Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fox buys National Geographic: Rupert Murdoch's upsetting legacy ... by gimleteye

Rupert Murdoch can't last much longer. The time clock is running out for a multi-billionaire whose fortune was gleaned from consolidating human frailties around advertising revenue for print, television, film and the internet. From the sensationalism of British tabloids, to the constant provocations of the Fox News commentariat, to satellites whirring around the globe: Murdoch's understanding of human weakness is a form of refined, practical cunning.

So there is plenty of reason for those who have despaired of Murdoch's influence on our politics to be in an uproar over the announcement that the Fox empire just completed the purchase of National Geographic media properties. I, as just one observer, always considered National Geographic as adding to the storehouse of knowledge. Fox subtracts. National Geographic opens eyes. Fox closes them.

As stated by Daily Kos, in commenting upon the merger:

[The National Geographic] offers finely detailed stories on climate change, on endangered species, on changing food resources in a changing world, [and] is now owned by a company that is among the chief deniers of climate change.

In the midst of global climate change talks last December, a top Fox News official sent an email questioning the “veracity of climate change data” and ordering the network’s journalists to “refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”

The directive, sent by Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, was issued less than 15 minutes after Fox correspondent Wendell Goler accurately reported on-air that the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was “on track to be the warmest [decade] on record."

There are at least two ways to interpret Murdoch's purchase: one, that it represents a further effort to suppress fact and science in favor of atmospherics conducive to advertising revenue, or two, that as this King Lear comes to a foretold end, he would leave a path for his critics to see a more nuanced version of the man.

On the other hand, with Murdoch it has always been about money and the bottom line. Consumers pray that the next generation is more sensitive to the obligations of great wealth to humanity. Given the dismal record of the father, that may just be dreaming.

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