When We Talk About Fox News, We Need to Talk About the Murdoch Family Too

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Source: The Intercept

Here’s a trick question about the controversy over Hunter Biden’s laptop: Who’s most to blame for giving this pseudo-scandal more attention than it deserves? The New York Post for publishing the first sketchy article, or Fox News for elevating it in broadcast after broadcast?

The answer is neither. The guiltiest party is the Murdoch family, which owns both outlets. Fox and the Post are key parts of a media empire assembled over the decades by 89-year-old Rupert Murdoch, who now shares ownership with his six children, one of whom is chief executive of the family’s main company, Fox Corporation. While the Post doesn’t register much with readers outside New York, Fox is of course a national brand with a gusher of profits that has helped turn each of the Murdochs into multibillionaires. Given that Fox is a “central node” of the far-right conspiracy machine, it’s fair to regard the Murdochs as America’s first family of disinformation.

The Murdochs, however, attract far less attention than their hired hands, the journalists and shouting heads who have downplayed Covid-19 and created the delusional content that helped catapult Donald Trump to the White House. The New York Times, in the approximately dozen stories it has published that touch on the Biden laptop controversy, referenced the Murdochs in just two of them, in passing. At the Washington Post, only three articles about the laptop mention the Murdochs — again, in passing.

There’s no shortage of reporting about the wretched content created by the Murdoch machine, but remarkably little reporting about the fact that the Murdochs are behind it. As MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes noted on Twitter after the first laptop story came out, “If you’re just choosing from people in OECD countries, ostensible liberal democracies, Rupert Murdoch has to be up there as the most-single-handedly destructive person of the last three decades, right?” But Hayes can be part of the problem. While he often criticizes Fox, and on rare occasions discusses the Murdochs, most of the time he fails to mention the family that could literally flip a switch and shut off the poison. On April 20, Hayes broadcast an eight-minute segment about Fox encouraging protests against stay-at-home orders, and a week later he devoted seven minutes to detailing the ways in which Fox downplayed Covid-19 — but while he named hosts and guests who spread the worst disinformation, “Murdoch” never passed his lips.

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