Author Page | Media Matters for America

Sarah Pavlus

Author ››› Sarah Pavlus
  • Ex-News Of The World Editor Defends Use Of Fake "Edward Trevor" Byline

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    A former editor for Rupert Murdoch's shuttered tabloid News of the World is defending the publication's routine use of the fictional byline "Edward Trevor," a practice which is reportedly under investigation by Scotland Yard.

    Over the weekend, The Independent reported that "[d]etectives are interested in Trevor because this 'house byline' appeared on work that for various reasons the real author did not want to be associated with." Trevor's byline appears on hundreds of stories published in the infamous British newspaper, which Murdoch closed last year amidst allegations that reporters there engaged in widespread phone hacking and police bribery.

    But Stuart White, who served as News of the World's LA-based American Editor from 1994 to 2003 and is now a novelist, tells Media Matters there is nothing unique or nefarious about the use of a "house byline" like Edward Trevor, adding, "the back story to this is that both The Independent and the Guardian are obsessed with ravaging the corpse of the News of the World."

  • Fox's 1,000-Day Obama "Report Card" Mimics RNC Doc

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    A Fox Nation "report card" evaluating President Obama's first 1,000 days in office bears a striking similarity to an RNC "research briefing" issued one day earlier. In a Fox News segment today on the "report card," host Megyn Kelly said the statistics came from "our brain room" and listed them on screen as "Fox Facts."

    Fox News, of course, has a history of passing off Republican research as its own, typos and all. What exactly happened here, we can't be sure, but what is clear is that Fox and the Republican Party are pushing the same message at the same time.

    Below are some key excerpts from the RNC research document, published October 11, and the Fox Nation "report card," published October 12:

    RNC says: "$4.2 Trillion: Added To The National Debt Since Obama Took Office. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 10/6/11)"
    Fox says: "DEBT: Total Public Debt Outstanding has increased by $4.2 trillion [source: Treasury Dept]"

    RNC says: "40.5: Number Of Weeks That It Takes To Find A Job. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed 10/7/11)"
    Fox says: "AVERAGE WEEKS UNEMPLOYED: Unemployed out of work for an average of 40.5 weeks - that's more than double since Jan 2009 [source: BLS]"

    RNC says: "2.2 Million: Jobs Lost Since Obama Took Office. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed 10/7/11)"
    Fox says: "JOBS: 2.22 million jobs lost [source: BLS]"

    RNC says: "15.1%: Americans Living In Poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau, 9/13/11)"
    Fox says: "POVERTY: Nearly 3 million more Americans in poverty--poverty rate has gone from 13.2% to 15.1% [source: Census]"

    RNC says: "$1.17 Trillion: American Debt Held By China. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 10/6/11)"
    Fox says: "CHINA: Owns $1.17 trillion of our debt (as of July) - a 58% increase from January 2009 [source: Treasury Dept]"

    RNC says: "45,696: Pages Of New Rules Added To The Federal Register During Obama's First Two Years In Office. (Competitive Enterprise Institute, 2011)"
    Fox says: "REGULATIONS - FEDERAL REGISTER: 45,696 pages of new regulatory rules were added to the Federal Register [source: National Archives and Records Administration, Office of the Federal Register, various years]"

    RNC says: "818,000: Manufacturing Jobs Lost Since Obama Took Office. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed 10/7/11)"
    Fox says: "MANUFACTURING: 818,000 manufacturing jobs lost


    a -6.5% drop since Jan. 2009 [source: BLS]"

    Watch:

    Zachary Pleat contributed research to this report.

  • EXCLUSIVE: Regulator Says Murdoch Oil Shale Company Must Fix Faulty Wells

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    The state of Colorado says it will require American Shale Oil, LLC, -- a company backed by Rupert Murdoch and Dick Cheney -- to fix several poorly cemented wells that, according to the state, appear to be endangering ground water in western Colorado.

    Halliburton -- the oil and gas giant once headed by Cheney -- conducted the cementing and cement evaluation of the wells and rated several as having "poor" cement bonds in certain segments, according to a memo that American Shale Oil (AMSO) submitted to state and federal regulators in late July.

    In the July 26 memo, AMSO claimed the poor cementing in its wells "poses little threat" to groundwater resources in the Piceance Basin on Colorado's Western Slope, where the company is leasing federal land to pursue oil shale research and development.

