We're back with our final episode of our series on the Family Tree of Fake News. This week we take a look at the fathers of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. Both men have done extensive damage to media credibility and divided Americans into two sides. Join us as we discuss these two perpetrators of misinformation.
We begin with Roger Ailes, previous Fox News CEO who passed away in 2017. Ailes has a long history in politics before becoming CEO, working for Nixon, Reagan and George HW Bush on their campaigns. Roger Ailes uses his power (or attempts to) to act out his crazy bigotries and paranoia, all while pretending to be the essential American. His use of fear is a valuable reminder of how powerfully it can affect people.
Rupert Murdoch is a multi billionaire who owns an entire media empire - including Fox News. But that's not where his fake news story began. Come with us on a journey back in time to the UK.
Let’s start with The Sun. The Sun may be the most famous for their horrific news reporting around the Hillsborough Disaster, wherein 1989, 96 Liverpool football fans lost their lives at the Sheffield Stadium after negligence on the part of the police and ambulance resulted in innocent people being crushed to death. The Sun, 4 days later, devoted the entire front page to smearing the Liverpool fans, claiming they picked the pockets of the dead and urinated on rescue workers and more. The families of the victims fought for their families’ justice for decades, with a final inquest finally determining that the police and ambulance workers were at fault for the disaster in 2016, nearly 30 years later.
We can’t talk about Murdoch without mentioning the News International phone-hacking scandal. Employees of the News of the World were accused of engaging in phone hacking, police bribery, and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of stories going back to 1990. Investigations conducted from 2005 to 2007 appear to show that the paper's phone hacking activities were limited to celebrities, politicians, and members of the British royal family, but in July 2011 it was revealed that the phones of a murdered 13 year old girl Milly Dowler, relatives of deceased British soldiers, and victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings had also been hacked. The resulting public outcry against News Corporation and its owner Rupert Murdoch led to several high-profile resignations, including that of Murdoch as News Corporation director. During the police investigation into the newspaper's phone hacking activities, detectives discovered that journalists had listened to some messages—potential evidence—in Dowler's voicemail box which were auto deleted after 72 hours. These deletions after Dowler was missing led family and friends to think that she was still alive. The controversy eventually led to the shuttering of News of the World after 168 years in print.
When it comes to American politics Murdoch describes himself as a libertarian, yet he donates money to both sides of the aisle. A search on opensecrets.org finds Murdoch gave small amounts to Democratic candidates like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp (He only donated to Democrats in the 2018 election cycle), and larger amounts to RNC groups and Republican nominees. Note that there is no listed donation from him for Donald Trump, or any other presidential nominee for the 2016 election.
Due to his extended media empire, we know that Murdoch affects American politics. Certainly we would not have a Trump presidency if it wasn’t for this incredible influence. When recent polls at Fox News showed 55% agreed that Trump should be impeached, Trump went ballistic, saying Fox News may be be fake news as well. Even William Barr got involved, meeting with Murdoch in early October. We don’t know what the meeting was about, but Trump was back to praising his favorite news anchors shortly after. I think it’s safe to say that Murdoch holds the Trump card in this relationship.
Beth's Jam of the Week: Bill Withers, Ain't No Sunshine
Kelly's Jam of the Week: The Mandalorian
The Sun Readership Data
The Sun (United Kingdom)
A Very Special Relationship
Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch: the deconstruction of a friendship
Milly Dowler phone hacking: Family shocked by NoW revelations
Open Secrets: Rupert Murdoch US Political Donations Record
Fox News Poll: Record support for Trump impeachment
WHY IS WILLIAM BARR MEETING WITH RUPERT MURDOCH?
How Murdoch's many Suns play to both sides of Brexit
How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory
Megyn Kelly's Shocking Memoir: 9 Things We Learned About Roger Ailes' Alleged Sexual Harassment
The Loudest Voice in the Room
It’s a Fact: Mistakes Are Embarrassing the Publishing Industry
Showtime Takes On The Rise And Fall Of Fox News' Roger Ailes In 'The Loudest Voice'
Roger Ailes biography ‘Loudest Voice’ is reasonably fair and balanced
Michael Wolff on Roger Ailes' Final Days and a Complicated Murdoch Relationship
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And don't forget - Spread jam, not lies.
Spread jam, not lies.