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  • As One Murdoch Company Struggles With Sexual Harassment Allegations, Another Murdoch Publication Debates Marital Rape

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The sexism in Rupert Murdoch’s world continues: Even as the media mogul’s Fox News Channel is facing a torrent of sexual harassment charges, mostly directed at former CEO Roger Ailes, a website Murdoch owns posted a debate over the existence of marital rape.

    Murdoch owns News Corp, which launched Heat Street in February, a digital media site catered toward “center-right and conservative audiences.” On August 14, Heat Street posted a debate about marital rape between its own Louise Mensch, a former Conservative member of Parliament in the U.K., and Vox Day, a white nationalist blogger and WorldNetDaily columnist.

    Vox Day, otherwise known as Theodore Robert Beale, has previously rejected the notion that America is a “melting pot” and advocated for returning to a “traditional white Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture” through ethnic cleansing.

    In the debate, Heat Street head Mensch took the position that marital rape can exist in certain situations, when a spouse has clearly said “no.” Vox Day claimed that the only way to “withdraw [sexual] consent from marriage is to divorce.” Drawing some pushback from Mensch, Day argued that giving permanent consent in marriage is the same as signing up for the military, arguing, “You don’t get to withdraw your consent and say, ‘You know what, sergeant? I don’t feel like going out running today. I’m withdrawing my consent.’” From the debate, posted on August 14 (emphasis original):

    Vox Day: Yeah, I think it’s quite obvious that it’s not even possible for there to be anything that we describe as rape within marriage. I find it remarkable that someone would try and claim that it is beyond debate when this new concept of marital rape is not only very, very new but is in fact not even applicable to most of the human race. It’s very clear, for example, in India it’s part of the written law that it’s not possible for, even if force is involved, there cannot be rape between a man and a woman. In China the law is the same.

    LM: Mm-hmm (affirmative) but there’s a difference between saying what the law is and saying what is morally right. You would agree that just because somebody says something is a law doesn’t make it so. Let’s just start with that basic principle.

    Vox: There’s huge difference between morality and legality. I’d be the first to agree with that. The fact of the matter is that the concept of marital rape hangs on consent and because marriage is and has always granted consent, the act of marriage is a granting of consent, therefore it’s not possible for the consent to be withdrawn and then for rape to happen. In fact, the concept of marital rape is created by the cultural Marxists in an attempt to destroy the family and to destroy the institution of marriage.

    LM: I’m going to say that that’s patent nonsense. If you consent to something once it doesn’t mean that you’ve given a blanket consent to it forever. We agree on the definition of rape – that rape is when one party forces sex on the other without their consent?

    Vox: Yes.

    LM: Good. We go that far. Your argument then hinges on the statement that to get married is to give an all time consent forever to sex with your spouse?

    Vox: Exactly. It’s no different than when you join the army. You only have to join the army once. You don’t get the choice to consent to obey orders every single time an order is given. In certain arrangements, and marriage is one of them, the agreement is a lasting one and that’s why it’s something that should not be entered into lightly.


    Vox: The only way that you can withdraw consent from marriage is to divorce.

    LM: Who says?

    Vox: That that was even settled under the English common law that if you were to say no at any time that was effectively equivalent to a demand for a divorce.


    Vox: Where is the line drawn?

    LM: It’s simple. It’s quite simple. The line is drawn very, very simply. If the woman says no and means no and I’m going to infer the wrath of eleventy billion feminists by saying there is a problem and all women know it with the no means no standard because quite often you can laugh, you can giggle, you can say, “No, come on” and you don’t mean no and it’s quite obvious from your tone and demeanor. I’m postulating where a woman has clearly said no, clearly meant it, she feels ill, has just had a huge fight with the man, and any number of such very obvious situations. The woman has said at that moment, even though they regularly have sex as a couple, she does not want to have sex and he forces himself upon her. That is clearly rape and it doesn’t take away from the fact that she has an obligation in general to have sex with him and he with her. When you extrapolate that from every single time he feels like it, I see no justification in your argument so far for that leap.

