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    US news website Axios agrees $525m sale to Cox Enterprises

    US news website Axios agrees $525m sale to Cox EnterprisesAxios, whose founders launched site in 2016, to be taken over by legacy publisher that owns US regional newspapers For $525m, Axios – publisher of punchy, notated news briefs – is set to be acquired by Cox Enterprises, a legacy publisher that owns a series of US regional newspapers.The cash deal, announced Monday, is expected to close in the next few weeks and marks a significant moment in the growth of the news outlet, which was founded in 2016 by the same journalists who launched Politico in 2007.Axios said on its website that as part of the deal Cox will invest $25m in the company that would help it expand into 20 regional US markets and broaden its coverage.The Virginia company’s three co-founders – Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz – will hold stakes in the company and lead editorial as well as day-to-day business decisions.Cox, whose media portfolio includes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Dayton Daily News, became an investor in Axios last year. Axios HQ, a communications software business, will become an independent company majority-owned by the Axios founders.Has the love affair between Trump and Fox News gone sour?Read moreOn its website, Axios said the deal was structured “to ensure investments will continue to flow into local news at a time when most commercial investors have abandoned local markets”.Axios chief executive Jim VandeHei said the deal was great for the company, its shareholders and journalism as an industry. “It allows us to think and operate generationally, with a like-minded partner – and build something great and durable that lives long after we are gone,” he said.Added Cox chairman and chief executive officer Alex Taylor: “Local watchdog journalism is so important to the health of any community, and no one is more focused on building that out nationally than Axios.”Last year, the German publishing giant Axel Springer acquired the Washington news site Politico for about $1bn. Axios had also been in talks to sell to Springer, but that deal fell through after a high-level editor at the Springer-owned tabloid Bild became embroiled in a sex scandal.Cox’s history in media dates back to 1898, when founder James Middleton Cox bought what is now the Dayton Daily News for $26,000. It eventually grew into one of the nation’s largest privately held companies before selling most of its media assets to Apollo Global Management in 2019.In comments to the New York Times, VandeHei said: “Hopefully, with Politico first, and Axios today, we have shown a way for serious journalism to thrive in the digital era. This country so desperately needs it.“The lesson of the digital era: chase fads, fantasy and clicks, you fade or famish. Chase a loyal audience with quality information, you can flourish,” he added.TopicsUS newsUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    Has the love affair between Trump and Fox News gone sour?

    Has the love affair between Trump and Fox News gone sour?The rightwing channel has not covered its former sweetheart with its regular fervour – could a billion-dollar lawsuit be why? For years, Donald Trump and Fox News were smitten.The former president would call into the rightwing news channel seemingly whenever he liked. Fox News hosts pumped up every Trump utterance. Trump watched the channel religiously, and in 2019 alone he sent 657 tweets in response to Fox News or Fox Business programs.Since then, however, things appear to have changed. Trump, as the New York Times has pointed out, has not been interviewed on Fox News for more than 100 days.A recent Trump speech was largely ignored by the network, and in a sign that Fox News has recognized alternative Republican presidential candidates are available, a Mike Pence address was broadcast live, in its entirety.Dick Cheney attacks Donald Trump as ‘greatest threat to our republic’Read moreWith the news channel embroiled in a billion-dollar lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems over its claims the voting machine company tampered with the 2020 election, Trump’s continuing lies about election fraud seem to have rattled Rupert Murdoch, the media titan who owns Fox News.Two of Murdoch’s newspapers, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, published scathing editorials on Trump in July, the former calling the twice-impeached 45th president “unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again” and the latter branding Trump “The President Who Stood Still on January 6”.This week the Washington Post reported that Murdoch “has lost his enthusiasm” for Trump.The channel has begun to give Pence and Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, plenty of air-time, including two primetime interviews in the space of five days recently, the New York Times reported. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas senator who is also said to be jockeying for a 2024 presidential run, has also been a regular interviewee.But while the apparent bouncing of Trump from Fox News has been enthusiastically covered by media reporters, there are plenty of signs the channel isn’t ready to let its paramour go just yet.A recent study by Media Matters for America, a media watchdog, found that Fox News continues to discuss Trump far, far more than any of his perceived rivals for the 2024 nomination – specifically, Trump was mentioned on Fox News 8,556 times through January to July, while DeSantis and Pence received 1,083 and 589 mentions respectively.Angelo Carusone, Media Matters’ president and chief executive, said those findings suggest there has not been a souring. He said there may have been a slight change in tone, and that Trump may not have the same “stranglehold” he once had on Fox News – the days when the channel was seen to be broadcasting to “an audience of one” are probably over – but that the coverage is still overwhelmingly positive.