Poor Rupert… did you hear the latest? Murdoch is in trouble because the vast left wing conspiracy is piling on? Tucker Carlson (no surprise) is carrying water for Rupe and his FOX News meal ticket. And he’s not alone. After a couple of days spent wobbling on the back foot, Murdoch’s minions have come back swinging. While progressives are enjoying the serving up of just desserts and humble pie in doses so large they make one believe there is a Santa Claus, let’s be clear: Rupert Murdoch did this to himself! And… he ain’t goin’ down without a fight!
If anyone has the resilience, resources and ability to bunker in, stonewall and make any controversy go away, it’s Rupe. And now… he’s angry. Forced to pull out of controlling all of BSkyB, he’s taking names and writing down licence plate numbers. Unless the UK Parliament and US Congress keep their focus and heat turned on high, Rupe could wriggle free yet again.
News Corp CEO Murdoch is vexed and his slimy army (not to be confused with cricket’s Barmy Army) are already like cockroaches, out of the sunlight, scurrying underground to plan the comeback. Murdoch is like Mubarak on the 8th day of the Egyptian revolution. Silent, taking abuse from a huge crowd demanding he leave now. Rupe also conducts business out of the spotlight. His underground minions await instruction and you know that any minute the counter-offensive will begin with horses and camels attacking in the square. As a US Congressman friend once said: “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”
Sadly though he will likely suffer the same fate as Mubarak because dictators, public and private, underestimate the amount of trouble they have created. When Murdoch expressed surprise the government turned against him so quickly, it was because there was blood in the water and the sharks went into a feeding frenzy.
For years Rupe held sway (and got himself into trouble) by:
- threatening and bullying politicians with a press expert at digging and making stuff up with impunity,
- forgetting the maxim there is no honour amongst thieves (and politicians) as they will sell you out when the going gets tough. Because your misfortune is perfect magician’s misdirection and lots they do can fly under the radar whilst they focus on you, Rupe,
- currying favour and giving them the coverage they needed when they needed it always with strings attached and the implied threat that if you don’t do what I want you to I will destroy you (see Gordon Brown),
- hacking the cell phone voicemails and actual conversations of 4,000 people in power to gather information otherwise not available and eventually use it against them,
- creating a corporate culture that says use whatever you need to use to control your enemies (and your “friends”),
- beating people and staff everywhere into submission by either paying them too much and keeping them loyal via ‘golden handcuffs’ or throwing their empty carcasses onto the street when their purpose no longer suited and they had no means with which to fightback,
- hiring truly evil genius minds to programme and simplify the basic thought and message control 1984 style to the emotions of fear, racism, xenophobia, loss of money, power and prestige and other hate messages,
- deceiving former owners of media holding you want to buy the same way always promising the world then doing whatever he wanted to after paying a king’s ransom to control them and
- having a very, very long memory.
Like any dictator, he was deluded into thinking, ‘they all love me because I have been so good to and created them.’ The real reason they ‘loved’ him was they ‘feared’ his minions, the secret police force (aka the editors and reporters of his papers) who could turn against one in a flash.
He got here by sheer evil brilliance and bullying. In Murdoch’s world, rules and laws are an inconvenience to be used as a weapon against others but could be ignored by his team simply because his lawyers could beat up anyone else’s.
Howard Kurtz, Daily Beast correspondent and host of CNN’s Reliable Sources said in a recent piece:
“In a 2007 affidavit, [former Page Six gossip reporter Ian] Spiegelman said “accepting freebies, graft and other favors was not only condoned by the company but encouraged as a way to decrease the newspaper’s out-of-pocket expenses…and that News Corp. attorneys had been instructed to ‘look the other way.’” There was a policy of “favor banking,” the affidavit said, “practiced on a much larger scale by Rupert Murdoch.” In 2001, Spiegelman said in the document, “I was ordered to kill a Page Six story about a Chinese diplomat and a strip club that would have angered the Communist regime and endangered Murdoch’s broadcasting privileges” as he was trying to get Beijing’s approval for his satellite-television service.
At the time, Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Post, called the allegations “a tissue of lies” and a “disgrace.”
The affidavit also said that in 1997 a local restaurant owner who was frequently mentioned in Page Six had $1,000 sent to Richard Johnson, then the gossip page’s editor. The Post confirmed this, with [editor in chief Col] Allan quoted as saying that Johnson had made “a grave mistake” and had been reprimanded.”
Where most newsrooms are run with an ironclad set of rules around objectivity, Murdoch’s teams all looked the other way or had a blatant interest in controlling outcomes. FOX News is the official propaganda arm of the US Republican Tea Party where even exploratory Presidential candidates either have their own show or platform at will. He created an environment where people could avoid mainstream press and stick to reliable messaging sources and friendly interviews.
Like Achilles tough, when the heel was exposed, the world took its shot. The question is, will Rupe survive it? If not held to the mat until he taps out in the octagon… he most likely will because Murdoch is a capitalist who always plays to win and… almost always does.