Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Murdoch's shameful slam of 'Jewish-owned' press

By Howard Kurtz, CNN
updated 4:03 PM EST, Wed November 28, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Howard Kurtz: Rupert Murdoch tweeted asking why Jewish owned press is anti-Israel
  • He says suggesting Jews have hidden agenda, where religion trumps journalism, is offensive
  • Kurtz: It's hypocritical from man who controls Fox News, WSJ, NY Post, other news organs
  • Kurtz: "Apology' tweet cryptic; Murdoch's slam of reporters' 'biased' coverage gives no proof

Editor's note: Howard Kurtz is the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" and is Newsweek's Washington bureau chief. He is also a contributor to the website Daily Download.

(CNN) -- There are things that I admire about Rupert Murdoch. He has maintained a lifelong commitment to newspapers, long after it became clear that they were no longer profitable. He has a feistiness at 81, when he could be happily sitting on a yacht somewhere. He now spews his opinions on that newfangled social network called Twitter, and since he's the undisputed kingpin of News Corp., who's going to stop him?

But over the weekend, Murdoch sent out a tweet that went beyond outrageous to offensive, truly offensive. He played off the worst kind of historical libel against Jews. And while he later tweeted a semi-apology, it's not clear he understands the magnitude of his hurtful words.

Watch: Murdoch's 'Jewish Press' Rant--More CEOs Spewing on Twitter

The subject was the violence flaring in the Middle East, with Israel mounting airstrikes in Gaza after a long series of rocket attacks by the Hamas government. The message:

Howard Kurtz
Howard Kurtz
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



"Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?"

That's right, he said Jewish-owned press, reviving the old canard about Jews controlling the media. Who, exactly, is he talking about?

Watch: Petraeus overkill or permissable pandering?

Well, there's the Jewish heritage of the Sulzberger family, which owns The New York Times and Murdoch sees as a rival. Beyond that, most major media outlets are owned by public companies: Comcast (NBC), Viacom (CBS), Disney (ABC), Time Warner (CNN), Tribune (Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times), Gannett (USA Today). The Graham family, which owns The Washington Post, isn't Jewish.

And isn't there something rich in a complaint about media ownership by the man who controls Fox News, the Fox broadcast network, 20th Century Fox, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, the Sunday Times, Sky News, HarperCollins and other properties?

Beyond that, it's hard to take ethical lectures from a man who presided over a phone-hacking scandal in London that -- whatever his knowledge of it -- prompted him to close the longstanding News of the World tabloid and has led to the arrests of several of his former lieutenants.

Watch: Orgy of advice on getting away with Petraeus-like affair

What's more, Murdoch has never been shy about interfering in his newsrooms -- cozying up to politicians ranging from Ed Koch to Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair -- so maybe he expects others to shape news coverage in the same way. Murdoch's Fox News portrayed Mitt Romney as a more viable candidate than he turned out to be.

But the heart of Murdoch's indictment is far more troubling.

He is suggesting that Jewish Americans have a hidden agenda in which their religion trumps their commitment to journalism. Since Murdoch finds these outlets allegedly dominated by Jews to be anti-Israel, perhaps he thinks they are of the self-loathing variety.

In a tweet on Sunday, Murdoch seemed to defend his use of the phrase: " 'Jewish owned press' have been sternly criticized, suggesting link to Jewish reporters. Don't see this, but apologise unreservedly." The wording is too cryptic to know for what exactly he's apologizing.

Watch: Why Romney's 'gifts' comments diminish him

Earlier, Murdoch had tweeted that Israel's position was "precarious," adding "watch CNN and AP bias to the point of embarrassment."

Media mogul or not, he's entitled to criticize other coverage as he sees fit. But it's hard to evaluate his complaints since his 140 characters contain not a single example of questionable reporting.

The Middle East is a minefield for even the most scrupulous journalists. A photo of a wounded Palestinian often brings complaints that Israel is being treated unfairly and its casualties not highlighted. A story on Israelis wounded by Hamas rockets often causes grumbling that the Palestinian plight is being unfairly minimized. Murdoch is obviously strongly pro-Israel, which may mean he bristles at any coverage that doesn't sympathize with Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

One thing, however, is clear: Murdoch has undermined his own credibility by lashing out at what he calls Jewish-owned organizations. He should follow the advice that editors routinely give employees: Think hard before you tweet, for words, like weapons, can wound.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Howard Kurtz.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
updated 3:00 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
John Sutter says the right is often stereotyped on climate change. But with 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing global warming, we all have to get together on this.
updated 8:57 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Andrew Liepman and Philip Mudd: When we declare that we will defeat ISIS, what do we exactly mean?
updated 4:40 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Thailand sex trafficking
Human trafficking is a multibillion dollar global industry. To beat it, we need to change mindsets, Cindy McCain says.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
The leaders of the GOP conferences say a Republican-led Senate could help solve America's problems.
updated 10:01 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Nicholas Syrett says Wesleyan University's decision to make fraternities admit women will help curb rape culture.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
Mike Downey says New Yorkers may be overdoing it, but baseball will really miss Derek Jeter
updated 8:32 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Quick: Which U.S. president has authorized wars of various kinds in seven Muslim countries?
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Women's issues should be considered front and center when assessing a society's path, says Zainab Salbi
updated 2:05 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
A catastrophe not making headlines like Ebola and ISIS: the astounding rate of child poverty in the world's richest country.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT