A former Fox executive blasted Rupert Murdoch and Fox News in an op-ed Monday for sowing lies about COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election.
Preston Padden, who worked under Murdoch for seven years, claimed in the Daily Beast that he’d spent the past nine months trying, “with increasing bluntness, to get Rupert to understand the real damage that Fox News is doing to America.”
“I failed, and it was arrogant and naïve to ever have thought that I could succeed,” Padden wrote. Fox News spokespeople didn’t immediately return TPM’s requests for comment Monday.
Padden served as president of network distribution at Fox Broadcasting Company and was once described by The New York Times as Murdoch’s “chief in-house lobbyist” during the Clinton administration.
“But, in recent years things have gone badly off the tracks at Fox News,” Padden wrote Monday. “Fox News is no longer a truthful center-right news network.’
Padden laid out a bulleted list of societal ills to which he said the channel, and particularly its prime-time opinion programming, had contributed:
- the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by disparaging the wearing of life-saving COVID masks;
- divisions in our society by stoking racial animus and fueling the totally false impression that Black Lives Matter and Antifa are engaged in nightly, life-threatening riots across the country;
- the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by fueling hesitation and doubt about the efficacy and safety of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines [Fox News provided me examples of pro-mask/vaccine on-air comments, but in my opinion, they were heavily outweighed by the negative comments of the highly rated primetime opinion hosts];
- former President Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him by providing a continuous platform for wild and false claims about the election—claims refuted by more than 60 judges, Republican State election officials, recounts in numerous States and Trump’s own Attorney General; and
- the Jan. 6, 2021, violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by continually promoting former President Trump’s “Stop The Steal” rally.
Millions of Americans believe “falsehoods” about the 2020 election, or about “left-wing protesters” purportedly being responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, “because they have been drilled into their minds, night after night, by Fox News,” Padden wrote.
“The greatest irony is that I don’t believe that most of the falsehoods on Fox News reflect Rupert Murdoch’s own views,” he added, noting among other things that Murdoch received a COVID-19 vaccine months ago and encouraged Padden to do the same.
What’s more, Padden wrote, “I believe that he thinks that former President Trump is an egomaniac who lost the election by turning off voters, especially suburban women, with his behavior.”
“I am at a loss to understand why he will not change course,” Padden concluded. “I can only guess that the destructive editorial policy of Fox News is driven by a deep-seated vein of anti-establishment/contrarian thinking in Rupert that, at age 90, is not going to change.”