Thursday, 29 March 2012

Murdoch teaches toffs a lesson

Rupert Murdoch – an unlikely champion of media plurality – took to Twitter today to declare: 
Enemies (have) many different agendas, but worst (of all are) old toffs and right wingers who still want last century's status quo with their monoplies [sic]
The statement is profoundly hypocritical considering the concentration of mass media in the hands of Rupert Murdoch – but the target couldn’t be clearer.

According to Independent Australia, “Murdoch bestrides the Australian media landscape like a colossus”. NewsCorp owns 8 of Australia’s 12 major newspapers and “dominates the regional suburban newspapers publishing industry”. Those newspapers not owned by Murdoch are usually produced by Murdoch-controlled printers, giving him ubiquitous influence over Australia’s entire print industry.  That’s not to mention his command of Australian television and News International’s dominance of media in the UK and United States.

But the Hackgate revelations and Leveson Inquiry have shaken the Murdoch Empire to the core. Whilst celebrities such as Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant and journalists such as Nick Davies have brought phone-hacking to public attention, it is the government – or “old toffs and right wingers” – which can cause Murdoch irreparable damage.  The Tweet – along with the behaviour of News International’s two flagship newspapers this week – serve as a stark warning to the Conservative government.

Firstly, a Sunday Times exclusive revealed footage of Tory Party Chairman Peter ‘Cash for Access’ Cruddas canvassing for generous donations in exchange for policy influence:

And whilst the controversy of the “pasty tax” rumbles on – exposing government toffs as out-of-touch – the Sun took to Parliament Square to hand out pasties like delicious confetti

Photo via Matt Zarb
The delivery couldn’t be more different, but the message is clear: Don’t mess with Murdoch because he’ll fuck you up.

By rallying against “monopolies”  and frightening the government into acquiescence, it is precisely his own monopoly he wishes to preserve. Furthermore, it was the structural inevitability of the concentration of media in the hands of one mogul which encouraged the routine practise of phone-hacking.  The only free press which Murdoch believes in is a press that gives him free rein.

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