How Rupert Murdoch and Fox created the fake news industry

Fox has a long history of doctoring video, which is well documented and should have caused their broadcast license to be revoked.

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Photo by Monika Flueckiger

The concern about “fake news” now sweeping the inside-the-beltway crowd is a little hilarious, since all corporate news (i.e. news for profit) has elements of fakeness.

For instance, cable television news channels almost never cover climate change, and when they do they tend to give equal time to denialists. This is like never covering lung cancer and then when you do, bringing on a tobacco company executive to deny that cigarettes cause it. The reason for the dereliction of duty, which puts the welfare of all human beings at risk, is that the same corporations purveying the news also own a lot of stock in Exxon-Mobil and other Big Carbon companies. Basically, television executives are drowning your great-grandchildren for the health of their stock portfolios. The simple truth is that Exxon-Mobil stock is worthless, since their product is poisoning the planet, and as soon as the public wakes up to this fact, a lot of wealthy people will be bankrupt. (Virtually the entire British upper crust have their retirement funds heavily invested in BP, which I wouldn’t advise.)

Industry professionals have also admitted in interviews that they have been ordered by management not to bring up labor unions. Even large and long-lasting labor strikes tend to be ignored in television “news,” which is the news the business classes permit the public to see.

But those are sins of omission, and even highly professional journalists (and there are plenty working for the corporate media giants) have to put up with that kind of thing if they want to keep their jobs.

The sins of commission are much worse. They are what is now being called fake news. Some have suggested that fake news is just a synonym for propaganda, but I’m not sure that is correct. Good propaganda would probably admit a kernel of truth and then spin it. Fake news is about making stuff up and then purveying the resulting B.S. as the report of a professional journalist.

The most mammoth creator and distributor of fake news is not a few teenagers in Montenegro or wherever. It is an ancient ruddy Australian multi-billionaire named Rupert Murdoch, who conspired with shady GOP operative and alleged serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes to create Fox Cable “News” in 1996. As I put it in December, Fox’s “blonde anchors were not so much hired as trafficked.”

Murdoch, one of the more horrible persons ever to have lived, routinely used his prominence as owner of newspapers and television news channels to bully politicians. His is almost single-handedly responsible for blunting an urgent response to climate change, so he is a mass murderer in waiting. He owns the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London and much else besides (having all these outlets in the hands of a single man should be illegal to protect democracy). People very close to him hacked into newsworthy people’s phone message systems to get dirt on them for blackmail or titillating headlines, and it seems a little unlikely that a) this was done only in the UK or b) that people so close to Murdoch could have behaved this way without his knowledge.

Much of what is wrong with Fox Cable News is bias and spin. But it does also simply make things up.

Fox routinely declined to cover news conferences by President Obama but virtually became Trump t.v. last summer and fall.

On the making stuff up front, here are some examples:

Fox actually doctored video to make it look as though President Obama encouraged undocumented immigrants to vote (he did urge Latinos to vote). Fox has a long history of doctoring video, which is well documented and should have caused their broadcast license to be revoked.

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