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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2010
3:00 PM

CONTACT: Media Matters for America

Jess Levin (202) 772-8162
jlevin@mediamatters.org

Media Matters Offers Assistance With Rupert Murdoch's Investigation

Media Matters sends Murdoch more than a dozen examples of Fox News promoting the Tea Party movement

WASHINGTON - April 8 - Today, Media Matters for America's Ari Rabin-Havt sent a letter to News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch noting Fox News' role in regularly promoting the Tea Party movement. When Rabin-Havt asked Murdoch about that topic at the National Press Club on Tuesday night, Murdoch said he didn't think Fox News "should be supporting the Tea Party" but would like to "investigate" "before condemning anyone."

The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Murdoch:

I wanted to thank you for taking my question Tuesday night at the National Press Club. As a reminder, I asked you whether it was "appropriate for a news network to engage in that much politics" in regards to Fox News' role in regularly promoting the Tea Party movement.

You replied: "No. I don't think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party. But I'd like to investigate what you are saying before condemning anyone."

We appreciate your willingness to look into this matter. To aid in your investigation, Media Matters has compiled over 15 examples of your network's "support" of the Tea Party movement. And, contrary to a Fox News spokesperson's suggestion that only the "opinion commentators" are actively encouraging participation in the protests, it is a problem that stretches across the entire network.

Tuesday night, I was pleased to learn that you don't believe that Fox News should be "supporting the Tea Party or any other party" and that you were open to "condemning" anyone who had done so. For the past year, Media Matters has been vocal in criticizing the network's tea party coverage. I hope the attached evidence is enough to convince you to take action. We look forward to hearing the results of your investigation.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like any additional information.

Kind regards,

Ari Rabin-Havt

Vice President of Research & Communications

Media Matters for America

With the letter, Rabin-Havt included the following attachment:

"Join Your Local Tea Party": Fox News' history of promoting the tea party movement

Anchor: "It's now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go!" During the April 13, 2009, edition of Your World, Fox Business anchor and "business journalist" Stuart Varney plugged Fox News' presence at the April 15, 2009, tea parties, saying: "It's now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go!"

Fox News aired more than 100 commercial promotions for tea party protests in less than two weeks. From April 6 to April 15, Fox News aired at least 107 commercial promotions for their coverage of the April 15, 2009, tea party protests.

Beck encouraged viewers to "please go" to "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." Fox News aired graphics on repeated occasions in which they dubbed the April 15, 2009, Tax Day Tea Parties, "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." Host Glenn Beck told viewers they could "[c]elebrate with Fox News" at any of four Fox News-described "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties," saying: "If you can't make the one in San Antonio" -- which Beck himself attended -- "please go to the one with Neil or with Sean in Atlanta, that's supposed to be great, Greta is in Washington, D.C. Just get out and let your face be seen."

"Can't get to a tea party? Fox Nation hosts a virtual tea party." On the April 11, 2009, edition of Fox News Watch, Fox News host Bill Hemmer said:

HEMMER: While the mainstream media's ignored the tea party movement, here at the Fox News Channel, we're gearing up to bring you special coverage of the events all across the country. Sean Hannity is in Atlanta; Glenn Beck's at the Alamo -- where else would he be? -- San Antonio; Neil Cavuto is live in Sacramento; and Greta is in Washington, D.C.

Can't get to a tea party? Fox Nation hosts a virtual tea party. You can check it out on the site for the location of a tea party in your area. Again, that is Wednesday, the 15th of April.

On April 15, 2009, news anchor Megyn Kelly said, "you can join the tea party action from your home if you go to the FoxNation.com ... a virtual tax day tea party." On April 16, 2009, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson told viewers that they "can still have a virtual tea party" at Fox Nation

Fox News host: "[H]opefully millions of people" will participate. While reporting live at a protest on April 15, 2009, former Big Story host John Gibson, a Fox News Radio host, remarked that "hopefully millions of people" will participate in the protests.

Anchor to viewers: You "need to go" to tea party merchandise site. On April 15, 2009, Fox Business anchor David Asman told viewers they "need to go" to a tea party merchandise site "no matter what side of the issue you're on."

News anchor on list of nationwide tea party events: "Check it out online right now." On March 24, 2009, Hemmer noted protests in Florida and Ohio and directed viewers to the program's website to learn more about the protests:

HEMMER: It's called the tea party. And check out the scene in Orlando, Florida. More than 4,000 turned out over the weekend protesting government spending and a big thumbs-down to the policies currently in Washington. Radio host Bud Hedinger hosted that event. Protesters, well, they waved flags and signs and with slogans like "Repeal the Pork" and "Our Bacon is Cooked." I say, our bacon is cooked.

They're popping up literally all across the country now. They had about 5,000 in Cincinnati last weekend. If you go to our website, you will find a growing list of these events, hundreds of photos, and a new tea-party anthem that you will hear from the man who wrote it and recorded it next hour. And there's a list of the nationwide Tax Day tea party events coming up on the 15th of April, which will be a huge deal for those organizations. So check it out online right now.

News anchor: To find "one happening near you, head to our website." On April 6, 2009, Hemmer again directed viewers to Fox News' website to find a tea party "happening near you"

HEMMER: If you want to know more about the tea-party movement, if there is one happening near you, head to our website FoxNews.com/americasnewsroom. We have an entire section devoted to the growing tea-party movement. That's our America's Newsroom website online. All the information you need to know. Check it out right now.

