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The Future of Fox News in Jeopardy

August 22, 2011


A former competitor of Rupert Murdoch is coming to the defense of the media mogul, saying that he is “at the top of the ‘Most Wanted’ list of every Socialist/Communist activist in the world today” and that the demise of his media empire would do terrible damage to conservatism and Western civilization.

Murdoch, who is 80 years old, is chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the world’s leading publisher of English-language newspapers and their on-line affiliates. Fox News Channel in the U.S. is one of its leading subsidiaries.

Alan M. Metcalfe, Chairman/CEO of Safe Worlds TV in Australia, says that the hounds are still “barking for Rupert Murdoch’s blood” but hopes they will not ultimately succeed in destroying his worldwide media organization.  He also hopes that Murdoch’s son, James, the heir apparent at News Corporation, is “looking, listening, and learning at this important time in his family’s long and illustrious history.”

James Murdoch is considered the more liberal of Murdoch’s two sons and has been handling Asian and European operations for the company. Some unsubstantiated reports suggest that he is at the center of the telephone hacking scandal and that he could be forced to resign.

Conservatives hope that James Murdoch understands that the “progressives” that he has tried to cultivate as friends and associates are out to undermine the company.

On August 9, so-called “progressives” arranged an on-line discussion to accelerate the campaign against Fox News. Hosted by Robert Greenwald, producer of the film, Outfoxed, the participants were:

  • Cenk Uygur – Co-founder of The Young Turks and former MSNBC host
  • Eli Pariser – MoveOn.org
  • Ellen Brodsky – News Hounds
  • Ilyse Hogue – Senior Advisor to Media Matters
  • James Rucker – Co-founder of ColorofChange.org
  • Janeane Garofalo – Actor/Comedian
  • Katrina vanden Heuvel – Editor of The Nation
  • Axel Caballero – Founder/Producer of Cuéntame

One of their complaints about the Fox News Channel was that various anchors and guests had cited documentation about President Obama’s socialist opinions and connections. Another was that Fox News had highlighted the extreme views of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright. One of the participants, James Rucker, and his organization were credited with “getting Glenn Beck off the air.”  

News Corporation can, of course, defend itself. But the comments of Metcalfe, an Australian, are significant, since he describes himself as having been “a very small-time competitor in the marketplace” with Murdoch, who began his career in Australia. Metcalfe greatly appreciates what Murdoch has done for conservative causes around the world and has a global perspective on the crisis affecting the media company. His comments appeared in an article entitled, “Rupert Murdoch—another perspective.”

He explains, “God only knows where the world would be, in my opinion, without Fox News and his other media ventures. I am fully aware that his acquisitions can be described as very smart business decisions, especially Fox News. He has obviously made a lot of money out of this and others, however, when we say this, we must acknowledge the considerable political heat that Mr. Murdoch has taken; which is difficult for any publisher to ignore. Hiring and keeping Glenn Beck on the air, as long as he did, will probably go down in publishing history as one of the truly game breaking decisions in the history of political media. Without Beck on Fox News, the Tea Party movement would almost certainly not have been as successful as it has been; and for this, I have to say that America and the world should be very grateful.”

Beck left the company after left-wing groups mounted a campaign to have him evicted from a position as host of a Fox News Channel program. He has now launched an Internet TV channel.

At the same time, Metcalfe notes that, “As an openly committed Christian Conservative, I have disagreed with his [Murdoch’s] support, at different times, for Socialist/Labor Parties that have enabled these entities to gain power and further their agendas.”

Metcalfe’s point in this regard is important, especially in view of the perception that Murdoch only supports “right-wing” and Republican causes in the U.S. As AIM’s Roger Aronoff has pointed out, Murdoch has a history of supporting Democrats as well as Republicans. Murdoch openly supported Al Gore in his 2000 bid for the White House and made an in-kind contribution to the Democrats that year worth an estimated $10 million. Later, he raised funds for Hillary Clinton.

The most recent list of political contributions from News Corporation and its subsidiaries shows recipients that include New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Attorney General Democrat Kamala Harris. 

In regard to the allegations about the unsavory conduct of one of his British newspapers, Metcalfe says, “…like everyone else, I am appalled at this sort of activity. I also happen to believe that Rupert Murdoch would not condone such activity. He may be a lot of things, however, I do not believe that he is a fool; and for a man in his position to condone such activity (post-Watergate and Richard Nixon), would be very foolish. It is more than I am prepared to believe on hearsay evidence. As the publisher however, ‘the buck stops’ with him; and he must accept responsibility; as I believe he has, to the extent necessary.”

In a July 6 statement, Murdoch said, “Recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable. I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’ leadership. We are committed to addressing these issues fully and have taken a number of important steps to prevent them from happening again. I have also appointed Joel Klein to provide important oversight and guidance and Joel and Viet Dinh, an Independent Director, are keeping News Corporation’s Board fully advised as well.”

Brooks and Les Hinton resigned a week later. The CEO of Dow Jones, parent of The Wall Street Journal, Hinton had preceded Brooks as chairman of News International, the News Corporation subsidiary in charge of the newspaper, News of the World, at the center of the phone hacking scandal. The paper was closed down in response to the allegations.

Copyright ©2011 Cliff Kincaid

 


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