The Wall Street Journal: Standing Up For Poor, Defenseless Billionaires

When Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal there was anxious speculation about what would become of the respected financial clarion. Many critics (myself included) predicted that the paper would devolve into a partisan tool for the advancement of Murdoch’s uber-conservative agenda. Now we have confirmation of the worst of our reckoning.

A few weeks ago, the Journal’s Kimberley Strassel wrote a column complaining about an Obama campaign web page that identified a few of Mitt Romney’s wealthy donors and described their inherent interests in helping Romney to buy the presidency. Strassel’s take at the time was a departure from rational thought as she dredged up delusions about McCarthyism and enemies lists. She portrayed the introduction of Romney’s contributors as an attempt to intimidate them, as if being branded a Romney supporter was in itself an insult from which they must be shielded.

The truth is that Strassel was acting as a defender of the super-rich who prefer to operate in anonymity in order to achieve their self-serving ends. And while criticizing wealthy Republicans was tantamount to treason, she had no such sympathy for the likes of George Soros or George Clooney who somehow deserved the exposure and criticism they endured. Strassel is nothing but a mouthpiece for her boss, Murdoch, who is rushing to aid his aristocratic comrades. That explains how Strassel’s looney observations traveled so briskly from the Journal to Fox News and other right-wing media.

But apparently her article didn’t do the trick. So yesterday she followed up with another piece that sought to shelter one particular Romney supporter from the slings and arrows of outrageousness due to his vast fortune. Frank VanderSloot is the CEO of Melaleuca, an Amway-ish multi-level marketing enterprise. He has been described as an ultra-conservative and virulently anti-gay activist who generously spreads his wealth in pursuit of his politically narrow and socially constricting goals. [For a revealing look at VanderSloot see Glenn Greenwald's excellent and in-depth essay in Salon].

The focus of Strassel’s new column is her dismay that VanderSloot is the subject of research by presumably Democratic operatives. Once again, the notion that wealthy power-players should be exempt from scrutiny is the core of her complaint. She even begins her article by saying…

“Here’s what happens when the president of the United States publicly targets a private citizen for the crime of supporting his opponent.”

First of all, VanderSloot is not what any objective person would describe as just a “private citizen.” He is a prominent, big-money backer of political issues and candidates and he is the national finance co-chair of the Romney campaign. That makes him a very public person whose activities are relevant. Strassel’s position is that he is off-limits for public discourse despite making himself a notoriously vociferous spokesperson for his conservative views. This is a common stance from the right wherein they assert that they can say anything they want about anyone, including slanderous attacks on the President, but if the targets of these attacks dare to respond they are guilty of intimidation and suppression of free speech.

Just as with her previous column, this one also made the journey from print to television. Fox News committed significant airtime to the story. Megyn Kelly interviewed Strassel in one segment of her program, then came back with another segment pitting a couple of political analysts against each other. Later, Neil Cavuto did a report on the subject for one segment, and returned to “interview” a couple of right-wing, Fox legal contributors. That’s a lot of airtime to devote to protecting a billionaire from having to be accountable for his political actions.

Poor Frank VanderSloot. What a burden it must be for him to have people discover what he’s up to with his campaign spending. And what a blow to his dignity that he should have to answer questions from the peasants he is seeking to control through disbursement of his wealth. It’s a good thing he has Rupert Murdoch, and the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News to cover for him because he surely doesn’t have any means of defending himself. He can now join the Koch brothers who were aided by the Murdoch Machine earlier this year when the Journal gave space to their attorney, Ted Olsen, to make largely the same arguments that Strassel is making about McCarthyism, just because they experienced some push-back for their right-wing advocacy.

It’s startling how thin-skinned these billionaires are. With all of their financial resources, media access, and Washington connections, they still cry like babies when confronted. And it’s pathetic what the Wall Street Journal has become as it seems to be destroying it’s reputation for the sake of a few wealthy patrons.

Obama-Phobia: Wall Street Journal, Fox News Revive Nixon’s Enemies List

The classic symptoms of obsessive paranoia are exhibiting themselves again in the psyches of delusional right-wingers. The villainous shadows they conjure up in every corner of their warped minds betrays how desperately sick they have become.

The latest blood vessel to burst in these over-anxious conservative foreheads is displayed in an article published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, the once respected financial paper that Rupert Murdoch has transformed into another of his tabloid rags. The item’s headline blared ominously that, “The President Has a List” (cue spooky music).

OMG! Is he checking it twice? The article’s author, Kimberley Strassel, seems to be alleging that President Obama has usurped the powers of Santa Claus and is preparing to rain a frosty judgment down on Republicans who were naughty this election year. They know who they are, and now, with his new North Pole Initiative, so does Obama. He even knows when they’re asleep and/or awake.

The article’s sub-head went into a little more panicky detail saying, “Barack Obama attempts to intimidate contributors to Mitt Romney’s campaign.” That’s a pretty scary thought. What will become of our democracy if powerful political players go around harassing the financial backers of their opponents? It could end up instigating slanderous attacks on private citizens who merely want to participate in the democratic process. The GOP would never contemplate doing such a thing to backers of Democrats. Notice the respect with which they always regard George Soros and Barbara Streisand. Nevertheless, Strassel rolls out the big guns with allusions to the famously paranoid Richard Nixon:

“Richard Nixon’s ‘enemies list’ appalled the country for the simple reason that presidents hold a unique trust. Unlike senators or congressmen, presidents alone represent all Americans. Their powers—to jail, to fine, to bankrupt—are also so vast as to require restraint. Any president who targets a private citizen for his politics is de facto engaged in government intimidation and threats.”

