Jul 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former Fox executive calls network "poison for America"

Lobbyist for ABC/Disney Preston Padden poses for a photo

Former Fox executive Preston Padden Photo: Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images

Fox proprietor Rupert Murdoch "owes himself a better legacy than a news channel that no reasonable person would believe," former Fox executive Preston Padden wrote in an op-ed for the Daily Beast, published Monday.

Why it matters: Padden was president of network distribution at the Fox Broadcasting Company for seven years and helped in the launch of Fox News, which he described in the article as "poison for America."

What he's saying: Padden wrote that Fox News began as "a responsible and truthful center-right news network." Since then, "things have gone badly off the tracks at Fox News," he said.

  • He accused the channel and its "prime-time opinion" shows of contributing to division in the U.S., citing examples including promoting former President Trump's rally before the U.S. Capitol riot and showcasing his "wild and false claims" about the 2020 election.
  • Padden alleged that Fox News caused the "unnecessary" deaths of "many Americans" by "fueling" COVID-19 vaccine hesitation and "disparaging the wearing" of masks — linking to a report on remarks by Fox host Tucker Carlson railing against children wearing face coverings.

Of note: "The greatest irony is that I don't believe that most of the falsehoods on Fox News reflect Rupert Murdoch's own views," Padden wrote, adding that the Australian-born American businessman had worn a mask and got vaccinated, encouraging him to do the same.

  • "I believe that he thinks that former President Trump is an egomaniac who lost the election by turning off voters, especially suburban women, with his behavior.
"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. ... I am at a loss to understand why he will not change course. I can only guess that the destructive editorial policy of Fox News is driven by a deep-seated vein of anti-establishment/contrarian thinking in Rupert that, at age 90, is not going to change."

The other side: Padden said Fox News had provided him with "examples of pro-mask/vaccine on-air comments." But he argued that these "were heavily outweighed by the negative comments of the highly rated primetime opinion hosts."

  • Representatives for Fox News and Trump did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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