Rupert Murdoch is not a likable man. He deals in…is mired in…sleaze media. But like the operator of any profitable strip club, he knows his business. From a sleaze-business operator’s standpoint, he is both successful and from the purely business point of view–the abstract point of view–he could be said to elicit some appreciation for efficiencies that have followed in his wake. Weaker competitors have been shut down. Inefficient, intractable unions have been broken. Media staffs have been trimmed.
Objectively, it must be said that he has made money. From a beginning of cheap yellow sheets and gossip rags, he has grown his conglomerate of miscellaneous media businesses. Would the world be better off without him? Undoubtedly…without question. But some may find that his particular brand of vicious, tasteless, tactless, crude, brutal efficiency may inadvertently serve some vestigial purpose, perhaps for Ayn Rand followers.
If the idea is that making money is everything and leaving a legacy of being hated, having reduced journalism to a balance sheet and having been totally disrespected by every qualified journalist– is nothing–Murdoch has succeeded in his philosophy. The Fox News Channel…delightfully referred to by some as “Faux News Channel” (we’ll credit Keith Olbermann until we hear different)…is the perfect medium for Rupert Murdoch’s psyche because it pretends to be a news channel yet its news presentation would undoubtedly fail without its commentary This it draws from the Republican Right Wing propagandists, hired, trained and supervised by Roger Ailes, the former head of the GOP. In other words, it mimics Murdoch by pretending to be news and then falling back on its real purpose…to make money by pandering, but this time to someone new.
In this case, the pandering is not to the regular Murdoch reader, the brain-dead, loser picking up his daily sex-gossip rag at the newsstand. It is the arrogant CEOs of corporations who make 400 times what the average guy or gal makes. Fox News is a trade-off, a payoff to the big corporations and they pay Fox back by advertising. It does not mean that Fox (or Faux, whichever you like) does not have a substantial audience.
Don’t kid yourself. Rupert Murdoch has the cunning and the skills to take a modest circulation or audience and build it into something substantial. He isn’t the only one to know how to do it. Jann Wenner built Rolling Stone as a newsstand vehicle, as did Hugh Heffner with Playboy. Time and Newsweek covers, even though the newsstand sales are probably no more than a fifth of the total circulation are always planned to sell out whenever they can show a recent major event on the cover. It’s showbiz, but it isn’t new. It is as old as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer and yellow journalism.
The electronic media gets it, too. When cable arrived, MTV took off and never looked back. Music videos…brilliant. CNN, Cable News Network, took the position that something significant or interesting is happening at almost any time somewhere in the world. Their operative principle was to be the first one on the spot with television coverage of that news story. They built a cable television audience with that premise. Eventually, other programming came on board cable networks, which had specific audiences, like MTV, that suited cable perfectly.
And what was Murdoch’s “schtick?” It wasn’t complicated. He would merely pick off the same kind of audience that his daily sleaze papers reached, something he knew very well. Then add the radical Right Wing of the Republican Party, which is also a low-brow bunch: bigots, racists, adulterers, sexually promiscuous hypocrites, public bathroom perverts and so on. He hired a group of left-overs from other networks, losers for the most part, and a bunch of failed attorneys, gossip columnists and recovering druggies to occupy the hosts’ chairs in his studios. He added a little sex with a whole group of women skirted and coiffed to look the part of the “dumb blonde,” the traditional T & A that Murdoch would know this kind of audience would expect.
By appealing to an audience of hypocritical evangelical fundamentalists, former segregationist Democrats, arch-conservative oil men, the military, national rifle association members, anti-abortionists, anti-civil rights and the KKK, plus homophobic, anti-Hispanic, and anti-government viewers, Fox News Channel found an audience. In order to broaden the audience from merely this semi-lunatic Right Wing, it began a series of propaganda efforts that culminated first in the election of George W. Bush, then substantial support for the Iraq war by many people, especially many who cannot or will not read, including many Southern Senators and Congress people.
Fox News completely sold out to big industry with a total commitment to anti-regulatory legislation, leading to loss of huge areas of our national parks, the deaths of over 5,000 people from tainted food and prescription drugs, the refusal to allow a universally accepted contraceptive that could eliminate large numbers of abortions, a housing and securities bubble that burst and threw the nation into the worst recession since 1930. They also supported an aggressive, bullying, militaristic foreign policy that made us hated around the world.
