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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


Trump Lawyer DiGenova Calls For Execution Of DHS Whistleblower

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Trump lawyer Joe diGenova yestreday called for the execution of DHS whistleblower Chris Krebs, who was the director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) until he was fired by tweet by President Donald Trump for debunking conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 elections.

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Even Fox News Skipped Giuliani’s Deranged Arizona ‘Hearing’ — Until Trump Tweeted

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On Monday, Rudy Giuliani and others from the Trump campaign appeared in a public meeting with members of the Arizona state legislature to contest the state's election results. The meeting predictably featured plenty of deranged and debunked conspiracy theories about the election from the Trump campaign:

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Shoddy Reporting In Murdoch’s Hit Piece On Biden Exposed By New York Times

Katie Robertson has a must-read piece up at The New York Times about the reaction inside the New York Post's newsroom to its shoddy hit piece on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter earlier this week. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • The report was mostly written by a staff writer who refused to put their name on it, per two Post sources.
  • Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani says he gave the material to the Post because he was worried other outlets would practice actual journalism: "either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out."
  • Top figures at the paper were involved in deciding how to proceed, including editor in chief Stephen Lynch, digital editor in chief Michelle Gotthelf, and adviser Colin Allan.
  • Editors at the Post pressed people there to add their name to the byline, according to two sources who spoke to Robertson.
  • Of the two bylines on the piece, we had known that Emma-Jo Morris had worked at Sean Hannity's Fox News show recently, and that her Instagram had pictures of her with figures like Hannity, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon. Robertson adds that Gabrielle Fonrouge, who had the other byline on the piece, did not know that she had a byline until after the piece went live. Robertson writes that three sources told her that Fonrouge "had little to do with the reporting or writing of the article."

The one outlet that embraced the report wholeheartedly from the get go was Fox News, which ran over 100 segments on the story in the first two and a half days, despite all the red flags.

The New York Post is the corporate cousin of Fox News, and is part of News Corp, which is run by executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch, and CEO Robert Thomson. This is how Murdoch-style journalism works.

Update: Peter Sterne at New York magazine adds more, including a number of colorful quotes of Post employees who questioned the piece:

"I think it was very flimsy," one Post reporter told Intelligencer.
Another journalist at the paper was even more blunt.
"It's not something that meets my journalistic standards," they said, adding that the piece "should not have been published."
"It just makes you cringe and roll your eyes, and it's hard to stomach, but at the same time we kind of know that you're signing up for stuff like that," one Post reporter said. "It's upsetting. It's disappointing. It sucks to, like, work for, like, a propaganda outlet."

Fox Hosts Excuse Trump’s Admitted Lies About Pandemic Threat

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

For his new book, Bob Woodward taped conversations with President Donald Trump earlier this year. In some of the tapes, Trump admits that he knew the novel coronavirus was deadly even while he was downplaying it in public. Despite the damning revelation, Fox personalities immediately defended Trump.

In newly released audio excerpts from Woodward's interviews with Trump, the president said on a February 7 recording: "You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flu." In another conversation, Trump admitted that he was downplaying the risk of the virus, saying, "To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down."

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Trump Campaign Video Features Conspiracy Theorist Who Backs QAnon, Doubts Coronavirus

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 5, the Trump campaign's Real News Insights featured Lara Trump interviewing Fox Nation host Isaiah Washington.

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Fox News Pushes Trump’s ‘Cognitive Test’ Taunt At Biden Presser

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

At the very end of former Vice President Joe Biden's press conference largely focusing on the Trump administration's botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox News reporter Doug McKelway pressed Biden about being tested for his mental capacity -- a constant theme of Fox News and the Trump campaign since Biden became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

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Now Lachlan Murdoch Pretends His Racist Network Is ‘Woke’

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Around 2:30 p.m. on June 2, The New York Times' Ben Smith tweeted a note from Fox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Lachlan Murdoch:

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In Rare Interview, ABC’s Muir Failed To Hold Trump Accountable

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

When you are a mainstream journalist and you have a rare one-on-one sit-down interview with President Donald Trump during a pandemic that has killed 70,000 people in this country alone, you need to do better than David Muir did.

