Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tomorrow Dies – Fair and Balanced

Kenneth M. O’Brien

I never cease to be amazed by the number of local residents to whom I talk who say that their sole source of information is FOX News.

The 18th movie in the James Bond series, released in 1997, was titled “Tomorrow Never Dies”.

In that film, the British super agent was up against a worldwide media mogul, Elliot Carver. It was widely recognized at the time that Carver was a parody of Australian, (now U. S. Citizen) Rupert Murdoch.

Now, I realize that for many who follow this site, I’ll be repeating what you already know. I hope, however, that there will be the outliers who investigate what I am saying and perhaps realize the extent to which they have been hoodwinked.

Back in February, ten days after this blog began, I published an article titled, “Where’s Joe Friday When We Need Him?”

That article publicized a study by the University of Maryland that showed that FOX news viewers were the most misinformed of all news consumers.

In the last two weeks a worldwide scandal has erupted that threatens the empire that Murdoch has built.

However, devout viewers of FOX News probably haven’t heard about what Carl Bernstein (of Woodward/ Bernstein Watergate fame) has observed may be the biggest news story of the last twenty-five years.

Like many scandals, it started simply enough.

Actor Hugh Grant was disturbed that elements of his medical history appeared in one of Murdoch’s papers.

He recorded a meeting with one of the reporters who let slip that it was common practice among his colleagues to hack the records and cell phone calls of private citizens to source salacious headlines.

That was the first domino.

In the interim, it has now been established that private tax and medical records along with the cell phone calls of over 4,000 people have been hacked in a similar manner.

The practice, however, was not limited to private citizens.

It has been found that among those victimized were the Royal Family, top British politicians and even the families of British soldiers who had died in in Afghanistan.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s records were hacked to reveal that his newborn son suffered from cystic fibrosis.

However, the most disgusting case was that of a thirteen-year old girl who had disappeared. Reporters of the Murdoch Empire hacked her private cell phone and listened to her voice messages.

But, and this is the killer, it didn’t stop there.

When her voice mail was full, the Murdoch empire paid hackers erased messages to allow for more messages. This fact gave the police and the obviously distraught family reason to believe that she was still alive. Shortly after this she was found murdered.

Since then it has now been revealed that a number of members of the London Metropolitan Police (i.e. Scotland Yard) were on the Murdoch Empire payroll participating in these schemes.

The revelations have resulted in the closing of the 168-year old newspaper News of the World, a former crown jewel in the Murdoch Empire.

To date the Murdoch Empire’s flagship, News Corporation has lost over $7 billion in market value.

But, oh yes, there’s more.

Prior to this News Corporation had been negotiating to buy BSKYB, the number one pay TV network in Britain. Prior to these events, it was essentially a done deal.

Yesterday the leaders of Britain’s top three political parties, including the Prime Minister, said they would no longer support such a transaction.

Today New Corporation withdrew its offer.
But let’s not stop there.

The British Parliament has called upon 80 year-old Murdoch and his son to appear before them to answer inquiries.

The current Managing Director of The Wall Street Journal, clearly one of the most influential journalistic organs in America, was the former Managing Director of the now defunct News Of The World.

In addition, it has now been revealed that agents of News Corporation may have approached New York officials in an attempt to gain access to the cell phones of 9/11 survivors. Today Senator Jay Rockefeller called for an investigation of this.

Finally, at least for now, there is the fact that News Corporation is a U. S. Corporation.

There is a thing called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

News Corp. might be liable to criminal prosecution under the 1977 Corrupt Foreign Practices Act, a broad act designed to prosecute executives who bribe foreign officials in exchange for large contracts.

It would be up to the U.S. Department of Justice to decide if these merited criminal charges, while the Securities and Exchange Commission would determine if there had been financial wrongdoing at News Corp.

Given all of this, I return to the simple observation with which I began this piece:

” I never cease to be amazed by the number of local residents to whom I talk who say that their sole source of information is FOX News.”