    Vox: Because there has to be a reliable standard. You’re going to have to draw a line at some point between it’s never okay and it’s always okay. There is no line and in fact the way that we know that marital rape is bad law is because virtually no one is ever prosecuted under it. It’s interesting.  

    The debate came as 21st Century Fox’s Fox News Channel, another Murdoch-owned company, is facing sexual harassment claims. Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a "sexual harassment/retaliation" lawsuit against former CEO Ailes, who has a long history of sexist behavior, in July. Since then, 20 women have reportedly come forward to allege sexual harassment by Ailes.

    On August 22, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros also filed a lawsuit against Fox News and Ailes. Tantaros’ complaint alleges that her “tenure at Fox News devolved into a nightmare of sexual harassment by Ailes, Fox News’s then-President, and others, followed by retaliation by Ailes and others despite multiple ongoing complaints by Tantaros.”

  • Politico’s Morning Media: WSJ Editors Reminded To Be “Fair” To Trump

    Reminder Comes After Murdoch Reportedly Becomes “An Official Donald Trump Supporter”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerry Baker instructed editors “to be ‘fair’ to [presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald] Trump” during a recent meeting, according to Politico’s Morning Media tip sheet.

    It was recently reported that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the Journal’s parent company News Corp., was throwing his full support behind Trump, and that Fox News -- also under the News Corp. umbrella -- “will go easy on Trump.” Murdoch took to Twitter in March to argue the GOP “would be mad not to unify” around the presumptive Republican nominee. And Murdoch’s New York Post was the third newspaper to endorse Trump, following The National Enquirer and The New York Observer (which is owned by Trump’s son-in-law).

    Politico reported that the Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerry Baker “took a couple minutes to remind editors to be ‘fair’ to Trump,” because “no matter what people think of him, Trump’s a serious candidate.” According to Politico, Baker’s comments were taken by some editors “as an insult or admonition,” and opened the argument over whether the Journal, which “is generally seen as impervious” to Murdoch’s influence, will start to signal support for Trump. From Politico’s May 27 Morning Media tip sheet: 

    TRUMP TREATMENT: Now that Rupert Murdoch is reportedly an official Donald Trump supporter (, Murdoch Kremlinologists will be even more hyper-attuned to coverage of the GOP nominee in the News Corp. chairman’s American newspapers. Here’s something that might make their ears perk up: During one of The Wall Street Journal’s recent morning news meetings, editor in chief Gerry Baker took a couple minutes to remind editors to be “fair” to Trump, according to a source with direct knowledge of the remarks, because, Baker said, no matter what people think of him, Trump’s a serious candidate and lots of serious people are going to get behind his White House bid.

    The source described Baker’s Trump talk as a “surreal tangent” in a meeting normally reserved for ironing out the logistics of covering the day’s top stories.The source also said the comments were widely discussed among Journal editors and bureau chiefs, some of whom took them as an insult or admonition. A Journal spokeswoman declined to comment.

    While Murdoch is known for using some of his publications in the U.S., U.K. and Oz to influence politics, the Journal is generally seen as impervious. Plus Murdoch had appeared to be at odds with Trump for much of this election cycle, and Trump has railed against the Journal’s coverage of his campaign. But maybe that’s changing? Last week, the Journal’s right-leaning editorial board—which operates independently of the newsroom—seemed to signal support for Trump’s would-be Supreme Court nominees (

  • Rupert Murdoch’s NY Post Joins National Enquirer And Paper Owned By Trump’s Son-In-Law In Endorsing Trump

    New York Post Editorial Board: “Trump Is Now An Imperfect Messenger Carrying A Vital Message”

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post endorsed GOP candidate Donald Trump in the Republican race for the White House, joining The National Enquirer and The New York Observer as the only publications to endorse Trump in the Republican primary.

    Ahead of the April 19 New York GOP primary contest, the New York Post editorial board released a statement endorsing Trump as “an imperfect messenger carrying a vital message.” The Post ignored what it called Trump’s “amateurish, divisive — and downright coarse” rhetoric to praise his “political incorrectness”:

    Trump’s language, too, has too often been amateurish, divisive — and downright coarse.