“You were allowed to attack Donald Trump during the primaries in 2015 and 2016 on Fox News. That doesn’t happen now, at all, ever,” Carusone said.For his part, Trump has recently expressed his displeasure at Fox News’ output. The 76-year-old, who is known to be emotional, attacked Fox & Friends in July, after its host Steve Doocy suggested a straw poll of potential 2024 candidates that showed Trump with 79% of the vote be taken with a pinch of salt.Doocy hardly went off on Trump – the host just pointed to other, more scientific, polls that showed Trump lacking 79% support. But it was enough to cause upset.“Fox & Friends just really botched my poll numbers, no doubt on purpose. That show has been terrible – gone to the ‘dark side’,” Trump posted on Truth Social, his ailing rightwing social media platform.The Dominion lawsuit could be a reason for Trump’s absence. The company is suing Fox News for $1.6bn, accusing its owner, Fox Corp, and the Murdochs specifically, of allowing Fox News to amplify Trump’s false claims that the voting company had rigged the election for Joe Biden. It could be a wise strategy not to allow Trump to repeat those precise claims on Fox News during a live interview.Asked to comment, a Fox News spokesperson said: “The debate among the liberal media on this topic is the very reason FOX News exists and is the most watched cable news channel in the country with more viewers of every political persuasion than any other network.”Still, Carusone believes any cooling on the part of Fox News towards Trump is likely to be temporary.The channel’s hosts are still engaging in misty-eyed segments where they talk about how Trump would handle issues ranging from inflation to China to the “border crisis” – a Fox News staple. And Trump’s supposed achievements while in office are still championed.“They’re still fetishizing and fantasizing, it’s just that there’s no longer an audience of one,” Carusone said.“There are other people in the audience that they care about.”TopicsDonald TrumpFox NewsUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    Female journalist told skirt too short when reporting on Alabama execution

    Female journalist told skirt too short when reporting on Alabama executionOne journalist reporting on the lethal injection was told her skirt was too short and another said she had a full-body inspection Last Thursday night, the state of Alabama took three hours to find a vein in Joe Nathan James Jr through which officials could pump lethal injection drugs and execute him, a process that the department of corrections insisted was “nothing out of the ordinary”.Alabama appears to specialize in its extraordinary sense of the ordinary, particularly when it comes to the death penalty. It has now emerged that, during that execution, prison officials subjected female reporters who came as witnesses to the proceeding to a clothing inspection, attempting to bar one woman from the death chamber on grounds that her skirt was too short.Ivana Hrynkiw, a journalist for Alabama’s pre-eminent news outlet AL.com, recounted how she was pulled aside by a prison official and told that her skirt was too diminutive to meet regulations. “I tried to pull my skirt to my hips to make the skirt longer, but was told it was still not appropriate,” she recounted on Twitter.The paradox that the state went to such lengths to uphold what it regards as propriety in clothing even as it prepared to kill a man appears to have been lost on the department of corrections. Officials also subjected an Associated Press reporter, Kim Chandler, to a full-body inspection, making her stand to have the length of her clothing checked. Chandler said that such an indignity had never happened to her before in the many times she had covered executions since 2002.Hrynkiw was eventually allowed to enter the death chamber after she borrowed a pair of waterproof fisher’s waders from a photographer, attaching their suspenders under her shirt to keep them up. That was deemed appropriate attire when watching a judicial killing.But even then it didn’t stop. The reporter was informed that her open toe heels were a breach of regulation and she was forced to change into tennis shoes retrieved from her car.“I felt embarrassed to have my body and my clothes questioned in front of a room of people I mostly never met,” Hrynkiw said. “I sat down, tried to stop blushing, and did my work.”After all that, the reporter did her job, and so did Alabama. After three hours digging around for a vein, it found one, and went ahead with the execution.James Jr was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the 1994 killing of 26-year-old Faith Hall. James Jr and Hall had briefly dated before she rejected him, authorities have said.Hall’s daughters wanted James Jr to spend the rest of his life in prison but pleaded for him to not be executed.TopicsUS newsAlabamaUS politicsWomenWomen in journalismnewsReuse this content More

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    Jared Kushner: I stopped Trump attacking Murdoch in 2015

