As Fox's Leadership Changes, The Media Grieves Again

If they can't beat the network, they'll try to ruin the Murdoch family and their company.

The rest of the press is going back to war against Fox News. After all, they do not want to let a crisis go to waste.

I got a public relations email from Media Matters’ outside PR firm. Remember Media Matters? It is the partisan, leftwing group that selectively edits and excerpts conservatives in the media to exaggerate, distort, or otherwise lie about what they’ve said. Occasionally, Media Matters accurately characterizes a misstep — occasionally. But then they use that rare misstep to try to define the conservative permanently that way. They try to run boycotts, etc. against the media outlets that air conservatives or against advertisers who advertise on conservative outlets.

Media Matters particularly hates Rush Limbaugh and Ben Shapiro on radio and hates Fox News. They are not alone. But consider this jumping-off point for their PR message. Here is part of that email.

According to a new report from Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media watchdog, since health officials discovered the first U.S. case of coronavirus on January 21, Fox News personalities and their guests have used racist language to describe the disease 144 times, including 105 instances from Fox personalities and 39 from guests. 

Specifically, Fox News hosts have attempted to rebrand the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus” despite experts, including those at the World Health Organization, who have warned that such language is racist and xenophobic, and it comes at a time when fears of coronavirus are fueling physical and verbal attacks against Asian Americans. 

Tucker Carlson himself represented a substantially large portion of uses of the terms on Fox: 43 of the 144 instances came from the prime-time host. Carlson has taken particular interest in defending the use of such terms, stating during the March 12 edition of his program: “Just to be clear, describing a virus from Wuhan as the ‘Wuhan virus’ is not xenophobia, it’s accuracy, and anybody who says otherwise is lying and probably for a reason.”

According to Media Matters, the first instance of Fox News personalities referring to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” after there was a confirmed case of coronavirus in the US took place on January 22nd, but efforts to to rebrand coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” became more apparent on Fox & Friends on March 6, when guest host Pete Hegseth and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advocated for its use. 

There are a few things to notice. First, cast your eye at the last paragraph. “[T]he first instance of Fox News personalities referring to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” after there was a confirmed case of coronavirus in the US took place on January 22nd.” What is notable is the baked-in distortion of reality. On January 22, 2020, every American media outlet was still using “Wuhan virus,” “Wuhan coronavirus,” “virus spreading through China,” etc. Whether you watched CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, or PBS or read the New York Times or Washington Post or USA Today or the Wall Street Journal — everyone used that phrase.

On top of that, “efforts to rebrand the coronavirus” came after China started a propaganda campaign to blame the United States for spreading the virus. Media Matters, of course, would prefer the communist dictatorship of China to the United States.

But Media Matters is increasingly a fringe group even the left and their allies in the press outside MSNBC dismiss. Media Matters is, however, indicative of where the left is going. We get a better sense of where the left is from the New York Times.

Attacking Lachlan Murdoch

For two days, Ben Smith — the man who leaked the Steele dossier and defended it even though it was full of lies and Russian propaganda — has attacked Lachlan Murdoch, purportedly with friends of his.

First, Smith calls it a “dangerous mistake” to put the 48-year-old in charge of the network. What is the major accusation against Murdoch?

The person who could have stopped the flow of misinformation was Ms. Scott’s boss, Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of the Fox Corporation. But he wasn’t paying much attention.

Can you image the reaction at the New York Times if the CEO entered the newsroom and demanded changes? For goodness sake, when the New York Times’s actual editor didn’t show enough fealty to various woke causes, the reporters nearly rioted. If the corporate owner showed up and barked orders, there would be a mass walk out.

But the New York Times wants the corporate CEO of 21st Century Fox to dictate the news coverage on a subsidiary cable channel that happens to have more audience than the other news networks and more overall eyeballs each day than the New York Times gets.

The 48-year-old heir to his family’s media fortune was focused instead on buying a streaming company called Tubi for $440 million, a person who has spoken to him said. The acquisition would drive “long-term growth,” he proudly announced in a news release on March 17.

Just so we are all on the same page, 21st Century Fox is not Fox News. Fox News has a chief executive. Her name is Suzanne Scott. Lachlan Murdock is in charge of a global corporation that owns a great many global media outlets.

Not content to use people to trash the head of 21st Century Fox, the next day Smith attacked Fox for taking precautions to protect the health of 89-year-old Rupert Murdoch. Because of the overnight opinion hosts were downplaying the spread of the coronavirus and convincing others it was no big deal, Smith posits it was hypocritical of the corporate owners to take it seriously.

Again, the New York Times is demanding intervention at the network by its corporate owners in a way the New York Times would reject for itself.