    But what else to expect from someone who’s never been a professional politician and reflects common-man passions?

    Indeed, his political incorrectness is one of his great attractions — it proves he’s not one of “them.” He’s challenging the victim culture that has turned into a victimizing culture.

    In the general election, we’d expect Trump to stay true to his voters — while reaching out to those he hasn’t won yet.

    Trump is now an imperfect messenger carrying a vital message. But he reflects the best of “New York values” — and offers the best hope for all Americans who rightly feel betrayed by the political class.

    He has the potential — the skills, the know-how, the values — to live up to his campaign slogan: to make America great again.

    For those reasons, The Post today endorses Donald Trump in the GOP primary.

    Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the Post and the executive chairman of the Post’s parent company, News Corp. has supported Trump throughout the primary and called for GOP candidates to “close ranks to fight the real enemy.” News Corp. is also the parent company of Fox News, which has given Trump a disproportionate amount of media coverage and favorable interviews.

    The Post joins the The National Enquirer and The New York Observer as the only publications to endorse Trump in the election. The endorsements both received scrutiny due to the relationships Trump shares with both publications. Trump’s son-in-law is the publisher of The Observer and it has been reported that Trump is close friends with David Pecker, the CEO of The Enquirer’s publisher American Media, Inc.

  • Rupert Murdoch: GOP Candidates Should "Cool It" And Focus On The "Real Enemy"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, wrote on Twitter that both "'establishment' Republicans" and Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump "need to cool it and close ranks to fight [the] real enemy," an apparent reference to the eventual Democratic presidential nominee. Murdoch also wrote that "Trump, Rubio, Kasich could all win [the] general" election. 

    In January, Murdoch took to Twitter to laud Trump's "winning strategy" of "appealing across party lines."

    Murdoch's February 28 tweet:

  • Civil Rights And Faith Leaders Issue Open Letter Condemning Anti-Muslim and Anti-Refugee Rhetoric Following Paris Attacks

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Twenty-eight civil rights and faith organizations have issued an open letter calling for unity and condemning media's "recent rhetoric that exploits" the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, "to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees."

    Signers of the letter noted that the "bigotry and hate" found in recent rhetoric "has been sadly reminiscent" of the responses to the terrorist attacks at the Parisian Charlie Hebdo magazine in January. The letter condemned the "countless leaders and media personalities" that have exploited the attacks "to call for more discriminatory profiling" of the Muslim community, "claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS," and called for "an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror," relying "on historical context and multiple perspectives" that are inclusive.

    The letter writers also condemned Fox News' anti-refugee rhetoric, and specifically called out Rupert Murdoch - executive co-chairman of Fox's parent company - for "cloak[ing] their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad," and called for public leaders to "refrain from religious bigotry and focus on unity in the aftermath" of the Paris tragedy:

    We, the undersigned civil rights advocates and faith leaders, write to express deep concern about recent rhetoric that exploits the tragic attacks in Paris to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees. Dividing Americans at a time when we need to be united not only hurts our democracy -- it hurts our standing in the world.

    The bigotry and hate we've witnessed in the last few days has sadly been reminiscent of the response to January's terrorist attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Media figures and public officials have taken to social media and the airwaves to claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS, disregarding hundreds of millions of Muslims who fight for the cause of freedom and democracy every day. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio compared Muslims to Nazis during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. Hosts on CNN International berated the spokesperson of a French Muslim outreach group because he would not agree that all Muslims share "responsibility" for the attacks.

    It is extremely concerning that countless leaders and media personalities have also used the tragedy to call for more discriminatory profiling of American Muslims, including Donald Trump who told MSNBC "you're going to have to watch and study the mosques," and Rep. Peter King who said that increased surveillance of Muslim communities is warranted because "that's where the threat is coming from."