    But the state disagrees. When contacted about the AMSO memo, Steve Shuey, a Senior Environmental Protection Specialist for the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS), told Media Matters in a statement that the cementing fell short of the plans filed by the company and it "appears to be inadequate to protect" the region's aquifers. Shuey said the state would require AMSO to fix the cementing:

    DRMS has reviewed the document to which you refer. We recognize that the well completion cementing was not conducted as specified in the Well Construction Designs of the approved NOI [Notice of Intent]. The current well completion status appears to be inadequate to protect the Uinta and A-Groove aquifers. DRMS will be sending AMSO a letter requiring remedial cement and completion work be performed on tomography wells TM-1 through TM-4 to ensure adequate protection of the groundwater resource.

  • Will Fox Spin New Hacking Allegations?

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    With the news today that a former News of the World reporter -- who was jailed and fired over phone hacking -- wrote a letter several years ago to top News Corp. executives claiming phone hacking was "widely discussed" at the paper, the coverage of the scandal by Rupert Murdoch's U.S. media properties over the past several weeks seems increasingly embarrassing.

    Fox News and The Wall Street Journal were slow to pick up the story -- which exploded in early July -- and often clumsy and defiant when they did.

  • FLASHBACK: WSJ Published 4000-Word Report On Murdoch's Editorial Interference

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    In the summer of 2007, as News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch was battling to take over The Wall Street Journal, the paper published a front-page, 4000-word report on Murdoch's long history of interfering with the editorial decisions of his newspapers.

    You can read the entire article here.

    Some key excerpts from the June 5, 2007 report:

    A detailed examination of Mr. Murdoch's half-century career as a journalist and businessman shows that his newspapers and other media outlets have made coverage decisions that advanced the interests of his sprawling media conglomerate, News Corp. In the process, Mr. Murdoch has blurred a line that exists at many other U.S. media companies between business and news sides -- a line intended to keep the business and political interests of owners from influencing the presentation of news.

    [...]

    Over the years, Mr. Murdoch and his lieutenants have raised hackles for their involvement in the company's news operations. Former top editors at two of his London papers, for example, say he ignored an independent board set up to protect them from his interference, and got involved directly in firings in the 1980s. In Australia, the former editor of one of his top papers complains that a News Corp. executive pushed him for critical coverage of pilots in a strike that was hurting a News Corp. airline investment. In China, former employees say Mr. Murdoch's representatives occasionally pushed reporters to do more upbeat stories, at a time when News Corp. was seeking government help to expand its reach there. The reporters there didn't listen and kept up their often critical coverage.

    [...]

    Frank Giles, who edited the Sunday Times from 1981 to 1983, says the board "had very little power or will to protect the independence of the papers they were appointed to safeguard."

    In his autobiography, "Sundry Times," Mr. Giles wrote that Mr. Murdoch ordered him in January 1982 to replace the paper's magazine editor with an editor from the News of the World, an apparent violation of his promise not to dictate staffing changes. Mr. Giles says he reluctantly made the moves, pretending to the paper's staff they were his idea. He says he didn't appeal to the independent directors because he believed it wouldn't have helped. Mr. Murdoch denies he ordered the change, saying, "Frank's gone nuts."

    Fred Emery, a former Times assistant editor, says Mr. Murdoch called him into his office in March 1982 and said he was considering firing Times editor Harold Evans. Mr. Emery says he reminded Mr. Murdoch of his promise that editors couldn't be fired without the independent directors' approval.

    "God, you don't take all that seriously, do you?" Mr. Murdoch answered, according to Mr. Emery. Mr. Emery says he replied: "Of course we do."

    According to Mr. Emery, Mr. Murdoch laughed and said, "Why wouldn't I give instructions to the Times when I give instructions to editors all around the world?" Mr. Evans was eventually forced out by Mr. Murdoch.

    On Friday, Mr. Murdoch said his recollection of the conversation was that Mr. Emery "was extremely critical of Harry." Mr. Emery responds: "Having summoned me to this meeting, it is rather odd that Mr. Murdoch remembers only my criticisms, but not his own statements about the firm promises he had given to the British government" about the papers' editorial independence.

