February 26, 2014

Rupert Murdoch

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Rupert Murdoch (1931):
[Our] first responsibility [as journalists, is to earn] the trust and loyalty of our readers.

James Murdoch 1972):
There's an inescapable conclusion that we must reach if we are to have a better society:
The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence, is profit.

Nick Broomfield (1948):
[Rupert Murdoch] paid Sarah a $3 million salary [as a news analyst for Fox News] and a $7 million [book] advance for Going Rogue.
[The] Koch brothers are massive contributors to Sarah and the Tea Party.
(Sarah Pain: You Betcha!, Gravity Films, 2011)

Rebekah Brooks (1968) [CEO News International]:
[Eliminate] in a consistent manner across NI (subject to compliance with legal and regulatory requirements as to retention) emails that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation in which an NI company is a defendant.
(Email, January 2010, emphasis added)

Chris Bryant (1962) [Labour MP]:
Do either of your newspapers ever use private detectives, ever bug or pay the police?

Rebekah Brooks [Editor, News of the World, 2000-2003; CEO, News International, 2001-2011]:
We have paid police for information in the past …

Lawful Bribery


Chris Bryant:
Andy Coulson, who was sitting beside her, tried to say:
But only within the law!
And I pointed out it's against the law: bribing a police officer, suborning a police officer …
Andy Coulson (1968) [Editor, News of the World, 2003-2007; Director of Communications to David Cameron, 2010-2011]:
No, no, no, without — as I said, within the law.
Chris Bryant:
And then the chairman chose to close the meeting, for some bizarre reason …

Lowell Bergman (1945):
[After the story broke] Rebekah Brooks wrote to the chairman of the parliamentary committee [accusing] The Guardian of deliberately misleading the British public.

(Neil Docherty, Murdoch's Scandal, PBS Frontline, 27 March 2012)


Rebekah Brooks:
My intention was simply to comment generally on the widely-held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers.
If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention.
(Rebekah Brooks: I have no knowledge of actual payments to police, The Guardian, 11 April 2011)

Would you like to know more?






(Marian Wilkinson & Janine Cohen; Rupert, Rebekah and Andy, ABC Four Corners, 30 June 2014)


The Face of Humility


[The hacking of Milly Dowler's (1988–2002) voicemail] was done … when Brooks was editor [of the News of the World. …]
Brooks flatly denied knowing about any hacking under her editorship …
Gordon Rayner & Andrew Hough:
The payout will include
  • a personal £1 million donation to charity from Rupert Murdoch … as well [as]
  • a £2 million settlement directly to the Dowler family.
(Daily Telegraph, 20 September 2011)

Wikipedia:
By March 2010, News International had spent over £2 million settling court cases with victims of phone hacking. …
(15 April 2015)
[Throughout] 2010 the civil cases against over News of the World over phone hacking kept coming …
Prosecutors say, at this time, Brooks approved a sweeping policy to delete emails en masse across the UK company.
The deletions were partly explained as an overhaul of News' old email system.
But Brooks specifically demanded her own emails to 2010 be deleted in what she called 'a clean sweep'. …
Brooks stepped up the email deletions just as the £8 billion takeover bid for BSkyB was announced in July 2010. …
James Murdoch:
I'm convinced that Rebekah Brooks' leadership of the company is the right thing. …
It's her leadership that has really gotten to grips with this whole period in the company's history.
Days later James told Brooks to go because the police were about to arrest her.
She would negotiate an £11 million pay out. …
Rupert Murdoch:
I would have thought that … at least 90% of the payments were made at the instigation of cops …



(Marian Wilkinson & Janine Cohen, Rupert, Rebekah and Andy, Four Corners, ABC Television, 30 June 2014)



A Better Society


Ha Joon Chang: Professor, Faculty of Politics and Economics, Cambridge University

The success of the Conservative economic narrative has allowed the coalition to pursue a destructive and unfair economic strategy, which has generated only a bogus recovery largely based on government-fuelled asset bubbles in real estate and finance, with stagnant productivity, falling wages, millions of people in precarious jobs, and savage welfare cuts. …

A government budget should be understood not just in terms of bookkeeping but also of demand management, national cohesion and productivity growth.
Jobs and wages should not be seen simply as a matter of people being “worth” (or not) what they get, but of better utilising human potential and of providing decent and dignified livelihoods.
Ways have to be found to generate economic growth based on rising productivity rather than the continuous blowing of asset bubbles.