    Others have cloaked their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad. Foxcontributors and too many others have endorsed closing US borders to Muslim refugees -- even going so far as to claim, "there are real refugees among the people fleeing Syria and they're Christians." News Corp. and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch echoed this endorsement, suggesting that President Barack Obama "make [a] special exception for proven Christians" when considering refugees in the wake of recent attacks in Paris. In recent days, more than half of governors have said they won't accept Syrian refugees even though none of them have the power to turn them away from a safe place to call home.


    The American people depend on all leaders and media for an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror and ways to respond relying on historical context and multiple perspectives, including those from Muslim, Sikh, Arab, South Asian and other communities here in the U.S. and abroad. To those leaders and media figures who have responsibly relied on multiple and diverse perspectives and the facts, we thank you and ask that you continue doing so.

    To those who are responsible for the divisive rhetoric we detail above, we call on you to refrain from religious bigotry and focus instead on unity in the aftermath of this tragedy. There are real consequences to creating an anti-Muslim climate.

    The entire letter, which has been signed by the Advancement Project, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the American Civil Liberties Union, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the Center for New Community, Color Of Change, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Networks Group (ING), Million Hoodies For Justice, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the NAACP, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, National Sikh Campaign, Race Forward, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), The Interfaith Center of New York, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, The Sikh Coalition, UNITED SIKHS, United We Dream, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and 9to5: National Association of Working Women, can be found here:

    11.18.15 An Open Letter About Divisive Rhetoric Following Paris Tragedy

  • Rupert Murdoch Endorses Religious Test For Refugees, Calls For "Special Exception For Proven Christians"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    News Corp. and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch suggested that President Barack Obama "make [a] special exception for proven Christians" when considering refugees in the wake of recent attacks in Paris.

    In a November 16 tweet, Murdoch echoed comments from right-wing media figures calling for Obama to only accept Christian refugees from Syria. In the tweet Murdoch claimed "Obama facing enormous opposition in accepting refugees. Maybe make special exception for proven Christians":

    In a November 16 press conference, the president condemned such religious tests as "not who we are" as Americans:

    And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who's fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution -- that's shameful. That's not American. That's not who we are. We don't have religious tests to our compassion.

    When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn't just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn't call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable.

  • Climate Activists Want A Public Editor For Murdoch-Owned National Geographic

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Climate activists are calling on National Geographic to hire a public editor to keep tabs on its editorial approach following the magazine's purchase by a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Murdoch has repeatedly made scientifically inaccurate comments about climate change, and recently lamented "alarmist nonsense" on the issue.

    The National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox announced last month an expansion of their current partnership to include National Geographic's cable channels, its flagship magazine, and other digital and social media.

    As National Geographic explained, "Under the $725-million deal, Fox, which currently holds a majority stake in National Geographic's cable channels, will own 73 percent of the new media company, called National Geographic Partners. The National Geographic Society will own 27 percent."

    "We will now have the scale and reach to fulfill our mission long into the future," National Geographic Society CEO Gary E. Knell said at the time. "The Society's work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact. It's a virtuous cycle."

    In an interview with Media Matters shortly after the announcement of the deal, National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg said she was "not concerned" about News Corp.'s history and its ties to Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets that routinely promote misinformation on climate change. "21st Century Fox is an enormously large creative global company that has lots of different properties operating underneath that umbrella," Goldberg said at the time. Goldberg also stressed that James Murdoch -- not his father Rupert -- is the head of 21st Century Fox. (The younger Murdoch was installed as CEO of 21st Century Fox in July, while Rupert is now executive co-chairman of 21st Century with his other son, Lachlan.)

    While both National Geographic and 21st Century Fox have pledged that National Geographic will maintain its editorial independence, at least three climate advocacy groups are urging National Geographic to hire a public editor to keep watch over its editorial product and ensure it remains a science-based news outlet, especially on the issue of climate change.

    Online petitions from Climate Truth, Common Cause, and SumOfUs have drawn thousands of signatures urging National Geographic to bring in an independent observer to keep watch. The petitions were launched online shortly after the deal with 21st Century Fox was announced in September.

