The Fall of the House of Murdoch

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Jonathan Schell is a Fellow at The Nation Institute and is a visiting fellow at Yale University. He is the author of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger.

NEW YORK – During the four decades since the Watergate affair engulfed US President Richard Nixon, politicians have repeatedly ignored the scandal’s main lesson: the cover-up is worse than the crime. Like Nixon, they have paid a higher price for concealing their misdeeds than they would have for the misdeeds alone.

Now, for once, comes a scandal that breaks that rule: the United Kingdom’s phone-hacking affair, which has shaken British politics to its foundations. Over the past decade, the tabloid newspaper The News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, targeted 4,000 people’s voicemail. The list includes not only royalty, celebrities, and other VIPs, but also the families of servicemen killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and those of victims of the July 2005 terrorist attack in London.

It all unraveled when The Guardian reported that the tabloid had hacked into the voicemail of missing 13-year-old Milly Dowler, apparently in the hope of obtaining some private expressions of family members’ grief or desperation that it could splash on its front page. When the girl’s murdered body was found six months later, the family and the police thought she might still be alive, because The News of the World’s operatives were deleting messages when her phone’s mailbox became full. (According to Scotland Yard, Murdoch hacks reportedly bribed mid-level police officers to supply information as well.)

In the extensive annals of eavesdropping, all of this is something new. Not even Stalin wiretapped the dead.

A cover-up ensued. James Murdoch, Rupert’s son and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation’s European and Asian operations, authorized a secret payment of £1 million ($1.6 million) to buy the silence of hacking victims. Millions of in-house emails reportedly have been destroyed. Still, it seems safe to say that the peculiarly repellant inhumanity of the original deeds will remain more shocking than the details of this or any other cover-up.

Even so, the political consequences of the phone-hacking scandal will depend on far more than the outcome of the official investigations now underway in Britain. Above all, the scandal’s impact will depend on how governments and citizens assess what News Corporation really is.

The Murdochs call News Corporation a journalistic enterprise. In fact, it is, first, an entertainment company, with the bulk of its revenue coming from its film and television holdings. Second, and more importantly, it is a propaganda machine for right-wing causes and political figures.

This is News Corporation’s main face in the US, in the form of Fox News, whose hallmark has been relentless propagation of right-wing ideology. Whereas political propaganda had once been the domain of governments and political parties, Fox News is formally independent of both – though it overwhelmingly serves the interests of America’s Republican Party.

In Britain, News Corporation has been creating a sort of state unto itself by corrupting the police, assuming police powers of surveillance, and intimidating politicians into looking the other way. In the US, it has behaved similarly, using corporate media power to breathe life into a stand-alone political organization, the Tea Party.

All of this is far removed from what a journalistic organization is supposed to do. Journalism’s essential role in a democracy is to enable people to fulfill their roles as citizens by providing information about government, other powerful institutions, civil movements, international events, and so on. But News Corporation replaces such journalism with titillation and gossip, as it did when it took over the 168-year-old News of the World and turned it into a tabloid in 1984, and with partisan campaigns, as it did when it created Fox News in 1996.

Not surprisingly, at Fox News, as at many other News Corporation outlets, editorial independence is sacrificed to iron-fisted centralized control. News and commentary are mingled in an uninterrupted stream of political campaigning. Ideology trumps factuality. And major Republican figures, including possible contenders for the party’s presidential nomination, are hired as “commentators.” Indeed, its specific genius has been to turn propaganda into a popular and financial success.

Given The News of the World’s profitability, no one should be surprised if the Murdochs have been replicating their sunken British flagship’s reprehensible behavior elsewhere. But, whatever else is revealed, the UK phone-hacking scandal is of a piece with the Murdochs’ transformation of news into propaganda: both reflect an assault on democracy’s essential walls of separation between media, the state, and political parties. The Murdochs are fusing these entities into a single unaccountable power that, as we see in Britain today, lacks any restraint or scruple.

That effort should compel us to confront an uncomfortable reality underlying both the British phone-hacking scandal, with its penumbra of appalling cruelty and wanton corruption, and Fox News, America’s most popular news channel: too many people want what the News Corporation has been offering. And what too many people want can be dangerous to a civilized, law-based society.

