Rupert Murdoch

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Rupert Murdoch is receiving plaudits for reportedly urging Donald Trump to dismiss Steve Bannon from his Senior Adviser role. That speaks to how despised the depraved white nationalist is because the Fox News founder deserves no congratulations, not after he and his family have for more than two decades paved the way for Trump, Bannon, Miller and Gorka, continually stoking the fears and resentment of many Caucasians in the country, selling a race war with the same alacrity they use to hawk gold coins. Cliven Bundy and Birthers have been the heroes of this 24/7 cable drama and black Presidents and Santa Clauses the villains.

The Murdochs could successfully trade in hate for the same reason Trump was able to peddle his ugly Make America White Again campaign: Throughout our history, there have always been many receptive ears in the U.S. just waiting to be told that what ails them is a black or brown person. From George Washington to George Wallace to George Zimmerman, we’ve never had a single true system of justice in the nation because most haven’t wanted one.

While the worst among us have always existed and, to some extent, always will, it was Trump’s words that unloosed such demons. While institutional racism was clearly in effect, the militia-level hatemongers usually had to watch their step, cowed somewhat by social shaming that attended such crude and open bigotry. But While President Obama appealed to the best in Americans (even on those occasions when it didn’t seem to be present), Trump encouraged the worst impulses, not only for his own political gain, as is often pointed out, but because he truly shares the views of white nationalists. 

As Edward Luce of the Financial Times began warning in the summer of 2015, even if Trump should fall — and he will, if far too late — the hatred he’s rallied will not so easily recede. Saturday’s violence in Virginia by a rabid welter of hoods, swastikas and torches received a response from the highest office in the land with dog whistles, not a commanding rebuke, which will only further abet their mindset. Charlottesville, I’m afraid, is likely prelude.

Two excerpts follow.

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From Audie Cornish’s NPR interview with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb:


You’ve said that what happened in Virginia was not the culminating battle of this conflict between racial supremacists and civic society, but you call it a tragic preface to more of the same. What do you mean by that?

Jelani Cobb:

I think that these forces feel victorious. When we saw them marching in large numbers, and then the following day, in a kind of regimented form, in the city of Charlottesville. What comes out of that is a feeling of invulnerability, and having come out of the woodwork and having seen others of like minds, would they then be content to going back to making racial humor on the Internet? I don’t think that will happen. We are likely to see them want to do bigger things, more spectacular things, things to inject themselves even further into American consciousness, and they now likely feel like they’re in a position to do that.•

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From Brennan Gilmore’s essay at Politico:

What we witnessed Saturday was the terrifying but logical outcome of our escalating, toxic politics of hate. I’ve seen it happen before. Serving in the Central African Republic in 2012, I saw political leaders use hatred and “othering” as instruments to gain political power. As a result, within months, Christians and Muslims, peaceful neighbors for decades, turned against each other. I saw the same thing happen when I served in Burundi, where Hutus and Tutsis made giant strides toward reconciliation after a horrifying history of mass atrocities, only to be manipulated, divided and turned against one another yet again.

America is not Africa. But watching this past election cycle in the U.S., my stomach churned as I saw some of these themes repeating themselves. Looking back now, I can see it was leading toward a cycle of conflict that, once started, is hard to break.

Many Americans like to think that this kind of thing can’t happen here—that American exceptionalism immunizes us from the virulent racism and tribalism that tear apart other countries far, far away. But we’re more susceptible than we’d like to think. …

Some may say that what happened in Charlottesville was not a big deal because it was a relatively small-scale event. And that’s true: Of all the race-based terrorist attacks in recent history, it was neither the largest nor did it produce the highest casualty count. After witnessing Nazis, self-declared militias and “private security forces” carrying assault rifles alongside state and local police (thanks to Virginia’s permissive gun laws), I can honestly say it could have been tragically worse.

But just because the white supremacists numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands, doesn’t mean the movement can’t quickly spiral out of control.•

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George Carlin is my favorite comic of all time, and Russell Brand has a lot of Carlin in his brain. In a new Guardian piece, Brand eviscerates Rupert Murdoch, the Scrooge McDuck of media titans who has the gall to fancy himself as a champion of the people while protecting the interests of those who despise them. An excerpt:

“Rupert Murdoch, an animatronic al-Qaida recruitment poster, in his private letter to Sun staff, after the News of the World was briefly closed for a makeover (not through remorse, or shame, no, because they couldn’t sell advertising space and because he wanted to launch the Sun on Sunday anyway because it’s cheaper to run one title than two – some guys get all the luck) referred consistently to his pride in the Sun as ‘a trusted news source’. Trusted is the word he used, not trustworthy. We know the Sun is not trustworthy and so does he. He uses the word ‘trusted’ deliberately. Hitler was trusted, it transpired he was not trustworthy. He also said of the arrested journalists, ‘everyone is innocent until proven guilty.’ Well, yes, that is the law of our country, not however a nicety often afforded to the victims of his titles, and here I refer not only to hacking but the vituperative portrayal of weak and vulnerable members of our society, relentlessly attacked by Murdoch’s ink jackals. Immigrants, folk with non-straight sexual identities, anyone in fact living in the margins of the Sun‘s cleansed utopia.”•


Rupert Murdoch, in 1968, about to gain control of News of the World:

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According to Jonathan Alter’s forthcoming book on the 2012 Presidential election, Steve Jobs, who loathed Fox News, personally ordered all Apple advertising from the truth-challenged cable station. From Paul McNamara at Network World:

As relates to his previously documented loathing of Fox News, it’s now known that the late Steve Jobs backed up his harsh words by wisely withholding Apple’s advertising dollars, according to an upcoming book about the 2012 presidential campaign.

