Fox News goes after Media Matters while Murdoch’s empire seems to implode


Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch

Fox News ratchets up its attacks against Media Matters to shut it down. Their recent attack is to demand the IRS revoke Media Matters tax-exempt status. No doubt, it’s trying to defund the progressive group.

But while Fox is busy chasing Media Matters, a host of others continue multi-layered campaigns to shut down Fox News, trying to put an end to its unsavory style of reporting.

Maybe Fox’s attacks on Media Matters is nothing more than a smoke screen to divert attention away from Murdoch’s troubles brewing in England. After a 168 year-run, Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid and media group News of the World said goodbye to its 7.5 million readers. Murdoch decided to shut it down after the scandal hit the airways of News of the world’s personal cell phone and email hacking just to get a story. And then there’s that pesky bribing of British police. Heads are starting to roll, arrests are being made and investigations are underway, unraveling a story that should concern us all. Losing 7.5 million readers may seem a bit hard to tolerate but maybe Murdoch thinks he’s cutting his losses in light of his possibly acquiring another large British media group, BSkyB.

No doubt Fox News is beginning to worry about its own fate. There was enough public pressure on Glenn Beck and his advertisers to finally put an end to Beck. What’s in store for Fox News if they don’t mend their ways? Are they as nefarious as News of the World with telephone and email hacking? Good question and one that deserves an answer. Will their efforts to shut down Media Matters work? I say no.

First of all, it’s not about Media Matters, it’s about Fox and what the Fox brand has become.

The scandal and demise of News f the World says it all. That media group fell apart because of their own actions. Secondly, there are so many other groups, causes and more who have and continue to speak out against Fox that going after one small group is just more noise. Ultimately, Fox’s actions against Media Matters will only serve to galvanize all the other groups, causes, public figures, etc., against them for doing so.

Before the last presidential campaign (2006), Robert Greenwald (Bravenew Films) released an online movie, “Outfoxed. Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.” “Outfoxed examines how media empires, led by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, have been running a “race to the bottom” in television news. This film provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public’s right to know.” Here’s the movie trailer.

So what happened with the last presidential campaign is that it gave Fox an opportunity to brand itself in the most negative light possible by railing against a presidential candidate who just happened to be Black, and by tailoring and tempering their commentary to support the extreme far-right, predominantly conservative (re-constructionist) Christian, base of the Republican Party. Since 2007, Fox has moved from being a typical tabloid to a right-wing, racist group.

During the last presidential campaign, Fox News went into frenzy mode using fear, hate and race-baiting to ignite and galvanize the extreme, far-right against then presidential candidate/Senator Obama. Things got so bad by March 2008 that Chris Wallace of  Fox  took on his own station.

Chris Wallace Takes Fox to Task for Obama Bashing – March 22nd, 2008Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace took his own network to task on Friday for what has been unrelentingly negative coverage of Barack Obama. On the morning program Fox & Friends, they continuously played clips of Obama using the term “typical white person” when referring to his grandmother. This was somehow meant to show that Obama was using racist statements against white people – his own grandmother. [Watch Video]

In July 2008, the rapper Nas called out Fox publicly on its racist tactics and gathered 600,000 signatures on a petition against Fox.

About four hours after the announcement that his controversial, politically charged ninth album was number one in the country, Nas was on a small podium in front of Fox News headquarters in New York City protesting what he sees as racist attacks against Black Americans and presidential candidate Barack Obama. In a brief prepared statement, the multi-platinum rapper pointed out examples of what he and ColorOfChange see as a long racist smear campaign against the Obama family: The onscreen graphic that referred to Michelle Obama as the Senator’s “baby mama”; Bill O’Reilly casually using the phrase “lynching party” to refer to attacks on the Senator’s wife; referencing to the couple’s infamous fist thump as a “terrorist fist jab.” Said Nas, “Fox poisons this country every time they air racist propaganda and try to call it news. This should outrage every American that Fox uses hateful language to talk about the person that may be the first black president.” [....]

Color of Change members protest Fox News as racists July 2008

Also in July 2008, Color of Change protested Fox’s headquarters, News Corporation, in New York for Fox being racist in its “reporting.” Several months later in 2009, the NAACP called out Fox News and The New York Post for being racist: “[T]he NAACP accused both Fox News and The New York Post of having a history of racist reporting. The group also points out that the newspaper remains one of the few in the nation that refuses to release their diversity numbers to the public. The group made it clear that Murdoch’s apology was not enough.” [....]

