Oxymoron: Murdoch Media Ethics

Having your ethics challenged by a Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlet is like having your honesty challenged by Bernie Madoff.

Take the recent story about CNN hiring former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned from the office in 2008 following revelations that he had patronized prostitutes.

When rumors of the CNN hire began circulating weeks ago, Fox pundit Cal Thomas remarked on the Murdoch-owned network (Fox News Watch, 5/29/10), “Clearly, CNN is going after the adultery demographic.” When the story broke, Murdoch’s New York Post (6/24/10) scoffed at the hire with a piece quoting anonymous sources saying it signaled the “destruction of a brand” and showed that CNN had “lost the struggle for its soul.” Last year, the Murdoch paper (9/2/09) scoffed at the very notion that Spitzer should ever show his face in public life again with a storyheadlined “You Can’t Keep a Bad Man Down.”

But patronizing prostitutes and committing adultery have never been a barrier to cable news stardom at Murdoch’s cable channel. Think of pay-for-player Dick Morris, and serial adulterer Newt Gingrich, just the most prominent of Fox‘s stable of anointed johns and adulterers. In fact, Fox routinely embraces and elevates conservative men whoâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢ve paid for sex and/or cheated on their wives, while condemning non-conservatives who’ve done the same.

Still not convinced that of the ethical vacuousness of Murdoch outlets? Consider this: Murdoch’s New York Post gave a weekly column (e.g. 12/13/09) to Ashley Dupre, who the paper’s editors introduced as “the former escort who brought down Gov. Eliot Spitzer.”

Perhaps the key to Dupre’s acceptability is hinted at in the Post‘s report about Spitzer’s new CNN job, where she is quoted saying everyone “deserves a second chance,” but adding, “As for the show, if it’s not on Fox, I’m not watching it.”

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.