They supported white supremacy groups and racist attacks on candidate Obama–as well as earlier attacks ridiculing the numerous accomplishments of Senator Hillary Clinton. They encouraged lies about the Democratic political campaigns, created many other lies and exaggerations, condoned sexual perversity and outright corruption among Republicans, including the theft of tens of millions of dollars from Native American tribes, theft of services from the government by military contractors, outright criminal activity by Republican members of Congress and failure of the federal government to respond to national emergencies. They condoned the widespread use of degrading and torturous actions at Abu Ghraib, and water boarding and other torture in prisons in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, and the kidnapping and wiretapping of American Citizens both in and outside the United States.
One might say that Fox News, therefore, supports criminal filth and scum. They support Republicans. They support the fanatic Religious Right, including those who have called for the death of President Obama. One could easily justify the term “fascist propagandists” when speaking of them. Their commentators have used every kind of vile, rude and disrespectful, often childish, terms to describe any political policy with which they disagree. This is usually some measure for the benefit of the people or legislation that would somehow inhibit some further corporate profit motive. While 70% of the People are for health care reform, they are against it and promoted mobs and thuggish disruptions of serious town halls to discuss the issue. They regularly lied about such things as “death panels” which do not exist in the legislation, and exaggerate the Medicare-like aspects of the proposals, stating that a “government bureaucrat will come between you and your doctor.” We all know this does not happen in Medicare.
Some people are completely fed up with Fox News and have begun to take action. The best way to take action would be of course to make the CEOs of major corporations feel very uncomfortable as their sales and profits fall. If, the more they advertised with Fox, the more their sales actually fell, that would get their attention. The results of a campaign to boycott a particular program have already shown results. Glenn Beck, one of the Fox evening commentators, accused President Obama…this is going to sound ridiculous, but he was serious…a racist. Obama…a black man with a white mother, married to a black woman and raised by white grandparents in a white community, in Hawaii, the most multicultural of all our states! A racist? Anyway, a group called Color of Change has successfully influenced over 62 national and international corporations to cancel advertising on Fox News because of objections to Glenn Becks’ program.
More interesting than that is the fact that Beck, an avowed racist, an arch-conservative, a slandering, foolish, laughable, pathetic, and inadvertent clown is still on the air. Murdoch and Ailes seem to have the attitude that they can not only defy the government, because they have cornered such a large audience of racists and bigots but they can then even defy the advertisers who keep the lights on and the cameras going. They would seemingly rather spew their venomous, totally irrational filth, than concern themselves about the welfare of their company or their shareholders. They would seem to have perhaps fallen into this fanaticism rather than remaining the cynical, shrewd businessmen that Murdoch, at least, has always seemed to be.
What’s more, other national advertisers have begun to take a position against Beck and Fox News Channel. According to Democrats.com, many corporations have seen the light, and have stopped advertising on Beck or Fox, companies such as: Ally Bank (GMAC),Ancestry.com, Applebees, AshleyFurniture.com, AT&T, Bank of America, Bell & Howell, Best Buy,Binder & Binder, Blaine Labs, Brez (Airware),Broadview Security, Campbell’s Soup, Capital One, Clorox, Closing.com, CLR Cleaner (Jelmar), ConAgra, CVS, Dannon, Diabetes Care Club (Simplex), DirecTV, Discover, DITECH.com, Elations.com, Farmers Insurance, FreeCreditReport.com (Experian), Geico, General Mills, GoToMeeting.com (Citrix), Healthy Choice (Conagra), HSBC, Humana, ICAN Benefit Group, Infiniti, Johnson & Johnson, Jordan McKenna Debt Counseling, Kraft Foods, Lawyers.com, Lowe’s, Mens Wearhouse, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nutrisystem, PearleVision/Lenscrafters (Luxottica), Proctor & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, Radio Shack, Re-Bath, Regions, Restatis (Allergan), Roche, S.C. Johnson, SAM (Store and Move), Sanofi-Aventis, SpendOnLife.com, Sprint, State Farm, Sargento Cheese,TheElationsCo, Travelers Insurance, Travelocity, Tylenol, UPS, US Postal Service, Verizon Wireless, Vonage, Walmart, and Wyeth–as of early October 2009.
According to LA Progressive, both the militant sites FoxNewsBoycott.com, and ColorofChange.org are relentlessly pursuing this issue. It would be ironic if the outcome were to be a loss of revenues that might actually challenge the stability of Fox News and endanger the only media or news positions that any of these people, like Beck, could possibly occupy. First, they don’t understand or care about factual news reporting. And they have quite probably never been challenged on the truthfulness of anything, so long as it was not directed against a U.S. Corporation with a Republican CEO and Board of Directors.