Established by Media Matters for America, NewsCorpWatch (NCW) is dedicated to “providing comprehensive and up-to-date information regarding News Corporation” (a.k.a. News Corp), the parent company of Fox News. This information is invariably of a negative nature and is designed chiefly to discredit News Corp, its chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch, and the Fox News Channel.
Media Matters initially announced the rollout of its new NCW project in early May of 2011, with a full-page International Herald Tribune advertisement charging that News Corp and its various publications habitually promoted all manner of “hate speech, illegal activity and misinformation.”
In July 2011, NCW focused its attention heavily on a new international phone-hacking scandal involving News of the World, a British tabloid published by News International, a subsidiary of News Corp. In previous years, some employees of the tabloid had been accused of obtaining illicit information about celebrities, politicians, and members of the British Royal Family by way of phone hacking and bribery. But now, it was revealed that the phones of some highly sympathetic figures — the murdered English schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of deceased British soldiers, victims of the July 2005 London bombings, and victims of the 9/11 attacks — may also have been accessed illegally by News Corp employees. Massive public outrage resulting from these disclosures sparked advertiser boycotts and ultimately led to News of the World‘s permanent closure on July 10, 2011, after 168 years of publication.
A key antecedent of NCW’s formation was George Soros‘s $1 million contribution to Media Matters in October 2010. At the time, Soros specifically cited that organization’s work against Fox News, of which he has long been a vocal and unsparing critic, as the chief motivation for his donation: “I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.” Two months later, in an interview with CNN newsman Fareed Zakaria, Soros warned that the combination of Fox News, its then-host Glenn Beck, and the Tea Party might lead “this open [American] society to be on the verge of some dictatorial democracy.”
NCW’s campaign against News Corp and Fox News is waged in tandem with the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), which in July 2011 collected some 12,000 signatures on a petition demanding to know whether News Corp reporters had violated U.S. law by illegally obtaining the phone records of some 9/11 victims in the United States, possibly in collaboration with Fox News. Meanwhile the CAP offshoot, Think Progress, initiated Twitter and Facebook campaigns calling for investigations into Rupert Murdoch’s entire U.S. media empire.
In an effort to persuade corporations not to purchase advertising time on the Fox News Channel because of its “deplorable” and “irresponsible” track record of “reckless vitriol, race-baiting, anti-LGBT bigotry and deliberate spread of misinformation,” NCW launched a “Drop Fox” campaign in May 2011. This initiative promptly accused Fox of such transgressions as being insensitive to the hardships faced by unmarried women who become pregnant; misrepresenting and distorting the scientific evidence behind manmade global warming; supporting an ill-advised Balanced Budget Amendment that ultimately would hurt the American economy; mischaracterizing the facts pertaining to such issues as the U.S. financial crisis, President Barack Obama‘s 2009 stimulus package, estate taxes, and deregulation; unfairly scapegoating illegal immigrants as financial leeches and violent criminals; promoting “racist imagery” and “reckless rhetoric” that degrades black people; demonstrating an “unwillingness to curb extremist rhetoric”; trying to “stir up anti-Muslim sentiment”; and fostering “bigotry” against homosexuals and cross-dressers.