But, while every other news source throughout the world is reporting this, you won’t hear about it on the “fair and balanced” network. I guess you have to ask, “Is Bill O’Reilly really looking out for you?”


Update: At about 6:30 PM on July 13 I saw my first report on Fox News about the Murdoch case. The approximately 2 minute report confirmed most of the facts reported here.

As regards sources of news and their reliability (i.e. Fox vs. Jon Stewart) as mentioned by my friend Mike Jaynes, I thought that the following would be instructive:


  1. This is your proof that Fox News is not “Fair and Balanced” because they are not doing the best job of exposing a scandal involving their parent corporation? Common sense would tell you that any hard hitting piece done by a Fox News investigator would be equivalent to one biting the hand that feeds it.

    This would be the same as turning to ABC if a story broke about scandal involving Disney, or turning to NBC to find out about corruption at GE.

    A huge fallacy in your argument is the claim that this is proof of how ill-informed Fox News watchers are due to this sort of news gathering. The problem here was not the accuracy of the information gathered by the British paper “The Sun”, a News Corp subsidiary, but the unethical manner in which they gathered the information. By the way, I have yet to see Fox News being accused of engaging in the same behavior.

    In contrast, some of the methods used by the news sources you prefer are much more egregious in terms of accuracy. Dan Rather being an easy target for not fact checking before presenting a document later to be proved fraudulent as proof that Bush had gone AWOL. One of my favorites was the New York Times’ Jayson Blair who would make up stories to print or plagiarize them because he was too lazy to actually do the research.

    Do we really want to start into a battle of whose study shows who is more informed? The results will be based on who thinks what stories are important. Fox News viewers will be much more informed on subjects such as ACORN, Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground, The Justice Department’s policy of not prosecuting minorities. In fact I had a discussion with one of local news reporters who had never heard about the Black Panthers intimidating voters in Philadelphia. How many non Fox News watchers are aware of “Climategate”? Those who are aware generally are outraged that these email accounts were hacked, but then think it was hilarious when Sarah Palin’s emails were hacked and released.

    Like it or not, Fox News is a real news corporation, and its watchers are for more informed than most on the left; especially when it seems that so many consider Jon Stewart as their main source of News.

  2. It was The News of the World, not The Sun.

    Fox should report on it the same way that CBS reported on Rather, which they did before firing him.

    I believe that Fox usually presents both sides more, but hacking into dead soliders emails and voicemails is scandalous.

    To not do so is to delegitimize their credibility.

    Tra Partiers will defend anything against Fox because they're nearsighted and not fair either.

    In their world, everything is black and white...and you can guess which color the bigots are.

  3. Why is the “moral equivalence argument” always presented from the right?

    To equate the hacking of Sarah Palin’s emails by a 22 year old geek to the systematic hacking and subsequent spying of phone messages by a corporation -- one of which caused horrible mental anguish to the parents of a murdered child -- is a weak and emotionally disconnected argument. This is much like Michele Bachmann saying that the unemployment rate of blacks today is a worse situation than during the days of slavery. They weren’t actually “employed” back then, Ms. Bachmann. Unless you consider slavery a 100% employment rate. I think she does.

    To reference a local reporter for not knowing about the Black Panthers news story of voter intimidation as evidence that the mainstream media hide these facts is ludicrous. All that presents is evidence that our local newspaper staff are uninformed. I would agree with you on that. They themselves are guilty of publishing and reporting one side. I know about that incident. It was absolutely voter intimidation. But unlike Southbridge where it went unchecked at the primary, officers arrested the men in question. One officer was himself black.

    And, the comment about the Justice Department having a policy of not prosecuting minorities is just a regurgitation of what’s heard in the far right echo-chamber. The facts – that a disparate number of minorities, mostly blacks, are prosecuted at alarmingly higher rates, despite being a significantly smaller part of the population – completely disproves this.

    News outlets, with very few exceptions, report on what drives profit. Period. FOX added ideology to the mix and saw their profits skyrocket. Other news organizations, sadly, are following the money and becoming FOX Light. This is much to the harm of an uninformed citizenry.