Exactly! So if mega-wealthy conservative activists drop boatloads of cash into dishonest campaigns designed to demonize the President as an anti-American, Marxist, alien, aligned with Al-Qaeda, the President and his supporters should just shut their mouths and permit those poor billionaires to do as they please. If God didn’t want filthy rich robber barons and corporations to pervert democracy he wouldn’t have given them the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision.

The source of this bubbling cauldron of conservative angst is a web site that the Obama campaign operates to counter the abundant feces-flinging from the right. It is produced by Obama’s “Truth Team” and consists entirely of disseminating documented information with the ghastly purpose of helping people to make informed decisions. In particular, there is an article titled “Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney’s donors” that reveals who is bankrolling Romney’s campaign and what their motivations might be. It begins by saying…

“As the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney is relying on a cadre of high-dollar and special-interest donors to fund his campaign. Giving information about his real policy intentions and high-level access for cash, Romney and Republicans are working hard to pull in as much money as they can from wealthy lobbyists, corporations, and PACs.”

No wonder the right is worried. We certainly can’t have people going around telling the truth about wealthy special interests who are trying to help Romney buy this election. And even though none of the atrocities Strassel mentions in her column (“to jail, to fine, to bankrupt”) are occurring, it’s bad enough that truthful biographies and affiliations are being brought into the light of day.

Adding to the cacophony of crazy is Rupert Murdoch’s cable crew at Fox News. Neil Cavuto took up the very same topic as Strassel’s WSJ story (by coincidence, I’m sure) and engaged in a profound exchange with Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl:

Cavuto: Called out for shelling out. Private donors to Mitt Romney outed on an Obama campaign web site. The site ripping their record, even saying that they’re betting against America by giving cash to Romney’s campaign. Is this legal?
Lis Wiehl: It may be. I went on the web site today. It is frightening. I mean, I don’t like to get on any list, unless it’s a birthday party list or something like that, but a Nixon enemy list, McCarthyism…

First of all, Cavuto and Wiehl are just plain delusional in speculating that there is anything illegal about posting truthful information about political donors. And while Cavuto is just an idiot, Wiehl is a lawyer and should know better. Secondly, the web site does not say that Romney donors are “betting against America by giving cash to Romney’s campaign.” It says they are betting against America by outsourcing American jobs, closing American factories, and unlawfully foreclosing on American homeowners. Then they take their tainted winnings and parlay them into Romney’s Wheel of Nefarious Fortune. But the best example of the looming dementia on the part of these dimwits is Wiehl’s allusion to her sterling investigative skills. She seemed so proud of herself for navigating the byzantine maze that Obama’s functionaries constructed to hide their true identities. She bragged to Cavuto that…

Wiehl: You’ve got to through a few links. It’s not that easy. I’m not a computer person, but I did manage to do it myself.

Here is the maze of deception through which Wiehl had to rummage:

Obama Truth Team

How on earth did she ever discover the real source of this web site? Only a crack investigator with Wiehl’s superior legal experience could have figured out how to scroll to the bottom of the page. Those Obama web developers are mighty crafty, but no match for Wiehl.

This isn’t the first time that the Murdoch empire has attempted to associate Obama with Nixon and McCarthy. A couple of months ago the Wall Street Journal published an article by Ted Olsen that accused the President of similar list crimes. On that occasion it was the infamous Koch brothers who were being set up for presidential attacks. It’s too bad that the billionaire Koch brothers are so defenseless that they have to resort to having their lawyer (Olsen) be given space in the Wall Street Journal to whine about being criticized by the president they have vowed to destroy.

It’s also a little ironic that the right is so vociferously disturbed by tactics made popular by people they now regard as heroes. Both Nixon and McCarthy have been the beneficiaries of recent rehabilitations by their fellow Republicans. We even have GOP stars like Allen West declaring that commies are running rampant through the corridors of congress. McCarthy would be so proud. And Glenn Beck sanitized Nixon’s enemies list by saying that it was “just about who’s not coming to state dinners.” Yet conservatives will still site these historical scumbags in a negative sense if they think they can tarnish the President with it. Oh what a tangled web…..

Murdochalypse Comes To America: Is Fox News Next To Fall?

MurdochalypseThe scandal that is devouring Rupert Murdoch’s international media empire has thus far resulted in numerous arrests of public officials in Britain and top-level Murdoch executives. It led to the closure of Murdoch’s tabloid, News of the World. It tarnished the reputations of the Murdoch ruling family to the point that the once heir apparent, James Murdoch, was forced to resign from the chairmanship of both News International and the British Sky Broadcasting satellite network.

This cesspool of criminality and debased ethics has grown from what News Corp once tried to dismiss as a “single rogue reporter” to a corporate-wide syndicate of corruption. Nevertheless, News Corp has somehow managed to contain the damage to its European assets. That is quite a feat considering that any reputation for misbehavior on the scale seen here ought to rub off on the rest of the enterprise responsible for it. The main sticking point has been that the scandal had not crossed the Atlantic to America.

Well that shield may have just been pierced. Mark Lewis, a British attorney who has represented several figures in the News Corp hacking affair, including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, is coming to America with a caseload that includes alleged victims of Murdoch’s Mafia who are citizens of the United States. The Daily Beast reports that…

…Lewis confirmed for the first time that he plans to file three separate lawsuits on behalf of clients who believe their phones were hacked while they were on U.S. soil. At least one of the cases, Lewis adds, involves allegations that the phone of a U.S. citizen was hacked.

