From Ben Dimiero at MEDIA MATTERS:
Is anyone in charge at Fox News?
This week was a bit of a mixed bag for the journalistic ethics of Fox News.
On the upside, we confirmed that News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch is familiar with the idea of journalistic standards. On the downside, Murdoch appears to be completely unaware that his news network doesn’t have any.
Responding to a question from Media Matters VP Ari Rabin-Havt about whether Murdoch thinks it is appropriate for a news organization to aggressively promote the tea party movement, Murdoch stated that Fox shouldn’t be “supporting the Tea Party or any other party.”
Since he is apparently too busy to keep an eye on his own news network, we offered some assistance with Murdoch’s “investigation.” Some lowlights:
- Fox Business anchor and “business journalist” Stuart Varney on April 13, 2009: “It’s now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go.”
- In the 10 days leading up to the Tax Day Tea Parties last year, Fox News aired more than 100 commercials promoting the protests and Fox’s coverage of them.
- Glenn Beck encouraged viewers to “please go” to “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.”
- Fox Nation hosted a “virtual tea party” that was promoted on-air by news anchor Megyn Kelly, news host Bill Hemmer, and Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson.
- On April 3, 2009, Hannity directed viewers to his website to “get all the details about our special ‘Tax Day Tea Party.’ ” He later added, “We hope you’ll join us.”
Murdoch didn’t even need to watch Fox to learn of the network’s promotion. After the tea parties, dozens of articles on local tea parties reported that Fox News helped to promote turnout at the events.
And all of those examples are just from the lead-up to the Tax Day Tea Parties last April. Since then, Fox’s promotion of the tea party movement has continued unabated.
In fact, just two weeks ago Fox spent an entire day promoting “Conservative Woodstock.” It was just like the real Woodstock, except it was an anti-Harry Reid tea party protest in Searchlight, Nevada, featuring the musical stylings of former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson instead of Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane.
If Murdoch wants an even more recent example, this week Neil Cavuto started running ads promoting his coverage of an upcoming tea party protest that “some say could be a very, very heated rally.”
Unfortunately for Murdoch, his comments about Fox’s tea party promotion may not have been the most laughably absurd thing he said during his appearance at the National Press Club. After Murdoch called out the other networks for a perceived lack of balance, he was asked to name the Democrats at Fox News. Murdoch responded:
I could give you a couple of names but they’re certainly there. Uh, if Roger [Ailes] were here he’d certainly spit them out very quickly. I think probably every night Greta Van Susteren is certainly close to the Democratic Party.
Let’s have a look at who Rupert Murdoch describes as “probably every night … certainly close to the Democratic Party.”
Between March 21 and April 6, Van Susteren continued Fox’s promotion of the GOP’s efforts to overturn health care reform, hosting 15 guests who said that the health care bill is unconstitutional, and only one who called it constitutional.
Her roster of guests attacking the health care reform bill as unconstitutional included Republican attorneys general from seven different states, as well as four different Republican governors. Van Susteren’s nonstop promotion of the GOP’s efforts to overturn health care reform led the Republican attorney general from Michigan to praise her coverage of the issue.
This was after his third appearance in eight shows.
Back in November, Media Matters senior fellow Eric Boehlert wondered why Rupert Murdoch is “so clueless about Fox News.” This came after Murdoch, among other outrageous statements, called Sean Hannity an “academic” and falsely claimed that nobody at Fox News had compared Obama to Stalin.
In light of his performance at the National Press Club, we are left with two options: either Rupert Murdoch can’t be bothered to watch his own network, or he isn’t interested in telling the truth.