Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Monday, June 25, 2007

NYT profiles Fox Noise owner Murdoch

The New York Times has a long profile of Rupert Murdoch, certainly one of the most destructive media barons ever to inflict his damage on western democracies. If there's one media figure who bears the most responsibility for the debacle in Iraq, there's no question that it's Murdoch, who will surely go down in history beside the war-mongering yellow press of 1898.

The article is long and covers a lot of ground; everything from media ownership rules to his efforts to purchase The Wall Street Journal merit attention. Here's a sample bit from the second page of the web version:
Mr. Murdoch has an army of outside lobbyists, who have reported being paid more than $11 million since 1998 to address issues as diverse as trade relations, programming decency and Internet regulation.

One firm focuses almost exclusively on parts of the tax code that affect the News Corporation. By taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows expanding companies like Mr. Murdoch’s to defer taxes to future years, the News Corporation paid no federal taxes in two of the last four years, and in the other two it paid only a fraction of what it otherwise would have owed. During that time, Securities and Exchange Commission records show, the News Corporation’s domestic pretax profits topped $9.4 billion.

The News Corporation’s outside lobbying team has been a veritable political Noah’s ark. It has included Republicans like Ed Gillespie, former Republican Party chairman; former Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato of New York; and the firm headed by former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York. But it has also included former Democratic members of Congress, as well as several high-ranking Clinton administration officials, including Jack Quinn, former White House counsel.

Mr. Murdoch’s association with the Clintons is perhaps the best example of his ever-morphing relationships with the powerful, and theirs with him. For years, the former president was a favorite target of The New York Post, which seemed to delight in referring to him as “former horndog-in-chief.”
There's not a lot about the Clintons and their relationship with Murdoch in the article, but it's worth noting that progressives are likely to be watching closely to see what happens going forward. Murdoch is renowned for caring most about money, meaning that he will adapt his publications and influence grubbing to suit the political climate, but Hillary Clinton better be careful, in my view.

In an age of outrages, no greater outrage in the media climate exists than Fox Noise.

Fox Noise is information-age heroin, highly destructive to the body and spirit of democracy. The propaganda, the name-calling, the outright lies and the continued denigration of vast swaths of humanity are simply not things that can be forgiven or overlooked. It functions as a self-validation machine for grass roots conservatives who otherwise might actually come to their senses once in a while. (Most readers probably have an uncle or friend who insists on parroting Fox propaganda, and it makes meaningful political discourse impossible.)

Murdoch owns Fox Noise, so he owns the hate and the lies. Which is why Hillary Clinton better be careful, because everyone will understand the need to neutralize Murdoch as a player, to the extent one can neutralize someone that uber-wealthy, but any further sense of partnership with Murdoch will likely be met with outrage.

Flag waving conservatives get all indignant about someone from Mexico cutting their fruit for them, but probably don't realize that someone originally from Australia is spoon-feeding them propaganda simply to keep his media empire intact. (Murdoch became an American citizen simply to expand his media empire in this country, according to the article.) Murdoch may be conservative, but he's also utterly amoral. It seems clear from his behavior in England, where he switched support from Tory to Labor during the early years of Tony Blair, that he can't be trusted by anyone. It would now be a huge mistake for any Democrats to do his bidding.

If we want to get up in arms about immigrants, the corrosive and illegitimate influence of Murdoch would be a good place to start. Murdoch adds nothing of value to our democracy. He is the epitome of a robber-baron, taking what he wishes and enjoying the benefits of liberty and democracy and offering nothing of value in return. His main contribution to American politics has been to enhance already existing divisions for his own ends.

Murdoch enjoys the protection of the First Amendment, which we all defend. But ever since the very early days of radio gave way to New Deal era regulation, it's been painfully obvious that concentrated media ownership is a bad thing. No one man or corporation should have that much power. So the bargain was that in return for use of the public airwaves, there would be some limits on how much control any one entity could achieve. Murdoch and his conservative lap dogs have continually chipped away at that basic principle.

When we take back our country, it will be time to restore and strengthen media ownership limits, and to do that we are going to need a Murdoch-proof majority. Easier said than done, but like everything else that has happened in the last six years or so, we don't really have much choice but to try our best.

<< Home