The writers of Succession couldn’t write the script we saw come into full display on Thursday. Out of nowhere, one of the most consequential media leaders of our time decided to resign. Rupert Murdoch will ride off into the sunset having left a legacy that has changed media and the state of our democracy forever.
Rupert Murdoch has elected presidents, changed mindsets, and caused hysteria and pandemonium for billions of people over the course of his career. It may not be hyperbolic to say he is one of the few media titans who could’ve had a direct impact on your personal life. Whether you love him or hate him, he was successful at the machine he wanted to create. He has decisively been a shadow emperor of the Western world for the past 20-40 years.
Because of the blueprint he has set in stone, don’t expect Fox News to ever change, even if he isn’t at the helm any longer. The fact is that numbers don’t lie. Fox News commands retransmission fees that are comparable to ESPN, TNT, and the USA Network without carrying any live sporting events. It is one of Fox’s biggest revenue generators despite losing an epic lawsuit to Dominion. It is one of the networks keeping the cable bundle alive and will help prolong it as much as possible because of its existing base.
Speaking of its base, the fact that it has a base in the first place speaks volumes. Fox News has something every other network on television only envies: super fans. There have been pitfalls along the way over the past three or four years but in general, Fox News finds a way to consistently beat its opponents in the demo as well as in overall viewers.
The network has had to switch out hosts for various reasons over the past couple of years but because of its formula of storytelling and team building, viewers don’t leave in droves.
It may not be journalism but it is the perfect way to keep allegiances and it has worked for Fox. Whether it was his tabloids, his syndicated shows, or his news network, Rupert Murdoch has always insisted on creating an environment of “Us vs. Them” for a group of people whose unique diversity is often underestimated. Murdoch has consistently found a way to turn anger and fear into dollars and if it ain’t broke, why fix the Fox?
The successor taking over for Rupert Murdoch also isn’t an unfamiliar seed of discomfort and madness. Lachlan Murdoch has had a say and has been in discussions about Fox’s direction for decades. Some reports say that his own way of thinking is to the right of his father. If there is any child of Rupert’s who supports the path of destruction and illusion that Fox News has created over time, it’s Lachlan.
One of the few problems that Fox may face is purely logistical. It has been reported that Lachlan enjoys living in Australia more than the United States. Operating a television behemoth from another continent could be risky, especially after the behemoth has allowed anchors to vomit election lies on screen and allegedly commit sexual assault off-screen. But that shouldn’t affect the network’s ability to operate because Lachlan has already been serving as co-chair even before this week’s announcement.
One of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t expect Fox to change is because they’re the only network that has broken the code. Newsmax, Megyn Kelly, Glenn Beck, and Tucker Carlson have tried or are trying. But they haven’t been successful. They achieved a level of prosperity in their own right but their numbers and margins of profitability are nowhere close to what Fox News makes. Their concurrent reach cannot even be compared.
The closest rival that has been able to penetrate some sort of mainstream relevance, although exclusively online, is The Daily Wire. And yet even with Ben Shapiro’s respective empire, it will be hard to match what Fox makes because of the business model Fox falls under. There isn’t any imminent competition that could drag Fox down and truly challenge the amount of viewers they receive or the kind of money they make.
Murdoch may have never wanted to retire but there’s probably no reason for him to stay. His work is finished. His worldview has a daily effect on the lives of billions. As the business models for media continue to change, it’s better to leave at the top than to try to solve the next problem.
Titans like Bob Iger and Mark Thompson could look back at Murdoch’s decision years ago and wonder why they didn’t leave as a champion as he did. Unless there was a pie coming at his face during a hearing in the United Kingdom, one of the biggest strengths of Rupert Murdoch is that he always knew when the time was right.
Jessie Karangu is a weekly columnist for BNM, and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for news and sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He also previously wrote a weekly column for our sports media brand, Barrett Sports Media. Jessie can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
Why I’m Jumping Back Into Local TV
I want to join the fight for light that disinfects from the front lines. And there is no more advanced position than local news.
