Tag Archives: Rupert Murdoch

Monica Lewinsky Remembers

Monica Lewinsky in Washington in 1999.

Source: Monica Lewinsky, an anti-cyberbullying advocate and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, in The New York Times, May 22

This is not another obituary for Roger Ailes, who died last week 10 months after being ousted at Fox News. It is, I hope, instead an obituary for the culture he purveyed — a culture that affected me profoundly and personally.

Just two years after Rupert Murdoch appointed Mr. Ailes to head the new cable news network, my relationship with President Bill Clinton became public. Mr. Ailes, a former Republican political operative, took the story of the affair and the trial that followed and made certain his anchors hammered it ceaselessly, 24 hours a day.

It worked like magic: the story hooked viewers and made them Fox loyalists. For the past 15 years, Fox News has been the No. 1 news station; last year the network made about $2.3 billion….

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t have a credible conservative point of view in our media – quite the opposite. If we’ve learned nothing else from the 2016 presidential election, it’s that we must find a way to foster robust and healthy discussion and debate. Our news channels should be just such places.

So, farewell to the age of Ailes. The late Fox chief pledged Americans fair and balanced news. Maybe now we’ll get it.

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Mark Thompson, former Director-General of the BBC, becomes CEO of The New York Times

One would have thought in the dynamic world of American media there would have been plenty of candidates for the NY Times top job. No doubt there were. But Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. picked a Brit.

On August 15, Slate Magazine raised the question why he did so. He is going to have to work hard, the online magazine believes, to convince shareholders, including his family members, that he found the right man. “Running a U.K. media group with guaranteed revenue is hardly analogous to leading a U.S. newspaper business challenged by free-market forces.”

But the publisher is putting forward a serious business case. He cites Thompson’s role in developing the BBC’s digital content. He also notes that Thompson oversaw BBC Worldwide, its commercial arm outside the U.K. And he highlights Thompson’s media skills. Earlier in his career he produced hard-hitting news programs. And while in charge of Channel 4, a state-owned but mainly commercially funded broadcaster, he demonstrated an ability to develop joint ventures to adapt to new technology while keeping costs relatively low.

Slate makes an additional point. Thompson has “a taste for a fight with Murdoch, a task the Times chairman appears unworthy, or afraid, of taking on with much gusto.” Two years ago, before the phone-hacking scandal punctured the Murdoch empire’s force-field, Thompson led the charge against News Corp’s purchase of the remainder of U.K. satellite broadcaster BSkyB. He argued the deal would create cross-media ownership that would not be allowed in the United States or Australia.

Slate believes that in the United States, over the long run, the Times cannot win the economic battle against better-funded, more popular media organizations like Murdoch’s Fox. But it says the Times is an exception, a little like the BBC, and that this matters more, in the short and the long run.

The BBC has managed to combine the authoritative with the popular and has paid as much attention to “the numbers” as its private competitors. At the same time it concentrates on public service and on quality, both in the old media and the new.

Mark Thompson’s appointment is a gamble that the Times may very well win.