Without a new economic vision incorporating these dimensions, Britain will continue on its path of stagnation, financial instability and social conflict.

(Why did Britain’s political class buy into the Tories’ economic fairy tale?, 19 October 2014)


Abbott on Murdoch


Rupert Murdoch

I’m an American citizen and [I] consider myself an American.


Wikipedia

On 4 September 1985, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own US television stations.
This resulted in Murdoch losing his Australian citizenship.

(21 February 2013)


Tony Abbott

I've got a lot of time for Rupert Murdoch because whether you like his papers or don't like his papers he's one of the most influential Australians of all time.
Aussies should support our hometown heroes — that's what I think … Rupert Murdoch is.

(Tony Abbott hails Rupert Murdoch as 'hometown hero', The Guardian, 6 September 2013)


[Apart from] John Monash, the Commander of the First AIF [who] saved Paris and helped to win the First World War, and [Howard Florey,] the co-inventor of penicillin [who] literally saved millions of lives, Rupert Murdoch is probably the Australian who has most shaped the world …
For our guest of honour … experience trumps theory and facts trump speculation.
His publications have borne his ideals but never his fingerprints.

Rupert Murdoch is a corporate citizen of many countries, but above all else, he’s one of us.
[And most especially] he’s a long-serving director of the IPA

[Tonight we] renew our commitment [and] our faith.
In a hundred years’ time [may] it be said of us that we … passed the torch of freedom [on] to our successors …

(70th Anniversary Dinner, Institute of Public Affairs, 4 April 2013.)


Murdoch on Abbott


Rupert Murdoch

Conviction politicians hard to find anywhere.
Australia’s Tony Abbott a rare exception.
(19 August 2013)

Great first day by PM Abbott firing top bureaucrats, merging departments and killing carbon tax.
(19 September 2013)

(Robert Manne, Why Rupert Murdoch Can't Be Stopped, The Monthly, November 2013)


Brothers in Arms


Wendy Bacon: Professor of Journalism, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism

[The] most critical point … was the hysterical overreaction by News Limited [to the proposed Public Interest Advocate.]
I don't think anyone could read this legislation and think there was anything remotely like a star chamber. …
Tony Abbott:
Not since the days of the Committee of Public Safety have we seen an attempt by a government to do something as Orwellian as the Public Interest Media Advocate is.
[The] Public Interest Media Advocate, the government's version of the Ministry for Truth, will be vetting every aspect of the media for fairness, accuracy and the professional conduct of journalists.
[This is] a complete distortion of what the law is actually proposing.

[Which] is that, after a whole lot of consideration of different factors, some of which are set down in detail, the advocate would have the power to approve a self-regulatory body.
Which would then, as it does now in the case of the Press Council, take complaints.
There is no suggestion … that this advocate would be in any way dealing with day to day content of the media. …

What we've got here, is News Limited and Abbott in unison … overstating and misleading the Australian public about the powers of the advocate.
The Minister … can't direct the advocate at all.


Contents


Humble Pie

Murdoch and Political Power

The Eye of Murdoch

Media Godfather

An Australian Hero

A Golden Age of Freedom

Murdoch's Australian and the Shaping of the Nation

Would you like to know more?


Rupert Murdoch (1931)


Executive Chairman, News Corporation.
Order of Australia.
Order of St Gregory the Great.

  • The 21st Century is Australia's for the Taking, Big Ideas, ABC Television, 25 November 2013.
    Rupert Murdoch.
  • Murdoch, 4 November 2013.
    Paul Barry (1952): Author, Breaking News — Sex, Lies & The Murdoch Succession, Allan & Unwin, October 2013.