Yesterday, I started what I believe will be the final phase of my nearly 50-year career in broadcasting, spanning both radio and TV.
I have roamed the streets of San Francisco looking for breaking news as the late news reporter at KPIX-TV. I picked garlic in the fields of Gilroy to expose the terrible working conditions of California farmworkers for KCBS Radio.
In Chicago, I helped topple the democratic machine by exposing the dead voters registered in the Mayor’s race that tried to prevent Harold Washington — the city’s first black mayor — from winning an election.
Next stop? Los Angeles, where I covered the O.J. Simpson trial for KNBC, coverage that earned the station an Emmy and Golden Mic awards. It also earned me a ticket to NBC network news where I became a national correspondent for Tom Brokaw’s Nightly News. Our team picked up an Emmy for the flood and fire that destroyed Grand Forks, North Dakota, and led to assignments in New York for 9/11 and then off to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Next up were 18 intense years at ABC, where I served as 20/20 correspondent, Primetime correspondent, Senior Law and Justice correspondent, Senior National correspondent, and finally White House correspondent.
In 2020, after health issues, I retired and was offered the opportunity by Barrett News Media to write about the only true profession I have ever known. No longer bound by the rules of just the facts, I was invited to give my opinion on the junction of news and politics. I have enjoyed it and thank Jason Barrett — and you, the readers — for taking the time to follow my thoughts on the great institution of the news media.
But now it is time to return to actual journalism. I have been offered the privilege of reporting again. I have started a new adventure at KGTV ABC10 in San Diego. The location is ideal and the job as Senior Investigative Reporter will be a welcome challenge and a break from the retired life.
It also comes at a time when journalism is under attack by those who feel their opinions trump facts. (Pun intended).
So I want to join the fight for light that disinfects from the front lines. And there is no more advanced position than local news. I will be holding authorities and politicians to account. Keeping big business honest by protecting the little guy. I take pride in my career in journalism and I want young reporters to be proud as well. A free press unintimidated by would-be dictators is what is needed now more than ever.
So thanks, and once again, I will see you on TV.
Jim Avila serves as a weekly columnist for Barrett News Media. An Award-winning journalist with four decades of reporting and anchoring experience, Jim has served as Senior National Correspondent, 20/20 Correspondent, and White House Correspondent for ABC News. Prior to his time with ABC, he spent a decade with NBC News, and worked locally in Los Angeles and Chicago for KNBC, and WBBM. He can be found on Twitter @JimAvilaABC.
Is Oliver Stone the Michael Moore of 2024?
“They went too far in hating and in dumping on Trump. And people don’t like that in America. People don’t like dumping on. They did it too much.”
In mid-2016, Americans felt the tide turning — with the country rallying around a Donald Trump electoral victory — when liberal filmmaker Michael Moore predicted Trump would win Michigan and the election. Could Oliver Stone be on a similar path in 2024?
Moore was prescient. He heard the people and could sense their overwhelming sentiment. More than anything, he was sounding the alarm bells for his fellow Democrats for what he felt was about to happen.
Last week a media member may have unknowingly let free the 2024 canary in the coal mine, and interestingly, this canary may have been another controversial filmmaker.
Oliver Stone appeared on Bill Maher’s podcast, Club Random, last week and seemed to echo many of the same sentiments from Moore’s premonition eight years earlier.
“Well, I mean, he doesn’t concede elections,” Maher said, bringing up President Trump in the far-ranging, free-flowing conversation. “You know, ‘The elections only count if we win’ theory of government. Okay. Well, come on. You know, Trump, he still has not conceded the election. He has not conceded. He does not honor them.”
“I mean, do you know for a fact that he lost? I’m just curious,” Stone responded. “I just don’t know all of the facts.”
Maher seemed astounded.
“Well, I do. Is there a conspiracy theory that you don’t believe?” Maher asked Stone.
