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JULY 10, 2011 2:49PM

What Rupert Murdoch Teaches Us

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murdoch Rupert Murdoch’s current problems in the UK and - through a chain of chess piece executives who work for him on both sides of the Atlantic - the United States, point out just how tenuous and ephemeral our notions of a vigorous and healthy free press have become for both Americans and our British cousins.

It isn’t that the misdeeds of News Corporation companies, hacking into the private communications of subjects it considers newsworthy – like the royals, murder victims, politicians, sports celebrities, and the like – are not something that is not of major concern to us. They are, as they surely should be.

The scope and pervasiveness of Murdoch & Co.’s  tactics in trying to generate “news” and their illegal efforts to cover them up by bribery and deception will be uncovered in days and weeks ahead, for they have rattled the cages of some very important people on both sides of the pond. And when you push those kinds of buttons, even if you’re Murdoch, you can expect a significant amount of pushback. The degree to which Murdoch’s willingness to act in flagrant disregard for ethical behavior, from his telephone hacking to his manufacturing of “facts” reflect his apparent assumption that there is nothing on earth which can rein him in. This should be an alarm to the citizens and politicians of both nations.

There is a larger point though, a “teachable moment, as they say, and it is this: Lax oversight on the part of regulatory agencies in both America and the UK, designed to prevent monopolies of information dispersal have severely restricted  a free exchange of information and opinion in the mass media.  

News Corporation's  overstepping of the law currently being investigated was not done by a small-town media outlet. They were done by a multinational, multi-media company which has evolved from a small Australian daily newspaper to the 4th largest communications titan on the planet. News Corporation has its fingers in every form of information outlet, including book publishing, magazines, cable and satellite TV, newspapers, movies, sports, and broadcast. It owns local television stations and newspapers and dominates the entire media activities in some very important markets and segments. It’s most recent acquisition, Dow Jones & Co. and its flagship Wall St. Journal, makes News Corporation the major player in business information. His far right-wing Fox News Channel is the most viewed cable news (if it can be called such!) channel in the country. His local television broadcast stations alone reach 40% of the American population.

If the giant News Corporation pyramid was inverted, the flow of financial and political juice would flow to just one man, Rupert Murdoch, who has claimed for years that he is interested in being nothing more than a businessman but whose actions belie that claim. Over and over again, he has shown that he intends to become the ultimate kingmaker in the affairs of the English speaking world and beyond. His top employees are some of the most nefarious and politically savvy people found anywhere and it is their job to shape governments in Murdoch’s personal image.

Perhaps now, finally, the time has come for breaking up this enormous trust, just as we did to Standard Oil a hundred years ago. Democracies can only thrive on ideas freely and broadly expressed. When companies such as News Corporation can command the eyes and ears of a section of the electorate large enough  to unduly influence the outcome of elections, as it did in the case of David Cameron in the UK and George W. Bush here in the States, the underpinnings of self-government are strained to the breaking point. 

We have not seen such an accumulation of media since the days of the Hearst empire a hundred years ago. Indeed, the growth and complexity of how information gets gathered and disbursed, along with recent Supreme Court pronouncements giving citizenship to corporations, makes News Corporation orders of magnitude more dangerous than Mr. Hearst ever was. Murdoch not only creates news, he controls how it's doled out.

Politicians unwilling to take a hard look at how news is disseminated in this country will ultimately lose their own ability to act on behalf their constituents’ interests regardless of whether they are liberals or conservatives, for Murdoch can mobilize his enormous assets to take down just about anyone who doesn’t do his bidding. We have reached a near-critical mass, in which one man’s power may be  greater than the American government’s ability to function in anyway resembling a democracy.

 

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Then I take it you also demand the breakup of Time Warner Turner AOL Simon and Schuster? What News Corp does is emblematic of the entire industry, with conglomerates owning every form of media. Conservative news is in the minority by a large percent, which is why it is so profitable. It has no competition from the mainstream media. If they do not have a progressive bias, they are not attracting the half of the country, that doesnt believe in gay marriage or banning trans fat food. Fox News is no more biased than the New York Times, and no more influential. It just isn't as well written agenda driven slander as the Times.
Rupert's empire will look more and more like a split golf ball. The Brits will probably deny BSkyb, and the US Department of Justice is opening an investigation. Listened to someone on the radio who compared Rupert's empire to Basher Assad or Hosni Mubarak. And that does not sound like a happy future for the old man. He'll probably start feeding the lady editor of NOTW to the wolves, to buy time, but I predict cannibalism within the Murdoch family really soon.
@ Norville Bedenrocker...

To say that Fox is no more biased that the NYT is, well, to be charitable, a stretch.

The Telecom Act of 1996 effectively removed regulators from oversight of the Telecom industry. It virtually allowed the industry to consolidate into giant companies with their mitts in every medium.

• Lifted the limit on how many radio stations one company could own. The cap had been set at 40 stations. It made possible the creation of radio giants like Clear Channel, with more than 1,200 stations, and led to a substantial drop in the number of minority station owners, homogenization
of play lists, and less local news.

• Lifted from 12 the number of local TV stations any one corporation could own, and expanded the limit
on audience reach. One company had been allowed to own stations that reached up to a quarter of U.S. TV households. The Act raised that national cap to 35 percent. These changes spurred huge media mergers and greatly increased media concentration. Together, just five companies – Viacom, the parent of CBS, Disney, owner of ABC, News Corp, NBC and AOL, owner of Time Warner, now
control 75 percent of all prime-time viewing.

• The Act deregulated cable rates. Between 1996 and 2003, those rates have skyrocketed, increasing by nearly 50 percent.

• The Act permitted the FCC to ease cable-broadcast cross-ownership rules. As cable systems increased the number of channels, the broadcast networks aggressively expanded their ownership of cable networks with the largest audiences. Ninety percent of the top 50 cable stations are owned by the same parent companies that own the broadcast networks, challenging the notion that cable is any real source of competition.

• The Act gave broadcasters, for free, valuable digital TV licenses that could have brought in up to $70 billion to the federal treasury if they had been auctioned off. Broadcasters, who claimed they deserved these free licenses because they serve the public, have largely ignored their public interest obligations, failing to provide substantive local news and public affairs reporting and coverage of
congressional, local and state elections.

• The Act reduced broadcasters’ accountability to the public by extending the term of a broadcast license from five to eight years, and made it more difficult for citizens to challenge those license renewals.

“Those who advocated the Telecommunications Act of 1996 promised more competition and diversity, but the opposite happened,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “Citizens, excluded from the process when the Act was negotiated in Congress, must have a seat at the table as Congress proposes to revisit this law.”

(The above lifted from Common Cause)

So yes, I am for paring down the size of telecom companies in general.

Finally, what Murdoch has done has been illegal. When the 3rd largest media company in the United States engages in unlawful (and disgusting) behavior it's time to pull its plug.
This should come as no surprise to most of us since the most powerful people have been appeasing Murdoch for a long time especially with the Telecom Act of 1996 you mention which was designed to give corporations the right to become propaganda machines that have the right to drown out the voices of the majority including many sincere people.

Also, I'm no fan of the NYT anymore but they still can't come close to being as corrupt as Murdoch, who is a power mongering potential tyrant; although he is to old to do much more damage if he passes his power on to his son and remains unchecked then it could get worse. If this turns into a snowball effect it will be long overdue.
What will the politicians do now? They can't use the "too big to fail" argument like they did with the banks.
Rosebud.
He basically proves you can never underestimate the tastes and intelligence of the average consumer--on both sides of the Atlantic.

Witness "Noirville" whatever his name is. The miserable fool can't tell the difference between the "News Corp" and the NYTIMES. Murdock is the guy who figured out how to capitalize on stupidity using the media in our lifetimes more than anybody else.
Congrats on your EP. too bad the 'editor' mangled the lede.

The news has always been this way, from Revolutionary War anonymous sheets to Hearst to Max Beaverbrook to the Knights and Ridders and Cox in Ohio, and Col. McCormick and his Tribune in Chicago, circa WWII. In the U.S. "two newspaper towns' meant an ongoing knife fight between the newspapers, not balanced reporting. Ben Sen, as usual, wrong, says Murdock figured out how to capitalize on stupidity. Nah, they ALL figured it out, decades ago. I'll give Murdock credit for something he did early in his career: when he was a junior editor at the London times his boss wrote venal and false pieces about a very old Winston Churchill. Murdock undercut the guy. Good for him. If you don't like his papers, don't read 'em. Or, read them and refute any assertions that you can, keep 'em honest. Do some homework Senny.
'Murdoch', was in a hurry.
Murdoch foisted a much worse Tory on the British people than David Cameron. He was a big supporter of Margaret Thatcher. One of his many crimes.
it sounds scary and it is to some degree, but in other ways, Murdochs empire is quite fragile and we may see it self-destruct on its own, shortly. he cant make as much money off his properties in the internet age, and there is a slow, massive, but unmistakable shift from an older style of media organization to entirely new ones. the new ones do not seem to scale well into empires as far as anyone can tell. the internet seems to intrinsically push the size of the media conglomerates down, it appears to me.
as for breaking up a monopoly, Im all for it, how about starting with the BANKING CARTEL first? its far more massive and dangerous in my opinion..... its proven itself to be highly lethal with the last financial crash.....
but, our govt does not have the willpower to break up ANYTHING any more. it can only stand in the way of mergers and make threatening noises. but then look what it did with the banking cartel!! the government itself ARRANGED the mergers. so the public is pretty dumb and not able to perceive the new shape of things.... drowned out in the noise.....
ps Ive been ranting against the MSM as fundamentally conspirational in various ways, and its nice to finally see some )( small vindication. I predict this is just the beginning of public disenchantment and raised awareness on the sludge that is known as the MSM.....
people are talking about the NYT-- lets not forget it functioned just as much a degenerate propaganda rag in the march/stampede/melee/lynching of the iraq war. so yeah, NB, I dont really have a lot of respect for the NYT over faux-news. hell, the whole MSM is corrupt and deserves to die the slow, ugly, emaciating death that is in the early stages. I will dance on its rotting corpse.
how can I say, the entire MSM is corrupt?
easy, because it does not challenge critical issues that are of key importance to the public. it does not challenge or inform the public, it pacifies the public with pablum. topics of critical importance to daily life that you will *never* see articles in the MSM on
- federal reserve
- 911 truth
- wealth disparity
- corporatocracy
- US warmachine
etcetera, its a long list of course....
if anyone wants a glimpse of what the new media might look like, its still taking shape & indistinct, but try some of the following
- huffington post
- nick denton blogs
- roku internet tv channels.
- netflix
- alternet
- alex jones infowars.com
etc!
to understand why the govt is so incapacitated and has no teeth against modern, massive cartels.... look up "regulatory capture" and compare it to a parasite altering the hosts' neurology & thereby behavior.... to create its own hospitable environment and propagate itself....
Huffington Post? Netflix? "New Media"? Gezzus H Keerist.
Let's add Cracker Jacks de-coder rings and California fortune tellers to that 'New Media' list.
guys, in italy we are ok....berlusconi our prime minister owns three national tv networks, controls two of three public ones, owns a host of newspapers, the largest publishing company...definitely one up on murdoch:))
I don't think you quite get it...the Right Wing Wealthy Ruling Class does, and always has, run the world for its own enrichment. As Tom Paine said (paraphrased), "for a thousand years, the boot of the rich has been on the necks of everyone else", and he was ultimately absolutely wrong to hope that the slavery-ridden colonies' fight for independence was going to change that! (After all, who founded this nation? The poor? No, the rich, and for their own enrichment. As many historians now say, the British Empire was preparing to abolish slavery in all its empire, and slavers such as Washington, Hancock, Jefferson and the rest, weren't about to lose their valuable property!)

As for Murdoch, who is one of the rich as are governors, judges, corporate CEOs and boards, legislators, Congress, Wall Street, the slimey likes of the Koch Brothers, and the rest of the soulless evil ones, I think Gandhi was correct when he said, "In the end, the deceivers deceive only themselves."
I don't think you quite get it...the Right Wing Wealthy Ruling Class does, and always has, run the world for its own enrichment. As Tom Paine said (paraphrased), "for a thousand years, the boot of the rich has been on the necks of everyone else", and he was ultimately absolutely wrong to hope that the slavery-ridden colonies' fight for independence was going to change that! (After all, who founded this nation? The poor? No, the rich, and for their own enrichment. As many historians now say, the British Empire was preparing to abolish slavery in all its empire, and slavers such as Washington, Hancock, Jefferson and the rest, weren't about to lose their valuable property!)

As for Murdoch, who is one of the rich as are governors, judges, corporate CEOs and boards, legislators, Congress, Wall Street, the slimey likes of the Koch Brothers, and the rest of the soulless evil ones, I think Gandhi was correct when he said, "In the end, the deceivers deceive only themselves."
P.S. The corporate media's soulless mouthpieces and whores are also part of the wealthy class. Think about it. Everyone in our lives with any political, media, banking, governing position IS RICH!!! Elections are a fraud, too. But please remember: so few of them, so many of us!!!!
yeah, you heard me right, thats what I said, BS
dont feel threatened there dude!!!
fine! go back to reading your daily M-Sludge-M
bad scot: damn you're a fisty little cur. u don't see agreement because you want to beat your own chest so bad. get over yourself kid and you might have something to contribute.
It was only a matter of time before he destroyed himself. I hope the dominoes fall all the way to his penthouse in NYC. Today, I read a quote of his that all of this negative attention (as he considers it - really, is it only attention?) is becoming "annoying" for him. He thinks it will go away, or that he will make it go away - the latter the more frightening.