Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Murdoch may be media’s savior, not Satan

August 8, 2007


First, the disclaimer: I appear on Fox News Channel, one of Rupert Murdoch's media properties, as a paid contributor. I received neither instructions, nor promises of benefits, in exchange for what I am about to write. We now rejoin our regularly scheduled column.

The grotesque amount of condescension from the elite media concerning the purchase of Dow Jones, which includes The Wall Street Journal, by "media mogul" Rupert Murdoch is astounding. You would think Hugo Chavez had just bought the newspaper with his oil money and announced an immediate tilt to the left. Come to think of it, the elites would not have found that as offensive, because America already has a national newspaper that mostly reflects Chavez's leftist views. It's called The New York Times.

In a nostalgic essay for The Washington Post, David Ignatius wrote about the good old days when he worked for the Journal and expense accounts were as liberal as some of the reporting. Ignatius claims - without proof - "that as the company's economic fortunes declined, so did some of its journalism" and that "The Journal's editorial page increasingly did its own reporting, with equal portions of journalistic hustle and ideological spin, and it often overshadowed the news side," which he suspects "helped undermine the franchise." He speculates, "Advertisers : perhaps weren't enthralled with a newspaper distinguished by vitriolic right-wing attack editorials." Never mind that the editorial page editor during the period Ignatius regards as flawed - the late Robert Bartley - won a Pulitzer Prize.

Ignatius ignores the often vitriolic left-wing editorials and columns in The New York Times, a newspaper that has recently suffered from a decline in circulation - even in its core market - and been forced to lay off staff. I suspect that under Murdoch's ownership, circulation of the Journal newspaper and its online edition will increase and more staffers will be hired, as is now happening with the Fox Business Channel, which is due to premiere in October.

Most of the elite media were of one mind (surprise!) when it came to Murdoch's acquisition of the Journal. NBC's Andrea Mitchell called him "a controversial press lord" and declared Murdoch "deeply conservative," which liberals intend as a slur only slightly less insulting than the label "deeply religious."

The New Yorker's Ken Auletta claimed Murdoch "often" uses "his publications and his media to advance his business or his political interests." Imagine that! The views of New York Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., can be read in his newspaper, which consistently promotes policies and people he favors. When you're a liberal, this is regarded by the elites as "good journalism." When you have a different point of view, you are engaging in propaganda and serving only yourself and your interests.

The elite media have been beating up on Rupert Murdoch for years, when they ought to have been addressing the cause of their own decline. Instead, they preferred to indulge in paranoia and denial.

The attacks on Murdoch began in earnest just four months after the debut of the Fox News Channel. In a transcript provided by the Media Research Center of a Jan. 19, 1997, "60 Minutes" broadcast on CBS, Mike Wallace warned ominously that "on Murdoch's new cable channel the news comes with a conservative spin." Whom did Wallace cite as his expert authority? None other than CNN founder Ted Turner, who regularly promoted his left-wing views about the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro and other dictators, high taxes, big government, Democrats and environmental activism when he owned and ran that network.

Before Fox News Channel was born, I met with several network news presidents, telling them that someone was going to go after a demographic that felt shut out by the mainstream media. These people, I said, go to church, fly the flag, respect the nation's traditions and institutions and hate the liberal media. They feel censored, or stereotyped, by the media elites. I told them the person who recognizes that demographic and gives them a voice would reap a huge reward.

That person is Rupert Murdoch. He is not the media Satan, as the left likes to portray him. Some of the offensive (to me) tabloid stuff notwithstanding, he just may be the media's savior. The elites hate him, but growing numbers of people are buying his products.

- Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

"These people, I said, go to church, fly the flag, respect the nation's traditions and institutions and hate the liberal media. They feel censored, or stereotyped, by the media elites."

But it's okay when you stereotype them, Cal?

God, what a tool this man is.

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

How did I just read this article and know it was written by Cal Thomas? Oh yeah, because he's a formulaic egghead with nothing original to say. Next.

jmadison 10 years, 7 months ago

Dow Jones Co in the end awarded its stockholders. The NY Times which had a majority of the Class B stockholders have not been so fortunate. The Sulzberger clan which has a death hold on the NY Times company overall, has refused to consider change in ownership, even though the current publisher, a Sulzberger, has been driving the company into the ground with declining circulation and idiotic investments --i.e. the Boston Globe, for which the NYT company has taken a complete write down.

Tychoman 10 years, 7 months ago

There is no liberal media, Cal Thomas is scratching for anything to write about, he's so desperate. I wish the LJWorld would go ahead and drop his column, he hasn't written anything of value since......well, ever.

It's okay, Mr. Thomas, reality has a liberal bias. Regardless of a D or R in front of the White House, the media would be just as critical if the administration were that bad--and this one IS.