It's not Muir's fault that Trump almost never does a one-on-one sit-down interview with the mainstream media. If you look through Trump's televised interviews, there's a lot with Fox News, a good helping of Sinclair, and the occasional quick local hit. The national mainstream journalist interviews are rare; the last ones were in June of 2019 with George Stephanopoulos (ABC), José Díaz-Balart (Telemundo), and Chuck Todd (NBC).

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Trump Disputes Ominous Death Projections With Fox News Talking Points

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

In an interview with ABC anchor David Muir, President Donald Trump repeated Fox News talking points about coronavirus models. This was his first broadcast network television interview since he spoke to NBC's Chuck Todd in June 2019.

Fox News personalities have been using the wide array of COVID-19 models and projections to cast doubt on all modeling predicting the number of coronavirus-related cases and deaths. In response to rising projections of COVID-19 deaths in the country -- and seizing on confusion about the number of the models, what they mean, and which ones are used by whom -- Fox figures are downplaying the accuracy of models in general, calling them "a bit of a crapshoot," and dismissing their predictions since "we don't factor in human ingenuity."

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Fox Business Puts Trish Regan On Hiatus After Coronavirus Rant

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

On Monday, March 9, Trish Regan opened her Fox Business show by complaining about the “Coronavirus impeachment scam.” Her deranged monologue received widespread ridicule after a tweet by Media Matters’ Andrew Lawrence that has been viewed millions of times.

On Friday, March 13, Bloomberg News reported that Regan’s 8 p.m. show, Trish Regan Primetime, was being put on hiatus.

“Fox Business’s prime-time programs Trish Regan Primetime and Kennedy will both be on hiatus until further notice,” Fox said in a statement. “Due to the demands of the evolving pandemic crisis coverage, we are deploying all resources from both shows for staffing needs during critical market hours. Fox Business will run long form programming in prime time for the foreseeable future.”

Regan acknowledged the move:

Fox Business’s Kennedy, hosted by Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery, was also put on hiatus.

Before this monologue calling a deadly global pandemic a “scam,” Regan was known for over-the-top pro-Trump rhetoric and for being the first interview that top Trump adviser Stephen Miller gave after his emails revealed an affinity for racist rhetoric and white nationalist conspiracy theories.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea here, there is plenty of awful coronavirus coverage on Fox that has not led to any consequences.

How Health Care Inequities Increase The Pandemic Peril

Right-wing media have lied for years about the American health care system, downplaying the fact that millions of people are either uninsured or lack access to affordable health care.

With a possible pandemic on the horizon, that's a real problem.

A perfect example of this problem is evident in the Miami Herald's reporting about Osmel Martinez Azcue. After visiting China, he felt sick. Taking the advice of experts, he went to the hospital, where it turned out that he did not have the novel coronavirus strain known as COVID-19, but rather the common flu. He was then billed $3,270, but he may only have to pay $1,400 for the tests he was given if he can prove to his insurance company that the flu he contracted was not related to a preexisting condition. The Herald noted that so-called "junk plans" that don't actually cover common medical expenses contribute to this problem, writing that "often the plans aren't very different from going without insurance altogether."

This is completely absurd. As the Los Angeles Times' Matt Pearce noted, people in other countries don't pay anything near this amount for a coronavirus test.

Right-wing media have defended this ridiculous system for years, fearmongering about proposals that would improve health care quality. People on Fox News are totally fine with rising rates of the uninsured in the U.S. They demand that undocumented immigrants be denied access to health care. Right-wing pundits embrace junk plans and argue loudly that such plans should be allowed to be sold across state lines.In short: Right-wing media assume that there will never be a health crisis that requires the public to actually get treatment. But this system has always been vulnerable to an actual crisis.

