Fox News Approach Summary

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1 Channeling America’s “Tabloid Soul” How Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Bill O’Reilly Remade Television News What do the barking heads of Fox News Channel and other Murdoch media have that CNN, Rather and Donahue don’t? A true, virtuous, tabloid soul. —Charles Pierce, 2002 The traditional media in this country is in tune with the elite, not the people. . .That is why we’re [Fox News] not liked by the traditional media. That’s not us. —Rupert Murdoch, 20041 In the early 1950s, a young Rupert Murdoch worked as a subeditor at London’s Daily Express during his graduate years at Oxford. The Express, a leading tabloid in its time, was in the belly of the ferociously competitive Fleet Street. Lined with England’s top newspapers, this London boulevard had long been a metonym for the British news market overall. Under the guidance of the Express’ notorious chief executive, Lord Beaverbrook, Murdoch gleaned key lessons about “the black art of journalism” and how vital it was for a news executive to be a student of mass taste.2 Murdoch would bring these insights back to his home country of Australia, transforming the newspaper he inherited from his father, Adelaide News, into a profitable tabloid. From this small, rural news outlet, Murdoch built what would become one of the largest and most politically influential media empires in world history: News Corporation. 1 Strupp (September 22, 2004). 2 Wolff (2008). 40 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. Access paid by the UC San Diego Library, on 26 Mar 2020 at 02:52:43, subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108634410.003 Channeling America’s “Tabloid Soul” 41 More than simply picking up on basic presentational characteristics of a good tabloid paper (e.g. punchy headlines, colorful layout, and sensational content), Murdoch gleaned a deeper understanding about the social logic behind the tabloid style. From the Fleet Street perspective, Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff explains that commercial news is, fundamentally, a “class business. Every Fleet Streeter knows which is his class” (2008: 72). Murdoch’s philosophy on journalism would forever be colored by class or, at least, a particular cultural and normative conception of it that he and his ne

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