If Lewis has American clients who were subjected to the same sort of illegal intrusions that were a core part of News Corp’s British operations, this is a whole new ballgame. Even though the national borders ought not to protect Murdoch from repercussions arising from his sleazy business practices, that protection will become moot if it is proven that the same activities were perpetrated on these shores.

It remains to be seen if Lewis has the goods on Murdoch, but it is hard to believe that disreputable press entities like Fox News and the New York Post would consider themselves above their British cousins, especially when many of the managers at the U.S. branches transferred to their stateside posts from the corrupt News International executive suites. And if Lewis doesn’t have the goods now, he may shortly acquire them as the investigation continues.

Even though this scandal has already ensnared News Corp executives and English police officials and politicians, it may just be beginning to heat up. Stay tuned.

Rupert Murdoch’s Birthday Wish To His Staff: STFU You Wankers!

Rupert Murdoch

Congratulations are in order for Mr. Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman and CEO of News Corp, who turns 81 today. However, as he surveys the empire that he built he must be bitterly disappointed with the tunnel-blind miscreants he employs. Their obsessive, knee-jerk hostility to all things liberal has clouded their judgment in ways that harm the very interests they are being paid to serve. The result is a rash of friendly fire from within the ranks of Murdoch’s menagerie.

The first casualty is a victim in the Limbaugh-induced war of indecency. Intent on spreading blame to everyone but Limbaugh, Fox News has embarked on a crusade against any liberal (or perceived liberal) who may have said something controversial. It commenced with a Fox favorite for vilification, Bill Maher, but has now extended to comedian Louis CK. Fox News host Greta Van Susteren was so incensed that Louis CK was tapped to provide the comic relief at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner that she publicly protested, called him a pig, and declared that she was initiating a boycott of the event. Subsequently, Louis CK dropped the gig. This is an unwelcome birthday gift for Rupert because the comedian also happens to be the star of “Louis” on his FX cable channel.

Next up is the battle between Fox News contributors. Tucker Carlson, one of said contributors, wrote an editorial on his DailyCaller blog that attempted to illustrate a hypocrisy in the media coverage of the Limbaugh controversy. Unfortunately, Carlson chose to include in his example the former LAPD officer Mark Furhman, who is best known for his use of racial epithets that was disclosed during the OJ Simpson trial. Carlson mocked Furhman as a pariah who is probably out of work, and deservedly so because “Nobody wants to be seen with a bigot.” The problem is that Furhman is actually employed by the same Fox News that employs Carlson. So not only is Carlson seen with Furhman, they are colleagues. All one big happy family of bigots. That can’t be making Rupert’s birthday any more joyful.

This is just the sort of thing that can occur when people are so blinded by their prejudices that they lose all sight of anything but their determination to harm their perceived enemies. The ultimate example of this mental defect occurred when Glenn Beck called Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal a terrorist. Alwaleed is the second largest shareholder of News Corp stock outside of the Murdoch family, and a close friend and business partner of Murdoch.

So anyway, happy birthday, Rupert. And good luck with that loathsome collection of reprobates you call a news team.

Fox Business Network Cancels Entire Primetime Lineup

Fox Business NetworkThe day after News Corp released their latest quarterly earnings report, they made another announcement that somehow was left out of the earnings conference call.

The struggling Fox Business Network (FBN) has, in one fell swoop, canceled their entire primetime lineup. Wiped from the schedule are “Freedom Watch” with Andrew Napolitano, “Power & Money” with David Asman, and “Follow the Money” with Eric Bolling. All three programs had little business running on a business network in the first place. They were brazenly political vehicles for sharply partisan, right-wing gasbags.

Andrew Napolitano is a notorious 9/11 truther who believes that the attack on the World Trade Center towers was an inside job. He also lamented the killing of Osama Bin Laden whom he characterized as a victim of assassination, “killed on the illegal whim of the President.”

David Asman has said that we should all be celebrating the 1%. He is an advocate of shutting down the government and believes that its size must be cut “before it kills us all.” He called Obama “Hugo Chavez on the Potomac.” And he believes that Social Security is “one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated.”

Eric Bolling is perhaps the most deserving of the Glenn Beck Memorial Wingnut Award for Delusional Hyperbole. He has accused President Obama of engaging in class warfare that was “forged in Marxist Germany.” He embraces every conspiracy theory that comes along including that Sesame Street was demonizing the Tea Party. He even accused the American hikers who were held in an Iranian prison of being spies and said that Iran should have kept them.

The demise of these programs signals the dismal shape that FBN is in. The decision to swing the axe was not prompted by the development of new programs to take their place. FBN will fill the holes with repeats of programs that air earlier in the day. It is clearly a desperation move by a network that needs to cut the dead weight and run leaner and cheaper.

FBN’s primetime lineup never drew more than about 25,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 year old demographic. Their ratings have been pathetic from the start, when they proposed to launch a new business channel that would appeal to “Main Street.” That was a direct contradiction of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch who said that “a Fox channel would be ‘more business-friendly than CNBC.’” Of course, a business network is not supposed to be “friendly” toward the businesses it is covering.

In an ironic twist, FBN’s Vice-President, Kevin Magee, recently distributed a memo to his staff admonishing them for being too much like their sister network, Fox News.

Magee: “I’ve been asked to remind you all again that they are separate channels and the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves. I understand the temptation to imitate our sibling network in hopes of imitating its success, but we cannot. If we give the audience a choice between FNC and the almost-FNC, they will choose FNC every time.”

