From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Robert talks about Outfoxed on Keith Olberman

July 10, 2004 11:27 AM

Here's the transcript from Robert's interview on Keith Olberman's show yesterday.

OLBERMANN: So now it is Bush and Cheney running against Kerry and Edwards, not Kerry and Gephardt, as reported Tuesday in what was supposed to be a gigantic scoop by the newspaper "The New York Post," one that wound up scooping out much of what remained of the newspaper's credibility.

The source of that ill-fated story was revealed by another newspaper today, "The New York Times." And it's a big surprise, Rupert Murdoch, owner of "The Post" and Fox News and Fox Television, of newspapers around the globe of their multinational titanic corporation News Corp. "The Times" reports a "Post" employee demanded anonymity confirmed that Murdoch phoned "The Post" news desk just after 10:00 p.m. Eastern Monday night and dictated the story and its positioning in the paper.

A spokesman rebuts the "Times"' account. The paper stands by its flat denial that Rupert was the source of the story. The spokesman admitted his source for that denial was "The Post"'s editor. We report, you decide, whether or not we just made it up.

Not a good week for Uncle Rupert. Not a good week ahead either. Monday, a film called "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," will make it debut on the Internet. And it will be screened in theaters on Tuesday. The filmmaker is Robert Greenwald. And he joins us now from Los Angeles.

Mr. Greenwald, good evening.

ROBERT GREENWALD, FILMMAKER: Good evening. Nice to be here.

OLBERMANN: "The Post" headline first. Does the identification of Mr. Murdoch as both source and editor of that story surprise you? And what possibly could have motivated him?

GREENWALD: Well, it doesn't surprise me. It's part of a long tradition in which Mr. Murdoch has taken a very aggressive and firm role in all of his publications all over the world. This has been a consistent policy where his personal political viewpoints have been interjected into newspapers, into supporting candidates, into supporting the war among hundred of his papers around the world.

So I don't think it's a surprise. This time he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, to everyone's embarrassment.

OLBERMANN: I have a piece of tape I want to play and I don't know if you've ever seen this, but there was a great British TV playwright named Dennis Potter. And he had been a newspaper journalist for a while and worked for Murdoch. And he wrote "Pennies From Heaven" and "The Singing Detective" and a lot of great stuff.

And I guess 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. They gave him three months to live and did he this remarkable TV interview with a British arts journalist named Melvin Brag (ph). And Murdoch's name came up in a startling way. Here's the tape.


DENNIS POTTER, PLAYWRIGHT: One of the favorite fancy plots of a writer is, a character is told, you've got three months to live, which is what I was told. And you, who would you kill?

And I call my cancer, the main one, the pancreas one, I call it Rupert, so I can get close to it, because, that man, Murdoch, is the one who, if I had the time -- in fact, I've got too much writing to do and I haven't got the energy -- but I would shoot the bugger if I could. There is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press.


OLBERMANN: In essence, Mr. Greenwald, this dying man, Dennis Potter, said that if he did not have better things to do with his last three months, he would have shot Rupert Murdoch on behalf of mankind. Surely, the man can't be that bad, can he?

GREENWALD: Well, as someone who doesn't believe in capital punishment, I certainly wouldn't want to go that far.

I think what Mr. Murdoch has done with News Corporations around the world, with the Fox News network here, I spent six months studying Fox News Network for "Outfoxed." And it is really quite shocking and scandalous that a network that would say fair and balanced is so far on the other end, the other extreme.

But having said that, I do think it is part of a larger problem. It's not just Mr. Murdoch. It's part of media consolidation. When that happens, when you have five companies controlling all of the media we get, that's a very serious and profound issue for a democracy, because the sources of information that we're getting to make our most important decisions about who we are and how we're going to live are being affected by a smaller and smaller and controlled by a smaller and smaller group of company. I don't think that's good for any of us. And Murdoch is perhaps the most extreme example of the media consolidation problem.

OLBERMANN: The "Times" article today noted that their source demanded anonymity out of fear of being fired. There are rumors going around cable, the business, right now that Fox has already vowed to expose CNN or MSNBC if we cover your documentary.

