Ex-News Corp. Exec Padden: Fox News is Damaging America

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Former top News Corp. executive Preston Padden said that "no reasonable person" would believe Fox News, which he said has morphed from a "truthful center-right news network to a channel that has contributed to dissension in the country and the election "big lie."

Padden is the former president, network distribution, for Fox Broadcasting and Chairman and CEO of  American Sky Broadcasting (which merged into Dish). He is currently principal of Boulder Thinking, LLC., a consulting firm.

That came in an op ed July 5 in The Daily Beast, which is owned by another former News Corp. exec, Barry Diller.

Padden said that News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch is "brilliant, courageous, optimistic, and a gentleman," but said his news operation has gone off the rails and that he has been unable to persuade Murdoch of that.

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"Over the past nine months I have tried, with increasing bluntness, to get Rupert to understand the real damage that Fox News is doing to America," he wrote. "I failed."

Padden has history with what he characterized as the "truthful, center-right" Fox News. "I played a cameo role in the birth of Fox News by accompanying Roger Ailes to meet with then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to seek his help in persuading Time-Warner CEO Gerry Levin to carry Fox News on the all-important Time-Warner Cable systems in New York City," he wrote, saying Levin did not want to provide "oxygen" for a CNN competitor (a concern ultimately borne out by the ultimate ratings power of Fox News). But Murdoch ponied up enough to secure carriage.

But that was then, said Padden, and now the channel has caused "millions of Americans—most of them Republicans (as my wife and I were for 50 years)—to believe things that simply are not true," including about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the election results. "[M]illions of Americans believe these falsehoods because they have been drilled into their minds, night after night, by Fox News," he said.

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Padden said he does not believe most of the "falsehoods" on Fox News reflect Murdoch's views, pointing out that he encouraged Padden to wear a mask during the pandemic and get vaccinated. He also said he believes Murdoch thinks former President Trump is "an egomaniac who lost the election by turning off voters, especially suburban women, with his behavior."

Fox had not returned a request for comment at press time (July 5 is a federal holiday).

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.