Wealthy Frenchman

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Murdoch Factor


In October 2003, the nonpartisan Program on International Policy Attitudes published a study titled “Misperceptions, the media and the Iraq war.” It found that 60 percent of Americans believed at least one of the following: clear evidence had been found of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda; W.M.D. had been found in Iraq; world public opinion favored the U.S. going to war with Iraq.

The prevalence of these misperceptions, however, depended crucially on where people got their news. Only 23 percent of those who got their information mainly from PBS or NPR believed any of these untrue things, but the number was 80 percent among those relying primarily on Fox News. In particular, two-thirds of Fox devotees believed that the U.S. had “found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.”

So, does anyone think it’s O.K. if Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox News, buys The Wall Street Journal?

The problem with Mr. Murdoch isn’t that he’s a right-wing ideologue. If that were all he was, he’d be much less dangerous. What he is, rather, is an opportunist who exploits a rule-free media environment — one created, in part, by conservative political power — by slanting news coverage to favor whoever he thinks will serve his business interests.

In the United States, that strategy has mainly meant blatant bias in favor of the Bush administration and the Republican Party — but last year Mr. Murdoch covered his bases by hosting a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton’s Senate re-election campaign.

In Britain, Mr. Murdoch endorsed Tony Blair in 1997 and gave his government favorable coverage, “ensuring,” reports The New York Times, “that the new government would allow him to keep intact his British holdings.”

And in China, Mr. Murdoch’s organizations have taken care not to offend the dictatorship.

Now, Mr. Murdoch’s people rarely make flatly false claims. Instead, they usually convey misinformation through innuendo. During the early months of the Iraq occupation, for example, Fox gave breathless coverage to each report of possible W.M.D.’s, with little or no coverage of the subsequent discovery that it was a false alarm. No wonder, then, that many Fox viewers got the impression that W.M.D.’s had been found.

When all else fails, Mr. Murdoch’s news organizations simply stop covering inconvenient subjects.

Last year, Fox relentlessly pushed claims that the “liberal media” were failing to report the “good news” from Iraq. Once that line became untenable — well, the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the first quarter of 2007 daytime programs on Fox News devoted only 6 percent of their time to the Iraq war, compared with 18 percent at MSNBC and 20 percent at CNN.

What took Iraq’s place? Anna Nicole Smith, who received 17 percent of Fox’s daytime coverage.

Defenders of Mr. Murdoch’s bid for The Journal say that we should judge him not by Fox News but by his stewardship of the venerable Times of London, which he acquired in 1981. Indeed, the political bias of The Times is much less blatant than that of Fox News. But a number of former Times employees have said that there was pressure to slant coverage — and everyone I’ve seen quoted defending Mr. Murdoch’s management is still on his payroll.

In any case, do we want to see one of America’s two serious national newspapers in the hands of a man who has done so much to mislead so many? (The Washington Post, for all its influence, is basically a Beltway paper, not a national one. The McClatchy papers, though their Washington bureau’s reporting in the run-up to Iraq put more prestigious news organizations to shame, still don’t have The Journal’s ability to drive national discussion.)

There doesn’t seem to be any legal obstacle to the News Corporation’s bid for The Journal: F.C.C. rules on media ownership are mainly designed to prevent monopoly in local markets, not to safeguard precious national informational assets. Still, public pressure could help avert a Murdoch takeover. Maybe Congress should hold hearings.

If Mr. Murdoch does acquire The Journal, it will be a dark day for America’s news media — and American democracy. If there were any justice in the world, Mr. Murdoch, who did more than anyone in the news business to mislead this country into an unjustified, disastrous war, would be a discredited outcast. Instead, he’s expanding his empire.

David Brooks is off today.


At 12:50 AM, Blogger jkfan87 said...

Seriously...if you are going to write a diary, like a 13 year old girl, at least have the same sense that a 13 year old girl has and realize that no one cares to read it. Also, you try to make Murdoch look like a liar...BY LYING! You do realize there is a huge differnece between "Iraq has ties with Al Qaeda" and "Iraq was behind 9/11" don't you? I am sure you do. So the only explanation for this bullshit diary entry is that you are hoping your readrs are too stupid to know the difference.

Sadly, people reading your diary probably ARE that stupid.

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your the only 13 yr old girl here...Iraq was behind neither 9/11 or al queada, wheres the lie?

At 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are perhaps student jkfan87, but at least we can spell.

At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Seriously, if you're going to try and suggest that Murdoch has done anything other than mislead the public, then post some useful information instead of blindly attacking the author. And don't try to tell me or anyone else that saying "Iraq has ties with Al Qaeda" when talked about in the context of 911 does anything other than suggest that Iraq was behind 911.