My own experience working for Fox always left me wondering -- he still owned the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, Murdoch did. And I got a tip from outside the company that he was looking to sell them. I confirmed that tip. I went back to the people I worked for at Fox. I said, look, this is your team. It's also your network. If you don't want me to report this, I'm not going to. It is your candy store and your rules. I think that's fair.

And Murdoch's personal publicity man said, we are not going to comment on the story, but it is legitimate news. If you think the sources are solid, go ahead and report it. And I did. And two weeks later, I got fired. And another reporter called me up and said he had heard, but he had never been able to confirm that when Murdoch heard about my story about the Dodgers, Murdoch had personally ordered that I be fired, even though his own people had OKed the story.

Is this the kind of stuff that you have come across in putting your movie together?

GREENWALD: Absolutely. Over and over again -- in the movie, I have nine different people who have worked for Fox News network who have come forward and talked on camera, three of them anonymously, by the way.

But the level of fear about Roger Ailes and Fox News Network was as extreme as I've ever seen. People hung up the phone on me. People told me their e-mail was being read, that they couldn't afford to e-mail me. People told me to lose their numbers. They were in fear for their jobs and they -- one of them said, Roger Ailes is Tony Soprano. I cannot talk to you.

And I must have had 20, 25 people who work at Fox News who wanted to talk but became too scared and too intimidated. So your example is hardly unique. Plus, there were many former employees of Fox News who are forced to sign these onerous agreements when they leave the network. Now, how many networks force you to do that? Because they are concerned about the fact that they specifically give political messages to their reporters and their producers and their writers.

They tell them what to cover. They tell them how the cover it. And they tell them the viewpoint to cover it with. In addition to these nine people in the movie, I also have about 15 of those infamous memos that they get every day with a guide as to, well, here's how we think. Here's how we want you to think.

I wanted to start a campaign to free the reporters at Fox News. How dare they not trust them to interpret the news, but spoon-feed them and tell them, we want you to think this way and we want to you report that way.

OLBERMANN: Twenty-five years in the business as of tomorrow and I never had to sign a don't-talk deal that referred to after you leave. If you are working for a company, I can understand that.

Robert Greenwald, the documentary is "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism." Good luck with it. Thank you for your time, sir.

GREENWALD: Thank you.

More from the archive in Media, Outfoxed.

Robert talks about Outfoxed on Keith Olberman (07.10.2004)

Next Entry: How to Make a Guerrilla Documentary (07.10.2004)
Previous Entry: Outfoxed and fair use -- in tomorrow's NYT magazine (07.10.2004)

Read the 6 comments.

Mike B:

I have one question, when will you do a documentary on the other networks with the liberal slant and "expose" how they are affecting public opinion?
It works on both sides, and news from a different slant is just as newsworthy as if it came from CNN, CBS, the NBC affiliates, and Capital Cities.

Tue Jul 13 2004 11:14 AM

Matt M.:

FAUX NEWS sucks and anybody with half a mind can see that by watching as little as 5 minutes of there broadcasting. They really are tabloid news. No substance all retoric nothing more.

Tue Jul 13 2004 2:33 PM


Mike B. unless you do it, there will be no documentary exposing the 'liberal media', because there's no evidence that I can see to support that theory. Get off your ass and do it, if you believe it's true. If you believe in what you are saying, support it with a real argument like Moore and Greenwald, and put it up for public evaluation.

Don't hate the media, become the media.
- Jello Biafra

Wed Jul 14 2004 2:48 PM


fantastic interview!

Tue Jul 20 2004 6:48 PM


This message is for Mike B. If you truly believe that CNN or MSNBC or ABC or NBC or even CBS is "liberal," then you are a sadly misinformed person, a disgrace to American ideals.

Wed Sep 27 2006 10:15 PM


I just love seeing the "Republicans" squirm when the truth about Fox News is delivered into the homes of millions of viewers.

Thu Dec 14 2006 2:56 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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