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 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 10:24 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT