04.26.2023 0

Fox News has been touting its ESG, ‘diversity and inclusion’ goals since 2020 in annual ‘corporate social responsibility’ reports, and NewsCorp, too

By Robert Romano

After Tucker Carlson’s firing by Fox News, do high ratings even matter anymore?

That might be a good question one might ask from Fox News’ termination of Carlson, the station’s most highly rated host, who was easily winning cable news’ battle for the 8pm slot for years, with an average 3.25 million viewers a night for the past four months.

For years, Carlson was critical of the Black Lives Matters and Antifa’s use of riots in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn., and of tyrannical Covid policies. Surely, he had many controversial takes, but that was what his audience was looking for: someone perceived to be fearlessly telling the truth in the face of the censors.

But these also sparked organized boycotts against Carlson’s advertisers by social and political groups favoring Democrats — apparently an effective strategy when corporate dollars stop coming in the doors.

Even though advertisers should be attracted to highly rated programs, that assumes they are using a profit motive, and not some other motive. But today we know there is another motive: stakeholder capitalism, or the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment model that has found corporations seeking equity above profit.

For their part, U.S. corporations have already made up their mind, with a recent KPMG survey finding 82 percent of U.S. corporations are touting ESG sustainability goals in their corporate filings, even though doing so does not necessarily mean greater profits or even greater market caps for publicly traded companies per se. It’s more like a protection racket: tout the goals, carry the correct political water, fire when necessary and avoid the corporate embargo.

So it should surprise nobody that Fox Corporation, which owns Fox News, and NewsCorp (which used to own Fox) and owns the Wall Street Journal, have been touting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals in their corporate filings in order to attract woke investment dollars since at least 2020, a review of the companies’ corporate filings reveals. Fox’s explicit ESG reports appeared to follow the company’s removal in 2019 from Vanguard’s ESG fund. It wanted those woke capitalist dollars.

Again, unsurprisingly, Fox has been touting its “diversity and inclusion” corporate agenda that include legally questionable racial and gender hiring quotas by the company. In its 2022 “corporate social responsibility” report: “we have voluntarily posted on our corporate website our 2021 Employment Information Report (EEO-1), showing the race, ethnicity and gender of our U.S. employees. For example, by the end of 2021, our first/mid-level officials (EEO-1 Category 1.2) and managers were approximately 41.7% female and 30.6% non-White. Similarly, our employees categorized as professionals (EEO-1 Category 2.0) were 36.7% female and 35.3% non-White. We are proud of our workforce and our ongoing efforts to further its diversity.”


These appear to run afoul of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on employment discrimination on the basis of race or sex: “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer… to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or … to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

And how do we know that Fox knows it is “legally questionable,” as I wrote above?

Because Fox News never reported on a legal complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission filed by America First Legal, one of the non-profits run by former President Donald Trump’s advisor Stephen Miller, against Anheuser-Busch’s ESG-driven racial and gender hiring quotas as being a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights. The complaint against AB-InBev — the Belgian company that own Anheuser-Busch — followed a consumer-led revolt against the beermaker after using transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney tell sell Bud Light, or not sell it, depending on your perspective.

If Fox had reported on the seemingly illegal racial and gender hiring quotas, it would have had to admit in its reporting that it was using the same discriminatory practices now being targeted by Republicans.

It certainly has been questioned before, and in a 1979 ruling by the Supreme Court ruling Steelworkers v. Weber it was found that employment policies that racial preferences on the basis of race and sex in favor of women and minorities, which plaintiffs argued was reverse discrimination, were somehow not a violation of the Civil Rights Act, in effect legalizing employment discrimination against whites and males. This was a sharp departure from more racially neutral interpretations of the Civil Rights Act by federal courts that preceded the decision.

Then Associate Justice William Rehnquist, who would go on to become the Court’s 16th Chief Justice in 1986, in his dissenting opinion, compared the Court’s rewriting of the Civil Rights Act to the totalitarian regime portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984, writing that law was written plainly, “Taken in its normal meaning, and as understood by all Members of Congress who spoke to the issue during the legislative debates, this language prohibits a covered employer from considering race when making an employment decision, whether the race be black or white.”

