Happy weekend. Let's check in on the media this past week.
1. Fair and balanced—Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch announced that he is stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corps, and CNN led the mainstream media in a bitter daylong eulogy of its bête noire.
Abby Phillip, anchor: "Objectively, American democracy is in perilous condition. The nation's politics are poisoned. Truth has become optional, instead of desired or even required. The republic has, of course, always faced threats to it even before Rupert Murdoch, but so much of the current state of our democracy can be traced back to the beast of his creation."
Oliver Darcy, senior media reporter: "Murdoch is responsible, really, largely for a lot of the right-wing rhetoric that has saturated the public discourse. Of course, his network peddled false information about vaccines, the 2020 election, he just settled a $787.5 million dollar settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over election lies, and now he is stepping down."
Brian Stelter, former chief media critic, on MSNBC: "Fox in many ways influences and sometimes even manipulates the Republican Party. And that's not gonna change as a result of this transition."
But, after years of playing the token liberal on Fox News, Geraldo Rivera made an evening appearance on CNN to defend his former boss's legacy:
Well, he’s the founding father, not just of Fox News, but of a media empire that has made him one of the richest people on Earth. He’s a genius, I think. His great discovery is that half the people in the English-speaking world feel that they are ignored by the mainstream media on issues like abortion, immigration, gun reform, and climate change. He discovered that, he created this empire to serve that population, it has served him well.
He got jammed up in that whole Dominion stuff, but he’s always been nice to me, kind to me, generous. When they cut my salary in half, when they had the big cut back before the pandemic, I went up to say, I said, "Hey boss, this is not right. I went in to combat for you and this and that," and he called downstairs and he said, "Okay, restore part of that cut." So, I see him as a good boss. A vibrant, charismatic guy, still full of verb and energy at 92 years old.
Don't miss CNN's photo tribute to Murdoch.
2. Biden's border crisis—As illegal crossings at the southern border again surged to near-record highs, much of the media had other places to be.
This gets no coverage because the media NPCs are instructed not to cover it
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 21, 2023
What coverage there was of the border crisis generally downplayed the role of President Joe Biden's policies and instead emphasized evergreen issues like disinformation, climate change, and Republican intransigence.
New York Times: "One Day on the Border: 8,900 Migrants Arrested, and More on the Way":
Surges in migration at the southern border, while motivated by poverty, violence and hunger, are also tied to weather patterns, policy changes, and personal circumstances.
CNN: "More Military Personnel Head to the US-Mexico Border as Officials Describe an Increase in Migrant Crossings":
Officials gave no clear explanation for what has prompted the latest surge and said they’re still working through specific reasons. They continued to identify disinformation from smugglers, poor economies, authoritarian regimes, and the climate crisis as forces driving migration.
Many who leave their homes for the United States face long and dangerous treks in hopes of finding better, safer lives. Some may flee violence, while others may immigrate for economic opportunities or to reunite with family, experts say. Deteriorating conditions in Latin America exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic also have contributed to the influx of migrants into the U.S.
Reuters: "US Offers Work Permits to Half Million Venezuelans Already in Country":
President Joe Biden, a Democrat seeking reelection in 2024, has faced record illegal border crossings, fueled by a sharp rise in recent years of migrants fleeing economic and political turmoil in Venezuela. …
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the expansion of protected status for Venezuelans was warranted due to "Venezuela's increased instability and lack of safety."
Washington Post: "Biden Says GOP Under Trump ‘Gutted’ US Immigration System":
President Joe Biden lambasted Republicans over the migration crisis, saying they gutted the immigration system during Donald Trump’s presidency and have since failed to provide him with necessary funding to address the situation.
The Post and others were careful to attribute to Republicans any mention of Biden's encouragement of illegal immigration, and to balance those criticisms with far-left demands for open borders.
Republicans have accused the president of fueling historic crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border by supporting policies that are too welcoming toward migrants.
Some Democratic big-city leaders accepting tens of thousands of migrants, such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have said the administration has not provided enough support. At the same time, immigrant-rights advocates fault the president for not putting enough political capital behind a push to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws earlier in his term.
Flashback: When illegal immigration unexpectedly dipped a few months ago, by contrast, the media were quick to credit Biden's policies.
Politico: "As Border Crossings Dip, Biden Admin Crows About the Fiasco That Never Happened"
Axios: "Biden's Breakthrough on Immigration"
New York Times: "Number of Migrants at the Border Plunges as Mexico Helps US To Stem Flow"
Washington Post: "Southern Border 'Eerily Quiet' After Policy Shift on Asylum Seekers"
Axios: "GOP's Crumbling Case Against Biden on Crime, Immigration, and Inflation"
Guardian: "Where Did It All Go Right for Biden? Facts Blunt Republican Attack Lines"
3. Fear index—NBC News's Ben Collins urged his colleagues to read a column that says journalists must stop reporting critically on Biden and the Democrats and instead focus on how Republicans are supposedly destroying democracy.
Everyone in the news business should read this.
Everyone outside of the news business should demand cable TV networks, newspapers and news outlets abide by it.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) September 16, 2023
The column, by the Guardian's Margaret Sullivan, approvingly quotes fellow journalists Christine Amanpour of CNN ("We have to be truthful, not neutral. ... I would make sure that you don’t just give a platform … to those who want to crash down the constitution and democracy.") and Dan Froomkin ("when one of our two political parties has become so extremist and anti-democratic ... both-sides reporting is no longer a safe harbor for political journalism. Indeed, it actively misinforms the public about the stakes of the coming election.")
Luckily for Collins, Sullivan, Amanpour, and Froomkin, the media are way ahead of them in ignoring damaging news about Democrats.
The coverage, or lack thereof, fits with a general shift in the media's characterization of immigration enforcement. What was senseless cruelty by Trump is Biden doing the best he can under impossible circumstances.https://t.co/a9BdEpsEra
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) September 19, 2023
ABC completely avoids on-air coverage of IRS whistleblowers in explosive hearing on Hunter Biden probe https://t.co/gXbVs79T5t
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 20, 2023
Cocaine in the White House?
"Nothing to see here!" say the mainstream media.
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) July 6, 2023
4. Gold nugget—A South Carolina TV station had the good sense to let the news speak for itself—in this case, by letting a local man colorfully recount how he was in the bathroom when a missing Marine Corps F-35 stealth fighter crashed in a field near his home.
Local man describes F-35 crash.
Yes, this is real. pic.twitter.com/s109DU46bz
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) September 20, 2023
Stay safe out there, and see you next week.