The book’s author, Jonathan Alter, a Bloomberg political columnist and contributor to MSNBC, tells of Jobs ‘personally ordering that Apple ads be removed from Fox News,’ according to a blog post in the New York Times over the weekend. Alter’s book, The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, is scheduled to hit stores June 4.

That the Apple co-founder held Fox News in low regard has been publicly known since the publication of Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography in October 2011. Here’s the key passage recounting a conversation Jobs had with Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp., which owns Fox News:

‘You’re blowing it with Fox News,’ Jobs told him over dinner. ‘The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society. You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.’ Jobs said he thought Murdoch did not really like how far Fox had gone too far.”

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If anyone is wondering why that bastion of truthiness and GOP propaganda outlet Fox News misled its viewers so willfully during the Presidential election, it’s because the channel’s profits, not conservatism, is its chief concern. Of course. From a Vanity Fair excerpt of Zev Chafets’ new book about faux journalist Roger Ailes, a passage in which he discusses his bottom-line bromance with News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch. An excerpt:

“Ailes and Rupert Murdoch are very respectful of each other. Ailes credits Murdoch with realizing that there was a niche audience (‘half the country,’ as Charles Krauthammer, a Fox contributor, drily put it) for a cable news network with a conservative perspective. Murdoch, for his part, assured me that he doesn’t dictate editorial decisions. ‘I defer to Roger,’ he said. ‘I have ideas that Roger can accept or not. As long as things are going well … ‘

One moment of tension occurred in 2010, when Matthew Freud, the husband of Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth and a powerful British public-relations executive, told The New York Times that ‘I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’s horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corporation, its founder, and every other global media business aspires to.’ A spokesman for Murdoch replied that his son-in-law had been speaking for himself, and that Murdoch was ‘proud of Roger Ailes and Fox News.’ Ailes mocked Freud in an interview in the Los Angeles Times, saying he couldn’t pick the British flack out of a lineup and suggesting that he (a descendant of Sigmund Freud’s) ‘needed to see a psychiatrist.’

Murdoch often drops by Ailes’s office to joke and gossip about politics. ‘Roger and I have a close personal friendship,’ he told me. Ailes agrees—up to a point.

‘Does Rupert like me? I think so, but it doesn’t matter. When I go up to the magic room in the sky every three months, if my numbers are right, I get to live. If not, I’m killed. Our relationship isn’t about love—it’s about arithmetic. Survival means hitting your numbers.'”

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Adam Curtis has just republished a post on his BBC blog about that class act Rupert Murdoch. One segment concerns the late talk show host Russell Harty, who played a sort of jackass interviewer on TV, but certainly did not deserve to be hounded by Murdoch reporters as he lay dying in a hospital bed from an AIDS-related illness. An excerpt:

“In 1989 – on the 20th anniversary of buying the Sun – Murdoch helped write an editorial that trumpeted his vision of himself as a revolutionary:

‘The Establishment does not like the Sun. Never has

There is a growing band of people in positions of influence and privilege who want OUR newspaper to suit THEIR private convenience. They wish to conceal from readers’ eyes anything that they find annoying or embarrassing.



But the liberal elite were already fighting a counterattack. It had begun with the chat-show host Russell Harty the year before as he lay dying in a hospital bed from hepatitis.

Harty was a homosexual who had been hounded by the News of the World. With his illness this had turned into a media frenzy – with reporters from all the tabloids pursuing him in a hospital, posing as junior doctors demanding to see Harty’s medical notes, and photographers renting a flat opposite his hotel room.

At Harty’s funeral in 1988 the playwright Alan Bennett publicly accused the tabloid press of accelerating his friend’s death. ‘The gutter press finished him.’

The Sun chose to reply:

‘Stress did not kill Russell Harty. The truth is that he died from a sexually transmitted disease.

The press didn’t give it to him. He caught it from his own choice. And by paying young rent boys he broke the law.

Some – like ageing bachelor Mr Bennett – can see no harm in that. He has no family.

But what if it had been YOUR son Harty had bedded?'”

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Just before assuming control of the News of the World, which recently assumed control of him.


"Evidence of the city’s decline was everywhere: subway cars bruised with graffiti." (Image by JJ Special.)

Jonathan Mahler, author of the incredible book about NYC in crisis during the 1970s, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning, wrote a New York magazine article in 2005 that recalled how Rupert Murdoch’s rise to media domination was largely driven by the Aussie’s gambit that the beleaguered city would return to prominence. An excerpt:

“The year was 1976, and evidence of the city’s decline was everywhere: subway cars bruised with graffiti, arson fires that swallowed whole ghetto blocks, soaring murder rates, and annual six-figure job losses. The city put on its best face for the Democratic convention, hastily enacting an anti-loitering law that enabled cops to round up most of the prostitutes in the vicinity of Madison Square Garden. For a few days anyway, even Times Square was more or less hooker-free. But the area soon returned to being America’s most infamous erogenous zone.

Around the country, cartoonists poked fun at New York in its apocalypse: The city was a sinking ship, a zoo where the apes were employed as zookeepers, a stage littered with overturned props. Central Park had become a running joke in Johnny Carson’s nightly monologues (‘Some Martians landed in Central Park today . . . and were mugged’). The syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak understated the matter considerably when they wrote, ‘Americans do not much like, admire, respect, trust, or believe in New York.’

It’s easy now to look back at this moment and see it for what it was—a classic market bottom. But at the time, few recognized it as such. One man who did was Murdoch. Where others saw a city in financial distress, he saw a place ripe for entrepreneurship. Where others saw a failed experiment in social democracy, he saw an opening for simple supply-and-demand capitalism.”


Walter Cronkite on New York City’s financial emergency, 1976:

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