It is perhaps the biggest media monopoly on the planet -- News Corp. And at its helm, Rupert Murdoch uses his power of the press to influence elections, to sway politicians, to persuade the populace to his conservative causes and, probably most of all, to further his own business interests within the rules or without any rules. In protest of his five billion dollar bid for their mother company, Dow Jones, and in protest of a lack of a contract, as well, many “Wall Street Journal” reporters blew off work this morning.
The union president, Steve Yount, saying the boycott is “about preserving what is special about Dow Jones and that does not include an unnecessary sale to News Corp.” The paper’s owners, the Bancroft family, do not appear to agree. They are reportedly close to sealing a deal with Rupert Murdoch that would include measures to allow the paper to maintain a measure of editorial independence.
One must assume the Bancrofts either do not know about his M.O., or they are somehow hoping it has changed overnight. If the former, perhaps this might help -- part one of our study of Rupert Murdoch.
In 1994, in what was to be his final interview, playwright and former British newspaper journalist Dennis Potter revealed that he had named the cancer that he already knew would kill him within months Rupert.
Rupert Murdoch’s latest plan to add the Wall Street Journal to the hundreds of newspapers and TV stations he already owns in this country, reminding those who had forgotten just why the late Potter was not alone in so loathing Murdoch’s impact.
There had been word that the parent company of this network, G.E., might also be interested in acquiring the Wall Street Journal, but Rupert Murdoch had already made his five billion dollar bid. Then, at the same time as that business battle was going on, Bill-O and his friends at Fox Noise stepped up their libeling of NBC News as left wing and liberally biased.
And the New York Post, also owned by Murdoch, jumped in too, using the business section of the paper this morning to attack Mark Whittaker, the new senior vice president of NBC News, quoting so-called sources, without ever actually any of them. Of course, it could just be coincidence that the network we work for is slandered just as the company that owns us went up against Rupert Murdoch.
But then, using his media to achieve his agenda is such classic Murdoch behavior, not just across this nation, but the world, that the suspicion might be forgiven. One had only to read the extensive investigation by the New York Times newspaper this week to remember just how he operates.
Murdoch in London
Take his dealings in Great Britain. Upon acquiring the venerable Times of London, much as he is currently promising the Bancroft family regarding the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch had promised not to meddle with the editorial tone of the paper.
But in no time at all, according to former editors, Murdoch started meddling. According to the New York Times, “Harry Evans, who was editor at the time of Murdoch’s acquisition, and was forced out soon after, describes Murdoch’s ordering the publication of a cartoon that Times editors had deemed tasteless. And his complaining that too many stories had a left wing bent.
“Another former editor said Mr. Murdoch once pointed to the byline of a correspondent and asserted, that man is a commie.”
He then fired 5,000 employees, shifted his newspaper operations to East London in secret, and refused to recognize the unions. That was in the 1980's. By the 1990’s, as it became obvious that a Labor government was coming to power, Murdoch starting wooing that party to protect his newspapers and cable TV station in Britain. He endorsed Tony Blair, meeting with him so often that one of Blair’s spokesmen described Murdoch to the New York Times as effectively a member of Blair’s cabinet.
And the courtship was so successful that, against the wishes of many in the Labor Party, Blair dropped any talk of limits on media ownership. The Times reporting that “Blair’s attitude was quite clear. Andrew Neil, the editor of the Sunday Times under Murdoch in London from 1983 to 1994 said, in an interview, if the Murdoch press gave the Blair government a fair hearing, it would left intact.”
Murdoch in China
He has tried the same technique in China. In his bid to crack the tightly controlled communicated market there, the New York Times also reports “Murdoch has dined with former President Jiang Zemin in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing and repeatedly met other members of the ruling Politburo in Beijing, New York and London.”
He and his minions also reportedly toe the Chinese government line, insulting the Dalai Lama and the persecuted Falun Gong sect. And so much for freedom of the press. According the New York Times, "Mr. Murdoch cooperates closely with China’s censors and state broadcasters, several people who work for him in China say."
And as we reported here last night, that extends to the Internet as well. News Corp agreeing to open a MySpace.com for China that censors users, as per Chinese law. Ironic considering that over her it is both the power and the freedom of the media that has allowed Murdoch to systematically both intimidate and influence American politics to suit his own business interests.