    "[Rupert] Murdoch has a troubling history of editorial meddling, and there's no measures in place to assure his denial of climate science won't taint National Geographic's historically excellent coverage," the Climate Truth petition, which has gathered more than 25,000 signatures, states.

    Brant Olson, Campaign Director for Climate Truth, said a public editor would help get concerns from readers to the editors.

    "There is pretty widespread concern in the press and among our members after the announcement of the deal that one of the world's most well-respected brands of science is coming under control of a man who has not been shy about saying he doesn't believe in climate change," Olson said. "Elsewhere, when we have had concerns about coverage of climate change, we have engaged their public editor." 

    Olson cited two issues that were recently addressed at other media outlets when public editors and ombudsmen were contacted: The New York Times' misuse of the phrase "climate skeptics"; and PBS member stations having oil billionaire David Koch on their boards.

    "Having a public editor offers a forum for readers and others to discuss matters of editorial oversight and interference," Olson added. "And why not do that at National Geographic? Historically, National Geographic has been fantastic and we hope that will continue in the future."

    The magazine's recent climate change issue, which was released online earlier this month, seems to take a fair approach, with stories on reducing carbon emissions, dangerous rising sea levels, and promoting wind and solar energy.

    But not everyone is willing to take for granted that the climate change issue or the magazine's past climate coverage is a sign of things to come under Fox.

    Common Cause Digital Campaign Organizer Jack Mumby said his group launched its petition for a public editor to help readers keep informed fairly.

    "We believe that voters need a media ecosystem where scientific truth is accurately represented," he said. "We rely on a media that gives voters the information they need to cast their ballots. We want to make sure National Geographic does everything it can to make sure it remains a source of accurate information."

    Noting its petition was posted in September, Mumby declares, "It will be up until the issue is resolved." He said the goal is to "make sure that the magazine is editorially independent, we want to hear what their plan is to make sure this change in ownership does not change the independent and science-based journalism voters rely on."

    SumOfUs Senior Campaigner Katherine Tu also cited National Geographic's history of playing "a vital role in the fight against climate change," and expressed concern that "Murdoch has a well-known history of meddling with media outlets that he owns and could undermine National Geographic's historically excellent coverage."

    More than 100,000 SumOfUs members have joined their campaign for a public editor, which Tu told Media Matters would protect the magazine's "independence" and "represent the interests of the public." 

    National Geographic says it has no plans to hire a public editor or ombudsman, claiming it deserves the benefit of the doubt and has no incentive to take a wrong turn in its climate coverage.

    "We think our 127-year track record of science, research and storytelling in service illuminating the wonder, as well as the issues, of the planet speaks for itself, and find it interesting as well as kind of ironic that the petition was put forward the very week our all climate change issue was published," National Geographic Society Chief Communications Officer Betty Hudson said via email. "That said, we're very comfortable with the robust governance guidelines that National Geographic Partners has in place, and would repeat our shared belief that the essence of the value of the enterprise is ultimately connected to our brand integrity."

    Hudson also referred to a statement the society issued to the petition groups after their online protests were posted, laying out how 21st Century Fox and National Geographic plan to maintain "editorial autonomy and mutual institutional respect":

    National Geographic has had a nearly two decade long relationship with 21st Century Fox, and during that time has enjoyed editorial autonomy and mutual institutional respect, which we fully expect to continue going forward.  The terms of the transaction include an expanded and specific governance framework designed to ensure that the content, publications and activities of NG Partners remain supportive of the mission of NGS and consistent with the National Geographic brand.

    National Geographic Partners will be governed by an eight person board comprised of an equal number of representatives from the Society and 21CF.  NGS President and CEO Gary Knell will serve as first Chair, a role that will alternate annually. Under the trademark license, NG Partners must adhere to a 300+ page Standards Guide that articulates the principles of the National Geographic Society as well as its content vision. The Society has the right to review and approve the NGPartners annual content plan as well as the annual marketing plan, and has the right to remove the Chief Executive Officer and/or the Chief Marketing Officer should brand integrity be compromised. 

