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Freedom Of Speech As Long As It's From The Left

This morning, July 2, 2007, I watched an unbelievable interview of Paul Krugman, New York Times op-ed columnist, by Darby Dunn on CNBC. I took the time to transcribe it because I found Mr. Krugman, a well paid member of the left wing press, so hypocritical in his approach to freedom of the press. Apparently Mr. Krugman believes that the only good press is a leftist press, and in his interview he is shown to be a typical leftist who would like to suppress the speech of someone who doesn’t agree with him and his communist friends. Next week he will be leading the charge to bring back 'The Fairness Doctrine" along side Senators Kerry, Boxer and Durbin.

DD: What if you could not trust a news outlet to give you the whole truth? Should you then allow the person controlling that company to buy another media outlet? That is the question raised by Paul Krugman in his New York Times column “The Murdoch Factor.”

Mr. Krugman joins us now.

Paul, the Murdock in question, of course, is Rupert Murdoch. The news outlet he’s trying to buy is Dow Jones which publishes the Wall Street Journal. So you’re saying you think he should not be allowed to buy that newspaper , and if so, why?

PK: Well, you know there’s no, legally he had the right. So the question is really whether pressure can be brought, moral pressure mostly, on the Bancroft family. You know there’s a lot of discussion about, speculation about how Murcoch would run the Wall Street Journal if he gets it. Amazingly, there’s very little discussion of how he actually runs his most distinctive news outlet, which is Fox News, and it is, you know, worse than you can imagine. We have hard evidence that Fox has been a, both a biased and a cheapened news outlet, and there is every reason to think that he would bring at least some of that to the Wall Street Journal, which although it is a competitor to my employer, is in fact is one of America’s handful of really great national newspapers.

DD: And don’t you think that he recognizes that? That that is one of the nation’s great newspapers, and so that he would be reticent to change it into something of a, like a tabloid.

PK: Well, there’s some hope on that but, you know, do you really want to trust in that, and the fact of the matter is, look, he may believe that, that cheapened inaccurate news sells, he may even be right about that. It’s a problem. Also he has given pretty clear signals that he intends to change the Journal in ways that will make it worse, I mean, from my point of view certainly. He said, you know, that he thinks that the non-business news reporting is too liberal, so he has already made it clear that he intends to move the reporting in a partisan direction. And let’s not forget, you of all people should be aware that Murdoch is planning a Fox business channel because he believes CNBC is insufficiently pro business. So you’ve got a, you know, is this the person you really want taking over one of America’s two great national newspapers and its premier business news source

DD: You raised a question in your column of possibly congressional hearings; some kind of public outcry. But we haven’t heard anything like that. Why not?
PK: You know if you were a politician... First of all, it’s moving kind of fast . It’s... I have to admit, there isn’t a whole lot of time. The other thing, if you’re a politician, there’s always the problem of dealing with the media. You’ve got to worry that you yourself are going to get unfavorable coverage. One of the problems that Democrats have certainly had is trying to get their own members to say look, Fox is not a legitimate news outlet, which it’s not. But those same members are hoping for face time on Fox TV.

DD: Now they are trying to hammer out some kind of agreement on editorial direction for the paper, the Bancroft family, before they actually go ahead and favor a sale of Dow Jones, So I would assume you're of the mind that Murdoch’s not going to honor any kind of agreement like that?

PK: Well, there’s been back and forth about what the agreement actually entails, but it sure sounds as if it’s not going to be enough. As if, you know, there might be some, some residual power to block appointments, but in the end, and this is from Murdoch’s track record, in the end he will be a position to very much shape the paper. It’s one of those things that would almost certainly be nothing but a paper protection, a hypothetical protection that won’t actually prevent it from doing exactly what he wants to do.

DD: Paul, in your column you highlight some interesting statistics about readers and viewers and whether they’re misinformed on certain things. Can you share some of the highlights from the statistics.

PK: Sure. I mean that was the really stunning thing. This is in the fall of 2003, after we had failed to find WMD in Iraq; after basically the rationale for the war had turned out to be wrong. 80 per cent of Fox news viewers, people who got their news primarily from Fox, believed one of three completely wrong things about the war; that we found WMD, actually found them; that we found clear evidence that Sadam and Al Quaeda had been in cahoots; or that world opinion supported the US invasion of Iraq. You know those were totally false things, but 80% of Fox news viewers believed at least one of those things compared with only a little over 20% of people who got their news from National Public Radio. That, you know that, I like statistics like that because we can go back and forth, he said, she said, about whether Fox news is actually biased, but if you can show that people who get their news there have got a seriously warped version of the news, that kind of settles the question. My other favorite thing, just you know, Fox has basically ramped down coverage of Iraq as things have failed to go the way they wanted, They can no longer pretend that’s its just liberal media reporting, failing to report the good news. So there is this wonderful statistic that in the first quarter of this year, Fox News daytime, which is the most distinctive, Fox News daytime spent almost three times as much time covering Anna Nicole Smith as it did covering the Iraq war and all the debates around the war.

DD: That Anna Nicole Smith story did get a lot of coverage by all of the networks I must say. We’re out of time though Paul. Thank you very much for coming in. Paul Krugman, New York Times op-ed columnist.

Posted by Rick | July 2, 2007 09:14 PM

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