To glimpse just how dangerous, consider Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s MediaSet conglomerate has seduced broad swathes of the electorate since the 1980’s with a Murdoch-like combination of insipid variety shows and partisan political theater. When Italy’s postwar party system collapsed in the early 1990’s, Berlusconi was able to establish his own political party, win power, and, over the course of three governments, bend laws and government institutions to serve his business and personal interests.

The News Corporation seems determined to take Britain and the US down a similar path. But now, at least in Britain, the political class is in revolt. Prime Minister David Cameron – who previously cultivated close ties with News Corporation leaders, even employing as his press secretary The News of the World’s former editor, who was recently arrested for his role in the scandal – called the phone hacking “disgusting.” Meanwhile, Labour leaders, who had also sought the Murdochs’ favor, have vowed to block News Corporation’s bid for full ownership of Britain’s largest pay-television broadcaster. Whether the rebellion will jump across the Atlantic remains to be seen.

Jonathan Schell


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4 Responses to The Fall of the House of Murdoch

  1. Varagić Nikola каже:

    British police arrested Rebecca Brooks in Phone-hacking Scandal

    According to latest BBC News reports British police arrested the Rebecca Brooks, the former head of the mogul Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper in the case of a phone-hacking scandal.

    According to sources Brooks, was interviewed as part of an investigation into alleged corruption illegal interception of voicemail and police in the tabloid News of the World has already published.

    Brooks left the head of News International, the British unit of News Corp. Murdoch, on Friday, but denied that she knew about the alleged hacking of thousands of phones, including a schoolgirl murdered.

    The revelations have shocked the public and given rise are not only unethical practices of the media, but the influence that Murdoch has used its British successive leaders, and allegations of warm ties between some of its journalists and the police.

    With politicians from Australia to U.S. demands to know if similar abuses have taken place elsewhere in the media world Murdoch, he has 80 years, was forced on the defensive and the location of his son James as heir apparent has been called into doubt.

    In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron, has been criticized for his friendship with Brooks and use another old news World editor Andy Coulson as his press secretary, even after Coulson had left the paper in 2007 after the imprisonment of a reporter by phone-hacking.

    “The waters are certainly rolling around the ankles Murdoch own,” Chris Bryant, a member of Parliament for the Labor Party in Britain the opposition has campaigned for years against the bad practices of the press, told Reuters.

    Tim Bale, political professor at the University of Sussex, told Reuters: “I think it was pretty uncomfortable for Cameron already, and now he will get more uncomfortable during the next week.

    “It brings everything around him. If we are to believe all the talk about a set of Chipping Norton, which reinforces the impression of comfortable elite at the top of the media / political complex,” he added, referring in a rural town of Cameron riding high when Brooks also has a home.

    Creeks and Rupert Murdoch and James are due to be questioned in parliament of Great Britain Tuesday, including over reports that News International has misled Parliament during previous hearings.

    But the spokesman for Brooks said his arrest could create doubt about whether she could meet with politicians.

    “I think there will be clear from the discussions between his lawyers and the select committee, where it still makes sense for her to show” David Wilson told Reuters, adding that she was “shocked” by the arrest.

    “Everything that was said at the hearing of the Special Committee could have implications for police investigation.”

    Adrian Sanders, a liberal politician who sits on the parliamentary committee on media, interviewed at the time of his arrest and said he hoped it would not scuttle the hearing.

    “If this is designed to take the spotlight off the police, at the same time as a way to protect Rebecca Brooks, who is a very serious matter,” he told BBC News.

    The flame-haired Brooks moved by the widespread indignation phone-hacking scandal, but was originally protected by Murdoch, who has guided his ascent through the male-dominated world of journalism to become the British tabloid News of the World editor in 2000, and first woman editor Sun in 2003.

    Fly to London a week ago to take over the crisis, Murdoch appeared before reporters with his arm around her. Asked what his first priority, he called and said, “This.”

    Known for its expertise in networking, Brooks quickly rose through the ranks of tabloid journalists that combine a robust look that could intimidate hardened “hacks” with the ability of publisher’s mostly male charm.

    But his initial refusal to quit, and a trembling voice, she gave birth when she closed the New World and ended the careers of dozens of colleagues, has led some reporters to say she was out of contact.

    The New World, which published its final version a week ago, accused of having hacked up to 4,000 phones, including the murder of Milly Dowler 13 years, sparking outcry that forced Murdoch to close the paper and place 12000000000 sum plans to buy all the BSkyB television very profitable.

    Murdoch, who says some media commentators initially misjudged the strength of public outrage, issued an apology in several British newspapers this weekend.