    Paul Barry:
    [By] restructuring his company in response to the phone hacking crisis [Rupert Murdoch] has managed to more than double his wealth from 4 billion to 9 billion dollars. …

    [The News of the World] hacked into people's phones on a industrial scale. …
    [And] the information taken from [thousands of] people's voice-mails was used to write stories. …
    [There are around] 40 top journalists from the Murdoch organization [who] could find themselves behind bars up to 2 years.
    [The] people on The Sun who are being charged [with phone hacking, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice] are the top level of editorial management of the newspaper …

    It was well known [that phones were being hacked].
    [The public] thought it was only politicians and celebrities and football stars and a lot of people didn't really care about that. …
    There was a view … that they deserved it.
    But when the hacking of Millie Dowler's phone was revealed the whole thing crumbled …
    [Suddenly,] the Murdochs had no friends at all and the News of World was closed within a couple of days …

    [In 2006 a] couple of people were arrested [for] hacking into Prince William's phone. …
    The story that [News International] put out was that it was just those two guys.
    They were operating without any authorization, no-one knew what they were doing, they were, so-called "rogue reporters".
    James [Murdoch] came in shortly after that [and] for the next four years presided over a cover-up …
    [The] public and the parliament [were repeatedly told:] this was not going on on a grand scale, it was only these two people, we've investigated, we know, we're quite certain, it's absolutely not true to say that anyone else was doing it.
    So he's implicated in the cover-up but not in the events themselves. …

    It's a surprise to me that James wasn't … done for contempt of parliament.
    [Fairly] early on in the proceedings, one of the hacking victims sued … News International.
    They gave him a million pound payoff … and James signed off on that.
    So when parliament comes to look at this and … they say:
    So, why did you pay this huge amount of money, which is 50 times more than anyone's ever been paid for this before?
    And he says:
    Well, I was told that this was just the thing to do.
    And so they say:
    Did you know this?
    [Did] you know that.
    [Did] you see this document?
    And he says:
    No, I had no idea.
    I had no idea that it was anything to do with this …
    [I] saw no documents …
    [But] as more and more documents were … shown to him over a period of months. …
    Oh yes … it does show that I received that document but I didn't look at it.
    And then:
    Okay, I might have looked at it, but I didn't scroll down the page to get to that bit. …
    So, he was either lying, in that he knew about this stuff and wasn't saying, or that he was a complete idiot and it was put in front of his nose and he didn't look at it. …

    [James] had been appointed to Deputy Chief Operating officer, before this scandal broke, of the whole News Corp empire.
    [These events have] basically killed his chances [of taking over from Rupert] — for the moment.
    But in five [or] ten years time, depending on how long it takes before Rupert hands over, things may change.
    [They] could get worse for James, because these trials could bring investigators closer to him — in the sense that directors are held responsible for what happened in their company.
    Or alternatively, it could get better for James — the trials produce no convictions … there's no more evidence shown that James was involved and he has time to redeem himself. …

    … James still believes that News can take over [the BSkyB satellite network.]
    I would be amazed if that were to happen.
    [I] think Murdoch's power in Britain is … at an end.

    What this whole scandal revealed was two things: One was, the way in which the tabloids treated their victims.
    The way in which they set out to destroy their victims and had no mercy for them.
    And the way in which they used stolen information to do that. …

    The other side of it was the way in which The Sun in particular used its political power to back the party that Rupert wanted to back and what that did for the relationship between politics and the media.
    Where politicians felt they had to have the Murdoch media onside, if they were going to get elected. …

    And so what you discovered … was that politicians had had all these meetings that no-one knew about.
    Scores and scores and scores of [private meetings] between Rebecca Brooks [and James Murdoch] and David Cameron … and before that with Blair. …

    [Phone hacking was not] happening on a grand scale outside [of] the News of the World.
    We haven't seen any allegations that journalists at The Sun were doing this.
    We've seen a few from the Daily Mirror, but not very many.
    And none from the Daily Mail.

