NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik is out this week with “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires,” a look at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. as it grew from one small newspaper in Australia to the huge multimedia company it is today. In Salon’s excerpts of the book, Folkenflik describes how Murdoch and Roger Ailes worked to set Fox News apart from its competition from the early stages of the network’s development:
Perhaps most important, Ailes instinctively recognized good television and understood how to create it—defining “good” as something viewers would want to watch and keep watching. It was close to Murdoch’s definition of the public interest. In this case, Ailes knew that Fox’s defining feature would require a highly cultivated resentment toward other news organizations. The “fair and balanced” slogan alone was an increasingly explicit assertion that mainstream press organizations were not fair or balanced. “We report. You decide,” provoked the same reaction in viewers and the competition. On Fox, the news programs served to get out the mission statement: the other news organizations look down on you and your beliefs. Here, you’re home.
Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account.
We’ve reached out to Fox News for comment.