    But all involved have spoken to the shared belief that the very value of the enterprise in which the Partners are investing resides in that brand integrity, and anything that undermines or dilutes that integrity damages the institution, as well as the investment.

  • The Drastically Different Way Howard Kurtz Covers Murdoch Scandals Now That He Works For Fox News

    Fox's Media Critic Gives News Corp. A Pass Despite Being Previously Critical Of Fox For Ignoring Its Parent Company's Own Scandals

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL


    In a report on the Murdoch restructure of Fox News' parent company, Fox's Howard Kurtz glazed over the 2011 phone hacking controversy that implicated the Murdoch family in England -- a stark contrast to Kurtz's critical reporting of how Fox News avoided coverage of the scandal while he worked for CNN.

    Rupert Murdoch is reportedly planning to step down as CEO of Fox News' parent company 21st Century Fox. According to CNBC, Murdoch's son James will take over as CEO and son Lachlan will assume the role of "executive co-chairman" of the company in coordination with their father. James Murdoch previously resigned his role as the head of News International -- which published several tabloids and newspapers abroad -- amid the widespread scandal over phone hacking at News of the World, a since-shuttered UK tabloid he oversaw. As part of the fallout from that scandal, Murdoch also resigned his position as chairman of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

    On the June 14 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz used news of the company restructuring as an opportunity to highlight Rupert Murdoch's career, praising him for bringing "huge changes to the media landscape," including "conquering the world of British newspapers, revolutionizing TV sports here in the states, launching the fourth American broadcast network, and of course building a hugely successful and profitable cable news network." To highlight Murdoch's influence, Kurtz added that  "when something goes wrong like the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct News of the World, he gets the blame."

    Kurtz's report glazing over Murdoch's involvement in the phone hacking scandal and mentioning it only as a way to highlight the former CEO's influence stands in stark contrast to the way Fox's media critic covered the scandal while working for CNN.

    In July 2011, as the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz criticized Fox News for underplaying coverage of Murdoch's phone hacking scandal which involved Fox's then-parent company News Corp., and said that news networks that avoid covering their own controversies create "a double standard" and "undermine your credibility":

    KURTZ: I feel very strongly about this. I mean, we do it on this program all the time when CNN has controversy, I always cover it. And otherwise, what you're signaling to viewers is there's a double standard. We're only aggressive when some other organization is in trouble. And I think that can undermine your credibility.

    Kurtz has made a habit of ignoring controversies related to Fox News during his employment at the network, despite promising to bring an "independent brand of media criticism" to Fox.

  • The Murdochs' Generational Culture Of Corruption

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's good to be the king. Or in the case of James Murdoch, it's good to be the son of the king.

    In announcing that his sons James and Lachlan will be largely taking control of his sprawling media company, press baron Rupert Murdoch did what observers always knew he wanted to do: pass on to his children the worldwide conglomerate that he's built over the last five decades. In the United Sates, of course, that means handing over to his sons one of most important and influential voices in right-wing media and far-right politics, Fox News.

    James Murdoch will soon be named CEO of 21st Century Fox, while Lachlan Murdoch will become executive chairman alongside their father, who for now will reportedly maintain a daily presence at the company. Fox News kingpin Roger Ailes will continue to report directly to the senior Murdoch. (Noticeably absent from the succession plans is daughter Elisabeth, a respected media executive who has at times been publicly critical of her brother James.)

    That long-awaited changeover was thrown into doubt when the sweeping phone-hacking scandal in England rocked the Murdoch family and their media properties.

    Watching father Rupert and son James testify before skeptical members of Parliament in 2011 as the duo did their best to explain away the media scandal raised some doubts about whether the sons would be best-suited to succeed their father. In 2011, more than a third of News Corp. shareholders who voted at a meeting declared that they were not. But of course, while being a publicly traded company, the Murdoch family controls about 40% of the voting shares of News Corp., the publishing operation (New York PostWall Street Journal), and 21st Century Fox, which contains the more profitable TV and film operations, including Fox News.