    [The News of the World] employed a private detective to reset people's PIN numbers.
    This guy would pose as an employee of the [mobile] phone company, and ring [them] and say:
    I'm John from credit control …
    I'm just having a look at this account here.
    Could you reset the PIN number so I can get into it?
    No-one else … was doing anything remotely like that …

    [When I looked into Rupert's family background I was] amazed to discover how rich they were.
    And how many servants they had.
    How he was chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce most of the time. …
    His father was … a very rich [newspaper] proprietor …
    They had five properties and this massive house in Melbourne.
    And Prime Ministers, and Heads of the Army, and all sorts of dignitaries used to come to dinner there and to parties there.
    It was a life of privilege and power. …

    … I'm surprised about his reaction to what his papers do.
    I've always thought that he did feel that … sometimes, at least, they might go to far.
    But he's been asked about it a couple of times, and he's never really said:
    No, we went too far there.
    It's wrong, I disapprove of that.
    He basically seems to suggest [that] these people are not worthy of decent treatment because they've done what they've done.
    If they've ended up in my tabloid newspapers, they deserve to be there.
    — seems to be his view. …

    Paul Barclay:
    When he was studying at Oxford, he had a bust of Lenin on his mantelpiece.
    And he was a member of the Oxford Labour Club. …

    Paul Barry:
    [Though] he's now a conservative in the more traditional sense of being on the right-wing and … being anti-welfare and stuff like that … he's always been a radical.
    He's always been someone who liked to shake things up and believed in change.
    He was a backer of Whitlam [in Australia in the 1970s and] of Blair in the 1990s in Britain. …
    [He] felt that they had a vision. …

    I've worked for News Limited as well — and enjoyed it.
    So I started off this book thinking:
    I'm going to surprise everyone here, because I'm going to write a book which is gonna say:
    I really quite like Murdoch and he's done a lot of good things!
    And I spoke to a lot of people who worked for him, and they reinforced that.
    But then I began to speak to more people who had totally different view.
    [But] the more I found about phone hacking … the more I found about the New York Post and the San Antonio Express and all the other papers he's got — that he's done this stuff to — the less I liked him.
    And I ended up, not liking him very much at all …
    Because, whatever else he is as a person, the stuff that he allows his papers to do … is pretty much indefensible. …

    I talked to a lot of people who had good things to say about him.
    He does inspire great loyalty among the people who work for him.
    It's a very invigorating company to work for.
    It's not bureaucratic.
    You can get through to him.
    He talks to you.
    He treats you like … you're, I don't know about an equal, but he's certainly prepared to talk to you.
    And so … people find it very refreshing …
    [It's] like a family.
    In fact, people use the word family a lot. …
    Often they say it's like a mafia family — in all senses — in that they're good to you when you're with them; and they're bloody awful to you when you leave. …

    People who've worked with him for 20 years, and thought they've had some sort of relationship with him, then find that they're sacked, and out the door, and never talked to [or] consulted again.
    And they're sort of written off.
    He has this great ability to move on.
    You can see him moving on from his wives.
    But he moves on from his executives as well.

    He's very, very focussed on him.
    His prize, his power and the next step in the game.
    [It's] a big game to him.
    He likes the game. …

    Paul Barclay:
    The turning point for Rupert Murdoch in Australia came when he took over the Herald and Weekly Times Newspaper Group in the late '80s.
    This gave him just about the most highly concentrated ownership of newspapers of any country in the world.
    Pretty much 70% of every newspaper bought in Australia is owned by Rupert Murdoch. …
    Why was was he allowed to take such control of newspapers in Australia? ...

    Paul Barry:
    Labor had an agenda to attack the power of Fairfax press … the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, who were very unsympathetic to Labor.
    They felt Rupert was their man, their mate and would do them a good turn if they did him one. …

    Paul Barclay:
    But this mate, had torn down the last Labor government, the Whitlam government, and had done so in such as fashion … that the respected journalist Paul Kelly quit The Australian newspaper (he's back there working now, by the way) saying the news pages had been turned over to propaganda organs of the paper's editorial line.
    So he had form, in terms of turning on a Labor government. …

    … Rupert Murdoch has made a loss on [The Australian] pretty much from the very beginning …

    Paul Barry:
    The Times, in London, has lost money every since he took it over …
    The New York Post … is again, a loss leader.
    So he's got [vanity papers] in all capitals of the world that he's represented in.
    Why he does it?
    I guess for influence.
    Maybe he thinks it's performing a public service as well, but certainly it gives him influence.

