Chapter 10 of my new book 'Rupert Murdoch: an investigation of political power'
I think what people don't understand about me is that I'm not just a businessman working in a very interesting industry. I am someone who's interested in ideas.
The 2004 convention of the Republican Party held in New York's Madison Square Garden was a triumph for President George W. Bush. Still lauded by many as the hero of the Iraq war, Bush went on to defeat John Kerry for the presidency later that year. At the end of the Republican convention, as most delegates were streaming out of their seats, a revealing incident occurred. Dozens of delegates turned to where CNN had its convention-floor set. CNN hosts Judy Woodruff and Wolf Blitzer were still doing post-convention interviews when the delegates began chanting WATCH FOX NEWS! WATCH FOX NEWS! The delegates saw Fox News as their friend and CNN as the enemy in their midst.
CNN once infuriated someone else. Riding his daily exercise bike Rupert Murdoch used to frown at the successful news network and dream of building a TV news operation to rival what he called the 'liberal' and 'left leaning' CNN. Today CNN's rival flourishes and consistently beats CNN in the ratings war. Rupert Murdoch's Fox News is a powerful persuader in US politics. It is credited with not only influencing its loyal audience but with affecting the tone of all US television, summed up in the term, 'the Fox News effect'. Its shouting heads broadcast a nightly mantra of fear-filled messages to its three million viewers. Its swirling graphics and dramatic music intensify its 'Fox News Alerts' about the latest threat from terrorists, liberals, gays -- and Democrats. President Barack Obama has been a particular target.
When he was running for the Democratic nomination in 2007, Fox News commentators rushed to air with a false report that as a child growing up in Indonesia Obama had been educated at an Islamic school, a madrassa. For post-9/11 America, an association with a madrassa was likely to prompt an association with Islamic terrorism. Later, during the presidential campaign, one Fox commentator flippantly suggested that he and Michelle Obama had greeted each other with a 'terrorist fist jab'. The commentator apologised, as did another Fox commentator who joked about assassinating Obama and Osama bin Laden after supposedly muddling their names. Throughout the campaign for president in late 2008 one of Fox News' belligerent hosts, Sean Hannity, nightly attacked Obama for being an 'arrogant elitist' and suggesting he had been a friend of terrorists and black radicals, echoing pro-Republican attack ads. Obama referred to these as 'rants from Sean Hannity' and was particularly upset at attacks on his wife, Michelle.