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Newscorp and Fox News: Are they Good for America?

July 11, 2011

Wars are good for media sales, but are they good for the American body politic?

The role of Newscorp media properties in the United States has not adjusted to several changes in attitude in the American conservative community.  Despite the repudiation of the presidential election of 2008, Newscorp remains fixed in its initial formula as Bush partisan.  Fox News continues to support engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and promotes personalities in the neo-conservative faction of the Republican Party and Bush administration operatives like Karl Rove.

Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal editorials have begun to mimic the political line of commentators at Fox News.  Two weeks ago the WSJ published an OpEd by Karl Rove on Medicare, as if Rove didn’t have a hand in adding unfunded prescription medicine benefits to an already bankrupt Medicare.

And last week, Newscorp’s  News of the World was caught in a scandal involving invasive violations of privacy by reporters eager to get a story at any cost.

This raises some serious questions that American conservatives should consider.

Rupert Murdoch stands in the tradition of early media barons who understood that wars were good for sales and that politicians could be bought.  At News of the World not only politicians were bought but so were policemen.  At this point, we must ask whether Newscorp is good news or bad news for American conservatives.

Newscorp is a publicly held corporation controlled for the moment by an 80 year old geezer with an Australian accent.  Though his import of British advocacy journalism was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise uniform American media mindset, there is a point when advocacy of bad policy is not good.

The continued celebration of neoconservative imperialism at Newscorp’s Fox News and the prominence given to political hacks like Karl Rove calls into question whether this horse can be ridden much further.

Rupert Murdoch’s migration of British advocacy journalism to the United States was a boon for American conservatives.  For as long as national broadcast television networks ruled the airwaves, an Establishment left of center interpretation of events was dominant. 

The advent of CNN promised to challenge that dominance with a 24 hour all news format that attracted viewers away from evening network news programming, but the same Establishment left of center world view quickly captured CNN.

American conservatives who made up the Silent Majority were fed the “right” interpretation of events.  Eventually a name was coined to describe this censorship of news by major media—Politically Correct.

The politically correct view was known in advance:  John Kennedy was good.  Richard Nixon was not good.  The war in Vietnam was bad.  Resistance to the war in Vietnam was good. Bill Clinton lies, but who doesn’t?  Ronald Reagan was dumb.  George W. Bush was dumber.

This politically correct “line” was fed to the American public by over the air broadcast and cable news programming at CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, interpreted in newsprint by The New York Times and Washington Post, and then regurgitated by left of center Social Science and Humanities faculty throughout American higher education. 

While American conservatives grumbled about media bias, self-appointed  ”best and brightest” Americans were enthralled that so many of their fellow citizens agreed with them. 

Into this monolithic system of thought control stepped Rupert Murdoch who cleverly chose Republican operative Roger Ailes to manage Fox News.  With the precision of someone who chewed tobacco, Ailes spit his politically incorrect approach in the faces of monolithic Liberal American media.  Roger Ailes’ morning news programming deliberately chose light weight former beauty queens, local news anchors and sports reporters to interpret national news events.  Their adversarial approach towards the interpretation of events by their left of center colleagues was an instant hit with conservatives and thrust Fox cable news into dominance. 

With the purchase of the Wall Street Journal, Newscorp effectively gained control of the center in the American political spectrum and began to promote personalities that consolidated that control.  Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and others joined John Fund, Steve Moore, Dan Henninger at the Wall Street Journal and…

Well, I’m tempted to say “All is right with the world,” but that isn’t how events have developed.

In times of crisis, if there is weakness or disease in the body politics, that weakness and disease will be exacerbated.  Americans accepted a “Patriot Act,” government security at airports in a newly formed civil service of security guards, and absorption of other government agencies into a new super Homeland Security agency.  In later years, these first steps in a “War on Terror” would be challenged by large majorities ten years later, but not Fox News that continues to defend an unnecessary invasion on Iraq and continued American presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and now a NATO invasion of Libya.

Wars are good for media sales, but are they good for the American body politic?

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