    It's not a question of it being Murdoch.
    It's a real problem if any one proprietor, particularly an interventionist proprietor, has two thirds of the papers in the country, however many other sources of information there are …
    Papers are very influential — news, radio and TV feed off them. …

    [If] you talk to any of his editors who have worked for they would get the weekly call, or sometimes the daily call, from Rupert who would say:
    What have you got on the front page today?
    Or
    I saw you had this on the front page — its rubbish, take it off!
    [He] is interventionist.
    A couple of editors [said that when they] wake up in the morning and their first thought is …
    What would Rupert like me to do today?
    In an organization that is so focussed on one person … which is a family business in the sense that everyone thinks that they are working for him that's who they want to please.
    That's how they get on in the company.
    And that's why they try and anticipate what they would like him to do.
    It's not really a good career move to ignore what he thinks …

    Paul Barclay:
    It's the TV and movie business that makes Rupert his money.
    Twentieth Century Fox, Fox TV, Cable, Sky TV [make] 90% of [News Corp's] profit. …

    Paul Barry:
    That's partly why the [$80 billion] empire has been split in two; because, shareholders and some of the executives … were fed up with the profitable parts of the group subsidizing … Rupert's love of going out and buying yet another [loss leading] newspaper. …
    Buying the Wall Street Journal, for example, they paid $5.6 billion and wrote off $2.8 billion within two years — so they lost half their money within 2 years.
    And that was basically Rupert's decision to buy that.
    So there's a great relief among shareholders that the papers have been hived off and now will have to fend for themselves.
    It's one of the reasons why the empire is worth a lot more than it was [2-3] years ago.

  • Phone Hacking: Murdoch's Tragedy, Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National, 3 November 2013.
    David Folkenflik: Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires, Media Correspondent, National Public Radio.
  • Why Rupert Murdoch Can't Be Stopped, November 2013.
    Robert Manne (1947).
    Andrew Neil [Former Editor, The Sunday Times]:
    Rupert has an uncanny knack of being there even when he is not.
    When I did not hear from him and knew his attention was elsewhere, he was still uppermost in my mind. …
    (Full Disclosure, Pan Books, 19 September 1997)

    Rupert Murdoch:
    [Julia] Gillard once good education minister, now prisoner of minority [government] & Greenies.
    [Kevin] Rudd still delusional who nobody could work with. …
    (5 February 2012)

    Australia itself makes no carbon problem.
    China does, but what can we do other than meaningless gestures costly to every home?
    (17 May 2013)

    Conviction politicians hard to find anywhere.
    Australia’s Tony Abbott a rare exception. …
    (19 August 2013)

    Aust election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy.
    (7 September 2013)

    Great first day by PM Abbott firing top bureaucrats, merging departments and killing carbon tax.
    (19 September 2013)

    In 1981, Murdoch [took] control of the London Times and Sunday Times [in] the collusion [with] Margaret Thatcher.
    His bid had been spared reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the condition that he respected the newspapers’ editorial independence.
    Almost immediately, the condition was flagrantly breached and Murdoch threatened with a term in prison.
    Even more importantly, by this time it was clear that Murdoch was using his papers as standard-bearers for the Thatcher–Reagan radical-conservative revolutions that were undermining social democratic parties and progressive politics throughout the English-speaking world. …

    Over the past 40 years he has built two remarkable parallel empires,
    • one expanding his media interests,
    • the other advancing his quest for political power. …
    Murdoch’s media empire now spans the globe, but his shadow political empire hardly extends beyond the United Kingdom, the US and Australia. …