    I would suggest all sides reverse the pattern of being told the news and begin seeking out information. Shut off your televised news sources and do your own research. You may come to the same conclusion, but at least you heard multiple sides. At least you decided what was true and weren’t told what to think is true.

  4. Mike:
    Facts bear out that the New Black Panther case was a manufactured outrage that was never prosecuted and the decision not to prosecute was upheld on review by the Office of Professional Responsibility.
    The whole Bill Ayers thing ultimately proved to be nothing more than an attempt at guilt by association with no real substance except for those predisposed to believe that Obama is a radical socialist terrorist.
    So called "Climategate" was a wilfull distortion of terms of art in the scientific community that only emphasizes the fact that Fox exploits ignorance to perpetuate its agenda.
    When I say perpetuate its agenda, it is now almost certain that the current head of Fox News Roger Ailes, formulated the idea while an aide to former President Richard Nixon. The agenda was to "put the GOP on TV" under the guise of an objective news outlet.

  5. If you want fair and balanced, do as I do:

    Watch and read EVERYTHING you can, and then make up your own mind.

    Anyone telling you how to feel or think, regardless of political slant, is neither fair nor balanced.

    My problem with Fox at the moment?

    Who's the balance to Palin, Huckabee and Gingrich?

  6. "Like it or not, Fox News is a real news corporation, and its watchers are for more informed than most on the left; especially when it seems that so many consider Jon Stewart as their main source of News."

    If this anecdotal statement is the crux of your argument, Mike, you've already lost.

    As head of the Southbridge RTC, of which I used to belong until I saw firsthand how those not to the right of Rush are not welcomed, you need to work on your reasoning.

    It's why in three years, growth has not been a focus, and why it's more Tea Party than GOP:

    Fear of talking to the issues; just keep saying, Republicans gooood, Dems bad. Fox good, all else bad.

    That's the strategy of weak minded groups, and it isn't working.

    Your a local group focusing on Federal issues.

    Your group would do well to stop worrying about gay people and the Bible.

    Remember, the Bible also says we're all God's children, made in his image.

    Do you perhaps have the new Fox version that says differently?

    Tell us, Mr Chairman, why is the issue of gay people, even in your group, an issue? Don't you believe in less government?

    ALL people are created equal.

    End of argument.

  7. The Rolling Stone report uncovered what amounts to the "smoking gun" -- that FOX indeed is a wing of the Republican Party and most content falls under propaganda. You'll note that Ken reviews multiple sources to get the most clear picture. Mike, if you're only sticking your head in the echo chamber, you will believe, without a doubt, what you hear.

  8. Are you convinced the Murdoch story is not a plant from Media Matters? You are aware of the Media Matters scandal, right?

    Perhaps the Murdoch story is window dressing to defer scruitiny on Project Gunwalker. The real media is reporting that, right? What stations are you following it on?

    Mike's right. Jon Stewart decided Fox news watcher are dumber than the rest of you, and Chris Wallace produced a study that showed just the opposite.

    Which brings me back to Project Gunwalker and Media matters. You guys are fully schooled on those 2 issues, right?

  9. Anyone who thinks Panthergate was a manufactured outrage is not getting their news from a straight source.

    I actually know witnesses to that outrage. It was not the least bit manufactured. I'd be interested in what sources you got that information from.

  10. Mike is not right, and you're drinking his Kool Aid.

    Murdoch shut the paper down put of "shame."

    Maybe the Tea Baggers should read before commenting.

  11. Ahhhh, a slur coupled with absolutely no evidence except your apparent channeling of Murdoch.

    Is that what passes for "informed" around here?

  12. Tea Bagger, if you care to look it up, has multiple meanings.

    As for Murdoch, read his comments in Th Daily

    It seems that escapes your capability.

    It seems that you have nothing concrete to say, so you anonymously attack.

    At least I have the courage to identify myself. You? You hide behind Tea.


  13. Once again it is those on the left who resort to insults and name calling instead of trying to hold a rational conversation.

    Why are you so afraid to sit and talk without doing that? Those on the left love to put everyone n their little pigeon holes, making general assumptions about others, which are not based on any fact whatsoever. Amazing, simply amazing.

  14. Yes, this certainly sounds like Kool-Aid talk. Why does every defender of this misinformation now sound like Glenn Beck? Scary. Media Matters planted the story? Wow.

    Media Matters is doing their stated mission as a legal non-profit, which is "a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media." Fox just happens to be the biggest offender and target.

    The fact that no one else is carrying this story is because it's a fabricated story by FOX that Media Matters is stealing tax dollars to attack Fox. I think Fox may win the next Politifact award for the biggest lie. Fox fails to mention that there are many, many more non-profits on the right that have pushed their conservative agendas for years under the same tax status. Now it’s suddenly a story on Fox that a non-profit is pushing a leftwing agenda. Gasp!!

    As for Gunwalker, of course we know about it. But typical of Fox and the Tea Party to raise it to the level of "Obama War Crimes" while hiring the Iran Contra felon, Oliver North. Ollie even freely comments on this issue as if it’s the worst thing anyone has ever done. Surreal! I do hope this issue gets further investigation, as did Iran Contra. But where’s the balance, FOX?

    By the way, the FBI has just announced it has launched an investigation into Rupert Murdoch's News Corp hacking into 9/11 victims. All empires eventually fall.

  15. You know, I still don't understand what was so intimidating about the New Black Panthers thing. It was a couple of dudes in paramilitary garb standing around. If it weren't for the fact that they happened to be black dudes, they would have fit right in at a Tea Party rally.

    I mean, it's not like they were asking people to show ID or anything. They were just, you know, pollwatching. (While Black.)

  16. By these responses one can tell:
    Yes, indeed it is a full moon!

    All views aren’t welcomed as advertised.

    The use of tea bagers here is meant as the derogitory way. That name calling and racial baiting (which IMO is racist in itself) is at least unmonitored by the blog owner, if not encouraged, as to sink to lowest possibly leel of civility.

    And to the ones that equate a billboard across town and a nightstick carrying Black Panther in front of a voting poll - you must agree with that individuals assessment that a camera phone is more intimidating than his nightstick. Even a new moon isn’t going to fix that seriously flawed thinking.

  17. LOL @ Anonymous. Camera phones are for amateurs; I brought my HD camcorder and filmed the entire process when I went in and voted on May 12. The pollwatchers LOVED me, lemme tell you.

    I will tell you one thing after watching this video; pretty much anyone who describes themselves as a "concerned citizen" on the municipal grassroots level is probably some kind of an a--hole. Gee whiz, I love America. (Almost as much as I love Massachusetts!)

  18. ...and I really, really love Massachusetts. Almost as much as I love Southbridge. <3

  19. Imagine, the same person who squealed at the top of her lungs about voter intimidation she thought she saw in a billboard of a white person suggesting voter ID now says the black panthers with billyclubs standing at the polls threatening people is no big deal. Talk about racism. This one is a keeper for when she plays that card again.

  20. To one of the "Anonymes":

    Tea partiers themselves adopted the term tea baggers before they were made aware of the double entendre. I’ll ban the use of the term when the media in general bans the use of Rick Santorum’s last name.

  21. While it is true that the tea party held an event back on tax day asking people to send tea bags to the white house. It is equally true that Anderson Cooper helped coin the other meaning. Funny how he knew that before he and other leftist in the lamestream media promoted it. He must have seen the 2001 movie say it ain’t so were this term was used in the way the left means.
    Mr. Obrien, if Gwen Ifill apologized and refrains from using this term , if Obama and Clinton refrain from using it at least in public, and you advertise all views are welcome why do you persist on inflaming ? I used to think that you were better than this. I hope to be proven wrong and return to a higher image of you. Some regret on your part would go a long way. T
    o tie this into the subject review these comments from other "news " sources and it is easy to see why Fox is such a popular news source.
    From the national review :
    Take Anderson Cooper, the acclaimed anchorman for CNN. He was interviewing David Gergen, the political pundit. And Gergen was saying that, after two very bad elections, conservatives and Republicans were “searching for their voice.” Cooper responded, “It’s hard to talk when you’re teabagging.” He said this with a smirk.

    the article hs a long list of others using it as it is so frequently and unwelcomingly used here.