    Jared Kushner: I stopped Trump attacking Murdoch in 2015In forthcoming memoir, obtained by the Guardian, former adviser claims to have made hugely consequential intervention In a forthcoming memoir, Jared Kushner says he personally intervened to stop Donald Trump attacking Rupert Murdoch in response to the media mogul’s criticism, at the outset of Trump’s move into politics in 2015.Trump said sorry to Cruz for 2016 insults, Paul Manafort says in new bookRead moreIn the book, Breaking History, Kushner writes: “Trump called me. He’d clearly had enough. ‘This guy’s no good. And I’m going to tweet it.’“‘Please, you’re in a Republican primary,’ I said, hoping he wasn’t about to post a negative tweet aimed at the most powerful man in conservative media. ‘You don’t need to get on the wrong side of Rupert. Give me a couple of hours to fix it.’”Kushner says he fixed it. If his claim is true, he could be seen to have made a hugely consequential intervention in modern US history.Murdoch’s support, chiefly through Fox News, did much to boost Trump to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Despite persistent reports of friction between the two men, Murdoch supported Trump through four tumultuous years in power which culminated in Trump’s refusal to admit defeat and the deadly attack on Congress.The Guardian obtained a copy of Kushner’s book, which will be published next month.The book lands at a time when Murdoch’s newspapers and to some extent Fox News are widely seen to be pulling away from Trump, amid congressional hearings into his election subversion and the January 6 attack, speculation about criminal charges and as he prepares another White House run.In his book, Trump’s son-in-law, who became a senior White House adviser, describes a friendship with Murdoch built on time on Murdoch’s yacht and at Bono’s house in France, watching the U2 frontman sing with Bob Geldof and Billy Joel. Kushner also describes how Wendi Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s third wife, helped get him back with Ivanka Trump after a breakup.Kushner claims to have convinced Murdoch to support Trump in 2015.Trump and Murdoch were not close before Trump entered politics. But in July 2015, after Trump launched his explosive campaign for the Republican presidential nomination with a racist rant about Mexicans, the Fox News owner tweeted: “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing the whole country?”A week later, the New York Times described Murdoch disparaging Trump. Trump was furious and threatened to tweet. Kushner was not then an official adviser to his father-in-law but he writes: “I called Rupert and told him I had to see him.“‘Rupert, I think he could win,’ I said, as we sat in his office. ‘You guys agree on a lot of the issues. You want smaller government. You want lower taxes. You want stronger borders.’“Rupert listened quizzically, like he couldn’t imagine that Trump was actually serious about running. The next day, he called me and said, ‘I’ve looked at this and maybe I was misjudging it. He actually does have a real following. It does seem like he’s very popular, like he can really be a kingmaker in the Republican primary with the way he is playing it. What does Donald want?’“‘He wants to be president,’ I responded.“‘No, what does he really want?’ he asked again.“‘Look, he doesn’t need a nicer plane,’ I said. ‘He’s got a beautiful plane. He doesn’t need a nicer house. He doesn’t need anything. He’s tired of watching politicians screw up the country, and he thinks he could do a better job.’“‘Interesting,’ Rupert said.“We had a truce, for the time being.”Kushner also writes about Trump’s clashes with Fox News during the 2016 campaign, including a clash with the anchor Megyn Kelly. Kushner says he agreed a deal with Roger Ailes, then in charge of Fox News, for a donation of $5m to a veterans’ organisation of Trump’s choice, in return for Trump choosing not to skip a debate.Murdoch rejected the deal, Kushner writes, saying if he took it he would have to “pay everyone to show up to debates”.Kushner also describes how Murdoch helped shape his view of why the US needed Trump. At a rally in Springfield, Illinois in November 2015, Kushner was reminded “of a book that Rupert Murdoch had given me months earlier: Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, which makes a case that over the last 50 years America has divided into upper and lower classes that live apart from each other, geographically and culturally”.Trump, Kushner writes, appealed to the “forgotten and disenfranchised”. For his son-in-law rally in Illinois “was a wake-up call”.Is Murdoch tiring of Trump? Mogul’s print titles dump the ex-presidentRead moreKushner’s version of another call with Murdoch, on election night 2020, has been widely reported. He says Murdoch told him Fox News’s call of Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden in Arizona, a decision which infuriated the president and his advisers, was “ironclad – not even close”.Arizona played a central role in Trump’s attempt to overturn the election through lies about voter fraud. Fox News is now the subject of a $1.6bn defamation suit from a maker of voting machines, over conspiracy theories pushed by Trump and his allies and repeated on the network.Fox News has said it is “confident we will prevail as freedom of the press is foundational to our democracy and must be protected, in addition to the damages claims being outrageous, unsupported and not rooted in sound financial analysis, serving as nothing more than a flagrant attempt to deter our journalists from doing their jobs”.TopicsBooksJared KushnerDonald TrumpRupert MurdochRepublicansUS politicsPolitics booksnewsReuse this content More

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    Has Democrat John Fetterman found a way to beat the reality-TV politician?