Authoritarian countries like Iran and China are having problems for similar reasons, as Zeynep Tufekci wrote, because of "authoritarian blindness." By privileging lies, authoritarian leaders are often blind to developing problems.

Right-wing media have long privileged lies about the American health care system, and now we have a president who believes those lies.

Look at Dr. Nancy Messonnier. Trump is reportedly furious at the CDC official for telling the truth about coronavirus eventually impacting the United States.

Or look at Rush Limbaugh. Not only did he downplay the virus and claim it was being weaponized by the media in an effort to bring down Trump, but he's also now saying that Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party pose "a much greater threat to this country than the coronavirus does."

Guaranteeing that everyone in the country has reliable access to health care is not some fringe or radical notion. Limbaugh and his ilk can scream about Venezuela all they want, but from Canada to the U.K. to elsewhere in the world, developed countries have found ways to ensure their residents have basic access to health care, which comes in handy when there is a potential pandemic.

Sanders (and Elizabeth Warren) have built their campaigns around the idea of ensuring that every American has high-quality health care. And instead of showing empathy or understanding why Medicare for All is so popular with the public, we have pundits scratching their heads and appearing wildly confused.

The Trump administration can't even promise that a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable for everyone:

Maybe things would be different if network news had properly covered the health care crisis in America before coronavirus became a potential pandemic. (Instead, we've seen health care mainly be covered as a political football.)

But now it's just another episode of the never-ending right-wing morality play in which rich people deserve everything they have, including amazing health care, while the rest of us can get by with junk plans (if we're lucky) that leave us medical bills that most can't afford.

IMAGE: HHS Secretary Alex Azar (screenshot).

Right-Wing Media Claim CDC Hypes Coronavirus To Harm Trump

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Dr. Nancy Messonnier is the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Her impressive bio lists a number of top positions that she has held in the CDC, and it also notes that she has received multiple awards.

In recent days, Messonnier has taken a leading role in warning the public about the threat that the novel coronavirus strain known as COVID-19 poses to the United States. The Wall Street Journal noted that Messonnier said it was just a question of when coronavirus will circulate in the U.S. The Daily Beast quoted her as saying, “We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread among close contacts. … The goal here is to slow entry of this virus into the United States.” CNBC quoted her calling for schools to divide students into smaller groups or to close entirely and conduct courses online. Many other outlets have quoted her as well.

But right-wing media have begun to coalesce around a conspiracy theory that Messonnier’s warning should be disregarded because she is the sister of former Trump appointee Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein was a frequent target of pro-Trump propagandists for appointing Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the Russia investigation.

From a QAnon Twitter account to Rush Limbaugh’s show

The conspiracy theory about Messonnier and Rosenstein goes back at least to a QAnon Twitter account noting their connection in early January.

It really started to pick up speed this week.

On February 25, Rush Limbaugh ranted about Messonnier, suggesting an anti-Trump conspiracy after he learned she’s related to Rosenstein. It was also picked up by a poster on white nationalist message board 8kun. Soon thereafter, it jumped to 4chan’s “/pol/,” a slightly less extreme white nationalist message board. The Conservative Treehouse, a right-wing blog featured on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business show before, also posted about the conspiracy theory.

Others followed suit:

On the morning of the February 26, Joe Hoft (the brother of Jim Hoft, proprietor of the Gateway Pundit) posted about it. Hoft wrote that Messonnier’s remarks while President Donald Trump was in India were “a startling rebuke” and that it was “eerily similar to past Presidential trips when former and corrupt DAG Rod Rosenstein and the corrupt and criminal Mueller gang would drop shocking news as the President was overseas.”

Later on the 26th, Rush Limbaugh returned to the conspiracy theory, with the transcript of his show hyperlinking to Hoft’s post. After suggesting that Messonnier was not to be trusted, Limbaugh quickly changed the subject to suggest that the virus may just disappear once the weather warms up. Scientists have cast doubt on that theory as well.

Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly furious at Messonnier:

Photo credit: Twitter

MSNBC’s Matthews Blasted Over ’Nazi’ Slur Against Sanders

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won the Nevada Democratic caucuses resoundingly. Looking for some way to describe how it, MSNBC host Chris Matthews grabbed for an analogy about France being overrun by the Nazis in 1940:

Matthews’ analogy could have been ripped straight out of right-wing media. The comparison was swiftly condemned, including by many people not supporting Sanders:

When he is not using right-wing tropes to attacks Sanders’ positions, Matthews demonstrates his total ignorance about what Sanders stands for, even though he’s supposed to be a politics expert. He recently was harshly criticized for suggesting that there would be mass executions under a Sanders administration. Matthews also has no idea of what Sanders’ vision of “democratic socialism” means, even though the candidate gave speeches directly about that topic in 2016 and again during this cycle.

Matthews also has a long history of misogyny, and he frequently praised the George W. Bush administration.

Trump Pardons Convicted Felon And Fox News Favorite Bernard Kerik

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

A day after complaining with Fox host Tucker Carlson that criminals in New York City should be punished more harshly, convicted felon Bernard Kerik has been pardoned by President Donald Trump.

Kerik, a longtime associate of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight felonies:

On December 3, 2004, President Bush nominated Bernard Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security, reportedly after Giuliani had repeatedly made a “personal pitch to the White House” on Kerik’s behalf. Giuliani had appointed Kerik New York City Police Commissioner in 2000 — even after Giuliani was reportedly briefed on Kerik’s ties to what the Times described as a company “suspected of links to organized crime” — and the two were reportedly “literally inseparable on 9/11 and in the months that followed.”

On December 10, 2004, Kerik withdrew his nomination. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson subsequently began investigating Kerik for corruption, resulting in Kerik’s 2007 indictment on 16 counts. In 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including two counts of tax fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application, and five counts of making false statements to the government. The last charges “stemmed from statements Mr. Kerik made to the White House during the vetting process after the Bush administration nominated him to lead the Department of Homeland Security.” In 2010, Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison.

Kerik was released in May 2013 after serving three years.

Kerik has been a regular on Fox News in the Trump era, appearing on weekday Fox programming at least 39 times since the beginning of 2018 according to Media Matters’ internal database. This does not include weekend appearances, such as when he’s appeared on Jeanine Pirro’s show on Saturday evenings.

The day before Trump announced the pardon, Kerik appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight to attack New York’s cash bail reform, arguing that the state needs to be significantly tougher on criminals. Carlson simply introduced him as a former New York City police commissioner, before Kerik complained about New York’s bail reform law.

Fox News has been directly responsible for a number of pardons given by Trump, most notably for war crimes. The network is also linked to the commutation of former Illinois governor and Celebrity Apprentice contestant Rod Blagojevich‘s sentence for bribery and political corruption.

The White House statement announcing clemency for Kerik specifically credited Fox News personalities Geraldo Rivera and Andrew Napolitano in a list of people supporting the decision.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

In 2019, America Saw The Human Cost Of Fox News’ Nativism

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On August 3, a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and murdered 22 people and injured 26 more. In addition to telling police that he drove from a Dallas suburb with the intention of targeting “Mexicans,” the shooter allegedly left a manifesto spelling out his rationale for carrying out the attack — which turned out to be virtually identical to anti-immigrant talking points heard nightly on Fox News.

The shooter’s major ideological influence was the “great replacement” theory: the idea that sinister left-wing forces are bringing Mexicans and other immigrants to the United States to replace white people. We saw that rhetoric on Fox and other conservative media time and time again both before and after the shooting. It was no secret that it was and is a white nationalist conspiracy theory.

Here’s a sampling of Fox’s nativist rhetoric just from this year, before and after the shooting:

Nothing on Fox News changed after El Paso, just as nothing changed in 2018 after another right-wing conspiracy theory inspired a synagogue shooter in Pittsburgh.