Rehnquist blasted the majority of the court, adding, “the Court behaves much like the Orwellian speaker earlier described, as if it had been handed a note indicating that Title VII would lead to a result unacceptable to the Court if interpreted here as it was in our prior decisions. … Now we are told that the legislative history of Title VII shows that employers are free to discriminate on the basis of race: an employer may, in the Court’s words, ‘trammel the interests of the white employees’ in favor of black employees in order to eliminate ‘racial imbalance.’… Our earlier interpretations of Title VII, like the banners and posters decorating the square in Oceania, were all wrong.”

And so that’s where we are living now, in Oceania, with our news and information largely controlled by corporations with a collectivist agenda — to silence voices who speak up for the American people. They’re compromised.

Fox is definitely an increasing part of that. According to its June 2022 standards of business conduct and ethics, Fox states, rather laughingly in hindsight, “The First Amendment and the fundamental values it reflects are integral to who we are and what we do. As an important source of news, information, analysis and media, we play a leading role in the marketplace of ideas. Our flagship news properties are some of the most influential in history, and we respect the significant responsibility that comes with being a steward for the people’s right to know. In keeping with the Constitution’s protections for the freedom of the press, we guard and defend our journalists in their search for the truth.”

Critically, Fox adds, “We do not let revenue sources dictate our news and opinion content.” What a joke. Of course they do.

This is Orwellian “newspeak,” and I write that with kindness to the author of 1984, George Orwell, who was criticizing totalitarian censorship. One does not need to look very far for Fox kneeling to its advertisers to get rid of a controversial host. They aren’t “guarding and defending” anything.

Carlson’s dismissal also follows his predecessor in the 8pm slot, Bill O’Reilly, who was also the station’s ratings juggernaut prior to his 2017 dismissal following sexual harassment allegations that was leading to an advertising boycott.

Other popular hosts who lost their jobs at Fox include Glenn Beck in 2011, following an advertiser boycott, at the time reported by Reuters’ Christine Kearney and Alex Dobuzinskis, that “about 300 companies have either pulled their ads or declined to run commercials on his show in the past 18 months after campaigns by black and Jewish groups,” due to Beck’s criticism of former President Barack Obama and controversial political financier George Soros.

That, despite the fact that at the time “Beck’s nightly show currently dr[ew] about 1.9 million viewers, dwarfing the ratings for other cable news shows in the time slot.”

Similar advertiser boycotts were waged effectively against the late Rush Limbaugh—easily the most highly rated conservative talk radio host in history—beginning in 2012 when he criticized calls for legislation by then-Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke by personally attacking Fluke, calling her a “slut” and “prostitute” because she “wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex,” later leading to a rare apology by Limbaugh when his position was being threatened by the boycott.

On and on it goes, with boycotts also targeting Sean Hannity for years, Fox News’ 9pm host, but for how long, one wonders? Maybe if his ratings go up again, he’ll be a target.

Perhaps high ratings equal high risk, then? Advertisers are not interested in seeking out millions of viewers to sell products as much as being spooked by advertiser boycotts and campaigns waged by groups against what is perceived as a conservative news channel that Republicans could actually watch without too much bias against their own leaders and causes.

The boycotts are absolutely political from groups supporting Democrats. Today, they are being driven by corporate ESG, and the best part is, the news companies they are purchasing will never be obliged to report on itself in a negative light about what is driving their unprofitable decisions. Nor will it report, not too deeply, about the regulatory and tax incentives for ESG that exist. Are they even allowed to?

Again, they do not seek profit, but equity.

So, they’re not trying to sell us Tucker Carlson or the Fox News brand. They want Republicans in Name Only. And they’re not trying to sell us oil. They want net zero carbon emissions. Or beer. They want to end “toxic masculinity” and water consumption in manufacturing. From the ESG perspective, these are all “harmful” industries that need to become woke, diverse, inclusive and green, or ultimately be eliminated because they do not serve this collectivist agenda to destroy America. Either way, they win. The message is clear: Bend the knee, or pay the price. You could be next.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.   

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