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What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally

Rupert Murdoch puts George W. Bush into the White House

Rupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. It’s a kind of tribute, in some sense, that the general coverage of his current troubles has reflected the detrimental effect of his influence over the years.  Right now, the media, by and large, are focusing on tawdry “police blotter” acts of the very sort that have historically informed Murdoch’s own tabloid sensibility, while the bigger picture gets short shrift.

To be sure, the activities and actions of Murdoch’s that dominate the public conversation at the moment are deeply troubling, leaving aside their alleged criminality.  Still, what is really pernicious about Murdoch is not his subordinates’ reported hacking of phones, payments of hush money, etc., or the possibility that Murdoch may have known about, tolerated, enabled, or even encouraged such acts.

It is, instead, the very essence of the man and his empire, and their long-term impact on our world and our lives. (For a detailed look at his practices, see for example this, this and this.)

Here are twelve “take-away” points that are being obscured in the daily rush of revelations, and the related specialized coverage (his wife’s wardrobe and demeanor, the effect on his company’s stock price, etc.):

He has transformed world politics for the worse: It was George W. Bush’s first cousin(John Ellis), working as head of Murdoch’s Fox News election night “decision desk,” who, during the Florida voting uncertainties, called the election for Bush and set off a chain reaction from other media. The eight Bush years that followed, and all that came with them, can in this respect be laid at Murdoch’s feet. Once Bush was finally out of power, it was two of Murdoch’s most powerful entities (Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal) that provided a regular editorial slot for Bush’s “architect” Karl Rove to attack Bush’s successor.  Murdoch’s role on the state and local level has been no less significant—in New York, for example, he has used his pulpit (including the New York Post) to advance the careers of sympathetic politicians (see the mayoral election of Ed Koch for example) as well as to relentlessly promote local, state and national scandals (Lewinsky, et al) that wounded or destroyed pols and candidates not in his corner. He has similarly influenced and shaped governments in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere for decades.

He has ridiculed and raised doubts about global catastrophes, and about science itself, while elevating absurd theories and hyping minor matters. For example, his outlets have played a leading role in dismissing and deriding scientific consensus on climate change, while creating hysteria about false issues like President Obama’s place of birth.

He has undermined liberty: His outlets led the drumbeat for restriction or elimination of certain fundamental rights, including those under the US Fourth Amendment, while at the same time supporting unrestrained wiretapping, the  harsh treatment of suspects who may have done nothing wrong, and fueling panic justifying the build-up of the national surveillance state.

He has turned the public against the press. By the generally inferior product produced, with a few exceptions, by the majority of the news outlets he controls and the tawdry methods sponsored by many of them, he has eroded the public’s confidence in media in general, tarnishing its belief even in those outfits whose work deserves to be taken seriously. He has also used his outlets to convince the public that other, more conscientious news organizations are ideologically suspect and biased.

He has simultaneously propagandized for “the law” and compromised it. Murdoch properties are the leading hagiographers of law enforcement and the military—while at the same time routinely assailing the patriotism of those who advocate for civil and privacy rights, who question wars, and so forth. Meanwhile, as shown by the unfolding UK drama, Murdoch himself stands accused of compromising the law enforcement establishment—and not just in that country. (See his relationship with former NY police commissioner Kerik, who is now in prison, for example.)

He has undermined essential rules about propriety in the news business, degrading ethical walls put in place through long tradition. He has used his properties to advance his personal interests, and made cross-promotion his trademark.

He has propagandized for many of society’s worst instincts. Whether it involves advancing subtle racism or stoking greed, Murdoch and his minions have been out front. Fox News and the New York Post are best known for this in the US, but examples of various magnitudes may be found in almost all of his properties.

He has until now effectively neutralized many would-be critics in journalism. As the news profession shrinks, his control over an increasing percentage of the paying positions makes journalists reticent to risk their jobs—or the prospects of future employment–by speaking out about his practices. The current flurry of revelations are only possible because of the sheer force of cascading events.

He has relentlessly applied a double standard: Long a vilifier of others as communist sympathizers, he has created a pragmatic, but cynical partnership with the Chinese communist party dictators that has benefited him financially without helping ( in fact, in some ways hindering) the prospects of democracy and freedom in that country.

He has dumbed down the news business and hence the public. His tabloidization of the world has now come back to haunt him with a made-for-Murdoch style story of an ogre-like entity hacking the phone of a murdered 13 year old girl. This kind of story makes it impossible for him to defend himself on more nuanced, big-picture grounds. Nevertheless, where Murdoch and News Corp are concerned, the broader activities hardly look any better.

He has used his wealth regularly to stave off businesses and individuals that his company has illegally damaged. Multi-million dollar payoffs have led plaintiffs and would-be plaintiffs to withdraw their lawsuits and agree to silence.

His campaign contributions and the public support of his media organizations have persuaded politicians to override laws against media monopolies. And with each successive step, his growing dominance made the following step in building an empire easier to achieve.

 

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  • Dartagnan

    Great piece.  Rogers Ailes should get some credit along with Carl Rove for being the lead Fox News trainer and henchman.

  • John Wallach

    Thanks for the detailed summary.   I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it was this bad!  I can only hope we’ve given him just enough rope to hang himself.

  • Anonymous

    Murdoch unleashed Glenn Beck on America.  When Beck called Obama a “racist who hates white people,”  Murdoch remained silent.  Whatever lies Beck perpetrated were OK with Murdoch  as long as Beck’s ratings held up.  Only after the 2010 elections that Beck greatly influenced by whipping anti-Obama hysteria through outright lies did his ratings begin to fall off, at which point, Murdoch dropped him.  

