News Release

Murdoch “Can’t Have it Both Ways”

NICHOLAS JOHNSON, mailbox at nicholasjohnson.org
Johnson is currently in the D.C. area and is available for a limited number of interviews. Now teaching at the University of Iowa College of Law, Johnson is a former FCC commissioner who helped block the attempted takeover of ABC by ITT in the 1960s. He said today: “Murdoch is taking the classic position of big media owners: No responsibility. It’s a typical corporate tactic that tries to place the blame on underlings who actually have very little responsibility or power. And when finally faced with the illegal actions of his companies, Murdoch pleads that his media holdings are so vast he can’t keep track of everything. Well, then that’s why media conglomerates should be broken up. Murdoch and other media moguls can’t have it both ways. This is especially true of companies that hold broadcast licences, as Murdoch’s News Corp holds through Fox TV. Broadcast licences are supposed to be used for ‘the public interest,’ but instead are being used for private profit.”

In 1968, Johnson wrote the piece for the Atlantic magazine: “The Media Barons and the Public Interest: An FCC Commissioner’s Warning.”

KARL GROSSMAN, kgrossman at hamptons.com
Professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, Grossman said today: “The performances of Rupert and James Murdoch yesterday were outrageous. It’s unbelievable that they were not quite aware of the thoroughly unethical and illegal activities being investigated considering their close oversight of the activities of News of the World and their other media properties. Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is — and continues to be — a journalistic travesty. This I say as a longtime professor of journalism as well as journalist. William Randolph Hearst’s power-crazed activities pale in comparison to those of Rupert Murdoch who has sought — and succeeded — in being an international Citizen Kane. Rupert Murdoch and the rest of his management and supportive board must be brought down — and the toxic Murdoch media empire broken up. Today more than ever we need a free and independent media serving the public interest.” See Grossman’s “Rupert Murdoch Media Empire: A Journalistic Travesty.”

DAVE SALDANA, dsaldana at freepress.net
Communications director for Free Press, a media reform group, Saldana said today: “Murdoch’s News Corp has had an incredible amont of influence in the UK, U.S. and other countries. How many hosts on Fox News are potential or actual presidential candidates? But that’s the symptom, the disease is media consolidation and the pathogen is money in the political system. AT&T has spent millions in the political system to get the T-Mobile merger through, as did Comcast with the NBC takeover. This is the opposite of having a diverse media that is supposed to foster a meaningful democracy.”

JEFF COHEN, jeffco at hvc.rr.com,
Available for interviews beginning Friday, Cohen is the founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. He is also the founder of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting and his books include “Cable News Confidential.” He was quoted in the New York Times on Tuesday, saying: “For those of us who’ve been warning about the dangers of too much media power concentrated in too few corporate hands, this scandal is a godsend.”

Correction: Last week IPA issued a release titled “Murdoch’s Scandals” in which we quoted David Cay Johnston’s analysis of News Corp’s taxes. Johnston has since issued a correction, explaining how he misread the company’s records. He wrote: “Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp did not get a $4.8 billion tax refund for the past four years, as I reported. Instead, it paid that much in cash for corporate income taxes for the years 2007 through 2010 while earning pre-tax profits of $10.4 billion.”