    Previously:

    The WSJ's Misguided News Corp. Editorial

    Bancrofts Regret Selling WSJ To Murdoch

    Murdoch's Wall Street Journal Finally Acknowledges Its Publisher's Role In Hacking Scandal

    EXODUS: Former WSJ Staffers Speak Out Against Murdoch

  • SHALE GAME: Why Won't Fox Disclose Murdoch's Oil Interests?

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    Fox has repeatedly featured reports on controversial oil shale ventures that Rupert Murdoch -- the chairman and CEO of Fox's parent company -- is a prominent investor in and adviser to without disclosing the conflict of interest.

    Last year, Murdoch joined the "strategic advisory board" of Genie Energy and purchased an equity stake in Genie Oil and Gas, which consists of Genie Energy's interests in oil shale initiatives on federal land in Western Colorado and in Israel's Elah Valley.

    Genie Energy -- which is a division of IDT Corporation, a global telecommunications company -- has attracted several other high-profile advisers and investors, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Lord Jacob Rothschild, and Michael Steinhardt, a prominent hedge fund investor and philanthropist.

    Genie Energy clearly sees value in its association with Murdoch. It touted the "vast experience and immeasurable value" Murdoch would bring to the board when he joined it last September. This week, the company stood by Murdoch, calling him a "valued member of Genie Energy's Strategic Advisory Board" even as public outrage grew over allegations that his British tabloids illegally hacked the voicemails of thousands of people and bribed the police.

    In May, Media Matters reported that on three consecutive days in April, Fox Business Network promoted Genie Energy's oil shale project in Israel -- known as Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI) -- yet never disclosed Murdoch's financial stake in it.

    This week, Fox News aired reports on domestic oil shale production that featured Genie's shale project in Western Colorado -- American Shale Oil -- but didn't disclose Murdoch is a prominent investor and adviser.

  • News Corp. Discloses Corporate Political Contributions

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    Today, News Corporation publicly disclosed the corporate political contributions it made from January 1 through June 30 of this year.

    The disclosure comes as part of a new company policy established earlier this year -- following shareholder pressure -- "to to publicly disclose corporate political contributions annually on News Corporation's corporate web site."

    The Nathan Cummings Foundation -- a private foundation and News Corp. shareholder -- caused a stir at the company's annual meeting last October with its request that the board "disclose to shareholders the use of corporate assets for any and all political spending" in light of news reports at the time that News Corp. had donated $1 million each to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and the GOP-leaning Chamber of Commerce.

    (An RGA disclosure report later revealed News Corp. had donated an additional $250K to that group.)

    You can view a list of the donations on News Corp.'s website here.

    Amount

    Payor

    Payee/Recipient

    Party

    State

    $5,000.00

    Fox Group

    Motion Picture Association of America Illinois PAC

    N/A

    IL

    $4,000.00

    Fox Group

    Motion Picture Association of America New York PAC

    N/A

    NY

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Friends of Bill Monning for Assembly 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $6,500.00

    Fox Group

    Motion Picture Association of America California PAC

    N/A

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Officeholder Account

    Democrat

    CA

    $500.00

    Fox Group

    Friends of Eric Garcetti Officeholder

    Democrat

    CA

    $250.00

    Fox Group

    Friends of Bill Monning 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $3,000.00

    Fox Group

    Fiona Ma for Senate 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $2,000.00

    Fox Group

    Mary Hayashi for Senate 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Ted Lieu for State Senate 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Ricardo Lara Political Funds (Lara for Assembly 2012)

    Democrat

    CA

    $2,000.00

    Fox Group

    Price for Senate 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Tom Torlakson for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

    Democrat

    CA

    $5,000.00

    Fox Group

    Re-Elect Attorney General Kamala Harris 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Fletcher for Assembly 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $2,000.00

    Fox Group

    Senator Bob Dutton for Assembly 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Juan Vargas for Senate 2010

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Solorio for Senate 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Toni Atkins for State Assembly 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Re-Elect Bill Emmerson for Senate 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $2,000.00

    Fox Group

    Bob Blumenfield for Assembly 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $2,000.00

    Fox Group

    Tax Payers for Rod Wright 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Rubio for Senate 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Tax Fighters for Anderson Senate 2014

    Republican

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Blakeslee for Senate

    Republican

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Re-Elect Tony Strickland Senate 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Mike Gatto for Assembly 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Hall for Assembly 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Nestande for Assembly