Perhaps Stone was referring to the piles of historical incongruencies and facts, all of which indicated a Trump 2020 win.
No sitting president in the modern era has received more votes for re-election than in his initial election and lost.
Of the 18 most dependable “swing counties” that normally indicate an electoral winner, Trump won 18 of 19. Yet, he lost the election.
No Republican had ever won Florida, Ohio, and Iowa – considered to be a broad cross-section of the American electorate – and lost. Until Trump.
It is difficult to put Oliver Stone in a political box. He has mostly seemed to favor the libertarian philosophy of less government intrusion. On occasion, he has been critical of Trump, while also acknowledging the former President’s ability to tap into populist sentiment that the two seem to share. Less war. Fewer government shackles. More individual and economic freedom.
“I’m just asking you. I’m not an expert on the election,” Stone told Maher. “I’m not a political junkie. You are. And you follow it very closely.”
“Alright then, I’ll give you the thumbnail sketch,” an agitated Maher said. “They tried it in like 60 courts. It was laughed out of every court, including by Republican judges. The people who saved this democracy were Republicans. Good Republicans. In states where Trump pressured them. Like the guy, the one he’s on trial for in Georgia. ‘Find me 11,000 votes.’ It’s on tape. A guy like that saying to him, ‘Sir, we just don’t do that here. I voted for you. I’m a Republican, but we just don’t do that.’ That’s what saved us. And they were Republicans.”
One of the most accurate political pollsters of the modern age, Richard Baris of Big Data Poll, posted on X that “Not even Oliver Stone buys it. Notice when (Bill Maher) tried to dismiss and refute his election concerns, he used a demonstrably false claim to ‘disprove’ it. Oliver, Bill is full of shit. It was not ‘tried’ in 70 courts. Judges used standing to dodge.”
Baris continued in another post, saying, “Also, (Bill Maher) grossly mischaracterized the phone call, using the common fake news talking points that Trump asked the (Georgia Secretary of State) to ‘find 11k votes’. Don’t be lazy, Bill. Read the transcript yourself. He was talking about signature verification and votes not properly scrutinized.”
In the podcast with Maher, Stone went on to say that he had major problems with the outcome of the 2000 election, which resulted in the victory of President George W. Bush. He similarly indicated that he didn’t think 2020 passed the smell test.
“I don’t know. I mean, you went through the 2000 election. That was horrifying to me, what happened when the Supreme Court closed that down.” Stone said.
“What should we do?” Maher asked. “Do we just keep counting votes forever? Or should we still be counting them now?”
“No. Count them correctly,” Stone responded. “Let’s just get rid of the electoral college. Let’s do a popular vote.”
Oliver Stone continued, calling out the media for their biased reporting in the era of Trump.
“I don’t know the facts,” Stone said. “And I think I would trust the accountants more than the politicians. And I’d like to know what the accountants, the guys who vote, who know the most about votes, who do the Electoral Commissions. I can’t take Biden’s word for it on anything.”
“Well, I mean, if there’s nothing that can be said or argued that would convince you,” Maher offered.
“I think what shocked people is that Trump got so many votes. You know, that was what was shocking. That he did so well compared to what he was expected to do,” Stone said. “Because we believed all the East Coast media.”
“Then why do you believe he could have lost?” Maher asked his guest about Biden.
“We believed all the East Coast media elite that he was going to fail and boom, they were wrong. We would love to see them being wrong, don’t we? The media elite,” Stone said. “They went too far in hating and in dumping on Trump. And people don’t like that in America. People don’t like dumping on. They did it too much.”
Bill Maher even agreed with Stone, admitting that the media no longer attempts to give a balanced, truthful reporting of the day’s events. In addition, neither mentioned the years-long, Democrat-led coup attempt that was designed to trick the public into thinking Trump was a Russian agent. Most of the mainstream media parroted the hoax.
