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Rupert Murdoch, Defender of the Free Press?

Rupert Murdoch, Defender of the Free Press?

 

On Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to take the stand before the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics for a lengthy examination. The 81-year-old media baron has certainly not made himself any friends in the past year, which has seen the messy unfolding of the hacking scandal; the shuttering of the 168-year-old tabloid the News of the World and the arrests of many its staff including Murdoch’s reputed favorite, Rebekah Brooks, former CEO of New International (NI), the British newspaper arm of News Corporation; allegations of hacking at The Sun, The Times and BSkyB Media, the former two owned by NI, the latter majority-controlled by News Corp.; the loss of the chance to acquire a majority stake in BSkyB; the gradual removal of Murdoch’s younger son James, once considered his father’s heir apparent; numerous settlements with a number of celebrities, athletes and other public figures.

As of last week, even more complaints have been filed and a total of 24 people arrested as part of Operation Elverdeen, the London Metropolitan police’s investigation into corruption. Across the Atlantic, Colin Myler, the very last editor of the News of the World until Murdoch shut it down in July of 2011 and now the editor of the New York Daily News, is now again under the spotlight due to allegations that he sought to intimidate members of the U.K. Parliament who were investigating the phone hacking scandal.

Murdoch At the Leveson Inquiry

Writing in the Guardian, Michael Wolff says that, in the Wednesday “face-off” with the Leveson inquiry, he is rather hoping that Rupert Murdoch gets the better of his questioners — because, however despicable the practices that Murdoch’s media outlets engaged in and however great the scandal that has engulfed Murdoch and News Corp., if it weren’t for Murdoch, there would be no Leveson inquiry.  Writes Wolff,

Leveson seeks to regulate news at the exact moment when technology has made this all the more difficult (not to mention, silly). Murdoch seeks to defend his papers at the exact moment when their fate has become obvious to everyone – but, perhaps, him. (Murdoch, arguably, was the internet of his day: using a new understanding of the information business to grab vast new power for himself.)

Wolff predicts that Murdoch, on the advice of his lawyers, will present a subdued face to the inquiry, a persona properly aware of the ethical limits his papers should have adhered to and just close enough to contrite. But here’s what Wolff suggests it would be well for Murdoch to remind the inquiry of:

He should at least remind the committee that millions of the people it represents bought those papers, every day for a half century, which the committee now seeks to condemn. This, I’m sure, is a beat he won’t miss.

And I hope he says that it is his prerogative and even his job to try to influence, frighten, malign and control politicians. It is the job of the political leadership to resist people like him. In those roles, Rupert succeeded and the political leadership failed. They accepted his rewards, and trembled at the prospect of his punishments.

The conclusion of the inquiry may be simply that ”Britain is too small, powerless, inbred and thin-skinned to deal with an unregulated press” and that Murdoch’s press has become “in its way, more powerful than the state itself” to the point of being able to make the news as much as cover it.

So far the months of testimony in the Leveson inquiry have “revealed no practices that any sentient person has not known existed,” says Wolff. ” Yes, corruption, hacking and numerous illegalities have occurred and, yes, various parties connected to the media have carried them out upon various celebrities and other public figures (what is a celebrity or a public figure but someone who gets written up, talked about, blogged and Tweeted and posted about?).The face-off was inevitable  – is more regulation the answer, or will that only create more problems, more rules to break, more scandals to hold more inquiries about?

 

Related Care2 Coverage

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30 comments

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11:20PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

really

11:11AM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

Murdoch is an overpowerful man, that's true. But I doubt he ever dreamed he'd become as powerful as he has.

Power corrupts. Who knows, cut him back down to size and maybe he'll be a force for good again...

6:26PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Murdoch is a defender of Murdoch. He has no conscience.

5:39PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

oh please..

4:59PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

He lies, he reports nothing but lies, and he uses lies to defame people. This will be nothing but a show of how much he lies.

3:28PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Rupert M had to be nationalized in America in order to create the FOX network because we had rules the prevent a foreign national from having heavy influence on American media. There were objections given the issues he had already caused in the UK by then and there were hearings. Then one day all the drama went away and he was in, I don't know the details but I can imagine the money that might have changed hands. He has a long history of being a bad man and has continued on to other countries even after doing damage in his Australian homeland, the UK and the US. As a matter of fact you likely would not feel comfortable knowing just how long the reach of Newscorp is.

2:53PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Fortunately we do have rules and regulations, codes of conduct etc to stop the likes of Murdoch with his already massive empire of wealth and power dictating to the rest of us. Somehow I can’t see Milly Dowler’s family thinking favourably towards the likes of such a tyrant after what they had to endure! Murdoch has been trying to get 100% control of bskyb but thanks to the Leveson inquiry we at last are starting to see just to what extents this guy would go to gain that sort of control. Watching his son earlier today at the Leveson inquiry I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such total amnesia, what a joke! Thankfully we in the UK and NOT a bunch of inbreeds as is suggested and Mr. Murdoch is finding that out! I’m just pleased he’s lived long enough to experience some of the misery he’s inflicted to others, KARMA maybe.

2:35PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

The most disgusting fact about the hacking scandal isn't mentioned in this article: that of Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked after she had been murdered, and messages were deleted, leaving room on her answerphone for more messages to be recorded, giving her parents hope that she was still alive and had collected her own messages.

The Murdoch's defense is not denial, but 'I can't recall'. We are supposed to believe that they simply had no idea what was going on in their empire. Personally, I am reminded of another odious character, who perhaps stepped over the line and disappeared in suspicious circumstances - Robert 'Cap'n Bob' Maxwell. He was openly feared by his employees and MPs alike. He would probably have been much worse than the Murdochs had he survived.

The great pity about all this is that if they had stepped out of the gutter for a moment and done real investigatory journalism, they could have been hacking phones in the name of true public interest and bringing down corrupt politicians, exposing real injustice and breaking terrorist cells etc., but those opportunities have now been lost for a few salacious stories about footballers and celebrity gossip.

1:34PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Murdoch needs to lose his licenses wherever he is established and baned from ever owning a newspaper or any other news media organization again.

12:11PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

RM cares about one thing MONEY....actually 2 things Money and POWER!

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