A former executive at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. revealed Thursday that he resigned in 2017 in protest of the racist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic news coverage spouted by the primetime anchors on Fox News and other news outlets owned by the conservative media mogul.
“My issue with this isn’t as an American Muslim. It’s not as a refugee. It’s not as an immigrant. It’s as an American,” former News Corp. senior vice president Joseph Azam, who immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee from Afghanistan when he was a child, told NPR. “I live here. I have kids here. And it worries me that, you know, what’s being put out into the universe could actually create a lot of risk for them.”
News Corp., the parent company of The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and the U.K.’s The Times of London and The Sun, is separate from Fox News and its parent company. But both are part of Murdoch’s sprawling conservative media empire.
“Scaring people. Demonizing immigrants. Creating, like, a fervor — or an anxiety about what was happening in our country,” Azam said of the news coverage, particularly Fox News’ primetime anchors Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro. “It fundamentally bothered me on a lot of days, and I think I probably wasn’t the only one.”
Azam spoke out after one such incident in June 2017, tweeting at Carlson when the host wondered: “Why does America benefit from having tons of people from failing countries come here?”
“If you come upstairs to where all the executives who run your company sit and find me I can tell you, Tucker. #Afghanistan,” Azam tweeted in response.
According to Azam, he deleted the tweet after his boss warned him not to spar with Fox News figures and others connected to Murdoch’s news outlets. He recently posted a screenshot of the old tweet, after Media Matters uncovered a trove of racist and sexist comments from Carlson.
Representatives for Fox News and News Corp. declined to comment to NPR.
Azam also argued that The Wall Street Journal’s opinion section is a more “eloquent” version of the same offensive rhetoric, “dressed up in a tuxedo,” he said.
Azam’s story mirrors that of Rashna Farrukh, a former producer at Sky News Australia, also owned by News Corp. After three years, Farrukh, who is Muslim, resigned Saturday, following the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand.
“Over the past few years, I was playing a role — no matter how small — in a network whose tone I knew would help legitimize radical views present in the fringes of our society,” she wrote earlier this week. “Now, I am done being a part of something I do not stand for.”