  • http://welcome-to-pottersville2.blogspot.com Suzan

    Thank god for the Brits!

    Without them we’d still just be Murdociana.

  • Howard Beale

    Live by the sword … die by the sword … hopefully! Excellent summation Russ.

  • Pingback: KU athletics’ director of security resigns from department – Kansas City Star | CORRUPTION!

  • Gcwenger

    I’m glad that there people like you out there. Keep up the good work. I feel quite powerless to influence things since democracy can’t work when there are people like Murdoch and his millions in the world. Good on yeh!

    Clare Wenger 

  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to tell when it’s Ruppert or Roger Ailes giving orders behind the scenes…but, it’s clear they BOTH manipulate what airs to their dumbed-down audiences!  One thing I got particularly upset over was regarding the 2011 CPACs, when Ron Paul received a lot of support, FOX used the last year’s clip, when he was less enthusiastically received.  The same talking-point(s) were made over and over, too…stating he “wasn’t electable”, “had no business being on-stage”, etc…  I kept thinking, WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO SAY WHETHER OR NOT AMERICANS ARE ‘READY’ FOR RP?  As a member of the inner-establishment, he’s likely the most hated man, even within!

    I’ll leave you with the most thoroughly written BBC article, which I read on the subject several months ago and it proves there IS a lot of in-fighting amongst the global-planner and technocratic-elites!  The title says it all!  “Ruppert Murddock…A Portrait of Satan”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/01/rupert_murdoch_-_a_portrait_of.html

  • Johnvermeer

    I cancelled the WSJ when I saw Karl Rove appear as guest opinionator,
    as you say to attack Pres .Obama. The Journal phoned me to urge I
    reconsider, was shocked, SHOCKED that I objected to editorials by
    Karl Rove. We were not all asleep, but what good did it do us?

  • Anhalt-Zerbst

    OK, but what in Heaven’s name can we do?!!

    • russwnyc

      Just getting well informed, and then informing others, is in itself a pure and powerful form of action. Change comes about when enough people know the truth, and care. Very few people are aware of the sort of information contained in this article. Spread the word!

  • Samme Chittum

    Insightful and on target comments. Murdoch’s empire is a cancer on the body of journalism. And he has had a widespread toxic cultural and political impact, as you so clearly explain. He extended  his cat’s paw into  the newsroom of the NY Post while I worked there in the 90s. When I quit, I cited concern about the erosion of good journalistic practice after  his  Fleet Street goon squad moved in. As if anybody cared.  I nearly gagged when I saw Piers Morgan interviewing Vicky Ward  the other night on CNN.

  • Joaquin B.

    Bad Karma: What goes around comes around. Arrogant people with power believe they are immune. While it may take years for them  to unravel, eventually they do with the  smallest slip up. Unfortunately, it takes years for the ‘Fall’ to occur while taking a terrible toll on people, businesses, institutions in Murdoch’s wake.  Keep your eyes on the Koch Brothers. 

  • M3RDPOWER12005

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  • Anonymous

    It takes a terribly long time for some form of justice to be applied to scoundrels like Rupert Murdoch and his family, including his ruthless trophy wife.  For years I subscribed to The Wall Street Journal but canceled as soon as the deal was signed between Murdoch and the Bancroft family.  That is about all the unempowered can do, and wait until people like Murdoch are exposed.  Now, perhaps more insidious and dangerous for democracy is the real evil, Charles and David Koch.  Their efforts and expenditures to privatize government and undermine democracy have been underway for decades and are so diabolically rooted that it may take a real revolution to destroy what they have wrought.  They and their minions, including  Tea Party activists and Congresspersons, unknown numbers of state legislators and some members of the Supreme Court, pose perhaps the greatest threat to America’s survival.

  • Johnmtalbot50

    Sadly, the world and humanity has become a meaningless,
    controlled and evil chess game, fixed and rigged by corrupt corporatized family
    tyrants, social elites and would-be megalomaniacs.

    When these powerful fall they still have the soft cushion of wealth,  assets and long standing connections (to other
    elites cartels and cronies) to always bounce back. If however they fall
    completely from grace, there are always plenty of other’s willing to sell their
    souls and integrity, to take over from them. ..as this is the reality and flaw
    of all our elitist, social and religious hierarchies…and I mean all!

    Our failure is that we are so indoctrinated from birth..that we all end up
    eventually excepting, or choosing or submit to one or another doctrine and
    their inherent values and dogmas,  and
    therefore keep these people and this evil social processes alive, at every
    level.

    Yet all these hierarchies lead to the same reality, whereby
    the top 1% of each order tends to control and/or own approx 50% of the wealth,
    resources and assets. Check it out, as it is the same in every country,
    corporation, institutions and region (no matter what social and governmental
    ideology is used or adopted).

    All hierarchies by their very nature are elitist and create
    false realities, rules, divisions and suppression  , because of the selective
    and exclusive means of access and attainment (at each and every level). Therefore
    we the majority can never change the real imbalances of this human paradigm …until
    people accept that the process of hierarchies is fundamentally wrong and
    illegal. 

    As both history and current global realities continue to
    show this glaringly obvious fact.. to those who actually care to look.

  • http://twitter.com/dakealo dakealo

    Faux is right on; but everything that you have accused them of can said of them all. Can it not?

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