    Has Democrat John Fetterman found a way to beat the reality-TV politician?The Pennsylvania Senate hopeful is wielding social media might against star power. His secret weapon? Snooki Whether it’s Ronald, Donald or Arnold, Americans are all too familiar with the phenomenon of the second-tier celebrity turned politician. So when the TV doctor Mehmet Oz decided to run for Senate in Pennsylvania, his background as a B-lister seemed well suited to the role.As he proudly notes in his official biography, Oz has won Emmys, has written eight bestsellers, and was featured on six seasons of The Oprah Winfrey Show. He is a master of traditional media. But now the daytime TV star is facing a Democratic opponent who has proved himself a media success story in his own right – though his area of expertise is Twitter, not television.Dr Oz embraced Trump’s big lie – will Maga voters reward him in Senate race?Read moreWhen John Fetterman entered the race, the relatively little known lieutenant governor had his work cut out for him: a Bernie Sanders backer who supports universal healthcare and a $15 minimum wage, he is running to replace a Republican in a swing state.But he has rapidly made himself a national name as he tears into Oz on social media – hammering him, in particular, on the question of whether he’s really from Pennsylvania at all. Oz has said he moved there in 2020 – to a place his wife’s parents own. Before that, he lived in New Jersey for decades.In Fetterman’s view, Oz is still a Jersey boy, and the Democrat has weaponized meme after meme against his rival. Fetterman has posted a picture of Oz’s face on a Pennsylvania driver’s license, labeled “McLovin” in an homage to cinema’s best known fake ID. He has mocked his rival for apparently filming an ad for his Pennsylvania campaign in his New Jersey mansion. And he has employed the services of the most Jersey person this side of Bruce Springsteen: Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.Hey @DrOz 👋JERSEY loves you + will not forget you!!! 🥰 pic.twitter.com/YmaXfMpzUK— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) July 14, 2022
    In a clip that has received more than 84,000 likes on Twitter, the Jersey Shore reality star offers some savage sympathy: “I heard that you moved from New Jersey to look for a new job,” she says. “I know you’re away from home and you’re in a new place, but … don’t worry, because you’ll be back in New Jersey soon.”Fetterman’s attacks aren’t limited to the digital world. He had a pilot fly a banner over the Jersey shore saying, “Hey Dr Oz. Welcome home to NJ! ❤️ John.” He posted the image online, flexing Pennsylvania credentials by dedicating it to “yinz and youse down the shore today” – a combination of Pittsburgh and Philly-speak. He’s also selling a “Dr Oz for NJ” sticker. And in a coup de grâce on Thursday, Fetterman confirmed that he had launched a petition to have Oz honored in the New Jersey Hall of Fame, which celebrates the accomplishments of state residents.Oz himself has a ways to go when it comes to the art of the political stunt. He posted pictures of himself visiting Pat’s and Geno’s, the dueling cheesesteak shops, across the street from each other, that are a Philadelphia landmark. It was a rookie error, akin to a New Yorker taking a selfie at Times Square – any local can list at least five cheesesteak places they’ve deemed better than those two. Fetterman called Oz a “tourist”, and even Pat’s itself replied: “Do you even live in [Pennsylvania]? And can you spell the town you live in?” (Oz misspelled the name of his supposed home town, Huntingdon Valley, in a campaign filing.) When you’re getting burned by a cheesesteak shop, you know you need to up your social media game.While Fetterman has proved himself a natural in the art of trolling, you can almost feel the blood, sweat and tears poured into Oz’s efforts. When he posted a doctored image of Bernie Sanders with Fetterman labeled “best friends”, Fetterman replied with a meme mocking Oz’s graphic design skills. When the Republican shared a picture of a dictionary definition of “John Fetterman” – a “Bernie Sanders socialist” who is “wrong for Pennsylvania” – it felt like exactly what it was: an attempt to crowbar old-fashioned political boilerplate into a modern format. (It also placed “John Fetterman” between “justice” and “jurisdiction”, which, as several people pointed out, is not how the alphabet works.)To all yinz + youse down the shore today: hope you saw my very nice message ✈️ to one of NJ’s famous longtime residents 🥰 pic.twitter.com/xiVd6q5JIm— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) July 10, 2022
    Perhaps in desperation, Oz has recently adopted a new tactic: a “John Fetterman basement tracker” that records how long it’s been since the Democrat has held a public event. But instead of coming off as a blow to his opponent, the strategy just seems mean-spirited. What took Fetterman off the campaign trail was a stroke on 13 May.Despite his pause from IRL campaigning, Fetterman’s strategy appears to be working. Polls have repeatedly put the Democrat on top in the race, and he has raised about nine times as much as his opponent since April. A win in November may serve as a political lesson about the importance of carving out a digital identity and could be crucial to Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate. Like so many others these days, Fetterman is working from home – and finding that he can still get things done.TopicsUS politicsPennsylvaniaUS SenateSocial mediaTwitterfeaturesReuse this content More