The “great replacement” rhetoric is still there. Just days after the shooting, Tucker Carlson declared the notion that white supremacy is a real problem in the U.S. is a “hoax.” The network went out of its way to blame the shooting on video games because, from the Murdochs on down, the network pushes white nationalism to serve President Donald Trump’s agenda. Just look at how the network buried the story of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s racist emails.

Anyhow, here’s a list of top Fox News advertisers.

Fox Hosts Urged Pardons For War Crimes — And Trump Granted Them

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

After being repeatedly urged on air by Fox News hosts, President Donald Trump has reportedly given pardons to Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, operator chief Edward Gallagher, and former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance.

This is yet another example of the Fox News pardon pipeline, as pardons in all three cases were heavily pushed on Fox & Friends, largely by Fox News host and former Guantanamo Bay guard Pete Hegseth.

Media Matters examined the cases recently:

Trump is reportedly considering the criminal cases of U.S. soldiers Clint Lorance and Mathew Golsteyn, each accused or convicted of war crimes, following the advice of Fox News host Pete Hegseth. Hegseth has also called for action in the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was acquitted of premeditated murder in July but was found guilty of posing for a photo with the dead body, causing a reduction in his rank. Hegseth and other Fox personalities have consistently defended these three figures.

Lorance, who was a first lieutenant in the Army, was found guilty in 2013 of second-degree murder of two civilians in Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that nine members of his platoon testified against Lorance at his trial, and several of them contradicted his testimony in their interviews. One of his subordinates told the Times, “One of the first things [Lorance] said to us was, we are going to go in Gestapo-style with night raids, pull people out of houses, make them afraid of us.” It was also reported in Task & Purpose that Lorance ordered his soldiers to shoot a child who attempted to recover the bodies.

Golsteyn, a major in Army Special Forces, is charged with the murder of an alleged Taliban bomb-maker in Afghanistan in 2010. The Army Times reported that “Golsteyn allegedly told CIA interviewers [in 2011] that he and another soldier took the alleged bomb-maker off base, shot him and buried his remains. He also allegedly told the interviewers that on the night of the killing, he and two other soldiers dug up the body and burned it in a trash pit on base.” Golsteyn was “cleared of a law of armed conflict violation,” but an Army board found his conduct unbecoming of an officer. The Army then reopened the case in 2016 after Golsteyn told Fox News anchor Bret Baier that he killed the man.

In May, an Iraq War veteran warned against pardons for war crimes, saying, “It’s bad for our national security. It’s bad for our troops, it’s bad for our global standing.”

Hegseth has also said the possibility of pardons is “very heartening for guys like me,” that it “could’ve been me” on trial for war crimes, and that if Golsteyn’s actions counted as a war crime, then “put us all in jail”:

IMAGE: Fox News host, Army veteran, and former Guantanamo Bay prison guard Pete Hegseth.

Lachlan Murdoch Rejects Responsibility For ‘Unhinged’ Fox News

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.


Amid growing pressure on advertisers to distance themselves from Fox News, Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, told CNBC host Andrew Ross Sorkin that critics should be more tolerant of what airs on the network. Talking to Sorkin at The New York Times’ DealBook conference, Murdoch also claimed that the “biggest critics of Fox News are not watching Fox News,” and that President Donald Trump does not like Fox News, but rather “dislikes us less than everyone else.”

Murdoch refused to take any responsibility for the company that he runs, instead offering a load of horseshit for an elite audience. While Murdoch claimed that Fox News just runs banal conservative programming in prime time, the network is actually broadcasting white nationalist propaganda indistinguishable from the likes of David Duke. And while Murdoch refused to acknowledge a revolving door between Fox News and the Trump White House, Trump is dialing up Fox hosts from the White House, and Fox is hiring people who leave the administration. Murdoch can pretend that Fox News is a normal news organization — and he wasn’t really pressed on the matter because Sorkin isn’t terribly familiar with what happens on the network — but the reality is that Fox News is a right-wing propaganda machine.

