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Murdoch’s News Corp Will Not Gain Controlling Interest of British Sky Broadcasting Group By Robin Barnes

The satellite broadcasting company headquartered in London, known as BSkyB, narrowly escaped Murdoch’s grasp.   After years of calling for meaningful analysis of the legal grounds used to support the widespread abuse of media power, it’s refreshing to note that News Corp’s phone-hacking scandal has been appropriately addressed on one side of the Atlantic.  It was a tough haul.  News Corp. owns several influential newspapers, including the Sun in London, and the Wall Street Journal. The British Business Secretary Vince Cable was responsible for media ownership rules until he was recorded saying he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch in December 2010.  Following the undercover recording of that statement by the Daily Telegraph, Cable was stripped of his responsibility for overseeing Murdoch’s bid to take full control of BSkyB.  

So, there will be no further expansion of the Murdoch media empire.  News of World is under investigation.  The British Government launched a judicial inquiry into “press standards, regulation and ownership, and allegations of illegal phone hacking and police corruption.”

Last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron offered tacit approval of the privacy invasions by declaring that now was the time to draw the line: “If celebrities or politicians have their phones intercepted, that’s one thing, but the idea that they were doing this while a little girl was missing and a police inquiry was going on makes it a really gross intrusion.”  THEY ARE ALL GROSS INTRUSIONS.  Cameron’s attempts to stand by his political ally have earned him the lowest ratings of his career.  He hired former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his chief communications deputy, and made it clear that as long as Murdoch and company’s targets were celebrities and political opponents he wasn’t concerned by these outrageous invasions.  In the wake of multiple high level resignations, continuing arrests and criminal investigations, Cameron has been backtracking ever since.  

When faced with the prospect of an investigation into Murdoch’s alleged criminal activity in the U.S., the American public was treated to the round-the-clock media circus known as the debt ceiling fiasco.  It seemed like a quid pro quo.  When U.S. politicians are in trouble, the tabloids target a celebrity and tear their lives apart with non-stop coverage that diverts public attention away from the real issues.  When a key right wing ally is in trouble (Murdoch appears to be a staunch ally–see Russ Baker’s analysis below) all news reports about privacy invasions in the United States gave way to the debt ceiling debate.  Interesting?

The charges against Murdoch are legion, and they go to the heart of the question of abuse of media power.  A “Free Press” for purposes of investigative reporting is necessary.  For-profit, multi-national media entities like Murdoch’s pose  THE single greatest threat to democracy.   Russ Baker, editor of WhoWhatWhy.com, explains the damage done by the Murdoch empire.  Relevant edited excerpts reprinted with permission.

12 Ways Rupert Murdoch’s Media Empire Has Made the World Worse

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. Here are twelve “take-away” points that are being obscured:  

He has transformed world politics: 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.

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.

His outlets led the drumbeat for restriction or elimination of Fourth Amendment Rights, supporting unrestrained wiretapping, the  harsh treatment of suspects, and ustifying the build-up of the national surveillance state.

The news outlets under his control and their tawdry methods have eroded  public confidence in media in general, convincing the public that other, more conscientious news organizations are ideologically suspect and biased.

He has propagandized the rule of law with relentless support of police and military—while routinely assailing the patriotism of those who advocate for civil and privacy rights, or who question wars.

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

He has advanced subtle racism and stoked greed. 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.

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.

 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.

He 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 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.

This article may be read in its entirety at: http://whowhatwhy.com