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    Is Murdoch tiring of Trump? Mogul’s print titles dump the ex-president

    Is Murdoch tiring of Trump? Mogul’s print titles dump the ex-president Tabloid with long relationship with former president blasts him over Capitol attack, saying he is unworthy to be elected againRupert Murdoch, hitherto one of Donald Trump’s most loyal media messengers, appears to have turned on the former president.‘US democracy will not survive for long’: how January 6 hearings plot a roadmap to autocracyRead moreUS media circles were rocked this weekend after the New York Post issued an excoriating editorial indictment of Trump’s failure to stop the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.The editorial, in a tabloid owned by Murdoch since 1976, began: “As his followers stormed the Capitol, calling for his vice-president to be hanged, President Donald Trump sat in his private dining room, watching TV, doing nothing. For three hours, seven minutes.”Trump’s only focus, the Post said, was to block the peaceful transfer of power.“As a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.”The Wall Street Journal, another Murdoch paper, issued a similar critique in which it said evidence before the House January 6 committee was a reminder that “Trump betrayed his supporters”.Trump, the Journal said, took an oath to defend the constitution and had an obligation to protect the Capitol from the mob he told to march there, knowing it was armed.“He refused. He didn’t call the military to send help. He didn’t call [Mike] Pence to check on the safety of his loyal [vice-president]. Instead he fed the mob’s anger and let the riot play out.”Trump had “shown not an iota of regret”, the Journal said, adding: “Character is revealed in a crisis, and Mr Pence passed his January 6 trial. Mr Trump utterly failed his.”The editorials were only the latest salvos from the big guns of Murdochian conservatism.“The person who owns January 6 is Donald Trump,” the Journal said in June.“Look forward!” it urged readers. “The 2024 field is rich. You have Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley … the list goes on. All candidates who embrace conservative policies … Unsubscribe from Trump’s daily emails begging for money. Then pick your favorite from a new crop of conservatives. Look to 2022, and 2024, and a new era. Let’s make America sane again.”Columnists issued similar calls.“Let go of the anvil that, in the most buoyant waters imaginable, will sink you to the bottom of the sea,” Peggy Noonan wrote in the Journal.In the Post, Michael Goodwin said Trump’s “old feuds and grievances already sound stale and by 2024 they are not likely to inspire the hope and confidence America desperately needs”.Last year, Murdoch himself said conservatives must play an active role in political debate, “but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past”.There are also signs that Murdoch’s most powerful media property, Fox News, is beginning to change its stance. On Friday, Fox News elected not to broadcast a Trump rally in Arizona during which a state endorsement met with boos. Instead, Fox News broadcast an interview with DeSantis.Observers believe Murdoch, 91, may be tiring of Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, which has both kept Trump in the spotlight and denied him the ceremonial status usually extended to ex-presidents.Murdoch outlets have faced legal repercussions for repeating Trump’s lie. A judge in Delaware recently said Fox Corp could be sued by Dominion Voting Systems for broadcasting conspiracy theories related to the 2020 election.Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan are named in the $1.6bn suit, for allegedly acting with “actual malice” in allowing Fox News to broadcast claims the election was rigged. The judge, Eric Davis, cited reports that the elder Murdoch privately said Trump lost the election.Fox News says it is “confident we will prevail as freedom of the press is foundational to our democracy and must be protected, in addition to the damages claims being outrageous, unsupported and not rooted in sound financial analysis, serving as nothing more than a flagrant attempt to deter our journalists from doing their jobs.”A friendship of convenienceThe relationship between Murdoch and Trump has long been regarded as one of convenience. Thirty years ago, Trump often used the New York Post in his divorce battle with Ivana Trump, his first wife who died this month. As described by the Trump ally Roger Stone, to the New York Times, Trump considered the Page Six column “very important to his rising stature in New York City and branding efforts”.But a year before Trump was elected, in 2015, the Times reported that Murdoch thought him a “phony”.After Trump mocked the senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain, Murdoch wrote on Twitter: “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?”The Journal called Trump a “catastrophe” and declared: “Trump is toast.” But by the time Trump was elected in 2016, he and Murdoch had cemented a friendship of convenience.Trump’s attempted coup continues – even after January 6 hearings are over for now | Robert ReichRead moreMurdoch was able to bypass White House aides to reach the president. Trump reportedly called Murdoch for reassurance Fox News would not be affected by a deal to sell 21st Century Fox to Disney.Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump holidayed on Murdoch’s 184ft yacht. Ivanka became a trustee for Murdoch and Wendi Deng’s twin daughters.The latest editorials may not change the views of Fox News primetime hosts. Sean Hannity, for one, has described the House January 6 hearings as an “obsessive partisan anti-Trump smear” and claimed they have not “establish[ed] a criminal case or reveal[ed] new damning evidence … as they have promised”.But the print titles seem to be moving on. Quoting “someone in the Murdoch orbit”, Vanity Fair said last month the media baron was “a pragmatic guy”.“He knows better than anybody how to read political tea leaves. It’s fairly self-evident that quite a few people in the firmament have begun to challenge the previously supported collective viewpoint about Trump. It’s understood now that the gloves are off. As [Trump] lashes out, it just makes it easier for people to hit back.”TopicsRupert MurdochDonald TrumpUS politicsRepublicansUS press and publishingWall Street JournalNew York PostfeaturesReuse this content More

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    As the US watched the January 6 hearing, Fox News showed outrage – at Biden getting Covid

    As the US watched the January 6 hearing, Fox News showed outrage – at Biden getting CovidFox News’ primetime stars chided Biden for contracting the virus they say he alleged couldn’t be caught with a vaccine On Thursday night as the Congressional hearings into the January 6 Capitol riot drew to a close, Tucker Carlson directed his outrage at a president he felt had lied and was not being held accountable for falsehoods that shook popular faith in the American democratic system. But he wasn’t talking about Donald Trump inciting rioters to storm the Capitol. He was talking about Joe Biden getting Covid.Whilemillions of people last night tuned into America’s other TV news channels and heard testimony about what Trump did, or rather did not do, during the hours when the rioters stormed the Capitol, Fox News viewers saw the network’s primetime stars Carlson and Sean Hannity chide the “twice jabbed, double-boosted” president for contracting the virus they say he alleged couldn’t be caught with a vaccine.Carlson opened his hour-long show with a spirited takedown of Biden, scolding him for spreading the virus during his Middle East trip and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for dismissing the question of where the president might have contracted the virus. Carson joked about the possibility of him losing his sense of smell, a much-discussed Covid symptom, denying the president the pleasure of sniffing the heads of women and girls – suspect past behavior that Biden had been singled out for in the wake of the #MeToo movement.Carson further took issue with the “proof of life” pictures and video the White House posted of Biden in isolation at work, and delighted in pointing out how the president wasn’t wearing a mask in any of them. He had Yale School of Public Health epidemiologist Harvey Risch on the show to tout ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as far more effective defenses against Covid – despite considerable medical assertions to the contrary. “Doctors are more afraid of what happens if they go outside the permitted messaging,” Risch said.“Oh man, I feel like we’re losing a lot right now,” Carlson replied. “Thank you for your bravery and your commitment to actual science.”Science, and the left’s supposed efforts to monopolize it, was a consistent theme on both Carlson’s and Hannity’s shows. Next he questioned NBC News’ decision to air a report about women who chose to sterilize themselves in reaction to the reversal of Roe. And while it was clear that these women were making that decision as to bypass more conventional contraception options that the supreme court ruling has rendered illegal, Carson nonetheless saw this as the left pivoting from defending abortion to attacking fertility – a rebellion against family values that was of a piece with a larger corporate agenda. “Civilizational suicide” was the phrase he used to sum it all up.Still, the radio host Dana Loesch was quick to dismiss the decision of these women as no great loss. “Republicans will go out and have more babies,” she said, “How about that.”It wasn’t until about halfway through the show that Carson acknowledged that a significant portion of the country might be watching something else – not that he felt they especially needed to. “You all know what happened,” he said. “Some guy in Viking horns on mushrooms wandered around and made weird noises, and that was kind of it.” He put down the hearings as “more lifestyle liberal narcissism. That’s really the key to everything”.The show reached peak irony when Missouri Senator Josh Hawley appeared to discuss a Fox News story about undocumented Americans gaining access to free flights by presenting their arrest warrants as identification. Of course at around the same time Hawley was grandstanding on Fox News, the January 6 committee was presenting footage of him running from a pro-Trump mob he also egged on – footage that quickly made him a social media meme.