Murdoch apologizes to gov for blind comment
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch apologized Wednesday to Gov. David Paterson for saying the governor “doesn't know what's going on” because of his blindness, administration officials said.
Murdoch, a billionaire whose News Corp. owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and many other holdings, made his remarks during a panel discussion of CEOs on Tuesday.
Speaking of the New York state government, the Australian-born Murdoch said: “The Senate, the state Assembly, totally incompetent, with a governor, who's a very nice and honest man . . . who's blind, who can't read Braille and doesn't really know what's going.”
Paterson, who is legally blind due to a childhood infection, does not read Braille and memorizes his speeches.
Following an uproar over the comments, which were posted online Wednesday, a contrite Murdoch called Paterson to offer his mea culpa.
Advocates for the blind were quick to blast Murdoch, saying he was repeating outmoded ideas about people with visual impairments.
“It's a shame when someone who is prominent says something like this, which is based upon ignorance,” said Carl Augusto, president of the American Federation for the Blind.
A spokeswoman for News Corp. would say only that Murdoch called Paterson and the two had “a cordial conversation.”
Carl Jacobsen, head of the National Federation for the Blind of New York, said that when Paterson was young, children with partial sight were often told not to learn Braille. He called Murdoch's comments prejudice.
“If he wants to take issue with the governor's politics, that's his right as an Australian, but he should not denigrate an entire class of people,” Jacobsen said. “I just think Mr. Murdoch should think twice before he has to issue another apology.”