Media mogul Rupert Murdoch was on the defensive at Tuesday night’s installment of the Kalb Report, firing back at critics and audience members who said Murdoch’s media empire was tainted by a conservative bias.
Murdoch – chairman and CEO of News Corporation, which owns the Wall Street Journal and FOX News Network, among other media outlets – said the anchors at CNN and MSNBC “tend to be Democrats,” while the anchors at Fox “are not Republicans.”
He said he believes The New York Times’ coverage is skewed to the left, saying the publication “very clearly” has an agenda.
“You can see it in the way they choose their stories, what they put on page one,” Murdoch said.
He pointed to a recent story the Times ran on President Barack Obama’s nuclear weapons policy, saying the Times was given the exclusive to the story based on the publication’s close relationship with the Obama administration.
“Anything Mr. Obama wants, you can see it,” Murdoch said. “You can see it in that the White House pays them off by feeding them stories and so on.”
Murdoch said FOX is the most successful of the 24-hour news networks because it employs people on both sides of the political aisle.
“We have both sides, on our news shows, our politics, we have Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians, but the other networks tend to be Democrats,” Murdoch said. “Come on, let’s be honest about it.”
But when presented with the fact that Murdoch’s own FOX News recently hired Republican Sarah Palin and asked who from the Democratic Party his news networks employ, Murdoch struggled to respond.
“They are certainly there,” Murdoch said. “Greta Van Susteren is certainly close to the Democratic Party.”
Media bias was not the only controversial topic discussed at Tuesday night’s event, hosted by the GW Global Media Institute. Murdoch vowed to fight content aggregators online from taking stories and publishing them without paying for the rights, a practice he said infringes upon copyright laws.
“We’re going to stop people like Google or Microsoft or whoever from taking our stories for nothing,” Murdoch said.
Murdoch said the future of journalism is charging for online content, and he hailed the Wall Street Journal for charging online readers for the site’s content.
Murdoch said media revenue would soon come from content consumption rather than advertising, and predicted that all newspapers would follow the Wall Street Journal’s paid online content model in the future.
At one point, Murdoch pulled out an iPad and showed the audience what the Wall Street Journal looked like on its screen.
“It may be the saving of newspapers,” Murdoch said of the iPad, the new tablet computer from Apple.
Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, called Murdoch a “powerhouse” after the event.
“What I think is most interesting is his vision of the future and that he just went right to the iPad and right to the digital platforms and to the mobile platforms as seeing those as the future of journalism and newspapers,” Sesno said.
Sophomore Katie Whitnah said she thought Murdoch’s trouble naming Democratic commentators on his network was the most interesting part of the evening.
“I thought it was interesting when he was asked a question about whether there were any Democrats working and he couldn’t name any,” she said.