    Murdoch’s political influence in the UK has … been chiefly exercised through The Sun.
    [Margaret Thatcher] described the support The Sun had given her government as “marvellous”.
    More crucially, in 1992 The Sun helped destroy Neil Kinnock’s Labour Opposition, which once had a commanding lead in the polls. …
    To Kinnock’s disgust, the party’s new leader, Tony Blair, conducted a long flirtation with Murdoch, symbolised by Blair’s round-the-world journey to meet Murdoch and his News Corp staff on Hayman Island, and confirmed by his promise to weaken Britain’s cross-media ownership laws.
    The reward for Labour was the vicious campaign The Sun waged in 1997 against the Conservative prime minister, John Major, who had held Murdoch at arms’ length and sought to restrict his movement into terrestrial television. …

    In 2009, News Corp decided to switch to David Cameron and the Conservatives.
    Cameron had already paid homage on Murdoch’s yacht moored by the Greek island Santorini.
    News proclaimed its turn against Labour on the day Gordon Brown addressed his party conference.
    In this case the influence of The Sun was used nakedly to advance News Corp’s commercial interests — their controversial proposed $12 billion bid for total control of BSkyB, whose announcement was delayed until the Conservative-led government was elected. …

    Fox News was a vital supporter of George W Bush’s presidency and the most important cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq.
    It was the arbiter of the fate of the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination in both 2008 and 2012.
    And it was in attendance at the birth of the Tea Party movement which, in its insane permanent war against the presidency of Barack Obama, is currently tearing Congress and American society apart. …
    David Frum [Former Speech Writer to George W Bush]:
    Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us.
    Now we’re discovering that we work for Fox.

    [What] News Corp has done in Australia is to [effectively, forge its national broadsheet, The Australian, and] its five state-based tabloids — the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the Melbourne Herald Sun, the Brisbane Courier-Mail, the Adelaide Advertiser and the Hobart Mercury — into a single political [weapon. …]

    Around late 2010 … Rupert Murdoch decided to use his Australian newspapers to destroy the government of Julia Gillard.
    [It] was the first such decision with regard to federal Australian politics he had taken since 1975 [when he helped Malcolm Fraser depose Gough Whitlam. …]

    It is … extraordinarily unhealthy for a single corporation to own two thirds of the metropolitan press.
    This is the situation in no other Western nation.
    [Furthermore, News Corporation] is owned by an ideologue who has a proven track record of political manipulation and who demands that his newspapers across the globe remain committed to his views, as all 173 did … during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. …
    News Corp’s domination of the press is a threat to Australia’s democracy.

  • Media reforms threaten journalism, say media bosses, Drive, ABC Radio National, 13 March 2013.
    Wendy Bacon: Contributing editor, New Matilda; Professor, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism.

    And the Advocate … apart from the Diversity Test … has purely the purpose of approving a self-regulatory body. …

    The Australian Press Council has been gradually trying to strengthen it's role.
    [The head of the Press Council, Julian Disney] has gone about putting in place … quite a few of the things that are mentioned in the legislation.
    For example, [that] there should be independence from the people who are funding the organisation, he's been trying to strengthen that.
    He's been trying to open up the membership of it.
    He's been trying to strengthen up the power to actually publish adjudications.
    All of that is what the Public Interest Advocate would be looking for in an organisation.
    So it's … clear that the purpose is to approve the Australian Press Council to go on and do what its currently doing.

    [I] can see why Seven West Media are so upset about it …
    They are a very big powerful media organisation which has huge sway in Western Australia because they not only control the newspapers but a lot of television — they're also in regional radio.
    They walked out of the Press Council and have set up a sort of press council of their own which may not qualify under this test.
    For example, for an organisation to quality as a self-regulatory body, it must have some independence from the media organisations themselves … especially in relation to being able to control through funding. …

    It there is no reform at all, this time round …
    It could be a very long time before there is any similar opportunity.
    [The] Diversity Test will never be applied and we'll probably end up [with an even] more concentrated media.

