Friday, April 13, 2012

Rupert Murdoch Scandal: Fox News In Context ... by gimleteye

PBS "Frontline" has an outstanding investigative report of the scandal enveloping Rupert Murdoch's media empire in Great Britain. The website has regular updates. Don't miss this one.

I had difficulty focusing on the Murdoch scandal in Great Britain. Call it a visceral reaction. I loathe what Fox News -- a significant piece of Fox Broadcasting -- has done to American politics. It has become an agent of right wing candidates and causes, including the worst forms of message manipulation that advanced policies and Republicans like George W. Bush Jr. who steered the U.S. economy into multi-trillion dollar blood baths. My feelings about Fox News are so visceral I walk out of a room when the TV is tuned there.

At any rate, I finally watched the Frontline episode, produced by Lowell Bergman. It is remarkable and deserves the attention of everyone; including Fox News junkies.

My take-away is that Rupert Murdoch succeeded in using tabloid newspapers in Great Britain -- he owns the major ones -- to control British politics over many decades. The seamless interface he created through threats and intimidation and the power of tabloids to control political outcomes of elections; between the political class, the police (whose agents tapped phones for his reporters), and the newspapers could not be replicated (yet) in the United States. These achievements and his ambitions were grafted onto his operations in the U.S.; including the Wall Street Journal.

And Murdoch was quick to recognize -- even a genius -- the salient differences between Great Britain and U.S. consumers and advertisers.

The National Enquirer had long scooped the market for sensationalism and purient stories. American audiences are more puritanical and less inclined to what passes for mass market entertainment via the tabloids. What Murdoch understood better than any before him is how to exploit the "business of America is business" ethos that drives our earnest claims to the shining city on the hill and American exceptionalism. By heightening the fear and anxiety of consumers -- through Fox News -- Murdoch found a parallel model to immense profits generated from his first business line in Great Britain: the tabloids.

There are a few astounding moments in the Bergman documentary on Frontline. One is the dawning awareness that Murdoch lied incessantly to Parliament investigators who gradually, as the illegal phone hacking scandal blossomed (in part, thanks to the New York Times focus on the big picture), grew emboldened. Knowing how Murdoch personally adores gossip and the exchanges with reporters on the front lines, it is inconceivable that he did not know about the bribery and phone/ wire tapping. Two, the moment that a Fox News reporter asked Murdoch about the scandal, on air, and was instantly stopped by Murdoch; the reporter dropped his line of questioning like it was radioactive plutonium. I felt a little vomit rising in my throat.

What emerges from the Frontline documentary for any willing to watch it, is that the Fox News/Roger Ailes empire has chilled democracy in the United States; adapted from the formula for success in Great Britain; exploiting human weaknesses and deploying strategies to attract viewers, advertisers, and politicians to its cause of media consolidation. Whether the charges against the Murdoch empire rises to criminal activity against Fox Broadcasting in the U.S. remains to be seen. At the very least, the pall that Fox News casts over American politics should be visible, now, to more viewers and voters. Unfortunately, Fox News has substantially contributed to the rampant disease blending opinion and fact so thoroughly that the polarization of American politics is scarred by the insistence that everyone has the right to their own facts.

The Murdoch empire in Great Britain is finally being called to account; its untouchable executives arrested and shamed. A remarkable story. It is not too much to hope the same will happen in the United States where "fair and balanced" is not only a lie underscoring the Murdoch empire on our side of the Atlantic, but a lie deployed to such harmful results to our democracy. The only way to understand the symbiosis between Fox News, corporations and large donors to right-wing political causes is to be informed. If you don't believe me, watch the Frontline episode on Rupert Murdoch.


Anonymous said...

The righties say there has been a liberal media bias for years in the US and Fox News is merely countering that. How do you answer that?

Anonymous said...

Your article is very well summerized and told. I have followed the 'Murdoch Scandal' for over a year and you said it best.
Murdoch and his thugs are a Global corporate and moral crime wave with a U.S. TV Station (Fox News) dedicated to his extreme ideologies and profit.
As a business person, how do I explain these kind of global crooked behaviours to my grand children? We can't just smile and let this go by. We the people, must be informed to survive and correct this or we may be doomed to a MurdochCorpGov.... the new big brother.... saying "How do you like me now?" Creepy.

Anonymous said...

"the new big brother.... saying "How do you like me now?" Creepy."

Like George Soros, Media Matters,, Van Jones, NBC and the whole lot of them don't have a monopoly on the "liberal" side.

And, for the record, I'm an Independent, not a GOP Member! Quite frankly, I'm sick of both parties gunning at each other.

soflanewbie said...

Well said. Have you noticed how Fox "News" is usually the one playing on TVs that are on in public places with captive audiences? It's like the wallpaper.

I took my mother to her cardiologist appointment in Texas, and there was Fox spewing its mendacious poison about the evils of government into a waiting room filled with Medicare patients. I savored the irony until I couldn't stand it any more and then complained to the receptionist, who told me that she was "real sorry" I felt that way, but the management wouldn't allow them to change the channel. I needed my own blood pressure meds by the time I left.

David said...

Fox is the only counterpoint to a sea of progressive-biased new we are fed a regular diet of in this country. Have you ever watched MSNBC? It makes me puke!