“I was actually having this discussion about the CNN network recently. And, you know, I want there to be a CNN in the world. You know, something that I used to be able to count on. And I still do, some of it. Give it to me straight, Doc. Just give me the news,” Maher said.
“And, you know, they had this town hall with Trump about six months ago. And it was, they took a lot of flack for it. But he was adored by the audience who were Republicans, I guess, and independents. I think they said both. But whoever it was, they fucking loved him. And then the panel comes on after and they do nothing but shit on Trump and what a liar he is.”
Like Michael Moore eight years prior, Oliver Stone seemed to be sounding the alarm bell about what’s over the horizon, a mere 11 months from now. He concluded by drawing the analogy of Trump to a legendary baseball player who was famously banished from the game over gambling allegations a few decades ago.
“I think a lot of people liked him because he got dumped on so, so much. It’s like Pete Rose. You know, when he quit. Yeah. A lot of people started to resent the media for the dumping on Pete Rose.”
Oliver Stone is sounding the alarm. And the chirping canary very well may crescendo in 2024.
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
How Did Trust in Media Reach All-Time Lows?
Somewhere along the line, Americans must agree on the facts, or we will continue to be a divided nation.
In my previous column, I wrote about Americans losing trust in the media.
Both conservatives and liberals can find ample examples to demonstrate why specific media sources are no longer trustworthy.
We have become a nation of two tribes. Each side has sources of news that it believes and considers the other side fake news or even propaganda.
The Economist and YouGov published a poll earlier this spring measuring how much trust Americans place in 56 media outlets, including social media.
Respondents were asked whether they “trust, distrust, or neither trust nor distrust” each media organization. The percentage of trust minus mistrust scores was calculated to create a “net trust score” for each.
Overall, The Weather Channel, arguably the only non-political entity measured, is the most trusted news source. It is ironic, considering how often we all complain about the “weather people” getting it wrong. Democrats (+64) and Republicans (+47) trust The Weather Channel.
The top four most trusted organizations were the same as the 2022 YouGov survey.
Here are the overall rankings of the 45 organizations published in the Economist-YouGov Poll.
- The Weather Channel +53
- Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) +30
- The BBC +29
- The Wall Street Journal +24
- Forbes +23
- The Associated Press +22
- ABC +21
- USA Today +21
- CBS +20
- Reuters +20
- NBC +19
- TIME Magazine +18
- The Washington Post +18
- National Public Radio (NPR) +16
- The Economist +16
- Business Insider +16
- The Guardian +15
- C-SPAN +14
- The New York Times +12
- Newsweek +12
- The New Yorker +10
- Bloomberg +10
- The Atlantic +10
- The National Review +8
- CNN +7
- New York Post +7
- The Hill +7
- Yahoo News +7
- Newsmax +6
- Axios +6
- Politico +6
- MSNBC +5
- One America News (OAN) +4
- The Washington Examiner +4
- Fox News +3
- The Federalist +3
- Slate +3
- Al Jazeera +1
- The Daily Beast +1
- HuffPost +1
- BuzzFeed News ±0
- Daily Kos −1
- Breitbart News −3
- The Daily Caller −4
- Infowars −16
Note: People who say the media organization is neither trustworthy nor untrustworthy, or that they don’t know, are not included in the calculation.
The differences between Democrats and Republicans are remarkable. In general, Republicans have less trust in the media overall.
Republicans have the most trust in Fox News and positive trust only in Fox News, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Independents have a slight degree of trust in most news organizations, while Democrats have a significant degree of confidence in most of the media groups measured, except for Fox News.
|Organization||Democrat Net Trust||Independent Net Trust||Republican Net Trust|
|New York Post||+18||-1||+3|
|New York Times||+53||+8||-30|
|Wall Street Journal||+42||+19||+9|
Republicans and Democrats see information through completely different filters. The results for the entire survey, including crosstabs, can be found here.
Somewhere along the line, Americans must agree on the facts, or we will continue to be a divided nation. The media needs to do its part to bridge the divide.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at an[email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.