Update: Fox News says their own internal tally shows that the News Corp. scandal has been mentioned at least 26 times, not the four times as this story was originally headlined, in the last two weeks. The network emphasized at least and said there may be instances they missed. The reason for the discrepancy between their count and ours is that theirs includes at least 21 instances in which the story was covered on programs that are not in the Lexis Nexis database of Fox News transcripts. On the shows that are indexed by Nexis, we do not know how many of these instances came on shows that aired on Wednesday after our original story was posted. Nor do we have a transcript to see what was said. (We're working on that.) But in the interest of fairness and accuracy, this is Fox News's breakdown of the minimum number of times their parent company's scandal has been covered on their network in the last week or so:
- Fox & Friends - 4
- America's Newsroom - 4
- Happening Now - 2
- Fox Report - 7
- Special Report - 5
- America's News HQ - 2
- Studio B - 1
- America Live - 1
Prior to the original publication of this story, we inquired with Lexis Nexis about the extent of their Fox News transcript collection. They indicated it included the following current programs: America's News HQ, Geraldo at Large, Fox News Sunday, Hannity, The O'Reilly Factor, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Special Report with Bret Baier and Your World with Neil Cavuto.
Original Story: In a Lexis Nexis search of Fox News transcripts, the cable news network owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., has mentioned the bribery and voice mail hacking scandal engulfing British newspaper subsidiary News International only four times in the last two weeks. The fiasco has already scuttled News Corp.'s bid to take over British Sky Broadcasting and now members of Congress are calling for an investigation into whether News Corp. violated U.S. anti-bribery laws; Carl Bernstein has likened the scandal to Watergate. But a search for "News of the World," the shuttered tabloid at the center of the scandal, and other related keywords such as "Murdoch" and "News Corp.," pulled up only one news transcript for each of the following days: July 12, July 11, July 8 and July 7. It's possible that mentions of the scandal occurred on news programs not covered in the Lexis Nexis database, which include Fox Report with Shepard Smith, America Live with Megyn Kelly, Forbes on Fox, Happening Now with Jon Scott & Jenna Lee, Huckabee, Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld and America's Newsroom with Bill and Martha.
Yesterday's report, on Special Report with Bret Baier, gave three sentences to the news that Murdoch's deal with BSkyB was falling apart:
The British government says it will support a motion Wednesday calling for Rupert Murdoch to abandon his bid to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting. This comes in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that led Murdoch to cease publication of the tabloid, "News of the World," following Sunday's final edition. Murdoch owns the parent company of Fox News.
On Monday, also on Bret Baier, the scandal earned four sentences about the victims of the scandal:
Employees of British tabloid paper "News of the World" reportedly hacked in the phones of some of the nation's most powerful figures, including royals and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. British media also reports some royal protection officers sold personal details about Queen Elizabeth II to workers at the paper.
The "News of the World" published the final edition Sunday. It is owned by the parent company of the network. That company has acknowledged the allegations and asked for information to help its own investigation.
On Friday, Baier gave three sentences to the arrest of British PM David Cameron's communications chief:
British police today arrested the former communications chief for Prime Minister David Cameron in the phone hacking scandal involving a major tabloid newspaper. Also arrested, another former editor of the "News of the World," a 168-year-old publication owned by the parent company of this network. The company says Sunday's edition of the paper will be its last.
On Thursday, again on Baier's show, senior foreign affairs correspondent Amy Kellogg reported from London about the New of the World's closure. That segment, by far the most comprehensive of the four, featured James Murdoch's statement of regret, Prime Minister Cameron's statement denouncing the organization and Kellog's description of why the paper ultimately closed:
At issue, a long-running phone hacking scandal in which the victims had been largely celebrities, but there was outrage when allegations emerged that the paper hacked the phones of school girl who had been abducted and was ultimately killed and victims of the terror attacks on London transport which happened six years ago today. Prime Minister David Cameron, whose former press secretary, was a former "News of the World" editor caught in the hacking scandal called for an inquiry.
Elsewhere in the media, the cable network has also earned criticism for not paying more attention to the scandal with some notable apologists. Our colleague James Fallows, for instance, found FoxNews.com's lack of coverage of the scandal rather deplorable. He compares its homepage with The New York Times's, which is obsessively covering the scandal, with a Cold War reference. "An hour after everyone else, the Fox site now has a small above-the-fold mention of Murdoch dropping the BSkyB bid," he writes. "This is like the way the Soviet press covered Chernobyl: 'small problem in the Ukraine.'"
Last night, CNN leveled similar criticism, airing a segment titled "Fox Avoiding News Corp. Scandal?" In the clip, reporter Brian Todd notes that Fox News's media criticism program Fox News Watch didn't report on the issue. In fact, one of its anchors Cal Thomas even noted during the commercial break that it was a topic "we're not talking about today."
That particular line of attack, didn't impress Mediaite blogger Frances Martel. "Using Fox News Watch, a Saturday afternoon grab-bag talk show, to evaluate how the network has covered the scandal doesn’t quite make sense, even if it is the one show on the network that describes itself explicitly as a media show," Martel writes. "CNN did not evaluate its own coverage of the scandal by counting how many mentions the News of the World has gotten recently on Reliable Sources, but by the whole network’s output. And the fact that Todd goes out of his way to emphasize that Fox has covered the scandal, Sky News has done so even more, and that both the Wall Street Journal and the The Times are covering it do take away from the 'much ado about nothing' feel to the piece."
And then there's The Washington Post's media critic Eric Wemple who throws a wet rag on all media outlets "obsessed over how well News Corp.'s many outlets have covered the story." To him, it's too much to ask for media organization's to honestly report on themselves. "It’s unfair, unnatural, and stupid to insist that News Corp. cover News Corp. How many penetrating investigations of CNN has Wolf Blitzer aired?"