That’s excellent advice. CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC should pay attention. However, it apparently came too late to save the most Foxish programs on the network. Now Magee has lopped off the worst offenders in the hopes of rescuing the floundering enterprise. Though the losers will still be around as Magee notes that “We look forward to Judge Napolitano, David and Eric continuing to make significant contributions to both FOX Business and FOX News.” Yeah right.

The only purpose Fox Business ever had was to extend the rightist propaganda already blaring from Fox News. They loaded up the network with conservative extremist pundits and vacant ratings whores like Don Imus. That approach has proven to be another failure for Murdoch, whose MySpace investment quickly went down the tubes; whose New York Post has lost millions for as long as he has owned it; for his international newspaper syndicate that is still reeling from the discovery of rampant criminal activity, phone hacking, and the the shuttering of his biggest paper in the UK, the News of the World.

Another item of information that was disclosed with the News Corp earnings release is that their cable television assets represent 60% of their revenue. That’s a pretty heavy reliance on one business segment of a conglomerate that includes international publishing and film operations. Now that FBN is slipping away, all that Murdoch needs is to have his Fox News falter. That is the last remaining support for his crumbling empire. And for the benefit of honest journalism, the nation, and the world, it can’t come too soon.

Wall Street Journal On The GOP: If They Don’t Want To Lose, They Shouldn’t Run With Losers

Bret Stephens, the deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, published an article this morning that begins…

“Let’s just say right now what voters will be saying in November, once Barack Obama has been re-elected: Republicans deserve to lose.

The column is an indictment of the whole Republican field, but with an emphasis on Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Stephens is no fan of President Obama either. He leads off with a litany of laments having to do with things that Stephens says don’t matter, but conveniently leaves out any of the administration’s accomplishments. And it all leads up to this…

“Above all, it doesn’t matter that Americans are generally eager to send Mr. Obama packing. All they need is to be reasonably sure that the alternative won’t be another fiasco. But they can’t be reasonably sure, so it’s going to be four more years of the disappointment you already know.”

Stephens goes on to compare the GOP field to a “terminal diagnosis” and says that neither Romney nor Gingrich are fit to be a serious Republican nominee. Then he turns his animus to Republicans who declined to enter the race (Daniels, Ryan, Christie, etc.) and blames them for the loss looming in November. It’s a loss that Stephens regards as inevitable. And he is crystal clear as to what he believes is the reason that Obama is certain to be reelected:

“…the U.S. will surely survive four more years. Who knows? By then maybe Republicans will have figured out that if they don’t want to lose, they shouldn’t run with losers.”

That is uncannily close to my own analysis of the GOP race. However, I’m not a deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal. Conservatives of all stripes are bemoaning their presidential slate this year. They know that Romney is a poor representative in an election year where the wealthy 1% are considered aloof and out of touch. And Gingrich is regarded as toxic to Republican’s hopes for both the White House and their hold on the House of Representatives.

You know it may be time to pack it in when Rupert Murdoch has come out against both GOP campaign leaders:

Uh oh. Who does that leave for Murdoch to support? Santorum? Paul? Obama? Or are we headed for a brokered convention? That would be sweet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Rupert Murdoch Proposes Legislation To Outlaw Fox News

The chairman and CEO of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, has been busily Tweeting his support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). His point invariably refers to nefarious characters who are trying to steal his intellectual property. And not one for understatement, Murdoch has labeled his opponents as terrorists.

SOPA was drafted in a manner that would not punish any actual content thieves, but would empower the government to shut down any web site that contained a link to pirated material, even if that link was posted by a visitor to the web site or was picked up by an automated process that scans Internet pages. Consequently the law could result in shutting down sites with user communities like Boing-Boing or search indexes like Google.

Today Murdoch posted a Tweet that suggested his support for even more government regulation that could have an effect on his own businesses:

Rupert Murdoch

There is something profoundly disturbing about Murdoch connecting the phone hacking scandal, for which his company was responsible, with his campaign against SOPA. The News Corp phone hacking victimized thousands of people. It has resulted in 15 arrests (so far). There have been numerous resignations from News Corp, as well as the British government and police department. It is perhaps the worst scandal an international media enterprise has ever perpetrated. To compare that with a power-grabbing effort to legalize Internet censorship is absurd and ignorant.

However, Murdoch’s Tweet could backfire on him. Think about it. Murdoch believes that passing legislation that permits shutting down Internet sites if they link to unauthorized copyrighted material is warranted and appropriate. And also he thinks there is a connection between that position and the phone hacking scandal. Therefore he must believe that it would be appropriate to shut down any enterprise that engaged in phone hacking. So a SOPA-type law addressing phone hacking would permit the government to shut down News Corp, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and other Murdoch entities.

As beneficial to the world’s media landscape as that would be, I cannot endorse it. Murdoch is wrong about SOPA, and he is wrong about over-reaching legislation that grants the government inordinate power over the Internet or the media. He is completely delusional if he thinks there is a connection between SOPA and phone hacking. And the only message he is conveying is that he still doesn’t understand the extremity of the criminal acts for which he and his company are guilty.

Rupert Murdoch Calls Blogosphere Terrorists For Opposing SOPA

It’s good to know that the Chairman of the parent company of Fox News isn’t a histrionic panic-monger who wallows in absurd hyperbole.

No, it is perfectly reasonable for Rupert Murdoch to call members of the Internet community terrorists just because he disagrees with their position in opposition to the censorious, power-grabbing legislation speciously known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Rupert Murdoch Tweet

Murdoch seems to think that “terrorism” is synonymous with “democracy,” because that’s all that the opponents of SOPA were engaging in when they sought to solicit support from their representatives. Furthermore, Murdoch, who became a U.S. citizen by an act of congress so that he could buy the Fox Television network, still does not understand our Constitution that guarantees the right to redress grievances with our government. Murdoch regards such activity as terrorism.

