Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Rudy News Network

First, the melodrama: On Wednesday in Iowa, Rudy Giuliani dodged questions about Judith Regan's lawsuit against News Corp., Rupert Murdoch's media empire that includes HarperCollins, the New York Post, the newly-acquired Wall Street Journal, DirecTV, 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Fox network, and the house organ of the GOP, the Fox News Network, aka Faux News.

Among many items in Regan's civil action, the 70-page filing (PDF) also alleges that Judith was "asked by company officials to lie to federal investigators to protect [Rudy's] presidential bid" and that the defendants engineered a "smear campaign... necessary to advance News Corp.'s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani's presidential ambitions." Judith probably can tell some very interesting tales that could hurt Giuliani's candidacy since she was the former mistress of Rudy's crooked pal and his hand-picked NYC police commissioner, Bernard Kerik.

Alex Koppelman and Erin Renzas at Salon have documented Rudy Giuliani's ties to Fox News. I dunno if this is a complete list but much of it explains the regular hero-worship of Rudy that occurs at Faux News. Most if not all of us in the liberal blogosphere have long understood that Murdoch's News Corp. purposely inserts a GOP political agenda into its lies, fabrications, and smear tactics "reporting" by propagandizing Repubs as the saviors of America, while at the same time unfairly denigrating Democrats and their anti-war supporters as the Enemy of the State.

Koppelman and Renzas demonstrate that Faux News "prefers Giuliani over the other GOP contenders" with a criss-cross of cozy relationships and deals that include...

Roger Ailes: The head of Fox News, Ailes was a veteran Republican operative long before he was a news executive, having worked as a media consultant in the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush. In 1989, he worked as a media consultant on the unsuccessful first mayoral campaign of a former federal prosecutor named Rudy Giuliani, with whom he had bonded at dinner parties over their shared admiration for Ronald Reagan. Since then, Giuliani and Ailes have remained good friends. Giuliani officiated at Ailes' wedding and brought presents to Ailes' room when Ailes was hospitalized in 1998. The New York Times has reported that aides to the two men say they don't see each other often, but they did sit together at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in April 2007 -- which Giuliani attended as a guest of News Corp. (Ailes has also socialized with Bernie Kerik.)
The Time Warner lawsuit: In 1994, according to the New York Times, Giuliani prepared a speech for a reception honoring Ailes in which he wrote, "Roger has played an important role in my own career." In 1996, Giuliani had an opportunity to repay the favor. Fox News was launching, with Ailes at the helm, and Time Warner, which provided cable service to 12 million homes nationwide, had decided it would not carry Fox News. Time Warner was the dominant cable operator in New York City, meaning that not only would 1.1 million city homes not get Fox, but the fledgling network would go unseen by media powerbrokers in the nation's media capital.
Three days after Murdoch learned of Time Warner's decision, a call from Ailes to Giuliani set in motion a series of unprecedented moves in favor of a cable network by the Giuliani administration. As calls and meetings continued between Fox and city officials, including Giuliani, the Giuliani administration reportedly threatened Time Warner executives with the loss of their cable franchise if the cable provider didn't accept a deal in which the city would give up one of its own government channels so Fox News could take the slot. (Some 30 other cable networks had tried and failed to win channel space on Time Warner.) When Time Warner refused to take the deal, the city announced that it would go ahead with the plan anyway and force the cable provider to carry Fox News. A legal battle ensued.
Ultimately, the two warring parties made peace and Fox won carriage, but not before a judge and an appeals panel both ruled against the city's plan. In granting Time Warner a temporary injunction, a federal district court judge issued a harsh rebuke to the Giuliani administration, saying the city had repeatedly shifted the legal justifications for its stand, indicating that "the City does not believe its own positions." The judge further wrote, "The City's purpose in acting to compel Time Warner to give Fox one of its commercial channels was to reward a friend... The very fact that the City chose Fox News out of all other news programs -- not to mention the significant number of other programs which have been denied space on Time Warner's commercial network -- is by itself substantial evidence that the City chose Fox News based on its content."
Lobbying: Giuliani's connections to News Corp. extend to his law and lobbying firm, Bracewell & Giuliani. Giuliani announced his partnership in the firm previously known as Bracewell & Patterson in March 2005. Beginning the next month, according to congressional lobbying disclosure records, the firm billed News Corp. and DirecTV, which was then a subsidiary of News Corp., for $120,000 in federal lobbying during 2005. The firm represented News Corp. on issues including regulations on violent and indecent programming and the potential re-write of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. In the years prior to Giuliani joining the firm, congressional records do not show any lobbying work performed for News Corp.
Airtime: Earlier this year, a study by the political journal Hotline found that Giuliani had been interviewed on Fox News during the first 196 days of 2007 for a total of 115 minutes, more than any other presidential contender, and 14 minutes more than the runner-up, the then-undeclared Fred Thompson.
Sean Hannity: In Fox's defense, the bulk of the time Giuliani was on the network he was talking to Sean Hannity, the Long Island-bred cohost of "Hannity & Colmes." And no wonder -- though Hannity claims not to be supporting a candidate (a denial he was forced to make when Ariz. Sen. John McCain accused him on-air, albeit obliquely, of supporting Giuliani), he flew to Ohio to introduce the former mayor at a campaign fundraiser in August. When a New York Times reporter asked a Fox spokeswoman about the Hotline figures, she responded that Hannity makes his own booking decisions. Hannity has also handled post-debate anchor duties for all three Fox GOP debates held to date.
Cease-and-desist: In October, Fox lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to John McCain's campaign after he included footage from Fox's October 21 Orlando debate in a TV commercial. The ad featured a McCain quip aimed at Senator Clinton's push for a so-called "Woodstock museum." The letter demanded McCain pull the ad and remove footage of the debate from his Web site, according to Talking Points Memo.
However, similar letters were not sent to two other GOP presidential hopefuls who were also using footage from the Fox debate -- Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. After initial reports showed that only McCain had been sent such an order, a Fox spokesperson told the New York Times, "Our legal team has been alerted and there will be cease and desist orders." Letters were sent to both the Romney and Giuliani campaigns, but they are apparently not being heeded. Giuliani's Web site still makes liberal use of Fox footage, including one clip added at least a week after the date of the cease and desist letter. Romney's site also continues to feature material from the debate.
Steve Forbes: Himself a former Republican presidential candidate, the magazine magnate is now a national co-chair and senior policy advisor with the Giuliani campaign. He's also, in the words of a Giuliani campaign press release, "a frequent business commentator for Fox News Channel's 'Forbes on Fox.'" Though that show is actually hosted by a Fox News employee, David Asman, its guests come from the editorial staff of Forbes Magazine. Steve Forbes is both the editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine and the president and CEO of its publisher, Forbes, Inc.
Rudy is code for "Bushie" and that suits News Corp. and its Faux News Network.

Wingnuts who loved George W. Bush will love Rudy Giuliani. His posse of cronies, big oil billionaires, corrupt associates, and news moguls will see to it by working hard to elect another preznut who will do their bidding.

For the rest of us sick to death of Bushies, their kind, and corporate media that promote them, we can hope that Democratic candidates will quickly embrace the use of Internet TV.