Only in LA: On one side of Pico Blvd., the Rancho Park golf course, with joggers, dog walkers and of course, golfers; on the other, a hundred “Occupy Fox News” demonstrators outside Fox Studios, chanting “We – are – the 99 per cent!”; in between, a hundred LA cops, many with riot gear at the ready, and an entire city block of TV news trucks, bristling with giant satellite dishes, power cables up and down the street, and news reporters under lights talking earnestly into the cameras.
A Fox News helicopter hovered overhead while demonstrators marched with homemade signs including “Fox and Friends Stink!” “Rich Media = Poor Democracy,” and “Lying is Wrong.” Inside Fox Studios, Rupert Murdoch himself, along with his son James, was facing the annual shareholders meeting of News Corp.
Occupy Fox News, organized by Free Press, had a brilliant idea: the world’s media were coming to see whether shareholders would kick out Rupert and his son James because of the phone hacking scandal in Britain. But the media are not allowed inside the shareholders meeting. So they set up outside, and as a result, all the pictures they broadcast were of the demonstrators.
The LAPD did its best to cut down the numbers of demonstrators, closing the public parking lot at the golf course that the demonstration organizers had announced would be available.
Fox News itself covered the demonstration. A tall, good-looking reporter with a posh English accent said, “The real action here is not the demonstrators outside but rather the shareholders inside, many of whom are asking for a change at the top of News Corp.”
The Fox reporter noted that the demonstration was taking place “under the watchful eye of the LAPD.” “Security is tight,” he explained, because of the pie thrown in Murdoch’s face at his last public appearance. Of course none of the “Occupy Fox News” demonstrators out on Pico Blvd. were allowed within half a mile of Murdoch himself.
The Fox News reporter also noted that, after the phone-hacking scandal, “News Corp. gave 2 million pounds to the family of the murdered girl whose phone had been hacked.” Although California state pension funds, significant owners of News Corp. stock, “want Murdoch out,” he noted that “operating revenue is up 23 percent.”
Meanwhile on LA’s all-news AM radio station, KNX, the anchor asked the field reporter, “Is this just an all-purpose ‘we don’t like corporations’ kind of thing?”
Free Press, which called the “Occupy Fox News” protest, explained at its website that News Corp. “has accumulated toxic levels of media power—including cable channels, news networks, newspapers, television stations, movie studios and more.” News Corp. “leverages its news and entertainment empire to bully regulators, elect compliant politicians, gain regulatory favors and undermine the public interest.”
The group also condemned Fox News for its “long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric and biased reporting on issues that are important to communities of color in the U.S.”
Groups joining Free Press in calling the demonstration were Common Cause, OccupyLA, Avaaz.org, Change to Win, Good Jobs LA, Brave New Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild and others.
As I was leaving the protest, a curious golfer shouted over the fence, “What’s going on?” I explained that it was “a protest against Fox News.” “For being fair and balanced,” he said, and burst out laughing.