Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fat or Facts? What Murdoch Said and How Olbermann Watch Got It Wrong

UPDATE, Feb. 8, 2009, 11:30 a.m. Eastern. Readers at the Olbermann Watch have posted a link to the audio, which clearly shows that Rupert Murdoch said "fat", not "facts" as alleged by Keith Olbermann and the Daily Kos. My follow up is here. My apologies to Olbermann Watch and their readers, and my thanks to them for finding the audio.

Keith Olbermann's an easy target sometimes. Given his far-left beliefs and how he uses his cable show to advance his agenda, he's a lightning rod for the right. But last night the right-wing blogs were all in a rage over his contention that Rupert Murdoch, chief executive officer of News Corp., which owns FOX News, had said, "Even on [finance] terms, we have never been a company that tolerates facts. So in times like these, we are better positioned to weather this cycle than our competitors" during a recent earnings call.

Olbermann Watch led the charge yesterday, writing that Murdoch was misquoted and actually said: "We have never been a company that tolerates fat."

Here is the News Crop. earnings call transcript:

While it's impossible to be completely prepared for a downturn of this magnitude, we began priming ourselves for a weakening economy earlier last year. We implemented strict cost cutting measures across all our operations. We reduced head count in individual businesses where appropriate and we scaled back on capital expenditures.

Even on [finance] terms, we have never been a company that tolerates facts. So in times like these, we are better positioned to weather this cycle than our competitors. We also have consistently maintained a strong balance sheet, which today following our completion of the partial sale of NDS for approximately $4.5 billion in cash. Given our strong financial position, we have the reserves on hand to cover over seven years of upcoming debt repayments. And we intend to operate our businesses and balance sheet as conservative as usual.

Clearly he either misspoke or the transcriptionist screwed up. Taken literally, on any level, the quote would make no sense. Obviously it's a honest mistake, much like, say, forgetting to pay your taxes. But until I hear audio of the call, I would have to say Olbermann seems to have gotten this one right.

2 comments:

johnny dollar said...

I'm not quite clear how on the one hand you say you want to hear the audio before making a judgment, while simultaneously claiming that "Olbermann Watch got it wrong."

Why don't you listen to the audio then before deciding that Keith was correct? I'll make it even easier for you...it's about 8 minutes in:

http://www.newscorp.com/investor/index.html

Did Olbermann Watch "get it wrong" about Keith doctoring what Bill O'Reilly said? You skipped over that part of the post, but it is just as illustrative.

Thanks for reading Olbermann Watch, and do let us know your thoughts after you finally get around to listening to the audio for yourself.

America47000 said...

I have listened to the audio and can confirm that whoever wrote the transcript completely butchered it.

The Murdoch quote comes at about the 18-minute mark of the full investor call (not the 8-minute mark)

Here's what the transcript reported:
"Even on [finance] terms, we have never been a company that tolerates facts."

Here's what Murdoch actually said:
"Even in PLUSH TIMES, we have never been a company that tolerates fat."

The actual quote makes more sense.

I'm glad I finally listened to the audio because seeing the bracketed words in a transcript worried me. It meant the person writing the transcript substituted his or her own words for what was actually said, and that can be dangerous in the hands of the wrong people.

Clearly in this case the person misheard not only "fat" as "facts," but couldn't make out that Rupert said "plush times," thought "times" was "terms," and then filled in his mistaken blank.

Very, very sloppy transcript.