Was it all hype or did Fox’s racist tactics have any impact? By July 2010, Newsone wrote an article highlighting Fox’s top five racists scandals that included the Shirley Sherrod debacle, the New Black Panther Party scandal, the misinformation leading to the resignation of Van Jones, and the misinformation about ACORN that lead to its demise.

The results of these events contributed greatly to an explosion of online groups dedicated to debunking Fox misrepresentations. Why they obviously scare Fox is their increasingly rapid response to whatever distorted facts Fox peddles coupled with the use of  bundling a constantly evolving arena of social media tools. The use of live videos (sometimes Fox’s own) showing what was really said or not said, an explosion of blogs and the sophistication of free online petitions that can be created by just about anyone, especially by organizations like Change.org, has upped the ante for Fox’s opposition and is leveling the playing field.

For instance, MoveOn sponsored a petition in 2008 against FOX that said, “FOX must stop injecting racism, prejudice, and fear into our political dialogue. We intend to hold FOX, its advertisers, and its personalities accountable for FOX’s attempts to smear the Obamas.” That verbiage appeared on a petition page on their website and was accompanied by a video that was also posted on MoveOn’s YouTube page, allowing the petition, the message and the video to be shared globally:

MoveOn, Common Cause and other similar groups filed an official complaint against Fox News’ trade mark saying, “The Federal Trade Commission and Congress must act to prevent Fox News from using the deceptive and misleading trademark ‘Fair and Balanced.'”

Its become common knowledge and practice that bundling of social media tools maximizes the impact of one’s message while simultaneously giving the petitioner an unlimited, global audience that is available 24/7. Does it work? Check out the “Victories” section on Change.org’s website.

A recent, high-profile victory is the release from jail of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei who as imprisoned for his criticism of the Chinese government. This is a classic example of the art of bundling social media tools together with one’s personal contacts, and groups that share a common cause.

This has been an unprecedented campaign, with more than 140,000 people in 175 countries supporting the call of leading global art institutions – including the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, London’s Tate Modern and the Association of Art Museum Directors – for the artist’s immediate release.

Fox’s opposition includes all manner of groups, causes, public figures, news media, television talk show such as News Hounds (“We watch Fox so you don’t have to.”), Drop Fox, Turn Off Fox, Fox News Boycott, DeFox AmericaStopBeck, Glenn Beck Sucks,  Color of Change, Common Cause, Truthout, Media Matters, CREDO Action, PFAW (People for the American Way), Tides Foundation, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), AlterNet, Grist Slate, Change.org, Democratic Underground, Think Progress, Crooks and Liars, LA Progressive, Van Jones. Even the Pew Research Center has weighed in on Fox News with its 2009 report, Fox News Viewed as Most Ideological Network.

So while Fox continues to rail against Media Matters using similar tactics to what it did with ACORN and other groups and public figures not a part of the extreme right machine, the scandal next door in London continues to shine a light that’s being seen around the world, placing Murdoch’s empire under the microscope of public scrutiny. That coupled with the evolution and advances made on a daily basis within the world of social media communication tools, Fox has plenty to be worried about.

Hats off to Media Matters and all other similar groups, causes, public figures and more for speaking truth to power.

Resources and Related Articles

Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims | The Guardian

Murdoch Empire at Risk | The Daily Beast

Analysis: Murdoch raises clouds move according BSkyB | Live Tradings

News Corp.’s News of the World debacle will have big aftershocks | LA Times

Creator of Fox News/Dick Morris-pushed ads suggests Media Matters employees be “curbstomped” | Media Matters

Fox News VP: Fox is ‘the voice of opposition’ to the Obama administration. | Think Progress

Murdoch’s News of the World Steps in It: The press mogul’s U.K. tabloid goes on a crime spree. | Slate

UPDATED: Fox News’ Long History Of Race-Baiting | Media Matters

Bernie Goldberg Compares Fox’s Critics To Racists | Media Matters | Watch Video

Protesters denounce Fox News as racist | Reuters

Dean calls Fox News ‘absolutely racist’ for aiding Sherrod ouster | The Hill

Racist comments on FOX News Website: Where is O’Reilly’s crack team now? | Crooks & Liars

FOX News Distorts Truth About ACORN | Fox Attacks

Fox Attacks: Black America | Bravenew Films

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