“So much for Joe Biden and Doctor Fauci’s science,” snarled Hannity, who underscored Biden’s Covid reveal with an embarrassing picture of the president shrouding his whole face behind a mask. But unlike Carson, he actually spent quite a bit of airtime acknowledging the January 6 hearings – and debunking them as a complete waste of time. “Unsurprisingly, they did not establish a criminal case or reveal new, damning or incriminating evidence of President Trump as they promised they would,” said Hannity – who, of course, is extremely friendly with and a fierce defender of the former president. “A perfect example of people overpromising and not delivering. Kind of like the Trump-Russia collusion.”He skewered the committee for not calling the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, or Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to testify about the lack of security at the Capitol while suggesting a slew of crude reinforcements that might’ve kept the mob at bay. Hannity raged at the committee for bringing in “hearsay witnesses” and presenting evidence that fit a predetermined, anti-Trump narrative. And then heasked why no Secret Service agents were called to testify, conveniently leaving out the part where they submitted a single text message to the committee after deleting all their exchanges from that day.But Hannity’s main takeaway was that the Capitol riots, while bad, paled in comparison to the Black Lives Matter protests that overwhelmed American cities during “the summer of 2020”. He argued that more needed to be done to avoid a repeat of the fiery violence that “peaceful protestors” had inflicted on police, businesses and civic institutions while showing clips of Schumer, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and other prominent Democrats stoking that rage as Trump stands accused of doing. “Equal justice is dead in this country right now,” fumed former Trump aide Stephen Miller. “What we have is third-world justice.” TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS Capitol attackUS politicsFox NewsUS television industryanalysisReuse this content More

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    Fox and friends confront billion-dollar US lawsuits over election fraud claims

    Fox and friends confront billion-dollar US lawsuits over election fraud claims Rightwing networks Fox News, OAN and Newsmax could be found liable in cases brought by voting machine company DominionIn the months following the 2020 US presidential election, rightwing TV news in America was a wild west, an apparently lawless free-for-all where conspiracy theories about voting machines, ballot-stuffed suitcases and dead Venezuelan leaders were repeated to viewers around the clock.There seemed to be little consequence for peddling the most outrageous ideas on primetime.But now, unfortunately for Fox News, One America News Network (OAN), and Newsmax, it turns out that this brave, new world wasn’t free from legal jurisdiction – with the three networks now facing billion-dollar lawsuits as a result of their baseless accusations.Group aims to strip Fox News of ad revenue over ‘fueling next insurrection’Read moreIn June, Dominion Voting Systems, which provided voting machines to 28 states, was given the go-ahead to sue Fox Corp, the parent company of Fox News, in a case that could draw Rupert Murdoch and his son, Lachlan, into the spotlight.In the $1.6bn lawsuit, Dominion accuses Fox Corp, and the Murdochs specifically, of allowing Fox News to amplify false claims that the voting company had rigged the election for Joe Biden.Fox Corp had attempted to have the suit dismissed, but a Delaware judge said Dominion had shown adequate evidence for the suit to proceed. Dominion is already suing Fox News, as well as OAN and Newsmax.“These allegations support a reasonable inference that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch either knew Dominion had not manipulated the election or at least recklessly disregarded the truth when they allegedly caused Fox News to propagate its claims about Dominion,” Judge Eric Davis said.Davis’s ruling is not a guarantee that Fox will be found liable. But the judge made it clear that this isn’t some frivolous attempt by Dominion – and media and legal experts think Fox could be in real trouble.“Dominion has a very strong case against Fox News – and against OAN for that matter,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor who teaches constitutional law at Stetson University and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute.“The reason Dominion is suing is because Fox and other rightwing news outlets repeated vicious lies that Dominion’s voting machines stole the 2020 election from Trump for Biden. But all of these conspiracy theories about Dominion’s machines were just pure bunk, and Fox as a news organization should have known that and not given this aspect of the big lie a megaphone.”