  • Rupert Murdoch — An Investigation of Political Power, Allen & Unwin, February 2012.
    David McKnight: Associate Professor of Journalism, University of NSW.

    Robert Manne (1947):
    As McKnight shows, the psychological key to Murdoch is his capacity to continue to think of himself as an anti-establishment rebel despite his vast wealth and his capacity to make and unmake governments.
    Before the Reagan–Thatcher era, the ‘establishment’ Murdoch thought he was unsettling was old class power.
    Since that time the establishment he has had in his sights is the ‘new class’ of ‘liberal elites’ and their treasonous anti-Western value system, known as ‘political correctness’. …
    (p x)

    Introduction


    [In 2005–06] a police investigation led to the jailing of a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, and a News of the World journalist, Clive Goodman.
    The case involved the two men illegally hacking the voicemail of members of the royal family with resultant exclusive stories.
    Police attempts to deepen the investigation were met with a stone wall from Murdoch’s British operation, News International.
    A parliamentary inquiry later concluded that News International was …
    deliberately trying to thwart a criminal investigation.
    The same committee criticised the ‘lackadaisical attitude’ of a senior police officer who had several meals with top News International figures while the company was under investigation in this period.
    (p 2)

    Two months after he left the police force, this police officer took a job with News International writing a column for the Times.
    Later still, a former deputy editor of News of the World was employed as a media strategist to senior police. …

    [When Labour MP Tom Watson] called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign, he angered top Murdoch executive Rebekah Brooks so much that he was told she would never forgive him for doing what he did to ‘her Tony’.
    Watson later found out that News of the World had hired a private investigator to follow him.
    Another Labour MP on a committee examining the phone hacking was threatened by News International with exposures about his private life.
    (p 3)

    David Montgomery [former Murdoch Editor]:
    Rupert has contempt for the rules.
    Contempt even for governments.
    For three decades this contempt for governments has been expressed as a zealous devotion to an ideology of free markets and small government.
    (p 4)

    … Rupert Murdoch’s self image is one of a rebel, an outsider and an enemy of those he calls ‘the elites’.
    These political beliefs are built around the conceit that he represents ordinary men and women, while his opponents form a powerful establishment.


    A Web of Political Influence


    [In 2007] Andy Coulson was appointed as media adviser for the opposition Conservative Party and its leader.
    Some criticised the appointment because Coulson had edited News of the World when the first hacking occurred [in 2005-6].
    [David] Cameron was keen to win the support of Rupert Murdoch, who had been critical of him. …
    Through Coulson, Cameron cultivated Murdoch’s support.
    In 2008 he delayed his holiday and accepted free flights to hold talks with Murdoch on his luxury yacht moored off a Greek island.
    Cameron’s stocks rose and, in September 2009, Murdoch decided to back the Conservatives at the coming British election with a Sun front page exclaiming ‘LABOUR’S LOST IT’.
    (p 5)

    When the Conservatives formed government after the May 2010 election one of the first visitors to Downing Street was Rupert Murdoch, who later told the parliamentary inquiry that he entered by the back door at Cameron’s request.
    A month later, Rebekah Brooks was invited to the Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers.
    Just before Christmas 2010, Cameron attended a dinner at Brooks’ home where he met James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn.
    A picnic followed on Christmas Eve.

    At this very time his government was deciding whether to allow Murdoch’s bid to buy all shares in BSkyB. …
    Of his 74 meetings with the news media, one-third (26) were with News International, he stated.
    On average, a member of his cabinet met an executive from Murdoch’s newspapers or businesses once every three days over the fifteen month period of his government.

    These intimate political links continued until the crisis engulfed the Murdochs in mid–2011.
    Just 24 hours before news broke of the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone, an elite group of media, business and political figures attended a party held by Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth and her husband, PR king Matthew Freud.
    James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks mixed with the crowd that included top figures in the Cameron government and Labour opposition.
    A similar group of politicians had attended the annual News International reception at the Orangery in the exclusive London suburb of Kensington a few weeks earlier.
    On the day that News of the World was closed, David Cameron was throwing open the doors of 10 Downing Street for the Sun-sponsored police bravery awards.
    On the eve of the parliamentary inquiry at which Rupert Murdoch was questioned, its chairman revealed that he was an old friend of Les Hinton, a top Murdoch executive and a life-long friend.
    (p 6)

    Such intimate connections [had also] existed with the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
    … Labour designed media regulation laws specifically to suit Murdoch.