  22. Tea partiers themselves adopted the term tea baggers

    You are wrong.

    I find it breathtaking that people who have absolutely no understand of the tea party are so threatened by it.

    Well breathtaking and hilarious.

  23. And yet, the big brave Tea Partiers are apparently too embarrassed to say who they are!

  24. *****UPDATE*****

    For those who have argued that this is purely a British concern:

    As I mentioned in the article, the current managing director of the Wall Street Jornal (named Les Hinton) was formerly managing director for News Of The World.

    Dow Jones, parent of the Wall Street Journal, where Mr. Hinton was also CEO, has announced within the last half hour, that he will be resigning effective tomorrow, July 16.

  25. Tea party poppers are the ones who coined the use of Tea Baggers, which now, ironically, is used to describe their "movement."

    Sorry, tea bag deniers!

    What do you call the person that actually puts tea in the bags?

    It was funny when you used it against Obama and Pelosi. How'd that work out for ya?

  26. Oh yeah, I totally hate white people. All of 'em. Especially that pasty Midwestern fellow I married, and our two blond children. And, of course, myself.

    Perhaps this is why I'm such a miserable person, and walk through life bemoaning my utterly anhedonic existence on this Earth. Like any good race traitor, I make it a point to be a humorless killjoy in addition to a general wet blanket. Smiling is for commies and anarchists. Jesus told me.

    In other news, that billboard totally sucked, and was a vile insult to American Democracy in general, not just the neighborhood itself. Rachel Maddow, the ACLU, the AG's office, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Town Clerk, and that nice lady at the Justice Department all agreed with me. Get over it sometime? I have.

    One more thing: If calling Shenanigans is squealing, don't expect any quiet around here anytime soon. If you weren't too much of a coward to post negative comments about me with your real name, I'd send you a pair of earplugs. My treat.

  27. Btw, the only card I'm playing is the Awesome card.

    Well, no. That's not entirely true. Right now I'm drinking a Beer Card, after which I will play the Sleep Card. Tomorrow morning I might go to the airport diner and play the Eggs card.

    Anon, don't try to bully me into not talking about racism & white supremacy. Seriously, just don't. I majored in Philosophy and minored in Black People at Fancy Lady College; you will not win.

    To quote someone who was probably your favorite President: Bring it on.

  28. please include your white guilt because i believe you have to say on that topic than any other.

  29. I'd respond to that, but I have no idea whether that's the same anonymous commenter as before, or a different one, or whether the comment was directed at me or the previous anonymous commenter.

    Oh, well. Off to play the sleep card!

  30. hope you enjoyed your eggs benidict arnold card.

  31. I did! And after that I had a great nap, and then went downtown to that big beautiful church and played the Catholic card for a while, and then I went to the grocery store, and then I played the Ethnic Cooking card and made a bunch of unamerican Thai food for dinner. It was delicious!

    Honestly, Anon, that Eggs Benedict Arnold crack was super funny & if I were you I would have wanted to put my name next to it.

    So, what am I a traitor to? God? America? White People? Property owners? Tax Payers? Investors? Feminism? I'd genuinely like to know.

  32. All that money to that fancy woman college and your still not in the know. Perhaps your indoctrination process was more advanced than anyone thought.

  33. Oh, come on.

    It's totally okay if you don't agree with my views. People can have dissenting opinions on the issues; dissent is a vital part of the political landscape. This is America, remember? ;)


All comments subject to moderation. All commenters must use their own name or a screen name. No comments labelled as "Anonymous" will be published. To use your name or a screen name select "Name/URL" from the drop down menu. Insert you name in the "Name" space and leave the "URL" space blank.