Ironically, since 2003 Murdoch has spent about $45 million “terrorizing” … I mean lobbying congress to get them to bow to his will. Apparently he thinks it’s alright for a billionaire to shower mountains of cash on congress, but if citizens try to inform their representatives about what they want, they might as well have joined Al Qaeda.

It’s also ironic that the man who is in charge of the global “news” corporation that hacked the phones of thousands of people, including a murdered school girl, has the gall to use such repulsive language against respectable citizens. But it isn’t surprising. Murdoch’s CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes called everyone at NPR Nazis. And Murdoch’s news empire was the biggest cheerleader for invading Iraq when there was no justification. That resulted in the loss of more than 4,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.

So who is the real terrorist?

Rupert Murdoch Tweets Up A Storm For SOPA

New Twitter user, Rupert Murdoch, has been busily cramming his support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) into 140 characters. His advocacy for SOPA is a thinly disguised scheme to squeeze out more profits for his company at the expense of free speech and a vibrant, innovative Internet environment. His latest use of social media to advance his personal interests began with a Tweet aimed at President Obama:

Murdoch Tweet

Now Murdoch is attacking “Silicon Valley paymasters” as thieves. Whatever happened to the valiant, capitalist, entrepreneurs who represented the high principles of free market patriotism? All that goes away if you challenge Murdoch’s control over any aspect of his perceived empire. And Google has long been an enemy of Murdoch’s. His next Tweet targets Google directly for advertising and lobbying:

Murdoch Tweet

This is an ironic complaint since it is pretty much the News Corp business model. Murdoch’s Fox Nation is almost entirely comprised of “stolen” content. He aggregates news stories from other sources, slaps his logo on them, and sells his advertising. As for lobbying, Since 2003 News Corp has spent about $45 million dollars on lobbying – twice what Google has spent. Murdoch’s frenzy to out spend, and out maneuver, Google must be having an effect on his mental state, because this next Tweet descends into incoherence:

Murdoch Tweet

Well, who isn’t angry at Optus (the second largest telecommunications company in Australia)? Like most telecom entities it is just another giant corporate … oh … Hang on there. Apparently Murdoch meant POTUS (President of the United States). But that doesn’t make any sense because the only people angry with Obama over SOPA are the opponents of the bill. Maybe backing censors and opponents of free speech is another of the frequent miscalculations by Murdoch. He would be well advised to defer to Obama who recently addressed this issue saying:

“We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.”

But if Murdoch wants to continue supporting SOPA and Tweeting his lame, self-serving thoughts on the matter, the Internet community will welcome his participation in a free and open dialog, even though he wouldn’t return the favor.

Fox News Miscues: Rupert Murdoch And Rick Santorum Send Mixed Messages

The campaign trail is fraught with hazards. Sometimes you’re moving so fast you miss important turns and signals. That must be the explanation for the disconnect that just occurred between Rick Santorum and the News Corp CEO, Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch recently joined Twitter (Interestingly, just a few days after his pal and business partner Saudi Prince Alwaleed invested $300 million dollars). Among his first few tweets are two that reference Rick Santorum approvingly:

January 1: Good to see santorum surging in Iowa. Regardless of policies, all debates showed principles, consistency and humility like no other.

January 2: Can’t resist this tweet, but all Iowans think about Rick Santorum. Only candidate with genuine big vision for country.

That was nice of him. I wonder how he’ll feel after he hears what Santorum said about his Fox News Channel:

“The media has just completely tried to shape this race. And not just the liberal media. It’s even Fox News. You know, Bill O’Reilly has refused to put me on his program. As far as he was concerned I wasn’t a worthy enough candidate to earn a spot to sit across from him and be on his program. Here you have folks supposedly in the conservative media who are saying, “You know, we’re gonna choose who are gonna win.” And then complain that the mainstream media does the same thing.”

Santorum is raising the curtain on Fox’s carefully maintained deceit that they are a fair and balanced news enterprise. He acknowledges that Fox is “the conservative media” from whom he expects special treatment distinct from the other so-called liberal press. I can’t believe that Murdoch will like that. I suspect O’Reilly won’t particularly like this either. Santorum paints O’Reilly as part of a biased cabal with an agenda to harm those he views as outside the approved cast of characters.

But, for once, Santorum has said something that is undeniably true. Fox News wants to pick the electoral winner. They wanted to in 2008 as well, but that didn’t work out too well for them. They will certainly try again this year with a relentlessly negative assault on President Obama. But they may have to work a little harder at getting their stories straight.

Something Santorum neglected to mention about the conservative media that he says is trying to shape the race, is that Fox News has had him on 54 times since June. That’s about twice as many bookings as Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. For the record, the most frequent guest was Herman Cain, with 73 appearances. Talk about a wasted investment.

Time Magazine: #Occupy Wall Street #1 Story Of 2011

The editors of Time Magazine have selected the Occupy Wall Street movement as the top news story of 2011. This was a year that featured a contentious primary race for the Republican nomination for president, a bitter congressional battle over the debt ceiling, and a trial of staggering importance to the nation that found Michael Jackson’s doctor guilty of manslaughter.

Nevertheless, Time managed to make the right choice. The Occupy movement is an unprecedented expression of the First Amendment rights of free speech and the redressing of grievances. This country has never before seen a protest that planted itself in a public square and remained there long after most other rallies would have dissipated and gone home. And this phenomenon replicated itself in hundreds of cities across the nation.

