Lachlan Murdoch speaks about Fox News and other media tidbits and stories for your weekend review

Never let ‘em see you sweat. That apparently is the approach of Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch as Fox News faces a hailstorm of trouble as more and more revelations come out in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion lawsuit against the cable network.

While media observers and legal analysts weigh what looks like damning evidence against Fox News, Murdoch is calling all the talk a bunch of “noise.” Speaking at Morgan Stanley’s annual Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Thursday, the son of Rupert Murdoch made his first public comments since Dominion filed suit.

Murdoch told the audience, “I think a lot of the noise that you hear about this case is actually not about the law and it’s not about journalism. It’s really about the politics. Unfortunately, that is more reflective of our polarized society that we live in today.”

Dominion claims Fox News knowingly promoted the idea that the 2020 election was rigged against Donald Trump even though they knew it wasn’t true. Fox News has claimed all along that it was merely covering allegations being said by Trump and some of his advisers. Murdoch defended the network’s coverage on Thursday, saying “I think fundamentally, what I would say about it, is (that) a news organization has an obligation and it is an obligation to report the news fulsomely, wholesomely and without fear or favor. And that is what Fox News has always done and will always do.”

In addition, Murdoch seemingly gave Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott a vote of confidence. There has been speculation that Scott could be fired if the Murdochs felt as if they needed to find a scapegoat should they lose the Dominion case or in an attempt to salvage a damaged reputation.

On Thursday, Murdoch said, “The position of the channel is very strong and doing very well. And this is really important, it’s a credit to Suzanne Scott and all her team there. They’ve done a tremendous job running this business.”

Here are some more media links, tidbits and must-reads for your weekend reviews, starting with more regarding Fox News.

  • The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Sarah Ellison with “Inside the simmering feud between Donald Trump and Fox News.”
  • Also in the Post, media critic Erik Wemple with “5 chilling lessons from the Dominion-Fox News document dump.”
  • And one more from the Post: Derek Hawkins, Sarah Ellison and Blair Guild with “What Tucker Carlson said about Trump in private texts vs. on Fox News.”
  • The New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters with “How Murdoch Runs Fox News, in His Own (Often Terse) Words.”
  • The Associated Press’ Nicholas Riccardi and David Bauder with “Court records show political pressure behind Fox programming.”
  • Politico senior media writer Jack Shafer with “The Tucker Carlson Schtick Melts Away.” Shafer wrote, “How much of the Trump agenda did Carlson really buy and how much of it was put on? Absent additional court filings revealing his unguarded thoughts, we may never know. But what we do know now, thanks to the Dominion lawsuit, is that the extremely talented and accomplished Tucker Carlson, hoodwinked by his own ambition, became the very thing the younger and smarter Tucker Carlson scorned in 2003. A transparent phony.”
  • Speaking of Politico, here’s some big news. Dafna Linzer has stepped down as executive editor after just one year on the job. In an email to staff, Politico editor-in-chief Matthew Kaminski wrote, “We have always been aligned on the goal of making Politico the world’s premier source of news on politics, policy and power. But we saw ourselves diverging over the best way to get there. Dafna and I first began discussing the possibility of this move last December.”
  • Before Politico, Linzer had been managing editor for politics at NBC News and MSNBC. She joined Politico in March 2022, not long after it was acquired by German publisher Axel Springer for $1 billion. The New York Times’ Katie Robertson wrote that Linzer had “become exasperated by the publication’s structure, in which three executive editors report to Mr. Kaminski, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.” In a note to staff, Linzer wrote the past year has been “more rewarding than I could have imagined.”
  • One more note on Linzer leaving Politico. The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison wrote, “But her tenure was marked by tension with Kaminski, her immediate boss. Linzer chafed under Kaminski’s leadership, and told colleagues that she took the job expecting that he would be elevated to a different role, but that did not happen. Others at Politico pointed to her brusque management style and concerns about advertising revenue that created significant pressure inside the newsroom, according to current and former Politico staffers who requested anonymity to speak about private conversations.”
  • Michel Martin has been named a new host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Up First,” joining A Martinez, Leila Fadel and Steve Inskeep. Michel has been the weekend host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” since 2005. Her first day on “Morning Edition” will be March 27.
  • Extensive reporting from ESPN. It’s Michael Rothstein, Elizabeth Merrill and Coley Harvey with “How a former Alabama basketball player and his friend ended up charged in the death of Jamea Harris.”
  • Variety’s Tatiana Siegel with this scoop: “Oscars Reject Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Bid to Appear on Telecast.” This, by the way, would be the second year in a row the Oscars have turned down Zelenskyy. Siegel wrote, “Last year, Oscars producer Will Packer nixed a Zelenskyy appearance. Sources say Packer expressed concerns that Hollywood was only showering Ukraine with attention because those affected by the conflict are white. By contrast, Hollywood has ignored wars around the globe that impact people of color, he argued.”
  • The latest “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on HBO has this brutal takedown of Florida Gov. Ron Desantis.
  • From BuzzFeed News, Tom Warren and Ikran Dahir with “The Untold Story Of Andrew Tate, The Internet’s Most Notorious Influencer.”
  • Last month on ESPN’s “First Take,” the star of the show, Stephen A. Smith, and guest Jay Williams got into a heated exchange when talking about one of the stars of the NBA. It certainly seemed real, and Smith has now confirmed that it was. Awful Announcing’s Brandon Contes has more with “Stephen A. Smith was ‘genuinely pissed’ at Jay Williams for First Take bout over Kyrie Irving.”
  • I really enjoyed the insight of this piece for Poynter by Elizabeth Djinis: “Why every checkout counter in America sells those $14 magazines.”
  • According to a study about Philadelphia media, one Philly TV station covers crime in about 69% of their stories. Philadelphia Magazine’s Victor Fiorillo writes about it in “‘If It Bleeds It Leads’ Is Alive and Well at Fox 29.”
  • ProPublica’s Andy Kroll and Andrea Bernstein, and Documented’s Nick Surgey, with “Inside the ‘Private and Confidential’ Conservative Group That Promises to “Crush Liberal Dominance.”
  • Condé Nast is acquiring the “In the Dark” podcast from American Public Media. The pod, which features investigative journalism, launched in 2016 and has won numerous awards, including two Peabody Awards, an Edward R. Murrow Award and a George Polk Award. The show’s staff, including co-creators Madeleine Baran and Samara Freemark, will join Condé Nast Entertainment’s audio division and initially work with The New Yorker’s reporters and editors.
  • Well isn’t this admirable? Because longtime college basketball analyst Dick Vitale works at ESPN, which doesn’t have broadcast rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Vitale has never called a March Madness game for TV. So CBS, which does have the rights, reached out and offered Dickie V a chance to call a tournament game or two this month. But this is even more admirable. Because of his loyalty to ESPN, where he has worked since 1979, Vitale turned down CBS’s offer. Vitale told Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina, “I was flattered when (CBS Sports chairman) Sean (McManus) asked, but I’m 83 now and I want to end my career with just ESPN on my resume. … They’ve treated me like royalty. It’s been 44 years just with them, and I just want to have ESPN on my resume.” Vitale added that ESPN gave him permission to work at CBS for the tournament, but he said he didn’t want to, especially after ESPN treated him so well while going through major health scares over the past several years.

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