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More Spin Of News Corp. Phone Hacking Scandal From Fox News Watch

Reported by Ellen - July 18, 2011 -

Fox News Watch's motto is “Covering the coverage, uncovering media bias.” But “spinning for News Corp.” would be a more apt description of its various segments this week (7/16/11) on the News Corp. phone hacking scandal. Out of four panelists plus host Jon Scott, only Alan Colmes seemed to care about the actual wrongdoing by a giant media conglomerate. Everyone else seemed more interested in deflecting attention by pointing fingers elsewhere: media overhype, liberal antagonism toward Murdoch, a ploy by News Corp. competitors – you name it. Everything except a concern about being associated with a corporation whose very high level executives on both sides of the Atlantic have been implicated and/or arrested in an illegal phone hacking scandal.

I previously posted about Fox News Watch's preemptive strike on any U.S. investigation into News Corp. by labeling it as a product of anti-Fox bias by the Obama administration. But there were two more dizzying spin-cycle segments on the scandal.

In the first segment below, panelist Cal Thomas played the “unfair liberal media” card.

This is the biggest case of piling on since the last rugby game I saw. The left has been out to get News Corp., especially Fox News Channel, and the Murdoch family for years… Some of these allegations were in the British press several years ago and you don’t have to be paranoid to believe that at the very moment when Rupert Murdoch was poised to take over BSkyB in Britain, that somehow these things got exploded and he has temporarily at least withdrawn from that bid.

Colmes – the only one expressing a concern about News Corp. behavior - jumped in to say that it’s not just the left calling for investigations but Republican Congressman Peter King as well. Colmes added,

This knee jerk “Let’s blame the liberals, let’s blame the left, they’re out to get the News Corporation, they’re out to get Mr. Murdoch,” – you know, there has to be some personal responsibility. And look, Mr. Murdoch seems to be taking that, I mean, he put out an apology, he actually visited the family of that eight-year old girl (Colmes seemed to be referring to 13 year-old murder victim Milly Dowler). But you know, there has to be personal responsibility and stop blaming the left and the liberal media – like it’s the liberals’ fault that this happened.

Jon Scott also played the “biased media card” plus a dollop of “move along, there’s nothing of interest here in the U.S.” that Steve Doocy tried the day before: “It does seem that a lot of Mr. Murdoch’s detractors – and there are many of them – are using this (Scott paused, as though searching for the right word), this episode, unfortunate as it is in Britain, to try to tar Fox News Channel.”

Thomas continued in the “This is no big deal” vein. He said, “One of the subtexts of all of this is that somehow some of these tabloids actually paid for information. We talked on this show many times about checkbook journalism in the U.S. From 60 Minutes to you know people are after Casey Anthony.”

Except that as Thomas should know – or at least host Scott should have noted – it’s not just a matter of paying for information. News Corp. was paying off the police for illegal information used to hack into people’s phones. Plus, there’s the coziness with politicians – but we can see why Thomas might want to avoid bringing that up on Fox News.

As Jim Pinkerton brought up how CNN host Piers Morgan formerly worked at Murdoch's Phone-Hacking Central, a/k/a News Of The World, Colmes asked, “That somehow justifies anything? …So let’s try to spread (the blame) around a little bit.”

As if to prove Colmes’ point, Scott opened the next segment in the video below with that very strategy – plus the old “liberal media” standby: “Virtually every tabloid is guilty of some kind of offensive… So are the mainstream media looking at everybody here?”

Colmes, not host Scott, got to the heart of the matter for everyone who’s not a News Corp. apologist:

This is a really good spin to see how well the scandal is being handled by the parent company – people we actually work for. But the fact is, this scandal happened and how high up did it go and who knew about it and who didn’t? Did Rebekah (Brooks) know about it? Did Mr. Murdoch know about it? Who has culpability here, who has responsibility and who actually signed off on allowing this to happen?"

Sadly, the point sailed over the heads of the others. Thomas once again laughably minimized the scandal's significance by saying, “This is not to excuse anything but we’ve had incidents like that for years.”

This particular segment ended with Thomas attacking Robert Greenwald, producer/director of Outfoxed, for being “hypocritical” in a Huffington Post blog post criticizing the media hegemony that is News Corp.

Video via Mediaite.

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