    With James Murdoch's public reputation quickly sinking against the hacking backdrop in 2012, he was jettisoned far away from the scandal klieg lights of London and fitted for a Murdoch corporate job in Los Angeles, where he worked until his latest promotion. As the New York Times points out, "in hindsight, the departure of [James] Murdoch and his removal from involvement with News Corporation's British holdings can be seen as part of a calculated strategy to insulate him from the scandal there and resurrect him in the sprawling media company controlled by his father." 

    Still, UK media regulator Ofcom's report on the hacking debacle excoriated James' leadership, or lack thereof, and concluded that the younger Murdoch "repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of as a chief executive and chairman" as the company engaged in phone hacking and that his failure to stop the wrongdoing was "difficult to comprehend and ill-judged.

    In the end, James Murdoch had the right last name and survived the scandal; the type of criminal and political upheaval that not many media companies have had to endure in recent memory. Then again, not many media companies at times resemble a low-level criminal enterprise, which is what Murdoch's empire looked like for years as it hacked into private phone voicemails of the royal family, star athletes and celebrities in search of juicy gossip. In recent years, Murdoch employees have allegedly not only hacked into phones, computers and emails, but also paid off news sources.

  • James Murdoch Reportedly Taking Over As CEO Of Fox News' Parent Company

    UPDATE: Roger Ailes Will Report To James And Lachlan, New Report Also Indicates Ailes Aired Rogue Statement On Fox

    Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

    Roger Ailes

    Rupert Murdoch is reportedly planning to step down as CEO of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox "and hand that title to his son James," according to CNBC. James Murdoch previously resigned his role as the head of News International -- which published several tabloids and newspapers abroad -- amid the widespread scandal over phone hacking at News of the World, a since-shuttered UK tabloid he oversaw. As part of the fallout from that scandal, Murdoch also resigned his position as chairman of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

    According to CNBC, "Rupert Murdoch will continue to be the executive chairman of Fox, while his son Lachlan would also become an executive co-chairman of the company."

    James Murdoch has reportedly drawn the ire of Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who allegedly called him a "fucking dope" over his inability to contain the hacking scandal. (Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz claims that despite James Murdoch's new position, "Ailes will still report to Rupert.")

    A source quoted by CNBC claims "James will have the primary role in running Fox while Lachlan will take on a broader strategic role from his co-chairman position." Lachlan Murdoch has also reportedly butted heads with Ailes in the past.

    As Media Matters previously noted, James Murdoch donated between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation, which has been the target of a smear campaign by conservative media figures, including near-constant scandal-mongering on Fox News.

    According to federal filings, James Murdoch donated $2,300 -- the maximum amount allowed for an individual -- to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. A review of the OpenSecrets database shows Murdoch has donated to both sides of the aisle, including multiple donations to the National Republican Congressional Committee and various elected Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham, as well as Democrats like Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Steny Hoyer.


    Contrary to what Fox News reported last week, 21st Century Fox released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter saying that Ailes will not report directly to Rupert Murdoch. Instead, the Fox News chief "will report to Lachlan and James but will continue his unique and long-standing relationship with Rupert."

    New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman reports that Ailes himself ordered Fox Business to read "what now appears to be a rogue statement" on-air last week that suggested he would not be directly affected by the change in management:

    Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan. "Roger Ailes will continue to run the news network, reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch," Fox Business reported. According to a well-placed source, Ailes directed Fox Business executive Bill Shine to tell anchor Stuart Varney to read the statement on air. "Ailes told Shine to write the announcement of the move for Varney to say," the source said. "In it, Ailes inserted language that he would report to Rupert."

    This was, apparently, news to Rupert. And now the Murdochs are correcting the record. "Roger will report to Lachlan and James," a 21st Century Fox spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.

    Watch the video of Varney reading the "rogue" statement below:

  • Conservative Newsmax Points Out Murdoch Corps' Role In Clinton Cash Push

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Christopher Ruddy

    Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy detailed the entanglements between several media properties owned by Rupert Murdoch that are promoting the upcoming book Clinton Cash from conservative activist Peter Schweizer.