    He lost another officer faithful on Friday, when Les Hinton, another former head of its British business newspaper, has resigned as CEO of Murdoch Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal.

    “There is no excuse, and had no place to hide … We will continue to cooperate fully and actively in the Metropolitan Police Service,” News International said Sunday prior notice.

    The UK’s leading politicians renewed calls for greater media pluralism and the regulation of the press – a direct threat to Murdoch empire, which includes The Sun, The Times and Sunday broadsheets Times, and 39 percent of BSkyB .

    The Sunday Telegraph reported that the board of directors of BSkyB, James Murdoch is chairman, is due to address a special session July 28 to discuss his future.

    If James were to be felled by scandal, the British media have speculated that his sister Elizabeth to ensure the ultimate succession of their father.

    The scandal also involved the British police who are accused of being too close to News Corp., to accept cash from the defunct World News and other newspapers, and for not doing enough to investigate allegations of phone-hacking emerged as far as from the 2005th.

    In 2003, Brooks acknowledged that the News of the World had accused police in the past, but I cannot remember any specific example.

  2. Varagić Nikola каже:

  3. […] The Fall of the House of Murdoch […]

  4. Varagić Nikola каже:

    Al Gore: U.S. needs an ‘American spring’


    Eric W. Dolan
    Raw Story
    Aug 3, 2011

    In an interview with Countdown host Keith Olbermann on Tuesday, former vice president and Current TV founder Al Gore said the United States needed an “American spring” like the Arab spring in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

    “We need to have an American spring,” he said. “Non-violent change, where people from the grassroots get involved again. Not in the tea party style. There are people who are genuinely upset in the tea party, I understand that, but that movement was funded with seed money from right-win billionaires, the Koch brothers, and promoted on Fox News and turned into a stalking horse for this right-wing agenda that a lot of people have been trying to push on this country for a long time.”

    “This country is in trouble,” Gore added. “Our democracy has been withering on the vine. This has been going on for some time.”

    Monday on Countdown, Gore called the U.S. system of government “broken” and “in real trouble.”

    Watch video, courtesy of Current TV, below:


    President Barack Obama is in Chicago Wednesday for a 50th birthday celebration.

    The event, at Uptown’s Aragon Ballroom, will include performances by Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson, Herbie Hancock and OK Go. About 1,000 tickets were made available to the general public.

    But the event is also a campaign fundraiser. A private dinner with the president will require deep pockets: those plates go for nearly $36,000.



    Despite the recent public lashing President Obama gave millionaires and billionaires, in private, Team Obama is once again diving into the pockets of the super rich to fund its campaign.

    With the 2012 campaign barely under way, Obama has already raised some $35 million from the biggest donors — so-called ‘bundlers’ who collect money by the truckload from the wealthy elite.

    „A bundler is someone who collects checks from other people,“ said Susan Estrich, a former Democratic campaign manager. „They may be people who work for him, who hired him as a consultant or in many cases, want to do business with them.“

    Some of the high-profile bundlers Obama signed up this year include former New Jersey Governor and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Dreamworks’ studio head Jeffery Katzenberg, and David Cohen of Comcast, the new owner of NBC-Universal.

    Wall Street, including the hedge fund managers blasted by Obama, gave the president’s 2012 campaign $7 million, followed by lawyers at $6 million and businesses at $4 million.

    Read more:


    Billionare and progressive activist George Soros has now moved from simply the ownership of privately owned alternative media, into the realm of control and influence of the mainstream media through his massive empire and wealth.

    Recently, Soros made a large contribution to National Public Radio, which is a government controlled enterprise, and funded in part with taxpayer money. However, his $1.8 Million dollar donation to NPR is just a small portion of the total amount of money he has injected towards the influence over at least 30 recognized news sources.

    On May 11th, Fox News reported on the numerous conflicts of interest that reporters and mainstream media organizations have entered into by taking funds from Soros entities, and by sitting on corporate boards in his empire.

    Soros, who spent $27 million trying to defeat President Bush in 2004, has ties to more than 30 mainstream news outlets – including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC and ABC.

    Prominent journalists like ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and former Washington Post editor and now Vice President Len Downie serve on boards of operations that take Soros cash. This despite the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethical code stating: “avoid all conflicts real or perceived.”