Besides, "Iraq has ties with Al Qaeda" was also a bullshit statement when first aired by Fox News. The only reason it's true today is because Al Qaeda have rightly surmised that the US invasion successfully turned Iraq into a breeding ground for people who hate the USA.

"Sadly, people reading your diary probably ARE that stupid"

Way to satisfy your own assertion, moron.

Get over your love affair with Faux News and their NeoCon bias. Try checking out some actual reporting for a change - you know, the kind where the readers are called News Anchors instead of News Actors?

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

skull video articles

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous zilcho said...

I'm sorry where does he say that Iraq was behind 9/11?

Instead of coming up with valid points that actually counter the writer's arguments you're blatantly insulting him/her personally.

I think you're the one acting more like a 13 year old girl by going on such a hostile and defensive rant. Come back when your knickers aren't in a twist

At 1:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Iraq has ties with Al Qaeda" was also a bullshit statement when first aired by Fox News.
beutiful nude girls

At 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jkfan87, is that you Bill O'? Doing your bosses bidding, I see.

At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Dustin said...

Good article.

Shitty comments.

Welcome to the internet.

At 1:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fox is the least biased news source. You are some weird communist. Saddam openly said that those who bomb israelis will have thier families financailly aided. A chemical weapon facility was dound in iraq, emptied of its equipment. Saddam would regularly freeze UN investigations into his weapons building facilities.....Your idiots decree that you are soemhow privy to 'good news' on communist news networks like CNN is a joke. You are an apologist for communism. I hope you get anal fissures.

At 2:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow someone need to stop watching The O’Reilly Factor; come on man get your facts strait. Maybe ask baby jesus to kill all the liberals, muslims, and John Stewart.

At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant article.

Thank God some people can see through the propaganda some of these "news" channels pump out.

At 2:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fox is the least biased news source."

I'm glad to see some one with a sense of humour.

At 2:39 AM, Anonymous Markus Simms said...

Fox News isn't a news channel at all.

Most of the programming is commentary, and then they have news breaks.

Then they don't have to follow any journalism standards, no fact-checking, et al -- just stream whatever you want and call it fact.

At 3:10 AM, Blogger Chuckdubdubdub said...

Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda until the US came along. Sadly these kinds of turns were predicted by analysts to which the Bushies turned a deaf ear.

Where's Osama?

All they heard was how it was going to be a big love fest and how cheap it was going to be and how oil was going to flow.

Faux Newz does not cover that little factoid.

Where's Osama?

Other factoid -- the US wanted to invade Iraq BEFORE 9/11 and 9/11 provided the reason.

Where's Osama?

...Get it yet?

At 3:23 AM, Anonymous Fuzzybutton said...

Well, the 80% are showing up in the comments. For the other 20% there is a way out; NEWS HOUNDS. We watch FOX so you don't have to

At 3:31 AM, Blogger iamshinek said...

see http://hotshadow.com/The_Murdoch_Factor.aspx

At 4:15 AM, Anonymous Jubal Harshaw said...

Wow, Im amazed that people are still spouting the 'chemical weapons' and 'saddam vs. israel' bullshit that a mere 2 minutes of effort with google would disabuse you of.
As for stopping the UN for inspecting his facilities, well, that's been discounted time and time again - the US forced the UN to stop investigating because they wanted to get their war on, your country used the same tactic before, in 1998.

As for jkfan87 - like Fox News, his argument is fact-lite, but full of delicious, satisfying and insulting pejorative terms unsupported by evidence.

It would be easy to laugh at your country's ignorance if the consequences weren't so fucking tragic for the rest of the world.

At 5:40 AM, Blogger Red said...

"It would be easy to laugh at your country's ignorance if the consequences weren't so fucking tragic for the rest of the world."

That is my new favorite qoute.

-Sad American

At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article states "The prevalence of these misperceptions, however, depended crucially on where people got their news."

I wonder where those who beleive 9/11 was orchestrated by the government get their news.

At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jews did 911.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Scott said...


Hope you don't mind, I'm putting the "It would be easy to laugh at your country's ignorance if the consequences weren't so fucking tragic for the rest of the world." quote somewhere so I can remember it. Credit duly given.

@people defending Fox News;

Please stop making my country the festering hole of ignorance the rest of the world sees it as. A little culture would really do you some good. Why can't you redirect this negative energy towards something to improve our country, say, preventing the loss of our rights through clauses in Senate spending bills? If you don't know anything about the Patriot Act, I suggest you go read it or a brief synopsis of it. It'll really enlighten you to how much our country is doing to attack its own people, let alone other countries.

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It certainly is telling to read the comments of the Fox apologists. They seem to be ready to explode with anger and hatred. Why? Because some guy on the internet accuses some Multi-Billionaire of lying to them on a regular basis? You would think that their anger would be directed at the elitist scumbag who is playing them for fools to line his own pockets...