Murdoch repeatedly pointed to Fox anchor Shep Smith to deny that the network is a pro-Trump operation. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple discussed yesterday why this is laughable. In fact, the network repeatedly airs claims that Smith already debunked. Contrary to Lachlan’s assertions, Smith does not redeem Fox News. Instead, he reveals Fox News for the cesspool it is.

Murdoch also highlighted Martha Maccallum as an example of straight news coverage, which is even more baffling if one is familiar with her Fox shows.

Murdoch’s appearance came as Fox News is bleeding advertisers because of what the network’s talent puts on the air. Don’t take our word for it — that remark comes from Murdoch’s own ad chief. And as Media Matters President Angelo Carusone noted recently, “Fox News’ most prominent shows — the ones that are supposed to be most palatable for advertisers — are also defined by bigotry, extremism, conspiracy theories, and outright volatility. From a business perspective, they’re a bad bet.”

Sorkin gave the last question to esteemed New Yorker critic Ken Auletta, who asked Murdoch if he’s embarrassed by Fox News programming. Murdoch pivoted immediately into standard right-wing talking points that more tolerance is needed for conservatives who are under threat.

After a week in which a would-be mass bomber and a mass shooter were inspired by right-wing propaganda indistinguishable from what Fox News airs, that embrace of victimhood rings more than a little hollow.

From The New York Times DealBook conference, as broadcast by CNBC’s YouTube page:

ANDREW ROSS SORKIN (MODERATOR): Let me ask you this, because as I said when you sat down, there’s a lot of questions about the political discourse right now. And Fox News has come under question, criticism, fire, all sorts of things. When you think about the future of Fox News — so Fox, new Fox — is this supposed to be a red state media organization? I mean, do you think about it like that?

LACHLAN MURDOCH (21st CENTURY FOX EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN): No, I think about it as an all-state media organization, right. So we have to program — and by the way, you’re talking about Fox News, but the television network, the TV stations, Fox Sports, nonpolitical, unpolitical media businesses — we program to everyone, right. So it’s to the coasts, it’s to California and New York, but also everywhere in between.

SORKIN: But let me ask you this then, and this is where it gets complicated in the business. Because of the criticism — and there is a lot of it, I want to talk about false flags and all sorts of other things — there are people in the business who I imagine you would want to do business with who don’t want to do business with you. This is the co-creator of Modern Family, Steve Levitan, who is — you produced —


SORKIN: — Modern Family for all these years. He goes and says the following, and this is about you: “I sincerely hope Lachlan Murdoch recognizes the damage this is doing” — this is about the network — “and finally brings sound journalistic ethics and standard to his network before more unhinged people are riled up to send bombs and shoot up churches and synagogues. I’m not going to do anything for the Fox network ever again as long as Fox News remains such a destructive voice in our society.” When you hear that, you think what?

MURDOCH: I know Steve pretty well. I think he’s a genius, he’s certainly a genius storyteller. And what makes, what makes Steve so good is that he has a huge amount of empathy, you know. People who tell stories — and you’re a writer, right — people who tell stories, they have empathy and then they, they channel the empathy from people around them, right. And so what Steve is doing — and I completely understand this and I accept his opinion on this — he feels, frankly, the, you know, the anger and you know the intolerance of opinions that we’re seeing across all of our community today in America. And so, and so you know when I hear that or read it on Twitter or wherever he wrote that, I completely understand where that’s coming from. Now having said that, you have to look at our platforms, right. We have, you know whether it’s people who look at Fox News and frankly, our biggest critics of Fox News are not watching Fox News. Right?

