Media ironies

Media ironies
: Ted Turner complains that too few companies own too much of U.S. media.

But, Ted, you sold your media company to a media company; you singlehandedly reduced the number of media owners in the U.S. Seller’s regret, I guess.

: Ted also called Rupert Murdoch a “warmonger” because of FoxNews’ support of the war and the Guardian explains: “Mr Murdoch openly backed the war on Iraq but the unquestioning support of his Fox News channel has caused controversy and astounded UK broadcasters, which are bound by law to maintain impartial and balanced news services.”

Bound by law? Now that’s a hard law to enforce.

And if it were enforced, would the BBC stay out of the pokey for its opposite view of the war?

: Well, in its own fog of war, the BBC thinks it’s enforcing that law of balance. BBC General Director Greg Dyke said in a speech reported by the BBC, of course: “If Iraq proved anything, it was that the BBC cannot afford to mix patriotism and journalism. This is happening in the United States and if it continues will undermine the credibility of the US electronic news media.” Ask Andrew Sullivan whether he agrees.

: The problem here is, again, that FoxNews proved to be a gigantic success in the war and nobody in media quite knows what to do with that.

I’ve said before that — thanks to the success of FoxNews, the breadth of viewpoints that cable choice allows, and the open expression that weblogs allow, and the audience’s embrace of all that — we are headed to a new media world in which credibility still counts (of course) but in which opinion and perspective aren’t necessarily the antithesis to credibility that American journalism — and, if we are to believe them, British TV journalism, cough, cough — have long held. We are headed to a world in which news is more compelling and less purposely dull. We are headed to a world in which news matters more.

And, by the way, key to this view is trust in the intelligence of the audience, the people: They can decide what’s fact and what’s opinion and what their own opinions should be.

: Tim Blair says all this more eloquently than I could. Plus, it sounds tougher with his accent.

  • anon

    Well said. Ted Turner is a rank hypocrit, considering the way in which CNN has admitted to suppressing stories in Iraq during Saddam’s reign. Fox has been pro-Bush in a broad sense, but the shock of that channel’s success to the left simply shows how the left, for far too long, has presumed to a moral ownership of the media and is appalled that libertarians and conservatives are now making inroads into their terrain.
    As for the BBC, Greg Dyke’s talk of “patriotism” and “objectivity” is a joke. The BBC’s coverage of the run-up to the war, the war, and its aftermath, has been biased. The idea of the BBC as an impartial conveyor of truth is just too big a joke for this humble Reuters journalist to take.

  • Pyecraft

    Humble thyself, no longer anon. Good stuff! History shall be recorded by the victors, but the BBC won’t be invited to the session.

  • T. Hartin

    I am sick to death of all this babble about “objectivity” and “balance.” What I want from my news sources is accuracy. I can make my own decisions about what kind of balance and how much objectivity I want.
    By my standards, Fox was more accurate than the BBC and most others in its war reporting. Fox consistently reported that the war was going well, while others portrayed the war as going less than well. At the end of the day, whaddaya know, the war went extremely well. This means Fox was accurate in its take on the war, and the BBC and others were not.

  • Beautifully said, Jeff. And that’s from a fellow ex-Time AOL Warner Etc. Inc. staffer — though massively below your level.
    I’d add that monopoly ownership isn’t the worst problem facing modern journalism. Monopoly viewpoints are far more destructive. Who cares about who pays the bills? The more important issue is who writes (and edits) the copy.

  • john clark

    Go to for a comprehensive list of Ted Turner’s holdings. Too few hold too much. What chutzpah!

  • john clark

    Sorry, make that timblair….