Left-wing spin on the Soviet Union? Environmental activism? God forbid.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 7 months ago

The only potential saving grace for journalism w/regard to Murdoch is that he'll do whatever will make him a buck or a billion. That might include good journalism, but up to now, standards of journalism have been very low in everything he's touched, showing an obvious preference towards propaganda, uncritical nationalism and sensationalism (which as Cal points, do sell ads, his only real concern.)

bugmenot 10 years, 7 months ago

Yes, Murdoch is a class act. O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It," for example. I'll be glad to see stuff like that in WSJ. Granted, WSJ's editorial page won't change, but they had some good fiscally conservative econ and business articles. Couple their approach to economics with NYT's editorial and news pages, and I was happy. Now, looks like I'll look elsewhere for good, honest commentary on the news. I assume within two weeks WSJ will regularly feature full color photos of and updates on celebutantes like Paris Hilton.

ndmoderate 10 years, 7 months ago

Just want to make sure I get this straight:

Wingnuts are allowed to have their boogeymen (NYT, Soros, the word "liberal," and the "elitist" media).

But liberals and even moderates are NOT allowed to have their boogeymen (Fixed News Channel, Murdoch, Religious Wrong).

OK. Nothin' to see here folks, just move along...

MyName 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm not really worried about Murdoch ruining the objective journalism at the WSJ, mainly because if he tried to turn it into the NY Post he'd lose 50% of his subsription base within a month. For better or worse, the WSJ is the financial newspaper of record for this country and only a complete fool would do anything to harm that.

That being said, I don't see how anybody can think that it is a good thing that this one company is now has another outlet with which to further its corporate political agenda. Any corporation that gets control of this much of its marketshare is bound to do something dangerous and stupid over a long enough timeline. This move is bad for the American readership and I can only expect it to hasten the death of the printed newspaper in favor of online reporting.

Oh, and expect the editorial pages to become even less in touch with reality than a Cal Thomas article. Why this hack expects to have any credibility left after carrying water for Murdoch is beyone me.

chet_larock 10 years, 7 months ago

Myname, you make a great point about regarding Murdoch not necessarily trying to dramatically change the WSJ. He's a shrewd enough businessman to know where that publication's bread is buttered.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

Cal Thomas is a facist religious right thinker...something we must keep in mind:

chet_larock 10 years, 7 months ago

June 3, 2004, Bill O'Reilly's comment for the day started with "Hi. I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight. Another victory for the ACLU in its war on Christianity." His comment was about how the American Civil Liberties Union was able to get the cross removed from the county seal of Los Angeles and, says O'Reilly, the ACLU is "part of the anti-Christian cabal in America that sees the Christian majority as oppressors." That day, actually, Fox aired three other commentary-style reports about the case all accusing the ACLU of hating Christians. Fox News Channel broadcasts failed to mention the ACLU's involvement in Michigan where the group sued on behalf of a Baptist minister who was unconstitutionally denied a permit to conduct baptisms at a lake operated by the Department of Natural Resources. The ACLU has also joined The Christian Defense Coalition in Virginia in a similar case.

Fox admitted they were shills for the GOP on election night when Chris Wallace said "looks like we've lost the Senate too."

"Asked if his News Corp. managed to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq, Murdoch said: "No, I don't think so. We tried." Asked by Rose for further comment, he said: "We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle East...but we have been very critical of his execution."

chet_larock 10 years, 7 months ago


"Bill O'Reilly is not a news anchor at Fox. He has an opinion show."

Touted as the "No Spin Zone". Tell me what the above example is.

Rupert Murdoch is not an anchor on Fox, either.

Read Ag's links for more examples, please.

Anyway, how'd I know that's the argument you'd come back with? And how are you so predictable after not even being on here a whole day?

chet_larock 10 years, 7 months ago

If they want to keep coming back and making this forum about how much more they think they know than anyone else, they need to get a life. Especially when so much of what they "know" is informed by an extremely partisan agenda. I hate to think of how miserable their life must be when they use an internet forum as a way to prove how "smart" they are to themselves by claiming all they are doing is using a little knowledge and "common sense". We all know who they are. And now we know why they are here. Their life must be so unenjoyable, the only happiness they must get in their life is being a ultra-conservative know-it-all to the point where they are continously being kicked off for violating usage policies.

chet_larock 10 years, 7 months ago

"Oh, look, ferd's back. Simply amazing."

I was just starting to enjoy these forums again after I had noticed he had been booted. How unfortunate that one person can hijack discussions and turn these threads into utter crap.

Tychoman 10 years, 7 months ago

Scenebooster you're one of the few posters who make me genuinely laugh out loud. Thanks man.

Manslagt=Arminius, and he hasn't even mentioned Clinton yet? I think Scene's head is going to explode again.

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