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CNN Confirms: Fox News Watch Admitted Avoiding Parent Company's Hacking Scandal

July 13, 2011 11:23 am ET by Eric Hananoki

As Media Matters first noted, Fox News' media criticism program, Fox News Watch, avoided any mention of the scandal over the British tabloid News of the World and its publisher News Corp., which also owns Fox News. And in a video posted on, panelists appeared to admit during a commercial break that they were intentionally avoiding the topic. posts "Behind the breaks" videos featuring panelists' discussions during Fox News Watch's commercial breaks. In one, Fox News contributor Cal Thomas asks, "Anybody want to bring up the subject we're not talking about today" and adds, "I'm not going to touch it."

In a report for CNN's The Situation Room last night, reporter Brian Todd "confirmed" that "they were talking about" the hacking scandal. On the topic of Fox News, Todd also reported that overall, the channel has addressed the scandal but "not as much as other news networks."

Here's video and's transcript of the segment:

BLITZER: The British media scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has apparently put FOX News in a bit of a bind. The network has apparently gone out of its way to avoid a lot of reporting on its parent company's troubles. That may become even more obvious in the days to come.

Let's check in with Brian Todd. He's been looking at this story for us.

Clearly, they're doing some reporting on it, but by no means as much as most other news organizations.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't appear to be that, Wolf. There have been several questions raised in recent days about the extent to which Rupert Murdoch's news entities have covered the "News of the World" scandal. Questioned fuelled in part by a clip from the FOX News program about the news media, that program called "Fox News Watch." We're going to show you a clip from this past Sunday.

This is streaming video. It's meant for the public, but it's during a commercial and not part of the broadcast. Panelists are talking about a certain news story. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody want to bring up the subject we're not talking about today for the streamers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, go ahead. I'm not going to touch it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With a ten foot (ph).



TODD: Now, it might may seem obvious they're talking about the "News of the World" scandal. We've confirmed that's what they were talking about.

We did a search of FOX transcripts to double check. Despite the fact that "FOX News Watch" is about the news media, we found no mentions of the "News of the World" scandal on that program, no mentions of "News of the World" at all since August 2006.

Now, as for the broader FOX News Channel coverage, it does appear to have been more extensive than that, obviously. "The L.A. Times" does report that FOX News stayed mainly silent on the scandal during prime time on Thursday. That's when it broke that Murdoch was shutting down "News of the World."

We found several mentions of the story on FOX News Channel over the past week, including one reporter piece. That's compared to the other major news networks where coverage was fairly extensive.

We couldn't get spokespeople for News Corporation or FOX News Channel to comment. We do have to say, also, though, that our CNN colleagues in Britain tell us that Sky News, one of Murdoch's other news entities, was not holding back in its coverage, going all out on that throughout this.

And our search of the mentions of the story on CNN turns up about 100 over the past week. A fair question, I guess, could be, Wolf, are we over-covering it? You can ask that fairly of us. But you and I both saw clips on FOX News -- the broader FOX News Channel. Several live shots. They've addressed it. Not as much as other news networks.

BLITZER: What about the other Murdoch newspapers? How are they handling it?

TODD: Again, it's a mixed bag. You know, we've -- as far as his U.S.-based newspapers are concerned, on the day after this was announced that "News of the World" was shutting down, we're going to show you some newspapers now.

This is the "New York Post." Extensive coverage of the Casey Anthony trial and verdict. A short mention of the "News of the World" scandal on page 29 there on a short news article. That's compared -- this again is on Friday. This is the day after Murdoch announced that "The News of the World" was shutting down. A short mention there on page 29 on his "New York Post" newspaper which he owns.

This is compared to "The New York Times." A major front-page story on that Friday after it was announced that "The News of the World" was shutting down. Same thing for "The Washington Post," major front-page story there.

Now, to be fair, "The Wall Street Journal," another Murdoch news entity -- this is his most distinguished newspaper -- did do a major front-page story. Here it is right here. "Tabloid to Close Amid Scandal" with extensive coverage on the jump page.