As a result, the public debate over policy and governance flipped 180 degrees from the phony discourse over debt and the size of government, to the far more relevant subject of economic fairness and the abuse of power by the wealthy, the well-connected, and the giant multinational corporations who have no allegiance to America or its citizenry. It shoved the AstroTurf Tea Party out of the headlines and caused the Republican establishment to admit that they are “frightened to death” of Occupy and the 99%.

While Time got the top spot right, there were a couple of glaring omissions in the remainder of their top 10. Somehow they left out the killing of Osama Bin Laden which, after a decade of consuming a major portion of the national consciousness, ought to have earned a spot on this list. It is likewise curious that the News Corp phone hacking scandal was overlooked. That affair resulted in the closure of Britain’s largest circulation newsweekly, 17 arrests (and counting), numerous resignations of top management, Parliamentary hearings that compelled the appearance of Rupert Murdoch and his son James. This was not only a huge news story, it was the biggest news story about the news in decades.

These omissions might have been excusable if the crush of major events simply pushed the stories further down the list. But Time saw fit to include the “Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal,” and “Freak Weather” in the list. Do they really believe that those stories rank higher than the downfalls of the world’s top terrorist and top media propagandist?

[I'll leave it you to decide which is which]
Rupert MurdochOsama Bin Laden

ABC News Lists The Wealthy 1% Influencing Politics – But Leaves A Few Out

ABC News has published a list of what they call the “Top 8 Most Powerful Businessmen Influencing Politics.” It is a testament to the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement that a mainstream news organization is even attempting to tackle this issue.

Prior to OWS there was nary a peep about the appalling and dangerous wealth gap in America. The pundits and politicians had a single-minded focus on deficits and ignored the larger question of how they accumulated throughout the Bush administration via tax cuts for rich, off-the-books wars, and irresponsible deregulation.

The Occupy movement has completely shifted the debate to the more relevant issue of economic equity and the abuse of power by corporations and their wealthy proponents. That shift is the reason that ABC News has, for the first time, published a list of One Percenters who influence politics. Unfortunately, the list is woefully incomplete:

  • Koch Brothers
  • George Soros
  • Warren Buffett
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg
  • A. Jerrold Perenchio
  • George Kaiser
  • Howard Schultz

ABC seems to be going out of their way to be non-partisan. The problem with that approach is that the ranks of the wealthy are not themselves non-partisan. Here are a few more Republican power brokers that ABC omitted – and every one a billionaire:

  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Philip Anschutz
  • Sumner Redstone
  • Donald Trump
  • Steve Wynn
  • T. Boone Pickens
  • Arthur Blank
  • Meg Whitman
  • Richard Scaife

The noticeable leaning of wealthy businessmen to the conservative side ought to have been acknowledged by ABC. This is especially true given that so many of them are their colleagues in the media. It is particularly conspicuous that ABC left Rupert Murdoch off of their list given that he may be the world’s most prominent influencer of politics with both his blatantly biased news enterprises and his personal generosity toward conservative causes.

Other than these egregious omissions, it is encouraging to see the mainstream press starting to recognize the imbalance in this nation’s economic and political systems. And for that we can thank the Occupiers.

Rupert Murdoch Faces Shareholders And Occupiers

MurdochalypseIn a theater on the lot of Fox Studios in Los Angeles, about a hundred investors in News Corp assembled to hear Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenants defend being criminals and thieves. There was a certain beauty in this charade taking place in the guts of a fantasy factory, in the shadow of Hollywood.

Murdoch delivered his well rehearsed monologue about how strong the business is and how bright its future, on the same day that their PR department announced that they were paying $4.8 million dollars to compensate the family of a murdered schoolgirl for having hacked into her phone and misled her parents and the police as to her fate. Today we know that there were perhaps hundreds of others whose privacy was violated, including politicians, celebrities, and royals. And yet Murdoch is comfortable declaring that “I’m very proud of the culture we have at this company.”

Murdoch had the gall to assert that most of the information authorities have now about the phone hacking and other scandals came from News Corp itself. That statement defies belief considering that the company has done nothing to punish any of the wrongdoers associated with the criminal acts. The scandal goes back a decade, all the while being covered up by editors and executives. It was reporting by the Guardian’s Nick Davies that broke the scandal wide open. Since then fifteen News Corp employees have been arrested, top executives have resigned, and one former journalist, Sean Hoare, was found dead in his home. Hoare was the first person to allege that former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson (who later became a press aide to Prime Minister David Cameron), knew about the hacking.

The shareholder’s meeting provided an opportunity for critics to voice their frustration with the company’s management. There were proposals to slash the pay of the Murdochs, to mandate a separation between the chairman and the CEO, both positions currently held by Murdoch. And an unprecedented number of investor groups and advisers publicly advocating that the entire board of directors not be reelected.

British Member of Parliament, Tom Watson, flew in to confront Murdoch and inform shareholders that the worst is yet to come. He revealed that investigations are proceeding on allegations of unlawful surveillance beyond those of phone hacking. But there were Murdoch defenders in the audience as well. One of whom identified himself as a Fox employee and said that in his years of service he has never been asked to do anything unethical. Of course not. As a Fox employee you don’t have to be asked, it’s expected.

By the end of the shareholder’s meeting it was learned that the Murdochs had retained their board seats. And despite Murdoch saying that the vote results would be released in a couple of hours, News Corp. declined to announce the vote tally, saying it would release the figures early next week. Analysts say that if even 20% of votes are cast against the Murdochs, it would be a victory, because that would be nearly half of the 53% of votes unaffiliated with the family. So what are they hiding? Apparently they have reason to want to keep the results out of the news cycle.