    In an April 27 column headlined "In Defense of the Clinton Foundation," Newsmax CEO and editor Christopher Ruddy -- who is himself a donor to the Foundation -- discussed the allegations made against the charity in Clinton Cash, which were recently hyped in a Fox News special. He writes that the claims in the book, which suggests the Clintons used donations to influence foreign policy, are "unsubstantiated, unconnected, and baseless," and tells journalists to "follow the money" when discussing the book itself, warning that "where there's smear, there's not always fact."

    Ruddy notes, "The sister companies of News Corp and 21st Century Fox own HarperCollins, which published Peter Schweizer's book; they own The Wall Street Journal, which first raised the issue of the foreign donations; they own the New York Post, which broke the details about the Schweizer book; and they own Fox News, which gave the story oxygen and legs."

    He adds, "With so much media mojo from one company, there is no doubt they will be doing some pretty good 'cashing in' from the many millions of dollars their new best-seller will generate."

    Both News Corp and 21st Century Fox are run by Rupert Murdoch.

    Schweizer has a long history of errors and retractions, and the stories released from Clinton Cash fail to implicate former Secretary Clinton, President Clinton, or the Foundation in any wrongdoing. However, Murdoch properties have still promoted its claims.

    Newsmax is a conservative publication, which has gone after the Clintons and other Democrats and progressives for years. But in the course of writing about the Clinton Cash allegations, Ruddy explains that he doesn't want to go back to the 1990s, "when one allegation led to a daisy-chain effect, and the GOP ended up looking bad as the Democrats kept winning."

  • Civil Rights Orgs. And Faith Leaders Call Out Anti-Muslim Media Coverage Following Paris Tragedies

    Blog ››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

    Media Figures

    At least twenty civil rights organizations and faith leaders, including Muslim Advocates, the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and the Arab American Institute penned an open letter expressing concern about the media's sensationalist coverage following the recent tragedies in Paris. 

    In the letter obtained by Media Matters, faith leaders and civil rights advocates admonished media outlets like Fox News for promoting "divisive rhetoric" that misrepresents the Islamic faith and Muslims. Advocates criticized media outlets who falsely suggested that Muslim leaders failed to condemn the violence in Paris, promoted the profiling of Muslims, and parroted misinformation harmful to civic debate: 

    We are civil rights advocates and faith leaders writing to express deep concern about recent media coverage that exploits the tragic acts of terror in Paris to misrepresent Islam and call for more profiling of Muslims. This sensationalist coverage and commentary, if continued, will harmfully divide Americans on false pretenses at a time when we need to be united. Furthermore, we believe such divisive rhetoric impedes our ability to have a much-needed fact-driven debate about responding to terrorism on all fronts.

    The problematic coverage has been pervasive: one Fox News host and program after another has falsely suggested that Muslim leaders and organizations have not taken a stand against the violence in Paris. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch tweeted, "Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible." Radio hosts followed suit, claiming that similar terror attacks wouldn't occur if "most Muslims were against what was happening." Real Time host Bill Maher alleged that "hundreds of millions" of Muslims support the massacre and even a CNN anchor asked his guest, a Muslim human rights lawyer, whether or not he supports ISIS.

    For Mr. Murdoch, Fox News, and others to suggest that 1.6 billion Muslims, or nearly a fourth of the world's population, does not condemn, and may even support, the violence in Paris is not only blatant misinformation, it disregards the hundreds of millions of Muslims who fight for the cause of freedom and democracy every day.

    Read the full letter, signed by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Center for Outreach, the American Muslim Advisory Council, Amnesty International USA, the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for New Community, Color of Change, Muslim Advocates, the Michigan Muslim Community Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, NAACP, the National Network for Arab American Communities, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the South Asian Americans Leading Together, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, The Interfaith Center of New York, and UNITED SIKHS, here:

    Civil Rights Orgs Write Open Letter to Media on Anti-Muslim Hate by MediaMatters4America