    Republican

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Perea for Assembly 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $2,000.00

    Fox Group

    Alex Padilla Political Funds

    Democrat

    CA

    $2,000.00

    Fox Group

    Connie Conway for Assembly 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Dr. Ed Hernandez O.D. Democrat for Senate 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Sharon Runner for Senate 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Friends of Mimi Walters for Senate 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Ron Calderon for Senate 2010

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Leland Yee for Senate 2010

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Friends of Noreen Evans

    Democrat

    CA

    $3,000.00

    Fox Group

    John A. Perez Political Funds

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Hagman for Assembly 2012

    Republican

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Jerry Hill for Assembly 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Julia Brownley for Assembly 2010

    Democrat

    CA

    $5,000.00

    Fox Group

    California Republican Party

    Republican

    CA

    $1,000.00

    Fox Group

    Committee to Elect Tom Harman

    Republican

    CA

    $1,500.00

    Fox Group

    Fran Pavley for Senate 2012

    Democrat

    CA

    $5,000.00

    Fox Group

    Lockyer for Controller 2014

    Democrat

    CA

    $2,000.00

    News America Incorporated

    Andrew Cuomo 2014

    Democrat

    NY

    $1,000.00

    News America Incorporated

    Schneiderman for Attorney General

    Democrat

    NY

    $1,000.00

    News America Incorporated

    Wasden for Attorney General

    Republican

    ID

    $2,000.00

    Wireless Generation

    Senate Republican Campaign Committee

    Republican

    UT

    $25,000.00

    Wireless Generation

    Democratic Governor's Association

    Democrat

    N/A

  • EXCLUSIVE: Oil Shale Company Stands By Murdoch

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    An oil shale company that counts Rupert Murdoch as both a key investor and member of its "strategic advisory board" is standing by the embattled News Corp. chairman as public outrage grows over allegations that his British tabloids illegally hacked the voicemails of thousands of people and bribed the police.

    "Rupert Murdoch is a valued member of Genie Energy's Strategic Advisory Board, and we hope and expect that he will continue in that capacity," Genie Energy chairman Howard Jonas told Media Matters in an emailed statement today.

  • Three Things You Should Know About NOTW's Hollywood Operation

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    Hollywood stars, according to Reuters, have been "largely silent" on Rupert Murdoch's widening News of the World phone-hacking scandal in part because "few American stars appear to have been targeted" and -- perhaps more significantly -- because many have ties to the Murdoch empire.

    An anonymous "industry source" reportedly told Reuters: "'Murdoch touches everybody in some way, so nobody is standing up' to speak publicly."

    As celebrities and politicians in the U.K. have already learned, this is a dangerous game to play. For years, investigations into News of the World's illegal activities there were slow-walked, and people of influence remained "largely silent." But after the Guardian broke the news earlier this month that Murdoch's tabloid apparently hacked the voicemails of a teen murder victim, it became impossible to look the other way.

  • UPDATED: Shareholders Beware: Financial Impact Of Murdoch Hacking Scandal Widens

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    An "influential website for parents" has canceled a contract with U.K. broadcaster Sky -- which Rupert Murdoch partially owns, and is seeking to fully acquire -- following allegations that Murdoch's News of the World tabloid hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl, potentially impeding a police investigation and giving the girl's family false hope that she was still alive.

    The Telegraph reported:

    Mumsnet, the influential website for parents, announced that it had cancelled a contract with Sky, which is part of the Murdoch media empire. The group removed the broadcaster's advertisements from its website after an outcry from members of the discussion forum over the Milly Dowler allegations.

    The contract was believed to have been worth about £30,000 to Mumsnet but Justine Roberts, co-founder of the group, said she did not think it was right to "take the Murdoch shilling" while investigations continued into phone hacking at the newspaper.

    "Sky were running an ad campaign and our members have been very active in talking about the News of the World," she said. "I have rarely seen anything where they have been quite so unanimously appalled. We have taken the decision to remove that ad campaign from our website."

    Brand Republic noted that Mumsnet's decision to cancel advertising promoting Sky's services "is the first example of contagion between News of the World and other Rupert Murdoch-controlled media organisations." The Guardian wrote that Mumsnet's actions are "one indication of the wider impact the phone hacking scandal is having on News International beyond the News of the World."