Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fox News Uber Alles

Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's in Germany before World War II.

The pink-slipped media maven -- who has locked horns in the past with fellow mogul Rupert Murdoch -- spoke to a room full of media execs in Las Vegas about Fox's pro-Bush stance: "There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down . . . leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff."

Who's Crazy Now
Commenting on his feelings about Fox News topping CNN in the ratings, Mr. Turner said being the most popular wasn't always important. "That's not necessarily a bad thing, though I'm not happy about it. Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany than people who ran against him. Just because you are bigger doesn't mean to say you are right." The remark reportedly elicited laughs from the audience -- and, later, a windy rebuttal from radio Icarus Rush Limbaugh.

Fox didn't see the humor, however. "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind," a Fox News spokesperson told Broadcasting & Cable. "We wish him well."

This is not the first time Turner has seen shades of the Third Reich in Murdoch's empire. In 1996, after a cable deal had gone sour, the then Time Warner Vice Chairman likened the News Corporation head to "the late Fuhrer" and called him a "scumbag." Murdoch's New York Post returned volley by questioning Turner's sanity. Turner later suggested that they settle their differences in a boxing ring, winner take all.

This latest insult seems somewhat benign by comparison. But let's see how the tabloid press plays it. This tempest might well spill beyond the teacup.

1-27 update: Reacting to Ted Turner's remark, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman calls Turner "a recidivist who hasn't learned from his past mistakes,” referring to the 1996 Murdoch-Hitler comparison made by the former Time Warner vice chairman. "Once again, Ted Turner can't seem to learn his lesson," Foxman says. "You tell him it's wrong, it's offensive, it's inappropriate, it's degrading to the memory of the six million. He apologizes -- then does it again.” For more see MediaCitizen's new post above.


Steve J. said...

"The Fox News Channel is not perceived as pure news, because it really is no different than talk radio," says Jon Mandel, co-chief executive of Mediacom U.S., a media-buying company. WSJ, 5/20/04

Steve J. said...

Journalists petition FCC to challenge Fox-13 license renewal
Alexis Muellner 1/3/05
LinkTwo TV journalists have challenged the broadcast license renewal of WTVT Fox-13 asserting it deliberately broadcast false and distorted news reports. Reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson filed the petition Monday against the Tampa station, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's Fox Television conglomerate.
In 1998, the two filed a civil court lawsuit seeking employee protections under the state Whistleblower Act that resulted in a $425,000 jury award to Akre. That verdict was overturned in 2003 when an appellate court accepted Fox's defense that since it is not technically against any law, rule or regulation for a broadcaster to distort the news, the journalists were never entitled to employee protections as whistleblowers in the first place.

Steve J. said...

O'Reilly thinks those left of center can't get the job done on the air. That's not a knock on their ideology, he says, but a comment on the liberal tendency toward inclusiveness and reflectiveness -- both deadly qualities in a medium that talk-show producer Randall Bloomquist describes as "the World Wrestling Federation with ideas."
"Conservative people tend to see the world in black and white terms, good and evil," says O'Reilly in an interview. "Liberals see grays. In any talk format, you have to pound home a strong point of view. If you're not providing controversy and excitement, people won't listen, or watch."
Talk Radio, Top Volume On the Right; Bill O'Reilly's Debut Points Up The Dearth of Liberal Voices; [FINAL Edition]
Paul Farhi. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: May 8, 2002. pg. C.01

Ruthie Rader said...

I recently began researching the Reichstag Building fire. I regret that it took me so long to find out about it.

Now I understand why so many people are referring to Bush as Hitler. I think George W. Bush IS becoming the personification of that other insane German individual.

And a crowd of lemmings are beginning to gather right behind him.

Fox news is what it is because: It has a lot of money.-AND-Its news team is highly organized and very tight.

I agree with Ted Turner's remarks. If he made his statement to me, I wouldn't laugh. Because it isn't at all funny. The man's right.

The only way that truth will prevail in the media is if people stand up, join together and produce it. When a population knows the real truth then propoganda has very little power.

If we who disagree with the tactics of George Bush and Fox News don't rise up and make a mighty noise---

---History might very well repeat itself.

Hitler started small but used propoganda more and more to con the German people into accepting all of his lies.
His words made a larger and larger impact on a people who were desperate for a reason to believe.

I see attributes of Hitler in George W. Bush. I know that Fox news is Bush's media megaphone to the masses.

And I'm concerned about where this is all going to lead.

Richard said...

Look, was it the most elegant comparison in the world? No. But does it constitute abuse of the Holocaust as Foxman of the ADL contends: Nah. I have a real problem with groups like the ADL which act as arbiters of what is anti-Semitic and a misuse of the Holocaust. Where was Foxman when Grover Norquist accused the Democrats of engaging in a Holocaust against the wealthy through their opposition to repealing the estate tax? You know where he was: AWOL. That's becuase he's in an unhealthy alliance with the Republican Right.

I've written my take on this controversy at http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2005/01/the_adls_antise.html