Hannity: "We hope you'll join us." On April 3, 2009, Fox News host Sean Hannity said: "And also log on to our Web site to get all the details about our special 'Tax Day Tea Party.' We're going to be live in Atlanta, April 15th. Governor [and Fox News host Mike] Huckabee, by the way, will be on that show." Hannity also said during the program: "And then it's April 15, it's our tea party tax day show. And I'll be hosting the show from Atlanta, where one of dozens of tea party protests are going to be going on that evening. So we hope you'll join us."

Reporter: "We want to let folks know" tea party schedule so "they can be a part" of events. The August 23, 2009, edition of Fox News' America's News HQ hosted Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams to promote the tour. During the segment, anchor and reporter Shannon Bream said of the tour's schedule:

BREAM: You do have a bit of a cohesive, at least organized schedule. We want to let folks know you're going to be making --

WILLIAMS: Yes.

BREAM: -- 34, 35 stops, I believe it is, all across the country, so if they want to come out and take part, they certainly can be a part of what you're doing. And, you know, this has definitely struck a chord with people.

Reporter: "[H]opefully Washington will listen to their concerns." During the August 28, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, William La Jeunesse reported live from Sacramento on the kickoff of the Tea Party Express. At the conclusion of his report, La Jeunesse said of the tour's concerns: "[T]hey believe, collectively, that they at least have a voice, and hopefully Washington will listen to their concerns."

Host: "How you can join, next." On its August 19, 2009, broadcast, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade told viewers "how you can join" the Tea Party Express:

KILMEADE: Straight ahead, citizens take their concerns about health care on the road to -- on the road. The organizer of a cross-country tea party tour, and how you can join, next.

[...]

KILMEADE: The Tea Party Express will make 35 stops across the country, giving Americans a constructive outlet in which to share their concerns on health care, and I imagine more.

During the segment, Fox News helped viewers find out "how you can join" the Tea Party Express by displaying the dates and locations of 22 stops.

"To sign up for Tea Party 2.0 Go to ..." On May 13, 2009, On the Record host Greta Van Susteren did a segment on the "Tea Party 2.0," saying: "If you wanted to go to a tea party on April 15 but could not make it or there was none in your hometown, tomorrow's your big chance." She later asked Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), "What do they do, do they log on a particular place? And will they be able to interact with you? I mean, how's this gonna work?" and later, "[W]hen is this tea party? When does it begin? Is there a Web address or a phone number?"

Cavuto on protestors: "God bless these folks." On March 27, while showing footage of tea party protestors gathering for a tea party rally "four and a half hours from now," Fox Business senior vice president Neil Cavuto commented, "I don't do that [gather to protest] for anything. ... God bless these folks."

Reporter endorsed tea partier's call to "get these liberal communists out of our government." While covering a tea party protest for FoxNews.com on September 4, 2009, reporter Griff Jenkins interviewed a tea partier who said he wanted to "get these liberal communists out of our government." Jenkins replied: "How about that. I couldn't have said anything better than that." On the September 12, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Dave Briggs said of Tea Party Express-embedded Jenkins: "You might call him a tea party groupie."

Fox News employee: Some members of Fox "cheerlead for rallies and tea parties." Fox News contributor Bernard Goldberg stated on September 29, 2009: "There are some programs on Fox that are not only not 'Fair and Balanced' -- they're commentary shows, they don't have to be -- but they brag about how 'Fair and Balanced' they are. They don't cover rallies and tea parties; they cheerlead for rallies and tea parties. And as a journalist, I am totally against that."

Tea party participants credited Fox promotions for bringing them to the April 15, 2009, protests. For instance:

  • The Odessa American (TX) reported of a rally outside Odessa City Hall: "Statements like 'I saw it on Fox' were heard around the crowd, which organizers hope will be the first of many in the area."
  • An April 15, 2009, Associated Press article reported of a protest in Louisville, Kentucky: "Laura Watkins pushed her 2-year-old daughter Zoe in a stroller with a sign strapped to the front reading 'My Piggy Bank is not Your ATM.' Watkins said she joined the protest after reading about it online and hearing about it on Fox News."
  • WOAI-TV (NBC, San Antonio) reported that the "San Antonio Tea Party grabbed national attention with radio and TV talk show host Glenn Beck airing his TV show here on Fox[.] While many came to see that, others came to say 'no more spending.' "
  • The Anchorage Daily News (AK) reported of a local protest: "Hundreds more gathered in the Mat-Su later in the day as a coalition of conservative groups, spurred by Fox News, organized hundreds of similar events around the country.

Tea party organizers used Fox News to increase attendance. For instance:

  • San Antonio Express-News media columnist Jeanne Jakle wrote in an April 2, 2009, blog post that "Eric Adam, the media correspondent for the San Antonio Tea Party, said he's expecting thousands to attend the event now that Beck and his national forum are involved."
  • Tea parties across the country used Fox News' presence at the events to draw protesters. For instance, the Sacramento Tea Party website used Cavuto's image at the top of its home page to promote its event. The website AtlantaTeaParty.net used Hannity's appearance at its Atlanta protest to promote its event. The website TaxDayTeaParty.com promoted a protest in New York City by featuring Fox News' Newt Gingrich as a featured speaker.

Appendix: Fox News Tea Party promotional graphics

The following are examples of images that appeared on Fox News properties, which promoted various Tea Party protests:

(Click here.)

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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.



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