SORKIN: Well they’re [CROSSTALK]

MURDOCH: They’re taking up, they’re picking up pieces from Twitter and social media elsewhere. But you have to look at, you know, The Wall Street Journal. You have to look at The Times of London or the Australian —

SORKIN: But I would say, but I would say there’s a distinction between what The Wall Street Journal op-ed page does and what you see on Fox News. And when I mentioned false flags before, or the conspiracy theories, the idea of trafficking in some of these ideas, even last week — I don’t know if Ed Stacks is still here from Pittsburgh — some of these ideas, I mean, are you — when you see that stuff, are you proud of that?

MURDOCH: So let me pick up a couple of points that you made. So if you look at Fox News today, right, and I think this would surprise most people — most critics, who again frankly aren’t watching — if you look across an average day, if we QMR opinion, right, our opinion timeslots, right, 8 o’clock to 11 o’clock at night. And I’ll even throw in breakfast, right, Fox & Friends mid-morning. It’s about 14 million viewers, QMing that time period up. In our news hours — and you can’t, you know, Chris Wallace, Shepard Smith, Martha MacCallum, no, no, let me [Crosstalk]

SORKIN: I know, I appreciate that.

MURDOCH: In our news hours, 22 million viewers in those news hours. So far more people watching the news hours than the opinion hours. And so when, then to go to your point, when, I think it was on Lou Dobbs, right?


MURDOCH: There was a guest on Lou Dobbs who said something the other day. The guest was immediately banned from coming back on, and Fox News apologized immediately.

SORKIN: But were you upset about that personally?

MURDOCH: We wouldn’t ban him and apologize if you didn’t think it was a mistake.

SORKIN: OK, let me ask you the difference — [Crosstalk]

MURDOCH: And so, and so, news organizations, all news organizations, right, in particular ones that are 24/7. When they get something wrong, they have a responsibility, an absolute responsibility to correct it and to apologize for it when they need to.

SORKIN: How do you feel about the fact that President Trump likes your network so much? And I say it because as a journalist, I want people to respect the news that I’m providing, I want them to need the news that I’m providing. But I’m not sure I’d always want them to like it as effusively —


SORKIN: As the president seems to when it comes to Fox News.

MURDOCH: I think he dislikes us less than everyone else. If you look at Shepard like — if you look at Shepard Smith, if you look at Chris Wallace, if you look at Geraldo was on Fox & Friends this morning criticizing the president, there is a huge number of hours a day, you know, guests, contributors, you know, that do not agree with the president —

SORKIN: Do you think Fox News is contributing to any of this? And the reason I ask is you look the truck of the fellow who was sending out bombs to prominent Democrats last week, and there are pictures of Trump everywhere. There’s a big sticker that says “CNN sucks” right on it, which almost felt like it was out of a Fox show. I mean, is there any of that that you say to yourself, “You know what, that part I’m not proud of”?

MURDOCH: I don’t think — I don’t take responsibility for a criminal who was a criminal before Fox News even started, right, in the case that you’re mentioning. And so I think it’s unfair to make that criticism of me or Fox News or of any other media organization. So, but what I can say is that when we make mistakes — and all news organizations do make mistakes — it’s our responsibility as it is everyone’s to correct them and to apologize for them.

SORKIN: Let me ask you though, related to the image though of the closeness between Fox and the administration. Obviously you just hired Hope Hicks, I’d love to understand that decision, choice, and even thinking about the optics of that. Bill Shine, by the way, who used to work with you, then went to the White House. And that creates — at the minimum it creates an optics issue. Do you think about that?

MURDOCH: I’ll maybe explain. We didn’t have anything to do with Bill Shine. We — Bill Shine left Fox News and was gone for a while before he went to the White House. In terms of Hope, you know, we have an incredible opportunity in that we — so with new Fox, what we’re doing is we’re bringing these companies in that are established, you know, profitable businesses with, you know, very strong brands. You know, Fox News, Fox Sports, the network, and then that business will make about $2.5 billion in its first year. But what we’re able to do, because this is a new company, is put a completely new management structure in place above that. And it’s really a once — it sounds like a cliche, it is a cliche — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create this entirely new management structure to lead the company going forward. So what we’ve done is we’ve said, “Well how do we hire” — this is, we do see this as a — and there’s an endpoint, there’s you know, January or February when the new company comes out, everything has got to be in place and you’ve got to hit the ground running. So how do we hire the absolute best executives into those roles, how do we hire — so we hired Charlie Collier from AMC, fantastic executive to run the TV network. We obviously promoted some months ago, Suzanne Scott to run Fox News, Eric Shanks to run Fox Sports. And Hope Hicks, we found out she was looking for her next job, said this is an incredible executive with incredible experience, who frankly will do a tremendous job — no connection to the White House, no —