“What’s particularly bad for Fox is [that] Dominion asked them to stop and correct the record in real time, and Fox persisted in spreading misrepresentations about the voting machine company.”Indeed, in his ruling, Davis noted that “other newspapers under Rupert Murdoch’s control, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, condemned President Trump’s claims and urged him to concede defeat”.In a statement, a Fox News spokesperson said: “Limiting the ability of the press to report freely on the American election process stands in stark contrast to the liberties on which this nation was founded, and we are confident we will prevail in this case, as the first amendment is the foundation of our democracy and freedom of the press must be protected.”A potential precedent in the Dominion v Fox case could be found in a recent case involving Sarah Palin, who sued the New York Times. Palin claimed the newspaper maliciously damaged her reputation by erroneously linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting. In February a jury sided with the Times, finding that a Times employee had not acted with “actual malice” against a public figure or with “reckless disregard” for the truth – the criteria necessary to prove defamation.But the Times victory shouldn’t give Fox too much hope, said Torres-Spelliscy.“In the Palin case, the New York Times quickly corrected the mistake about Palin that had been added while an article was edited,” Torres-Spelliscy said.“By contrast Fox News kept up the bad behavior and repeatedly told myths about Dominion’s voting machines. This is likely why judges in several of these Dominion defamation cases have not dismissed them.”Dominion isn’t the only company seeking damages from Fox and its contemporaries.Smartmatic, an election software company which provided voting software to precisely one county in the 2020 election but found itself subjected to claims that it was founded “for the specific purpose of fixing elections” by associates of Hugo Chavez, the former president of Venezuela who died in 2013, is suing Fox Corp, Fox News and associates for $2.7bn.Still, Fox News is the most-watched and arguably most influential cable news channel in the US, and is probably too big to fail.But that isn’t the case for the smaller rightwing networks OAN and Newsmax, which are also both being sued by Dominion and Smartmatic – in June, a Delaware judge refused Newsmax’s motion to have the Dominion case dismissed, but did not weigh on whether Newsmax was innocent or guilty.“I think OAN is going to be wiped out from the litigation costs. Forget about any judgment,” said Angelo Carusone, president and chief executive of Media Matters for America, which monitors rightwing media.Carusone pointed out that OAN is already struggling to survive, after it was dropped by the DirecTV cable company – which was reportedly responsible for 90% of OAN’s revenue – in April.“We’ve started seeing, already, them scaling back programming, they’ve been laying off staff, they’ve been cutting back the number of programs. So it’s pretty clear that they don’t have sufficient resources to weather a protracted litigation.”Newsmax, which is still carried by DirecTV, is “relatively cash flush” in comparison to OAN, Carusone said – enough to survive a trial, if not to pay the billions of dollars Dominion and Smartmatic are seeking.In a statement, Newsmax said it had “reported on allegations made by President Trump and his surrogates and at no time did we report these allegations were true. We also reported on critics of the Trump claims”.It added: “The Dominion suit is an assault on a free press and endangers all press outlets if it were to prevail.”OAN did not respond to a request for comment.As for Fox, the most significant thing could be if the Murdochs are subjected to discovery – where they and Fox could be forced to hand over documents potentially including communications data – as part of the legal process, Carusone said.Text messages obtained by the January 6 commission have already revealed that there was communication between Fox News hosts and White House officials regarding the insurrection – and it seems unlikely that is the only thing that was discussed.“I think once you start to pull the discovery material, what you’re going to find is there was a lot of communication between the Trump people both internally and externally about pushing very specific lies and narratives,” Carusone said.While Fox is more financially comfortable than OAN and NewsMax, it is not invulnerable. Fox News is due to renegotiate its contracts with cable providers at the end of this year, and Carusone said cable companies could use the lawsuit to drive down prices.The Dominion and Smartmatic cases are likely to drag on for some time, and it remains to be seen how Fox News, OAN and NewsMax will react.As for the news channels’ conspiratorial claims of election fraud, at least that is one thing that has already been settled.The courts, the Department of justice, election officials have investigated and dismissed the accusations, as has the US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.“The November 3 election was the most secure in American history,” the agency said in a statement in 2020.“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too.”William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, put it in rather less sophisticated terms.The claims of election interference, Barr told the January 6 committee, were “bullshit”.TopicsFox NewsUS politicsRepublicans21st Century FoxUS television industryTelevision industryUS press and publishingnewsReuse this content More