News Corp Nonsense: An American Problem, Too
I've been hearing quite a bit of fatuous chatter over the past few day about the superiority of the American press over the Brits and our alleged unwillingness to be manipulated by someone like Rupert Murdoch. Please.
John Nichols writes:
Just as Murdoch has had far too much control over politics and politicians in Britain during periods of conservative dominance—be it under an actual Tory such as former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major and current Prime Minister David Cameron or under a faux Tory such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair—he has had far too much control in the States. And that control, while ideological to some extent, is focused mainly on improving the bottom line for his media properties by securing for them unfair legal and regulatory advantages.
Over the past decade, as media reform groups have battled to prevent FCC and Congressional moves to undermine controls on media consolidation, Murdoch and his lobbyists been a constant presence—pushing from the other side for the lifting of limits on the amount and types of media that one corporation can own in particular communities and nationally.
The objection was never an ideological one. Media owners, editors, reporters and commentators have a right to take the positions they like. Where the trouble comes is when they seek to turn politicians and regulators into corporate handmaidens—and when they build their empires out to such an extent they can demand obedience even from those who do not share their partisan or ideological preferences.
And the corruptions of the process created by Murdoch’s manipulation are not merely a British phenomenon.
Murdoch’s political pawns in the United States have been every bit as faithful to the mogul and his media machine as the British pols.
When he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee in May of 2003, at a point when he was the chief global cheerleader for George Bush’s war with Iraq (“We basically supported…I will say supported the Bush policy,” the media mogul would later admit), Murdoch was seeking to secure ownership of the nation’s largest satellite television company while pressing for FCC rule changes that would allow him to own newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same cities and for an easing of controls on the extent to which one corporation could dominate television viewership nationally.
Did Murdoch have a hard time of it?
Back in the 90s the right wing laundered their Clinton hit pieces through the British tabloids so the US media could "report" it. In the aughts, Fox News dominated the American press and helped the Bush White House with its agenda and message. It exists to spread conservative propaganda and has become so powerful that the entire political establishment is cowed by it (or is keeping their professional job prospects open.) More recently it served as the public relations arm of the Tea Party movement. Murdoch's empire has had perhaps the most profound effect on American politics and culture of any corporation or individual of the last 20 years. We certainly didn't escape its malevolent ethos --- it's permeated our whole society.
If Murdoch's empire is brought down because of its sleazy, tabloid ethics my faith in justice will be restored.