SORKIN: Reports that Jared Kushner and others had talked to your father —

MURDOCH: Talked to me. Hundred percent false, hundred percent false.

SORKIN: OK, I’m glad that we set the record straight on that. Let me ask you a couple other quick questions.

MURDOCH: Oh by the way, I should just mention, when we did do our due diligence on Hope, because it’s something you do, you go out and you interview someone and then you check their references, and you also call around — someone in that role, in public relations, I had an advisor of mine call people she would have worked with, and universally — and I should mention that many people from The New York Times — universally said she was a fantastic choice.

SORKIN: OK. Politics inside your family, when you — do you consider yourself a conservative, a Republican, what are your own politics? And also I want to know about the conversations you have with James, because I think there’s a perception that he may be on the other side of you.

MURDOCH: So look, I am — I consider myself — look, I’m conservative probably economically, on the economic sort of policy. I’m more liberal on social policy. And so I don’t fit neatly into a left-right, Republican-Democrat bucket, right? And so — which I think is frankly important — I think you need to be, particularly running media organizations, you need to be an independent thinker. What I do find is that when people tell me to think a certain way, or that I should think a certain way, I’m more inclined —

SORKIN: To think a different way.

MURDOCH: To think a different way, or certainly examine, why are they telling me that.

SORKIN: Because I think James is on the other side, do you guys ever talk about what’s on Fox News?

MURDOCH: Occasionally, occasionally. And James, to his credit, he’s incredibly strong on and gives a lot of money to environmental causes and so — but you know, we are, we run a business with lots of different opinions, on different sides in our business. And we are a family with lots of different —

SORKIN: OK, final question because I know we all have to run to lunch and I’m going to run out of time. Ken Auletta, of course from The New Yorker.


KEN AULETTA (THE NEW YORKER CONTRIBUTOR): You mentioned that you are a social liberal, or to the left on social issues. You also extolled the word empathy. If you watch the primetime programing on Fox News, it’s the opposite of that. Empathy is not championed, and they’re socially very conservative. Do you plan to make any changes in that since you have strong views on these things?

MURDOCH: Look, I do have strong views on these things and I think I can — and you know this because you know our companies very well — we, I’ve run newspapers since I was 21 or 22 years old. You know, I don’t — and it’s a practice I have had, I know it’s a standard practice, it should be if it isn’t, but I think it is a standard practice in almost every newsroom, certainly in the Western world. I don’t tell journalists what to say, or what to write. That’s not my role. What I do do, running a media organization, is obviously, you know, work closely with the managers of those newsrooms and with the managers of those newspapers, and it’s important that they get the positioning and the messaging right. We don’t always get it right. We don’t always get it right, and we have to call ourselves out on that when we make a mistake.

AULETTA: I understand that [inaudible]. But are you embarrassed by what they do?

MURDOCH: No, I’m not embarrassed by what they do at all. You have to understand that Fox News is the only mass media company in America, in this country, with conservative opinion, with strong conservative opinion in primetime. It’s the only one, alright? It’s not one of a few, it’s the only one. And I frankly feel in this country, we all have to be more tolerant of each other’s views. And that does for everyone, everyone in this room, everyone in this country, everyone on both coasts, and in the middle. And that’s the problem — we’ve come to this point where we are more and more intolerant of each other and frankly that just has to change.

Media Matters watches all Fox News programming.

Header image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters