By now you know that Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter to plead for stricter gun control laws in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. The head of News Corp. asked in a tweet, “when will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?” Then Murdoch followed that up by saying that President Obama’s speech to the Newtown residents was “nice,” but asked for “bold leadership action.”
It was all sort of surprising coming from Murdoch. It almost — almost! — made us applaud him. But according to insiders, while Murdoch was saying the right thing, the execs at Fox News were telling staffers to keep their mouths shut. New York quotes several sources that claim David Clark, executive producer for Fox News, was telling staffers not to address gun control policies on air. “This network is not going there,” Clark allegedly told one producer. Another source inside Fox News added, “We were expressly forbidden from discussing gun control.”
As New York’s Gabriel Sherman notes, the two very different messages exposes a rift between Murdoch and Roger Ailes, head of Fox News:
Gun culture is alive and well at Fox News. Roger Ailes and Sean Hannity are reportedly licensed to carry concealed handguns in New York City. Fox personality Eric Bolling is a vocal Second Amendment proponent on air. ‘Not only do they carry guns, they don’t allow an honest debate on TV,’ a Fox News insider said. In the past, when Ailes has clashed with Murdoch on politics, Fox News’s outsize profits have helped Ailes prevail.
Ailes just signed a four year contract and Murdoch loves what he has done with Fox News, so Ailes is not going anywhere. But this is an interesting look at how politics silence people after even the most horrible of events.