Media Matters Offers Assistance With Rupert Murdoch's Investigation

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

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 - 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.)

###

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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