Accuracy in Media

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the parent of Fox News, was a participant in the “Clinton Global Initiative” meeting held in New York in mid-September. Murdoch surprised other participants by saying that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had told him that the BBC “was just full of hate of America and gloating over our troubles” when covering the hurricane disaster. Murdoch said this anti-American attitude was “pretty general through Europe” and that “we’ve got to do a better job at answering it.” Clinton agreed that the BBC coverage was “misleading” and “stacked” to convey a certain negative impression of what the federal government was doing to help people.

What Murdoch had to say was less important than the fact that he was there. Some see the Murdoch media empire moving toward support of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as she prepares to run for president. It is significant that Clinton’s global conference resulted in several TV interviews for the former president as he bashed President Bush on issues ranging from Iraq to the hurricane. Clinton had previously appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News Channel show to promote his global initiative event.

There is a pattern here. We have written extensively on the strange reception that the Ed Klein book on Hillary has gotten from Fox News. Bill O’Reilly has curiously panned the book as too personal and refuses to interview Klein. And Ben Smith of the New York Observer has commented that another Murdoch property, the New York Post, has “trashed” the book and run several negative reviews of it.

On the National Public Radio “On the Media” show, host Brooke Gladstone asked Smith about the personal contacts between Murdoch and the Clintons. He replied, “Hillary and, and Rupert had lunch at News Corp. headquarters in a private dining room in 2002 which, according to a person there was, was very cordial, which I know a lot of people might find hard to imagine. [laughter] And Bill, who kind of works as Hillary’s political operative in a certain way has been courting him, you know, assiduously, and in fact, he’s holding this kind of Davos-On-The-Hudson Clinton Global Initiative Conference this fall to which, you know, a handful of royals and heads of state are invited to-a dozen, maybe two dozen people, only two business leaders are invited, and one of them is Rupert Murdoch.”

Asked about this “warming relationship” between Murdoch and Hillary Clinton, Smith said that, “for Hillary, I mean it’s just, you know, you want to have all the friends you can get, and one of the Clintons’ great geniuses has always been to, you know, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. For Murdoch, a lot of people who’ve written about him and who’ve known him say he’s not an ideologue. You know, what he wants is to advance his business interests, and he’s attracted to powerful, decisive people more than he is to a particular set of policies. What one person suggested to me is that you, I mean you don’t want to be taken for granted, and to the extent to which Murdoch’s media empire is seen as an arm of the conservative movement or of the Republican Party, to that extent, it’s harder for him to ask for things from the conservative movement and the Republican Party, not easier. I mean they’re going to be more solicitous of him if they’re afraid that he’s going to jump ship.”

Another interesting development is Murdoch’s hiring of a Democratic public affairs company run by Hillary adviser Howard Wolfson. Murdoch’s News Corp. hired Wolfson’s firm, the Glover Park Group, to run a campaign against a proposed change in the Nielsen ratings system. News Corp. thought the change would negatively affect their advertising dollars. Senator Hillary Clinton reportedly sent a letter to Nielsen supporting the News Corp. position.

Some on the left believe Hillary is the one selling out. On the Daily Kos website, someone wrote, “At last we have part of the explanation about why Hillary Clinton has become one of the Senate’s leading hawks on Iraq.  She was trying (successfully, it turns out) to win the support of Rupert Murdoch for her 2006 re-election campaign. I have to give her credit.  The New York Post is now savaging Jeanine Pirro, Hillary’s likely GOP opponent, the way it used to savage Hillary. My favorite part is that Murdoch now has Hillary’s top staffer, Howard Wolfson, on the payroll.”

The New York Times has commented on the emerging Murdoch-Clinton alliance. “Even within the company, Mr. Murdoch’s political bent does not prevent him from working with Democrats,” said the paper. “Peter Chernin, the News Corporation’s president, is a major Democratic figure who contributed more than $100,000 to John Kerry’s failed presidential campaign. Gary Ginsberg, a vice president for corporate affairs and the company’s chief spokesman, is a former Clinton White House aide.”

Chernin’s name appeared on a list of CEOs and top executives endorsing Kerry for president. Chernin said Kerry and his running mate, former Senator John Edwards, were “absolute centrist” politicians.

Making Hillary out to be another of those “centrist” politicians, the New York Post has heaped lavish praise on her for coming out against anti-American exhibits in a proposed International Freedom Center on the grounds of the World Trade Center Memorial. The Post called her position “Hillary’s Home run.” Why so much praise for Hillary, who waited far too long to take that sensible position, from a Murdoch property? 

It is apparent that something is going on. And it doesn’t look good for conservatives.

Liberals once did a film critical of Fox called “Outfoxed.” Perhaps conservatives are the ones now being outfoxed.  Let’s wake up folks!

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