    This information is part of an upcoming report by the Media Research Centers Business & Media Institute which has been looking into George Soros and his influence on the media. – Fox News

    Besides the influence that George Soros has over the media, many corporate heads of news organizations are intricately tied to the federal government they are supposed to be reporting on. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who controls NBC, CNBC, and many other news stations, was an economic advisor on President Obama’s council.

    Soros has also been very influential in both the election and direction of the Obama administration. Besides the obvious conflict of interest this entails by controlling mainstream media interests, the potential for news to be jaded more towards propoganda rather than truth is a very viable observation.

    The media is changing, and Americans are slowly waking up to the fact that the old standard of journalism is no longer the respected 4th estate it once was. A gallup poll in 2010 showed only 25% of the population trusts the media for accuracy and honesty, and overall confidence in the institution.

    Continue reading on George Soros uses empire to purchase and influence mainstream media – National Finance Examiner |


    The Koch family of industrialists and businessmen is most notable for their control of Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in the United States. The family business was started by Fred C. Koch, who developed a new method for refining heavy oil into gasoline. David and Charles have funded conservative and libertarian policy and advocacy groups in the United States. Since the 1980s the Koch foundations have given more than $100 million to such organizations, among these think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, as well as more recently Americans for Prosperity.


    Keith Rupert Murdoch, (born 11 March 1931) is an Australian-American global media baron and the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the world’s second-largest media conglomerate. Murdoch has been listed three times in the Time 100 as among the most influential people in the world. He is ranked 13th most powerful person in the world in the 2010 Forbes’ The World’s Most Powerful People list. With a personal net worth of US$7.6 billion, he was ranked 117th wealthiest person in the world in March 2011.


    Gun Owners of America chief Larry Pratt warns that the new “Super Congress” created by the debt deal will lead America into dictatorship, labeling the move a “coup d’état” by the political class aimed at transforming the entire structure of government in the United States.

    Comparing the super committee to Plato’s council, Pratt pointed out that it would take just 34 Senate votes to sustain a bill put forward by the group, noting that it has been set up specifically to prevent lawmakers getting in the way of its agenda by necessitating a super majority to overturn anything introduced by the committee.
    In order to shore up GOP support for a deal to raise the debt ceiling, Senate Democrats are exploring ways of giving the proposed „super Congress“ even greater super powers, according to multiple news reports and congressional aides with knowledge of the plan.

    Under the new proposal, if the new legislative body, made up of six Democrats and six Republicans from both chambers, doesn’t come up with a bill that cuts at least $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving, entitlement programs will automatically be slashed.

    Under the reported framework, legislation the new congressional committee writes would be fast-tracked through Congress and could not be filibustered or amended.


    Soros Project Tries to Discredit Fox by Linking It to Alex Jones

    August 2, 2011

    Media Matters, a George Soros funded establishment disinfo project, claims Fox News is “moving increasingly toward pushing the conspiratorial views” of Alex Jones. Media Matters made the claim after Fox News picked up an story covering a Department of Homeland propaganda video portraying domestic terrorists as white people. Fox rarely attributes Jones and his websites when it harvests news from them.

    Last month, Fox’s Eric Bolling picked up the story. “We at The Five this morning, we’re looking over some stuff, and this thing came, it hit us right smack in the face.” Echoing the Infowars item, Bolling went on to say that the video shows “white male average Americans end up being the terrorists, and the people calling the terror in happen to be — all of them happen to be black, Asian or Arab,” he said.

    Media Matters claims Glenn Beck has channeled Alex Jones by having G. Edward Griffin on his show. According to Media Matters, Griffin is a conspiracy theorist because he talks about and criticizes the Federal Reserve. Media Matters says Jones is linked to the establishment media operation Fox because he praised Beck and Fox for telling the truth about the Federal Reserve, something the rest of the corporate media strenuously avoids.

    Fox and Beck have since parted ways.

    Soros, the New Democrats, and their associated “progressive” comrades have made a cottage industry out of attacking Fox News. They aim to destroy the “right-wing” establishment network by linking it to Alex Jones.

    The effort is backfiring. Conflating Beck and Fox with Alex Jones and Griffin drives more people to the websites of Jones and Griffin where they read the truth about the Federal Reserve and the bankers and their plan to decimate the economy and create a global authoritarian government and usher in a neo-feudal system. and have not invented this plot. Aspects are routinely covered by the corporate media – including Fox News – as positive. It only becomes an evil conspiracy theory when Jones and others in the truth movement report it and make obvious conclusions.


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