Sunday, July 10, 2011

Don’t Blame Rupert Murdoch

After 168 years of publication, most of which was spent wallowing in tabloid journalism, “News of the World” went out of business because of outright criminality and excessive sleaze. The surprise for me, personally, was the apparent recognition that there can actually be too much sleaze, even in the modern 21st century world. I had thought otherwise.

For the record, I personally loathe FOX News. I listen to NPR and I watch PBS, and I never thought that FOX and PBS were simply right wing and left wing versions of intellectual equivalency, although I’ll grant that FOX and MSNBC are intellectual equals. I also regularly tune to NHK (the Japanese version of BBC) to get news from Asia. FOX news comes up for discussion now because it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch who also, until last Saturday, owned the now-defunct “News of the World.” There’s a huge temptation for liberals like me to jump on Murdoch now that his power seems to have lost a bit of its tarnish, but I think this is being overly simplistic and naive. Murdoch is, and always has been, merely a zookeeper who made sure the lions got their daily dose of red meat, and zookeepers rarely question where the red meat comes from. In the case of “New of the World,” supplying the red meat meant hacking the phones and e-mails of people who had lost loved ones and who were at the depths of their own personal sorrow. The fact that this is despicable journalism may or may not say something about Rupert Murdoch, but it speaks volumes about the people who actually read that tawdry newspaper. And with its history going back 168 years, clearly readers were reveling in trash and sleaze and other people’s grief long before Rupert Murdoch was even born.

What a huge coincidence that this comes in the exact same week when we were treated to televised images of people gathered outside the court house where the Casey Anthony saga was being concluded. I could not, in my wildest imagination, ever see myself joining such a group of rabid blood-nuts to express pleasure or displeasure at a judicial sentence being handed down to somebody I didn’t personally know. Who in their right mind does that? And I confess that when I see a group like that I secretly assume that all of them are FOX News buffs. It’s interesting, though, that Rupert Murdoch probably looks at such a group and sees the same rabid herd mentality that I see. This would explain a lot about FOX News.

Back about the time that “News of the World” began publication, Henry Thoreau said that “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And human nature being what it is, I suppose some people find solace or pleasure when they can read about other people who are even more desperate than themselves. Rupert Murdoch didn’t create that condition. He merely strives to make a dollar by helping it along.


Matthew Steeples said...

Murdoch is being portrayed more and more like Citizen Kane. Will he beat his enemies?

Whatever happens, today is a sad day for investigative journalism. Not all journalists at the NOTW were bad apples, just like not all MPs were not expense fiddlers and not all bankers were fat cats.

Check out my view at

You might also be interested in my view on the disgrace that is the PCC:

Warren Longwell said...

I said nothing about NOTW journalisis or MPs or bankers. Some are bad apples, and some are not. My point was that All people who revel in other people's misery seriously need to get a life.

Christina said...

This woman will ruin Qld properly and the Qld population have made a stupid decision
non voice projects