By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Now the CNN business show Moneyline is already cozy with Disney. Host Lou Dobbs, instead of asking about big layoffs, was interviewing Eisner about the news merger and offered "to help you through this," to which Eisner responded, "I'll take notes." A few beats later, Dobbs was still sucking up: "ABC News [is] blessed with terrific talent."
Not that Dobbs' bosses at AOL Time-Warner are any better. C'mon, AOL's Steve Case didn't even mention CNN or Time Inc. when he publicly hyped the newly merged corporations way back when. And talk about dazed and confused coverage of its own company. One year ago, CEO Gerald Levin was on the cover of Fortune being praised as "among the smartest people we know." Ten weeks later, the merger is a disaster area, AOL is the wrecking ball, and, in the pages of Fortune, Levin goes from god to goat.
BOOK PUBLISHING USED TO BE IMMUNE TO outside influence. Now the outsiders are insiders, and Hyperion is owned by Disney, Simon & Schuster by Viacom, Little Brown by Warner Bros., and so on. It is common practice at HarperCollins and William Morrow to vet writers planning media-related books on exactly what will be said about Murdoch and his News Corp. before a proposal will be bought. Meanwhile, News Corp.'s New York Post and Fox News have a well-documented policy of barely reporting on their parent company's worldwide enterprises and the world's most interesting mogul.
Just last week, Murdoch made an unusual appearance on Fox News Network's Your World With Neil Cavuto and announced that his cable holdings "reported a 200 percent increase in profit . . . the television stations all were fantastic . . . we're 20 percent ahead of last year . . ." and so on. Cavuto didn't ask, and Murdoch didn't volunteer, a word about News Corp.'s problem areas, like Fox Entertainment's sputtering TV ratings.
The only solution is for journalists to make fuller disclosures, just as Wall Street financial analysts were finally forced into doing about themselves and their firms. Here comes mine: I'm involved in a legal dispute with Disney and News Corp. about a journalist's right to report the truth about Big Media. Mea culpa.
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