News & Politics

Activists Arrive at Rupert Murdoch's NYC Apartment To Demand Accountability for Hacking, Racism

Activists' demands include firing Fox News panelist Eric Boiling and a congressional investigation into Murdoch.

Today, at 12:30pm, a group of activists led by racial justice group Color of Change confronted News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch at his New York City apartment.  They delivered to Murdoch 110,000 signed letters of protest urging Fox News Channel President Roger Aires to fire Fox panelist Eric Bolling for “appealing to racial stereotypes,” and declared their support for a congressional investigation into the wiretapping scandal.

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal and Eric Bolling’s ridiculous utterances concerning President Obama inviting “hoodlums to the hizzhouse” and “chugging forties” are only fragments of Fox News’ flagrant disregard for media ethics. Calling for media accountability, organizers and attendees demanded that Fox News end its shameful tendency to put profits over the interests of the American people, using harmful tactics like racebaiting instead of offering truthful, ethical news.  

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The rally kicked off across the street from Murdoch’s Fifth Avenue apartment at 65th Street, where Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson delivered a brief speech in which he said that, throughout the News of the World wiretapping scandal, “Murdoch and Fox have remained silent, proving they will do anything for profit.” Shortly after, he and other Fox News critics and advocates of an investigation into Murdoch hurried across the street to present the News of the World owner with 110,000 voices of opposition. 

Not surprisingly, Murdoch’s doorman claimed the building “was not accepting packages” and refused to take the petitions.

Robinson walked away undeterred. “Mr. Murdoch continues to not want to hear from Americans,” he said, in high spirits. “The fight continues.”

The rally came on the heels of reports that News of the World was not only tapping the phones of U.K. public figures, but also victims of the 9/11 attacks. As the Daily Mirror reported, a former NYPD officer claims News of the World offered to bribe him for access to 9/11 victims’ private phones.

Rally attendee and Free Press campaign director Timothy Karr called the alleged U.S. wiretap attempts, “The issue that helped jump the pond,” generating support for a U.S.-based investigation into Murdoch’s media empire.

Similarly, Robinson said the wiretapping scandal merely lifts the curtain on a wealth of other evidence revealing Murdoch’s corruption and warped sense of priority. “It’s not just about privacy, but willingness to put profits over American people,” he said.

The delivery of the petitions was simply one way for Americans of all races to say, in the words of Robinson, “Enough is enough. We do not want to be divided by race.”

As foolish and stereotypical as Bolling’s remarks are, they did not occur in isolation. Significant backlash recently forced Fox News to fire Jessica Herzberg, the freelance producer responsible for a news ticker calling Michelle Obama a “baby mama.”

“My hope is that the congressional investigation will result in real consequences,” said Robinson. “We have a right to hold our media accountable and punish them when they break the law,” as well as “for how they portray black people.”

Still, racism is not the only tool Fox uses to mislead the public and maintain its stronghold on conservative politics. “Fox News is the Tea Party,” said Wisconsin native and cheese-hat-clad rally attendee Harry Waisbren. “I see a direct line between what is said on Fox News and the policies in Wisconsin.” Waisbren also called Fox News’ power “incomparable.”

Robinson, who advocates for the media to cover the issues and stories of American people in a “fair and accurate way,” considers the recent bipartisan support of a congressional investigation into Murdoch's activities evidence that Americans are moving toward media accountability and standing up against Fox.

“The petitions are just one step in many things we are doing to ensure that there is public accountability in media,” Robinson said. “It’s not right and left, just right and wrong.”  

Color of Change has already emailed the signed petitions to Fox News and plans to ship them to the media station as another reminder that Americans will not be divided by unethical behavior or racist fear-mongering.

Kristen Gwynne is a freelance writer and editorial assistant at Alternet.