At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes you would think they would direct their anger at Faux Noise but that would mean that they were wrong. And Just like Bush they can't admit it. Just like Nuclear is Nukular never gonna change.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Jester said...

America's image has been down throughout the world largely involves American Media.
The American media is not convincing people outside its borders anymore. People are seeing America as it is. It is Highly entertaining, but it's not pretty.

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm starting to wonder if any media source is right anymore, or who to believe. If you think about it, the media IS the only place we get our news, and who are we even supposed to trust if some ARE lying to us? There is a growing fear of mine that our country is going to turn into a 1984 or Great Britain - "V for Vendetta" style government if the media keeps fucking with us.

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"dound in iraq"??

holy crap! you double good smart!

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is a growing fear of mine that our country is going to turn into a 1984 or Great Britain"

oh no man - the Constitution is very much alive and the neo-cons influence is dying out.. they might make one last push but I tell ya - Righteousness and Freedom will prevail!

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Seriously...if you are going to write a diary, like a 13 year old girl..."

Dude, you do realize this is just a copy/paste job right?
This was published in the NYT.
The actual author is a Princeton economist.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger aj said...

I can not sum it up better then a previous poster:

Good article.

Shitty comments.

Welcome to the internet.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Do you think that Fox News gives straight, unbiased opinions? No. They don't. Do you think that CNN, CSPAN, MSNBC, and the other "news-based" networks provide a clear, unbiased opinion? No. They don't either. News is not news. News is a commodity that money can be made off of. What is the latest story, what can sell the most ads, what can we do for ratings. It all boils down to money.
So then lets look at money. We are concerned that a media mogul is going to buy another newspaper. One that does not provide an unbiased opinion, but an opinion that is slanted towards the liberal agenda. And people are up in arms because someone who is either a "neo-con" or an "opportunist" is going to purchase the paper in which it could possibly swing the view of the paper towards the right.
In the end, it's about business. And if you don't like the fact that this is a country that was built on CAPITALISM, then I can point you to the nearest train-station, bus depot, airport, or sea-port so that you can leave.

And for the author of the article, please use headlines that are more relevant to your story/post/diary entry. As it is poor journalism to mislead readers as you so did.

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous European Observer said...

Very Good Post.
Very Informative.
Free Speech.
True American Spirit.
Difficult to find these days.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Lewis said...

I can not stand Fox News and what it has done to the average American's understanding of national and world events, but at the same time, your statement, "and everyone I’ve seen quoted defending Mr. Murdoch’s management is still on his payroll." seems to imply that some of those who have spoken out against Murdoch have been fired. Isn't subtle innuendo without the facts to back it up what got us here in the first place?

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Florin said...

Look, ma, I'm psychic!
Want proof? Here - jkfan87 watches Fox News a lot. ;-)

At 12:14 PM, Blogger JR said...

Sorry to break it to some of you, but since WMD was found in Iraq, those Fox viewers who said yes were telling the truth.

What was not found were large stockpiles of WMD or evidence that Saddam was still manufacturing them. There is a difference, and it looks like Fox viewers were more informed than Paul Krugman.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the post.

I guess my issue is that people seem so self-righteous while defending positions. There is no way to actually be unbiased (maybe not caring?).

Especially not in the media (a source that has no real obligation to the "truth") but is indeed big businesses bankrolled by other egoistic, heartless swines.

Most people just choose the source that's biased in their favor, and vehemently oppose the other. Why do we even need to know whats going on in the world if few are willing to cooperate to change what's favoured? why do people need to be spoon-fed ideology from the TV?

Just choose to ignore FOX "news" and moronic commentary in general. Idiotic comments certainly don't do the situation justice, nor encourage constructive dialogue.

The big questions are: How can pertinent information be "returned" to the citizens that need it every day? How can we cease to be a part of a "demographic" with commodity interests?

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 7:09 PM, Blogger tayf said...

Even Chuck Norris as an anchor can't save Fox News.

And that's one hell of a trump card.

At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitler had Joseph Goebbels to run his propaganda ministries, Bush has Murdoch, the dichotomy is so obvious its painful.

Just as the Berliners of 1945-46 were astounded and disbelieving that their own government were running death camps and briskly conducting genocide, many Americans would be astonished to know of Rendition, suspension of Habeus Corpus, torture centres, gigantic haliburton-run prisons being constructed inside the US and scattered around Europe, and the like.

The notion that they are too obsessed with the latest celebrity throwing up into the gutter or missing white woman to notice their country being subverted into a despotic fascist dictatorship is simply too overwhelming for the average joe to grasp.


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