NEW YORK – Liberal activists are stepping up their campaign against FOX News Channel by pressuring advertisers not to patronize the network.
MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America's Future and liberal blogs like DailyKos.com are asking thousands of supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Once a database is gathered, an organized phone-calling campaign will begin, said Jim Gilliam, vice president of media strategy for Brave New Films, a company that has made anti-FOX videos.
The groups have successfully pressured Democratic presidential candidates not to appear at any debate sponsored by FOX, and are also trying to get Home Depot Inc. to stop advertising there.
At least 5,000 people across the U.S. have signed up to compile logs on who is running commercials on FOX, Gilliam said. The groups want to first concentrate on businesses running local ads, as opposed to national commercials.
"It's a lot more effective for Sam's Diner to get calls from 10 people in his town than going to the consumer complaint department of some pharmaceutical company," Gilliam said.
Some of the videos produced by Gilliam's company compile statements made by FOX anchors and guests that the activists consider misleading, such as those that question global warming.
Representatives for FOX News Channel did not immediately return calls for comment.
Home Depot has not had an unusual number of calls, said spokesman Jerry Shields, and the home improvement chain will not change its advertising strategy.
"We're not in the business of censoring media," Shields said. "We need to reach our customer base through all mediums available."
Groups like the Sierra Club have targeted Home Depot because they believe it's inconsistent for the company to promote environmentally friendly products while advertising on a network that has questioned global warming.
The groups seem particularly angry at FOX's Bill O'Reilly, who has done critical reports on left-wing bloggers. On July 16, O'Reilly said the DailyKos.com Web site is "hate of the worst order," and sent a reporter to question JetBlue Airways Corp. CEO Dave Barger about the airline's sponsorship of a gathering run by DailyKos.
He'll never ride on JetBlue again, O'Reilly said.
FOX said JetBlue has since asked that its name be removed from the DailyKos.com Web site.
MoveOn.org is campaigning against FOX because it says the network characterizes itself as a fair news network when it consistently favors a conservative point of view, said Adam Green, the organization's spokesman.
"We're not trying to silence anybody," Green said. "(Conservative radio talk show host) Rush Limbaugh has a right to be on the air — he admits his point of view. FOX doesn't."
FOX News is owned by News Corp., the parent company of FOXNews.com