    For many years under both Labour and Conservative governments Murdoch and his executives had access to the cabinet, they intervened on policy matters, took sides in internal fights within government, and were part of the social circle of MPs, top officials, lobbyists and businesspeople.
    They were intimately entwined in the processes of government including having close relationships with police.
    They were able to do this because they controlled a significant group of newspapers which influenced public opinion and the national political debate.
    (p 7)


    Murdoch and Australia


    Murdoch’s Australian newspapers did not accept the results of the 2010 election, which saw a reduced Labor Party forced to seek the support of a number of independents and a Greens MP.
    While negotiations were in play, these newspapers urged the independents to support a Liberal-led government.
    (p 8)


    The Best Known Australian in the World

    Rupert Murdoch:
    I’m an American citizen and … consider myself an American. …
    (p 12)
    From the 1990s he was the key financial backer of American neo-conservatives for whom an attack on Iraq had long been a goal.
    His support took the form of creating and subsidising the neo-conservatives’ magazine the Weekly Standard, articles from which regularly began to appear in his Australian newspapers. …
    In the mass circulation Herald Sun, columnist Andrew Bolt echoed themes from the American Right, presenting the case for war in terms of defending Western values and promoting freedom.
    Critics (‘pampered bigots’) were guilty of a new kind of racism, called anti-Americanism, he said, and they actually supported terrorism.
    Twice he claimed that Saddam Hussein would soon have a nuclear bomb. …

    [Murdoch is not, however, unreservedly] ‘pro-American’.
    He is not a supporter of the America that gave birth to the civil rights movement and the first strong environmental laws. …

    Murdoch is a supporter of a very particular part of America: its wealthiest and most conservative forces, whose values and voices dominate his news media.
    (p 13)


    Murdoch’s Warning


    [In his 2013 Boyer Lecture Series, A Golden Age of Freedom,] he issued a stern warning to Australia.
    The nation would be in trouble unless it introduced his favoured political agenda of free markets, low tax, closer links to the United States and an end to the welfare state.
    He criticised ‘apocalyptic visions of climate change’ and urged that the government should not ‘punish the Australian economy by imposing standards that the rest of the world will never meet’.
    He attacked public education and argued that education be guided by free market principles of competition and choice.
    He placed great faith in technological change to solve climate and energy problems and predicted that a ‘golden age of humankind’ was ‘just around the corner’.

    It would be wrong … to denigrate and dismiss Rupert Murdoch.
    The ideas he expresses are among the most influential in the world and have formed part of the conservative revolution in thinking over the last 30 years.
    They are shared by many powerful people and have already transformed the economic and social institutions of many nations.
    Murdoch … is genuinely a product of Australia and the Australian ethos.
    (p 20)

    Would you like to know more?

  • A Golden Age of Freedom, Boyer Lectures, ABC Radio National.
    (Bill McGurn: Former Speechwriter for George W Bush.)
    • The future of newspapers: moving beyond dead trees, 16 November 2011.

      For all of my working life, I have believed that there is a social and commercial value in delivering accurate news and information in a cheap and timely way. …

      When I was growing up, this was the key lesson my father impressed on me.
      If you were an owner, the best thing you could do was to hire editors who looked out for your readers' interests — and give these readers good honest reporting on issues that mattered most to them.
      In return, you would be rewarded with trust and loyalty you could take to the bank. …

      The [Wall Street Journal is] the only US newspaper that makes real money online.
      One reason for this is a growing global demand for … accurate news.
      Integrity is not just a characteristic of our company, it is a selling point. …

  • Who's to Blame — 12 Politicians and Execs Blocking Progress on Global Warming, Rolling Stone, 19 January 2011.

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