so long as you call it the law."

    Health Care for America Now (HCAN) sent an alert on the subject to their email list and released the following statement:

    "At a time when right-wing extremists were trying to make the case that the health care reform bill was a government takeover plot, Fox News incorporated politically charged language into its day-to-day reporting to mislead its audience into thinking the public option was something that it wasn't. The public option would have competed with private insurance companies to help lower costs and give consumers more choices.

    "The commonly used term was 'public option' for a reason – it was precise and descriptive of a policy that would have given consumers another choice of coverage.

    "But Fox News's policy is to drive a political agenda and systematically influence its audience's views. Fox News wanted to smear health care reform by choosing a poll-tested phrase crafted by a Republican communications consultant so itsallegedly objective news reporters could describe health care reform as something that it is not."

    Health Information Center's communications director Erikka Knuti provided Media Matters with the following statement:

    "Bill Sammon directed the news division to use language he knew to be politically charged. His emails were journalistically unethical. Their existence calls in to question the integrity of every minute of Fox News' health care coverage under his management."


    Full Disclosure: Erikka Knuti was previously employed by Media Matters.

  • Palin has an opportunity to "refudiate" Limbaugh, Beck on trip to Haiti this weekend

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    CNN is reporting that Fox News contributor Sarah Palin will be "traveling to Haiti this weekend with Franklin Graham and his relief organization Samaritan's Purse" where "they will they will be visiting a cholera clinic, among other stops."

    While it is admirable that the former half-term Governor of Alaska will be bringing awareness to these clinics, one can't help but point out that her travel partner is Franklin Graham -- a man who said Islam is "a very evil and a very wicked religion," that Muslims must "strap a bomb on" in order to "please God," and that Obama was "born a Muslim" and he'll just have to take the President's word for it that he's now a Christian.

    But, I digress.

    Perhaps Palin will use the trip as an opportunity to "refudiate" radio host Rush Limbaugh and her Fox News colleague Glenn Beck for their deplorable comments following the major earthquake that devastated Haiti in January:

    Maybe I shouldn't hold my breath. After all, she castigated then White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel over the use of an offensive term for those with Down syndrome but saw no problem with Beck and Limbaugh doing the same.

    And don't forget, Palin said she stands with Glenn Beck -- so she isn't likely to say anything that might make him cry.

  • Former Ingraham producer, Fox News booker reportedly faces charges for "impersonating a congressman"

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    A former booker for Fox News and senior producer for Fox contributor Laura Ingraham's radio show is reportedly facing charges of unlawful possession of a Congressional pin. This according to a report by the Examiner's Scott McCabe:

    A District man who told police he was a member of Congress during an incident near the U.S. Capitol has been charged with illegal possession of a congressional lapel pin.

    The charges filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday stem from a bizarre encounter with police last month.

    Around 1 a.m. Nov. 17, U.S. Capitol Police were called to the 100 block of Independence Avenue SE for a report of an assault on a member of Congress, court documents said.

    When police arrived, they were met by a man, later identified as 26-year-old Walter Nelson Lewis Jr., who claimed to be U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.

    Lewis told police that he observed the tag number of the getaway car, but no listing was found when officers ran a check of the license number, police said.

    Lewis told the officers that the assault occurred at 217 Maryland Ave. NE, in front of Capitol Lounge, but when pressed he said he was not hurt in any way and said the assailants actually never touched him.

    He told the officers that he had no identification on him. When police asked him about the congressional lapel pin, he claimed it was given to him by an uncle who was a member of Congress who had passed away.

    Once police confirmed that Lewis was not who he said he was, he was arrested for unlawful possession of a United States Badge or Insignia, a crime that is punishable by a fine or up to six months in jail.

    Mediabistro's Matt Dornic reports in a FishbowlDC blog post titled "Former FNC Booker Facing Charges for Impersonating a Congressman":

    Nelson Lewis, a former Fox News booker who took the role of senior producer for the Laura Ingraham Show for 15 weeks this year, was arraigned in District Court yesterday and is being charged with illegal possession of a congressional pin.

  • Yeah, Bill Sammon, "who would be against a public park?"

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    When Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon discussed with The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz the leaked emails obtained by Media Matters in which Sammon sought to slant the network's coverage of health care reform to the right, he tipped his hand revealing his ultimate intention despite his protestations of journalistic integrity. Kurtz reported (emphasis added):

    Sammon said in an interview that the term "public option" "is a vague, bland, undescriptive phrase," and that after all, "who would be against a public park?" The phrase "government-run plan," he said, is "a more neutral term," and was used just last week by a New York Times columnist.

    "I have no idea what the Republicans were pushing or not. It's simply an accurate, fair, objective term."

    As New York Magazine's Chris Rovzar wrote (emphasis added):

    Sammon himself phrased the Fox attitude well when he spoke with Howard Kurtz about the memo: "Who would be against a 'public' park?" Indeed — who would? And why would you want them to be, again?


  • National Network to End Domestic Violence takes Daily Caller columnist to task

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Yesterday, Media Matters noted that Daily Caller scribe Carey Roberts denounced "the Abuse Mavens" of the "domestic violence industry" who "ginned up this grand scheme: Let's exponentially broaden the definition of domestic violence" because they "don't want to see their generous paychecks trimmed."