Outside the studio, about 200 people gathered to protest the greed, domination, and manipulation of News Corp. Participants included OccupyLA, FreePress, Common Cause, MoveOn, Avaaz, Change to Win, Brave New Films, and more. The media was there in force as well. Representatives from every local TV station showed up, along with the Associated Press, CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera.

This is irrefutable evidence of the Occupy movement’s success. It has grown from a curious rabble ignored by the press, to a powerful voice for the people. It has earned the enmity of dullards who can only resort to childish insults that the protesters are unfocused, unclean, and unpatriotic. But most importantly, it has changed the public debate from one of a phony debt crisis, to one that addresses the real concerns of Americans: jobs, economic disparity, and the destructive influence of corporations on politics and policy. And it’s only been one month.

Occupy Fox News: The Rise Of The Other 99%

For the past month Manhattan has been the epicenter of a new movement that seeks to reinstate the people as the stewards of American politics and to foreclose on the corporations who have been managing Washington as if it were a wholly owned subsidiary. But now the revolution heads west to Los Angeles where News Corp, the parent of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, will be holding their annual shareholders meeting on Friday, October 21.

The meeting promises to be a stimulating affair as Rupert Murdoch and his spawn face expulsion from the board of their own company. A surprising number of institutional shareholders and analysts have already publicly advised their clients to withhold their votes to reelect the Murdoch clan and a handful of their allies. The Guardian is reporting that opposition to “The Family” is presently as high as 25% before the meeting is even gaveled in to order.

Murdoch-NOTWDumping the Murdochs will still be an uphill battle given that they control 39% of the voting shares. Astonishingly, they still have supporters despite the fact that they have presided over unlawful and unethical practices that have materially damaged the company’s revenue and reputation. But even if they survive it will be in a weakened and humiliated state. There is certain to be vocal opposition in the room from big shareholders disgusted by nepotistic cronyism and the lack of independence, as well as rebel voices who may engage in a bit of theatrical protesting.

The real protesting, however, will be going on outside the meeting as the Occupy Los Angeles crowd migrates over from their base in Downtown L.A. to give Fox a taste of what it’s like to be occupied. They will be joined by FreePress, Change to Win, Common Cause LA, Brave New Films, and others. If you’re in L.A., be sure sure to head down to Fox Studios at 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Century City, Los Angeles (Street parking is available on Motor Ave. A map is here). The protest is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21, 9–11 a.m.

Rupert Murdoch and News Corp are the epitome of what the 99% are protesting: an unaccountable corporation that manipulates the political process while seeking to enrich itself at the expense of the public that it is failing to serve. And as a media enterprise they also contribute to the disinformation and divisiveness that is tearing this country apart.

But remember, there is another 99% in America. That is the 99% of the nation that does not watch Fox News. The highest rated program on Fox (The O’Reilly Factor) pulls in about 1% of the population. That’s about half the audience of the lowest rated broadcast network news program (CBS Evening news). NBC’s Nightly News draws four times the viewers of Fox. Yet Fox deftly uses their platform to exult themselves and shout down everyone else.

After taking the Tea Party under their wing and promoting it incessantly, Fox now regards protesters as ignorant, smelly, and unpatriotic. Their overt hostility to the majority of citizens who want economic and social justice is fraught with lies and riddled with childish insults that cater to the diminished IQ of their viewers. Polls show that, even after Fox’s relentless propaganda, support for the Occupy movement is twice as much as the Tea Party, which is still viewed negatively by most people.

So let Fox have the 1% of America’s most delusional television viewers. The rest of us will make our voices heard the old fashioned way: by organizing, communicating, and exercising our rights. Stand up. Speak out. Occupy. We are the 99% who do not watch Fox News.

Rick Perry In New York To Kiss Rupert Murdoch’s Ring

Rick PerryLast night Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry met with News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch for dinner. Murdoch, who owns Fox News, already has a relationship with Perry. Last year Murdoch donated a million dollars to the Republican Governor’s Association which Perry chaired.

Murdoch has also had relationships with several other GOP candidates. Both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were employed by Fox News until recently. Mike Huckabee and John Bolton are still employed by Fox, however they have bowed out of the presidential race. And Sarah Palin is still on the payroll as she engages in a charade with Fox to boost their respective fortunes (she isn’t running and Fox knows it).

In the meantime Murdoch continues to be shielded by congressional lackeys like Rep. Darrel Issa who refuses to hold hearings on Murdoch’s alleged criminality because he doesn’t want to “start picking on media.” That’s a disturbingly asinine excuse. Generally when politcos talk of picking on the media they are referring to complaints about coverage or bias. What Issa is saying is that investigating crimes is off limits to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That’s like the SEC saying that Bernie Madoff should not be investigated because they don’t want to pick on fund managers.

Former media mogul, Ted Turner, is less circumspect as he forthrightly declares that Murdoch will probably have to step down as CEO of News Corp:

“A major media company should definitely be following the law, that’s all. And when they break the law — and certainly, it’s already been admitted that News of the World broke the law. The question is how big a scandal is it.”

It remains to be seen what benefits Perry will receive for having paid his respects to the Foxfather. But Perry is well known for making deals that inure to his advantage. He certainly expects some reward, either in the form of more money or more good PR. And if he is the nominee, he will surely get some of both.

Is The Murdoch Mob Coming Under FBI Scrutiny?

