Guardian: Rupert Murdoch a Media ‘Gangster’ Menacing Democracy

September 12, 2010

(ChattahBox World News)—The Guardian British newspaper published a devastating, and very personal take down of Rupert Murdoch’s media operations in England, entitled “The malign influence of Rupert Murdoch on British life.” The title is just the beginning of the caustic screed that called Rupert Murdoch, a “gangster,” “the elderly Hyman Roth in The Godfather, Part II,” and a “menacing” threat to democracy and society. The nearly 3,000 word diatribe was precipitated by the growing phone-hacking scandal by a Murdoch-owned tabloid newspaper, News of the World. The Murdoch tabloid tapped the phones of just about everyone the paper considered newsworthy, including celebrities, members of parliament and members of the monarchy. Now, it’s suddenly dawning on columnists Henry Porter and Will Hutton that Murdoch’s UK publishing empire, News International and Sky TV has sullied Britain with his coarseness, toxic political influence and the “chronic malignity of his power.” Yes, us Yanks have already been coarsened by Murdoch’s sleazy propaganda empire. Welcome to the club mates.

Porter and Hutton are calling for government intervention with a “plurality review” to curb the influence and growing tentacles of Murdoch’s media empire in Britain, before it’s too late and he controls every bit of information that the Brits read in newspapers, on the Internet and watch on their televisions.

Some of the gems from the piece:

The writers colorfully describe Murdoch’s Mafia-like appearance during a recent appearance on Fox News in the United States:

“Seen against the background of Sun Valley, Idaho, and in short sleeves and sunglasses, Murdoch appeared more like a gangster fighting extradition proceedings than the attendee of a media conference. For some reason, the vicious agility of the elderly Hyman Roth in The Godfather, Part II came to mind. Naturally, the Fox News anchor didn’t challenge the man he called Mr Chairman and the matter of the mass hacking of phones belonging to MPs, public figures and celebrities was dropped as Murdoch moved to praise his own organisation for its robust criticism of the Obama administration, delivering one swift jab at a competitor, the Financial Times, in the process.”

The piece goes on to portray Murdoch’s malignant influence on political life, having a direct impact on the outcome of elections in the country and undue influence within 10 Downing Street, as a non-British citizen operating a foreign corporation:

“Murdoch has become one of the political issues of our time, as menacing in his own special way to democracy and conduct of politics as many other threats our society faces, only we do not see it, because his power is used behind the scenes to extend his commercial influence and so his grip on the flow of so much of the information in Britain.”

Murdoch “has been responsible for a distortion of politics in the last four decades,” adding that his empire helped march the U.S. and Britain into war with Iraq, writes Hutton and Porter

And there is the tabloid sleaziness alongside the right-wing propaganda:

“But look at Britain before Murdoch bought the News of the World and you see a nation that was a good deal less derisive. Murdoch has undoubtedly contributed to the coarsening of British society and also to an erosion of values, which now sees a society where the outrageous practices of his – and other – tabloid journalists are expected, if not quite accepted.”

Porter and Hutton are afraid that Murdoch will soon get away with producing in Britain, an entire TV network, devoted to right-wing propaganda, just like Fox News.

“In the US, Fox News, owned by NI, is unconstrained by impartiality obligations and has unashamedly exploited a pro-Republican editorial stance. NI would love to repeat the formula in Britain. Nothing except the BBC, potential objections from OfCom and audience expectations of balance stands in its way.”

The entire piece is worth a read.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/worldeconomicforum-Flickr


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