Another Tipping Point

July 28, 2009 6:08 p.m.

From TPM Reader MA

I’ve worked in and around the media business since I graduated from college 25 years ago. During the span of my entire career it’s been hard not to maintain a certain affection for Rupert Murdoch: not only does he have that charming accent, he’s always done it his way, taken big gambles (bringing the NFL to Fox…exciting stuff), and has usually won. When you compare Rupert to, say, cranky Sumner Redstone over at Viacom, it’s all Rupert.

Even as a lifelong Democrat, it’s been easy enough to write Fox News off as ridiculous, but I had to concede that it was a brilliant business undertaking (quite formulaic, but filling a niche) that beat the pants of CNN for good reason. Fox News drives me nuts, of course, but it’s been hard not to “chalk another one up for Rupert”.

For me, the story changed this morning when one of Rupert’s employees, Glenn Beck, appeared on Fox & Friends and called Obama “a racist” and a man who “hates white people”.

This is not Kanye West saying Bush doesn’t care about white people, or Michael Moore saying something provocative while a guest on CNN (though I challenge anyone to find Moore saying anything this ugly on anyone’s program). This is Rupert’s prized employee appearing on his channel, and doing the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded movie house. This is the sort of comment that I might expect to read about in some SPLC missive concerning neo-Nazi websites, or the like. But as uttered by the paid employee of Fox News, on one of the network’s shows?

I’ve just read some Fox spokesperson defending Beck’s right to speak his views on the network as a commentator. Sorry…that’s bullshit, and it doesn’t work. Murdoch has an obligation to edit content just as does the editor of an op-ed page in a newspaper. It’s not “anything goes” on the op-ed page of the Times, and it can’t be “anything goes” from the mouth of Glenn Beck.

Above all, this is dangerous. We already know that Obama is under intense security, and for Murdoch to enable a know nothing loudmouth like Glenn Beck to stir the pot (I can see the nut jobs at home tonight, redoubling their commitment to take out the President because Glenn Beck today confirmed what they were thinking) is remarkably irresponsible and, frankly, worthy of a response. I’m done with Murdoch, and his channels, newspapers, movies, etc., and I hope many others feel that way as well. Enough is enough.

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