The reason has very little to do with the virus and very much to do with Lachlan Murdoch increasing his grip on the network. It is an effort by the media to undermine the new leadership, cast doubts, and shame both advertisers to impact the revenue stream and the company itself. It is corporate bullying by a competitor designed to either get it to fall in line or be harmed financially.

On top of that, the accusation amounts to a singularly impressive charge — the corporate owners of 21st Century Fox let its news channel have editorial independence.

1619 Project

The staggering hypocrisy here is amazing when one considers the New York Times’ 1619 Project. Historians have come forward to note they advised against factual inaccuracies in the project, but the Times ignored them even after consulting them.

Other historians have come forward to point out the Times got basic facts wrong, distorted history, and started from a faulty premise then twisted the facts to make it work. The Times doubled down.

While the New York Times is accusing Lachlan Murdoch and his family of allowing Fo News to distort the spread of the coronavirus, the New York Times itself is doing more than the Chinese propaganda ministry to try to divide Americans against one another and start a race war over lies, half-truths, and distortions of the historic record. Additionally, the New York Times intends to profit from those divisions by selling its propaganda as education material.

Maybe the Times should be more inwardly reflective instead of jealously nitpicking the coverage at Fox News.

But We Can’t Ignore CNN

It’s not just the New York Times. Lest we forget, Matt Lauer was ultimately forced out at NBC News for some pretty terrible conduct with women. Video has surfaced of CNN’s head, Jeff Zucker, making some pretty explicit jokes about Lauer’s behavior at a birthday roast. It was seemingly an open secret. Zucker claims he knew nothing, which is what everyone said. Consider this:

"It's just good to see Matt up here and not under my desk," he joked.

"I don't want to say Matt is a germophobe, but he's the only guy I know who uses Purell both before and after he masturbates," Zucker continued.

Zucker, like pretty much everyone at NBC, denied he knew anything. NBC News itself engaged in a willful coverup. While Fox News hired an outside agency to launch an investigation into allegations at Fox, NBC circled the wagons.

Zucker, by then at CNN, denied knowing anything and no one actually believes him. But the media establishment has largely protected Zucker while continuing to attack Fox News.

Likewise, CNN itself has ignored Zucker while letting Brian Stelter operate as their in house Fox News stalker. Stelter has chosen to downplay or ignore many of the issues that have dragged CNN into the headlines. He is more their apologist than a reporter these days who regularly uses his Sunday show to attack the President and Fox News.

The coverage of Fox News is obsessive and frequently whiny. More so, while Stelter and CNN frequently refuse to acknowledge Fox’s overnight shows from Carlston to Hannity to Ingraham are explicitly opinion shows and treat them as if they are legitimate news enterprises, they cannot recognize that Don Lemon, for example, is now the same.

If a Fox News host had credibly entertained the idea that a black hole had swallowed up a Malaysian 777, Stelter woudl have flown into quasi-orgasmic outrage on CNN. The network would have had to go NC-17 pay per view. But that actually happened on CNN with Don Lemon. Had Fox News suggested Barack Obama had killed more people than Hitler, the same would have happened.

But that happened on Stelter’s own show and, though Stelter claims he couldn’t hear the remark due to a technical error, Stelter’s own show’s team pushed out that clip to social media to get it attention.

Pots, Kettles, and Ratings

The most galling aspect of all of this is the hypocrisy. CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, etc. have glaring problems that should require self-reflection. I love CNN and spent three years working there in addition to five years at Fox. But it has slowly shifted towards wanting to be MSNBC-lite in a lot of its coverage and that does its serious newsmen and women a disservice. Even when I was at CNN, various reporters there warned me never to go on shows during the daypart because of the liberal biases of several of the anchors. The situation has gotten worse with Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon in the evening. Don, by the way, is a terrific guy, but his show has become regularly and predictably hysterical. Cuomo just isn’t an honest broker in much of what he covers. And let’s not forget the network just ditched an outstanding and copiously fair journalist named Dave Briggs for their mornings in order to give Valerie Jarrett’s daughter more exposure.

The network and others in the press have bent over backward to ignore the nuttiness and partisanship at MSNBC while fixating on Fox News. They have circled the wagons to protect Jeff Zucker over the Lauer scandal while playing up scandal at Fox News.

It has everything to do with ratings. Fox News is dominating the ratings and the rest of the press has given up trying to compete. Now, with outside leftwing interest groups, they are actively trying to just destroy the ratings giant.

As 21st Century Fox increasingly puts Lachlan Murdoch in charge and Tucker Carlson clearly has the White House’s attention and Fox & Friends clearly has the President’s ear, Murdoch’s rivals seek to undermine him at this transition period and the bitter jealousies of competitors are boiling over.

If they cannot beat Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, the rest of the press will do their best to ruin them.