The creator of Fox News, conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is now claiming that Fox News “saved” the Republican party.
Murdoch, who created Fox News in 1996, still pretends that Fox is an objective counterpart, or something, to “liberal CNN.”
“I think it has absolutely saved it,” Murdoch told Fortune, referring to Fox News’ impact on the GOP. “It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn’t like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN.”
Let’s take a visit back to October of 1996, when Fox News launched for the first time. Who did Murdoch make Fox’s new CEO? None other than longtime GOP political strategic Roger Ailes. Ailes is still the president of Fox News.
Just to give you a sense of who Ailes is, he worked for Nixon and Reagan, among others, but this quote from Ailes, via Wikipedia, is particularly telling:
Ailes is credited with the “Orchestra Pit Theory” regarding sensationalist political coverage in the news media, which originated with his quip:
“If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls in the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?”
And Ailes was the man who sent Bush a confidential memo after 9/11 giving him PR advice:
Days after the 9/11 attacks, Ailes gave President George W. Bush political advice indicating that the American public would be patient as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible.
The correspondence was revealed in Bob Woodward’s book Bush At War. Ailes lashed out against Woodward, saying “Woodward got it all screwed up, as usual,” and “The reason he’s not as rich as Tom Clancy is that while he and Clancy both make stuff up, Clancy does his research first.” Ailes refused to release a copy of the memo he sent to Bush.
At the time of Fox’s launch, Ailes hired John Moody to be Fox’s new vice president for news, and to ensure that the network stayed “fair and balanced.” Moody reportedly impressed Ailes with his observation that Time, Newsweek and USNews always, he claimed, featured articles on their covers at Easter-time “beating up on Jesus.”
“They call him a cult figure of his time, some kind of crazy fool, and it’s as if they go out and try to find evidence to trash him,” Moody told the NYT at the time.
I’ll give Murdoch credit, he really gave the media a song and dance about “fairness,” even back at the beginning:
”I’ve told my staff, ‘I don’t expect you not to be biased in your lives; you’ll be too damn boring at the dinner table if you don’t have opinions,’ ” Mr. Ailes said. ”But when you walk into this newsroom, recognize your position or your bias and be fair to people who don’t share that position.”
There’s really almost a beauty to Murdoch’s perverted logic. If CNN is “liberal,” then of course Fox is in the middle. You simply redefine the middle as left, so then the right becomes middle. Which leaves open the question of what Murdoch considers “right.”
At the time of Fox News’ creation, then CNN-head Ted Turner was outspoken in his criticism of Murdoch – and much of Turner’s criticism wasn’t far off the mark. From the LA Times in 1996:
Asked to explain what he meant recently by comparing Murdoch to Hitler, Turner said, “The late Fuhrer, the first thing he did, like all dictators, was take over the press and use it to further his agenda. Basically, that is what Rupert Murdoch does with his media. . . .”
Turner also accused Murdoch of buying off politicians like New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose wife, Donna Hanover Giuliani, works for Fox Channel 5; Newt Gingrich, to whom he offered a $7-million book deal; and Britain’s “Maggie” Thatcher, whom he backed politically.
“I have no respect for him. I think he is a very dangerous person,” Turner said in reference to what he views as Murdoch’s “improper” acts in “buying political favors for his company by making contributions.”
Putting aside whether Murdoch is Hitler, Fox doesn’t just have a conservative bias, it’s a Republican TV network. And for all of CNN’s flaws, the network’s only bias is having hosts and anchors that sometimes come across as bland or light as compared to Fox (and Fox is big on having pretty blondes in brightly-colored one-piece dresses). But at least CNN, like most real American media, tries to get the story right. Fox’s only goal is to skew the story to the right.
And for all the complaints on Fox about how “left-wing” MSNBC is, MSNBC admits it’s a progressive network, and it only moved to the left in response to Fox, some 15 years after Fox moved to the right.
One more thing: MSNBC admits to being progressive. Fox does not admit to being conservative. It’s one thing to be a partisan pundit and admit it. It’s another to pretend you’re fair and balanced when you’re neither. The former is partisan, the latter is the definition of propaganda.