James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox, has pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League, according to an email he sent to friends. He told them, “What we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people.”
He continued: “These events remind us all why vigilance against hate and bigotry is an eternal obligation — a necessary discipline for the preservation of our way of life and our ideals. The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob.”
In pointed criticism of President Donald Trump, he went on: “I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.”
The sentiment is lovely, and the money is certainly appreciated by those fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry, but the email reeks of hypocrisy, to be blunt. Murdoch seems blissfully unaware of — or in denial about — his family’s role in creating the Trump phenomenon, fueling the rise of a xenophobic, racist demagogue and continuing to fan the flames of his noxious populism, which has brought us to where we are.
In April, I suggested that Murdoch, his brother and father might do the country a great service by revamping Fox’s news operation:
“James Murdoch, whose father might be the most successful American immigrant ever, can lay off the hysteria about illegal immigration and massive voter fraud (another Trump fictional story line). It’s irresponsible, racist and false to portray native-born Americans as victims of a tidal wave of immigration.”
As I said then, Fox does not need to be a “a cheesy propaganda outfit that exploits women and sows xenophobia and white resentment.” Unfortunately, Fox News hosts seem to have doubled down on exactly that formula, peddling the Seth Rich conspiracy, taking Trump’s characterization of Charlottesville seriously and continuing to attack legitimate news organizations with the same terms (e.g. liars, “fake news,” enemies of the country) that the president and Stephen K. Bannon utter. Fox News remains obsessed with illegal immigration and white grievance. Its anti-anti-Trump invective fills the nighttime lineup.
Instead of giving the ADL what amounts to pocket change for James Murdoch, why doesn’t he clean up his own news operation? Fox News has, more than any other outlet, popularized birtherism, Trumpism and white grievance-mongering, creating an alternative universe for white, older, working-class voters whom Trump whipped into a frenzy.
That might cost more than $1 million, but at least Murdoch could sleep well at night, look at himself in the mirror and tell his family that he is a patriot, not a guy who’s making a mint tearing apart the country.