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News Corp Scandal: Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Isn't So Fair and Balanced When It Comes To That

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A phone hacking scandal that started at Rupert Murdoch's Sunday tabloid News of the World is rapidly escalating into a full-fledged meltdown that threatens Murdoch, News Corp’s global media empire, and the British government — and has already resulted in the arrest or resignation of rupert murdochseveral high profile people, including several prominent police officers and Prime Minister Cameron’s media chief.

And the meltdown is crossing the Atlantic and coming to America.

The Justice Department is readying subpoenas as part of a probe into allegations that News Corp. attempted to hack into phones of Sept. 11 victims, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday night.

This is a HUGE story. Some are even describing it as Britain’s Watergate.

With this in mind, one should assume that the story warrants significant of news coverage.

Well, it depends on which cable news network you are watching.

Limited Coverage on Fox News

Because Fox News is a part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, many news analysts cynically figured the coverage of their boss’s scandal would be a little sparse. The relatively light coverage on Fox News has provided fodder for news pundits and comedians including Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show.":

Now there is a study that confirms these suspicions of the lack of coverage on Fox.

The study, by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, analyzed four hours of daily prime time television and one hour of daytime programming from July 6 through 8 and July 11 through 15, peak days for the exploding scandal over phone hacking by reporters at the British tabloid News of the World.

"We thought we would take a very clear, empirical look at how much coverage Fox, MSNBC and CNN have given it," said Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the project.

The study found that during the time period studied, CNN and MSNBC each devoted roughly 16 minutes per night to the topic, compared with only three minutes on Fox.

In daytime coverage, CNN spent about four minutes per hour on the scandal, while MSNBC spent about half that much time. The total at Fox was closer to 30 seconds per hour.

Fair and Balanced?

To me, I find the findings behind this study disgraceful.

Look, I am not a rabid, bleeding heart liberal. I am not a Fox hater; quite the contrary, I enjoy watching programs on Fox News. I like Fox’s programs because they provide a forum across the political spectrum, including libertarian voices like John Stossel and Judge Andrew Napolitano.

I am well aware that Fox News has a reputation for taking its talking points from the Republican Party. I think that is false, but Fox’s current behavior is playing into that narrative. And it is also showing how hypocritical Fox News can be on the subject of media bias.

For years, commentators like Bill O’Reilly have blasted the liberal bias of NPR, who fired Juan Williams based on his comments on Muslims. They attacked The New York Times, who seemed obsessed by the Abu Ghraib scandal in an effort to undermine President Bush. They point out how the mainstream media almost ignored a Black Panther voter intimidation scandal the ACORN scandal, or the firing of Obama’s Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones.

These were all valid points.

But seriously Fox News, as the cliché’ goes—If you are going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk.

When faced with the biggest scandal in mainstream media, Fox News barely mentioned this story until the extensive coverage that Fox (and other media outlets) had during Murdoch’s testimony in front on Parliament.

Are you kidding us Fox News? If this culprit would have been the NY Times or MSNBC’s news organization and if the organization hacked into a dead teenager’s cell phone in order to gain access to a story, O’Reilly and others on Fox would be devoting hours to the story, covering it wall to wall.

O’Reilly would have declared that he would not stop blasting the evildoers until the CEO of MSNBC or the NY Times answered the question as to why a news organization would hack into a victim’s phone messages or why there seems to be significant police assistance with the company’s eavesdropping. Furthermore, in order to keep “looking out for the folks”, O’Reilly would have sent investigator Jesse Watters out to confront the CEO with an ambush video interview on the streets that would make the CEO look like a coward.

But in this case, Fox News is looking like a bunch of cowards. Are they afraid to speak poorly of their boss?  For instance, last week, O’Reilly covered stories about union car workers smoking weed in the parking lot during breaks and Laura Ingraham’s culture war feud with Today Show, who televised a performance by Chris Brown. Big stuff, huh?

This has reached an almost comedy like level. Are we watching Saturday Night Live or a serious news program?  It is not just O’Reilly; how do Brit Hume, Juan Williams, Bernie Goldberg, and others honestly speak on his show without mentioning the hacking scandal?

If Fox News is trying to be funny, they should take notes from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. Ironic how the “fake news” show is doing a better job covering “real” news than Fox News.

Contact erik Uliasz at euliasz@philly2philly.com

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News Corp Photo from Businessweek.com 

Rupert Murdoch photo from thncelebrity.info