As Americans and the world are gripped by the ongoing crisis in Egypt, news organizations have devoted wall-to-wall coverage to the protests — that is, except for Fox News, which interrupted its news programing to bring viewers what amounted to an infomerical for a new product from Fox’s parent company, News Corp. This came at a critical moment in Egypt situation, as the protests in Cairo turned deadly.
But at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, while MSNBC and CNN ran breaking news alerts and reported live from Cairo, Fox and Fox Business reported live from the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan to bring viewers the unveiling ceremony for News Corp latest product, an iPad newspaper called “The Daily.” Fox News aired a full half hour of the promotional event, featuring NewsCorp chairman Rupert Murdoch giving a hard sell of his latest media foray.
At 11:30, Fox returned to its news coverage of the winter storm devastating the Midwest, only to interrupt its programming once again a half hour later for a lengthy interview with Murdoch. Viewers were treated to Fox host Neil Cavuto tossing up softball questions about Murdoch’s business acumen and his bold new product for nearly 20 minutes before the news network finally returned to the news.
Watch a compilation of host Bill Hemmer awkwardly transitioning from the “historic” winter storm to the “history [making]” NewsCorp event, the event, and the interview:
A screen grab of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox at 11:12:
Even Cavuto couldn’t ignore the obvious conflict of interest of his “news” network pimping its parent company’s new product, but nonetheless, Cavuto reliably defended Fox and Murdoch:
We are continuing to monitor [Egypt] and I am already getting emails and bloggers saying ‘you are only covering this because your boss is Rupert Murdoch.’ That might have something to do with it, but this is a big event in and of itself how you look at news. I may remind those in news organizations that whenever Apple comes out with a product, whether they get top executives there or not, they seem to go full throttle on that product announcement because these tend to be cultural events that go beyond a given company.
Last November, the Washington Post’s ombudsman questioned whether the Post was “being aggressive enough in reporting on troubles confronting Kaplan,” a subsidiary of the Post’s parent company. The mere question of a conflict of interest was enough to earn criticism from the Post’s internal watchdog, as it should for any legitimate news organization.
Fox, however, is happy to run nearly an hour of explicit promotional programing with little news value for its parent company, anchored by its senior vice president for business news, while major events unfold at home and abroad — all without any hint of serious self-reflection.