    In a statement to given to Media Matters today, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) communications director Brian Namey took Roberts to task saying:

    Anyone who has a mother, sister, friend, or colleague who has been abused knows that Carey Roberts' claims are completely outlandish. Domestic violence is all about controlling an intimate partner through a combination of tactics – physical, sexual, emotional, or financial.

    According to NNEDV's website, the organization "was founded more than 15 years ago to be the leading voice for survivors of domestic violence and their allies."


  • FLASHBACK: Fox News emails not the first leak indicating effort to slant news rightward

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Today, Media Matters released emails obtained from a Fox News source, showing Washington managing editor Bill Sammon directing staff not to use the phrase "public option" when discussing health care reform legislation. The emails, which were sent during the height of the health care debate, echoed Republican pollster Frank Luntz's appearance on Hannity where he encouraged host Sean Hannity not to use "public option," but instead use the term "government option" because "if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it."

    It is not the first time that Media Matters obtained leaked Fox News documents that paint a picture of network management attempting to slant the news toward the right (and often succeeding.)

    As the then two-month-old Media Matters noted on July 14, 2004, just months before the 2004 election:

    As The Washington Post reported on July 11, [documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald's new film Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism] features "a handful of memos from a top FOX executive that appear to suggest tilting the news." Media Matters for America has analyzed 33 such internal FOX memos, issued by FOX News Senior Vice President, News Editorial John Moody and Los Angeles Bureau Chief Ken LaCoste between May 9 and June 3, 2003 and March 12 and May 5, 2004.

    In the memos, some of which appear in Outfoxed, Moody instructs employees on the approach to take on particular stories. His instructions reflect a clear interest in furthering a conservative agenda and in supporting the Bush administration. The Post quoted Larry Johnson, identified by the paper as "a former part-time Fox commentator who appears in the film," describing the Moody memos as "talking points instructing us what the themes are supposed to be, and God help you if you stray." On July 13, reviewed the film, and provided "some of the most notable excerpts" from the memos, referred to as "marching orders" by Jon DuPre, whom Salon identifies as "formerly of Fox News."

    Some highlights from the leaked memos that Media Matters analyzed at the time (emphasis added):

    Moody on the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal:

    [T]he pictures from Abu Graeb [sic] prison are disturbing. They have rightly provoked outrage. Today we have a picture -- aired on Al Arabiya -- of an American hostage being held with a scarf over his eyes, clearly against his will. Who's outraged on his behalf? It is important that we keep the Abu Graeb [sic] situation in perspective (5/5/04).

    Moody on abortion:

    [Le]t's spend a good deal of time on the battle over judicial nominations, which [th]e President will address this morning. Nominees who both sides admit are [qu]alified are being held up because of their POSSIBLE, not demonstrated, views [on] one issue -- abortion. This should be a trademark issue for FNC today and in [th]e days to come (5/9/03).

    Two style notes: [Eric Ru]dolph is charged with bombing an abortion clinic, not a "health clinic." ...[TO]DAY'S HEARING IS NOT AN ARRAIGNMENT. IT IS AN INITIAL HEARING (6/2/03).

    Moody on the 9/11 Commission:

    The so-called 9/11 commission has already been meeting. In fact, this is its eighth session. The fact that former Clinton and both frmer [sic] and current Bush administration officials are testifying gives it a certain tension, but this is not "what did he know and when did he know it" stuff. Do not turn this into Watergate. Remember the fleeting sense of national unity that emerged from this tragedy. Let's not desecrate that (3/23/04).

    Remember that while there are obvious political implications for Bush, the commission is looking at eight years of the Clinton Administration versus eight months (the time prior to 9/11 that Bush was in office) for the incumbent (3/24/04).

    There's a lot more to read in this one. Be sure to jump back in time a bit and check out Media Matters' original research on the subject here.

    Don't forget, Media Matters has also launched, an email address where conscientious Fox News employees can anonymously send evidence of their employer's complete disregard for journalism.


  • Report: Political editor for Murdoch's NY Post quits over Obama tax plan coverage

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    After 17 years with Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, political editor Gregg Birnbaum has reportedly quit following an argument over the paper's coverage of President Obama's tax plan.

    Gawker's Hamilton Nolton writes:

    We spoke to Birnbaum, who confirmed that he is "no longer employed" by the Post. But the backstory, according to insiders, is dramatic. Sources say that Birnbaum got into a huge argument Monday night with Col Allan, the paper's famously boozy and abusive editor. After the curse-filled blowup --which apparently had something to do with coverage of Obama's tax plan -- Birnbaum left the office. For good.

    Newsroom arguments are common. But for Col Allan, this is a pattern. We've been hearing reports from insiders all year that the Post's ongoing staff exodus was due largely to Allan's "awful," bullying management style. It's damn near impossible to find anyone outside of Rupert Murdoch's office to say a kind word about Allan's embarassment-filled reign at the paper --particularly not over the past couple of years, when circulation has plummeted, lawsuits have characterized the newsroom as a racist, sexist hellhole, and even admirers of the Allan's particular brand of flair have consistently started grumbling that he's lost his editorial touch. Even Liz Smith called him an "absolute total shit."