And Murdoch's paper, "The Times of London" today has this as its major front-page story, the headline "Murdoch Counts Cost as BSkyB Bid Shelved." So two of his major newspapers, Wolf, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting extensively on the Web and on their front page and the "Times of London" not shying away from this story.

BLITZER: And we're all going to have a lot more opportunity to cover this story, because it's clearly only just beginning this investigation in Britain right now. Thanks very much, Brian.

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    • Author by tharri874 (July 13, 2011 11:42 am ET)
      Even when Fox News Watch was a good show (and yes, until they fired Eric Burns- no relation to MM's Eric Burns - it was a good show) there was an obvious reluctance to single out Fox News for any criticism.

      Now this scandal puts Fox News' place in the Murdoch empire in perspective. It's not a serious source of news like the Wall Street Journal or the Times of London, but a close cousin of his tabloid scandal sheets like The New York Post and yes, News of the World.
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    • Author by jonimacaroni1 (July 13, 2011 11:42 am ET)
      For a news media criticism program to have avoided talking about this great big scandal (Carl Bernstein says it's the biggest scandal in 40 years) is big news. They're gigantic hypocrites, and I'm glad that CNN exposed that the folks on the show knew that they should be mentioning it, but chose not to do so - that exposes their hypocrisy even more.
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    • Author by Scousegit (July 13, 2011 11:42 am ET)
      "We Report, you decide" .... or possibly not if the story is about us and negative.
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    • Author by nerzog (July 13, 2011 11:44 am ET)
      So, will this be it? Will the real News Networks finally start calling out FOX for its brazen partisanship and outright dishonesty?

      I'll believe it when I see it.
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      • Author by cripto9t709 (July 13, 2011 12:16 pm ET)

        But they will call out President Obama if calls them on it.
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    • Author by MeanMrSpicyMustard (July 13, 2011 11:53 am ET)
      It's a "ten-foot Durbin." They were talking about Dick Durbin and Dick Cheney because haha look at their first names.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by PEACEAUTHOR (July 13, 2011 1:41 pm ET)
      Fox News cannot be called a news station. A real news station reports all the news...even that which affects its own empire. Fox is headed for extinction. Why would any sane advertiser want to be associated with a tabloid entertainment network that is associated with the worst journalism in history.

      Journalism was debased and diminished by Rupert Murdock. He and his cohorts brought shame to the profession. No serious outlet of news destroys lives and reputations for fun and profit. Nothing was off bounds for this horrible man. He bathed in his glory and power only to destroy people and even governments.
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    • Author by highlyunlikely (July 13, 2011 2:49 pm ET)
      Though I never watch CNN and know of their coverage only from the transcript, I can say without a doubt they're not overcovering the story.
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    • Author by MOM (July 14, 2011 1:35 pm ET)
      BillO said the hacker of Palin should be arrested, prosecuted and put in prison. So what say you now BillO? Credit to K.O.
      7/12 Worst Person of the World.
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    • Author by jonathaninskeep4723 (July 14, 2011 4:28 pm ET)
      How can this be called the "News of the World" scandal? Murdock and News Corp have engaged in blatant criminal activities almost since they began. Murdock bought his US citizenship and is now attempting to use it to avoid testifying in Parliament. He wrote multi-million dollar checks to both Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton, who returned them only when they were exposed to the public. He also paid for substantial changes in FCC regulations that allowed him to purchase broadcast stations and newspapers in the same markets. His purchases were illegal up to the time that he bought the FCC.

      If he claims to be an American citizen, we should issue international arrest warrants for him, his girl friend, and his son, bring them here, and put them on public trial.

      Fox "News" and the rest of his stolen property should be put up for sale to the highest bidder. Bring down his entire criminal enterprise.

      But please, find a way to keep House and The Simpsons, at least.

      Jonathan Inskeep
      Crofton, Maryland USA
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