Action #1 – Continue to de-FOX-ify your life.
We have, like many groups, advised people to cut off their unwitting financial support of FOX News, a right-wing propaganda machine masquerading as a media empire. And as there’s more than one way to attack this issue, so we offered a variety of options here.
Meanwhile, the poison continues. Tucker Carlson, who promotes white nationalist viewpoints on his widely watched show, gave a sympathetic and unquestioning platform to Charles Murray, a social scientist who uses racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor. Meanwhile, a report released last Friday by the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters showed that the majority of vaccine-related segments that Fox News aired over the past two weeks “repeatedly fearmongered about and downplayed the need for continued vaccination campaigns.”
So what do we do now?
In 2019, the Intercept published an article: “The Problem at Fox News Is Not Just Tucker Carlson — It’s the Murdoch Family Who Owns and Controls the Network: It’s not enough to criticize the racist anchors on Fox News. The Murdoch family is responsible for what happens there. Let’s talk about them…
…It’s absolutely correct to direct our anger at the terrible people we see on Fox and the terrible things they say, but they are not the worst culprits or the most powerful ones. Remember the Watergate-era saying, “follow the money”? Do that with Fox News and you’ll quickly realize that the people responsible for its hateful programming — the people who can shut it off in an instant but don’t because they approve of it or are too cowardly to take a stand against it — are Rupert Murdoch and his heirs, who founded and own a controlling stake in the network’s parent company.“
In fact, let’s talk to Rupert...
Action #2 – Write an email, a letter or a postcard to Rupert Murdoch. Copy his son.
(Here’s a sample. Take what you want of it, and make it sound like you, or start from a different point entirely. Always be polite, but make sure he knows that we see him, not the clown car of talking heads he hides behind.)
Dear Mr. Murdoch,
Happy belated 90th birthday. For most of us, reaching 90 would be both an achievement and a time for reflection on our actions in the world, for good and bad, and for pondering our possible legacy. In the meantime, we’ll be pondering your legacy too.
Preston Padden, an employee in the early days of Fox, described you as “brilliant, courageous, optimistic, and a gentleman.” He is at a loss to describe how your brainchild has gone so “badly off the tracks at Fox News, contributing “substantially and directly to:
- the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by disparaging the wearing of life-saving COVID masks;
- divisions in our society by stoking racial animus and fueling the totally false impression that Black Lives Matter and Antifa are engaged in nightly, life-threatening riots across the country;
- the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by fueling hesitation and doubt about the efficacy and safety of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines [Fox News provided me examples of pro-mask/vaccine on-air comments, but in my opinion, they were heavily outweighed by the negative comments of the highly rated primetime opinion hosts]; (Media Matters report here.)
- former President Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him by providing a continuous platform for wild and false claims about the election—claims refuted by more than 60 judges, Republican State election officials, recounts in numerous States and Trump’s own Attorney General; and
- the Jan. 6, 2021, violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by continually promoting former President Trump’s “Stop The Steal” rally.“
We will add to the list that you have amplified the claims of Christopher Rufo, who has deliberately reframed Critical Race Theory (CRT), a graduate course on the embedment of racism in legal systems, into a direct attack on anti-racist education of K-12 students. Along with encouraging division among parents and animus against Democrats, your companies have also spread his resurrection of “red-baiting” vocabulary by wrongly associating CRT with “Marxism,” a potent word historically used as a political weapon against Black-led movements and their leaders, including Martin Luther King. Tucker Carlson has piled on, with terms like “racist anti-American indoctrination, and race-based indoctrination.” Idaho, in fact, has now created a task force “aimed at rooting out alleged “teachings on social justice, critical race theory, socialism, communism, (and) Marxism” from public schools.”
So what is your legacy? According to Padden’s list, you have contributed to dangerous misinformation at the top levels of our government, including an American president and federal legislators and the destruction of faith in our elections. You’ve also affected the bottom, as school board meetings across the country devolve into violence over CRT and QAnon members, a cult the FBI considers a domestic terrorist threat, use the divisiveness to gain public office. Not only have you chosen to demonize “social justice” rather than to use your power to make our society more inclusive, Frank Meeink, a former neo-Nazi, stated that what he now hears on Fox News sounds like the things he used to say to recruit members to his group. ” …Fox News has completely radicalized so many Americans.”
(including this video to help you add to your letter…)
Meanwhile, our hospitals are filling up again with sick and dying COVID victims, most of whom Joseph Azam, a former senior vice president at News Corp in New York, attributes directly to you. “I think Fox has been almost single-handedly responsible for the politicisation of public health in the US and the creation of vaccine hesitancy in a significant portion of the population.” Asked why you, a vaccine recipient, have allowed Fox hosts to promote doubts about them, Azam said: “I don’t think Rupert gives a damn about Americans. The calculation is a political one and a financial one.” Dean Obidallah concurs, alleging that that Fox news hosts are “so obsessed with hurting Biden politically they simply seem not to care who gets sick to achieve their goal.”
Do Padden and Azam have you all wrong? Although you’ve mixed media with political campaigns around the world, should we believe that you underestimated the effect of prolonged propaganda on a country historically prone to racist and violent reactionism? Should we believe you no longer have functional control over the media empire that started as a center-right political operation and that has slid, along with its audience, towards extremism after the 2020 election? Where a staffer said “It’s really emotionally taxing to do this job. We denied the pandemic, and now we’re denying the election outcome.”
If they are right, however, this is an immense amount of societal damage for one man to have caused. As the founder of a media empire that routinely demonizes immigrants, it would be ironic if you, who only reluctantly became a naturalized American to expand your business interests, are possibly the most destructive one we’ve ever admitted.
However, we perpetually optimistic Americans saw a glimmering of humanity during your 2011 meeting to apologize to the parents of a murdered British teenager for your reporters’ hacking of her phone. Perhaps as you too are a father. “I realise that simply apologising is not enough. Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in a society. We need to live up to this….In the coming days we will take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused. You will hear more from us.“
Eight years later, we were still waiting. Vox wrote an article in 2019 stating that the “people responsible for (Fox’s) hateful programming — the people who can shut it off in an instant but don’t because they approve of it or are too cowardly to take a stand against it — are Rupert Murdoch and his heirs, who founded and own a controlling stake in the network’s parent company.”
Two years after that, we are awash in the damage you’ve caused, both from COVID vaccine-denial and right-wing radicalization. So which are you, Mr. Murdoch? Approving or cowardly? In control or retired? Will we hear from you through decisive corrective actions or will you continue to lie low behind your protective screen of on-screen performers and anonymous editorials? Will we be defining your legacy when you no longer can, as history is doing now for the toxic legacies of Rush Limbaugh and William Regnery? Or like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas eve, will you take advantage of this gift of time to live up to the promises you made to those grieving parents 10 years ago.
Happy belated 90th birthday, Mr. Murdoch. There appears to be no traditional gift for this milestone, other than the wisdom and courage that age itself bestows upon us, allowing us to make amends as necessary to those we may have injured in our heedless youth. We wish this gift for you and our hope for a Dickensian-style legacy of redemption and kindness that your great-grandchildren can be proud of.
Email (copy all three):
- Rupert Murdoch, c/o News America Inc. 1211 Avenue of the Americas, Floor 4 New York, NY 10036-8706, USA.C/O
- FOX CORPORATION1211 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS, NEW YORKNY10036