MurdochalypseAuthor and Rupert Murdoch biographer, Michael Wolff, is reporting that Murdoch and his crime family may be staring down charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act:

“Among the areas that the FBI is said to be looking at in its investigation of News Corp. are charges that one of its subsidiaries, News America Marketing, illegally hacked the computer system of a competitor, Floorgraphics, and then, using the information it had gleaned, tried to extort it into selling out to News Corp.; allegations that relationships the New York Post has maintained with New York City police officers may have involved exchanges of favors and possibly money for information; and accusations that Fox chief Roger Ailes sought to have an executive in the company, the book publisher Judith Regan, lie to investigators about details of her relationship with New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik in order to protect the political interests of Rudy Giuliani, then a presidential prospect.”

Wolff documents the magnitude of the corruption at News Corp that has become so integral to their corporate culture that they don’t even regard what they’re doing as corrupt. Wolff also notes the mechanism by which Murdoch has evaded justice to date:

“…it’s because the fundamental currency of the company has always been reward and punishment. Both the New York Post and Fox News maintain enemy lists. Almost anyone who has directly crossed these organizations, or who has made trouble for their parent company, will have felt the sting here. That sting involves regular taunting and, often, lies.”

No kidding. Fox News, in particular, brazenly lies about their perceived enemies who include pretty much any Democrat. Certainly President Obama has been the frequent target of dishonest attacks. Currently Media Matters is the victim of a sustained campaign that misstates the law in order to challenge their tax-exempt status. And the Fox-led assaults against ACORN, Climate Change, immigrants, and voting rights have all been subject to the fabrication factory run by Murdoch and company.

The RICO statutes may be just the vehicle to rein in these crooks. Here’s hoping that the legal authorities will crack this case and bring the Murdoch Mob to justice.

Is MSNBC Serious About Competing With Fox News?

When Keith Olbermann abruptly departed from MSNBC the network’s schedule was thrust into chaos. Lawrence O’Donnell was moved up two hours. Ed Schultz went from early evening to 10:00pm. Schultz’s old slot was a menagerie that eventually settled on Cenk Uygur for nearly six months.

All of this turmoil occurred at the same time that Glenn Beck was slated for an early termination of his contract at Fox News. That made much of the Fox schedule vulnerable as Beck’s audience formed the foundation for the evening news hour and primetime. So what did MSNBC do to take advantage of this opening?

Nothing – nothing at all. Their schedule barely budged. There were no new face outside of the 6:00pm slot that Schultz vacated, and even those were often familiar faces on the network. This was the best opportunity for MSNBC to challenge Fox during a period of weakness and MSNBC slept through it.

Now MSNBC is compounding their mistakes by (reportedly) replacing Uygur with Rev. Al Sharpton. The circumstances of Uygur’s departure are disturbing, but that’s a subject for another article. While Sharpton can be an aggressive advocate for lefty issues, he is hardly the banner carrier for progressive journalism. With a background predominantly in civil rights and social activism, his lack of experience in broadcasting does not portend well for MSNBC. His areas of expertise are rather narrow and he can come off as bombastic and rigid.

The purpose of a news and public affairs network is the same as any other network – attracting and appealing to viewers. Additionally, a news network must seek to inform and stimulate dialogue. Thus, having a journalist with broadcast experience in the anchor chair gives the program a significantly better shot at success.

MSNBC already has people on the payroll who fit the bill, and also expand the diversity of the roster, which is sorely needed. However, even some members of the National Association of Black Journalists are reticent about Sharpton. Instead, MSNBC should consider someone like Joe Madison, a long-time radio host based in Washington, D.C. with a record of success on the air and in the streets. Another attractive candidate would be Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University and a frequent guest on Rachel Maddow’s program.

Maddow presently has the highest ratings on MSNBC. That makes someone like Harris-Parry particularly compelling. A black woman with intelligence, insight, and personality could reproduce at 6:00pm the success Maddow has in primetime.

Ideally MSNBC could significantly strengthen their lineup by pitting Joe Madison against Fox’s lame Glenn Beck replacement “The Five.” Then give Hardball a single airing at 6:00pm, followed by Harris-Parry at 7:00. Leave primetime in tact with O’Donnell, Maddow, and Schultz (although I wouldn’t mind seeing Schultz replaced by someone like Chris Hayes or – don’t laugh – Anthony Weiner, an articulate, passionate progressive who didn’t really do anything that should forever disqualify him from public service).

If MSNBC is serious about competing with Fox News, they need to consider more dynamic solutions. Al Sharpton is never going to beat Bret Baier. And without a stronger leadin, the primetime schedule is unnecessarily hampered. The network has come close to Fox in important demographic ratings and they could put Fox away if they act now while Fox is wobbly and their management is being investigated internationally. The travails of Rupert Murdoch and company will make it difficult for them to concentrate on issues other than staying out of jail. MSNBC should capitalize on that distraction. The question is: Is MSNBC really serious about competing with Fox News?

News Of The World Whistleblower Found Dead

Now we have our first official “News Corpse”: The man who first raised allegations about hacking at the News Of The World, has been found dead. Via The Guardian

“Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.”

The Guardian reports that “The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.” The Guardian goes on to report that Hoare…

“…told the [New York Times] that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.

“In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was ‘a lie, it is simply a lie.’”

This is, first and foremost, a tragedy for the Hoare family. But the significance to the ongoing scandal cannot be dismissed. Stay tuned because, as Hoare himself had once said, “There’s more to come. This is not going to go away.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Tone-Deaf Defense Of Murdochalypse

MurdochalypsePerhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has published a self-serving op-ed that seeks to separate itself from the travails of its corporate parent, News Corp. The Journal argues that anyone who thinks there is any carryover from the UK scandal is overreaching. Never mind that the head of the Journal’s Dow Jones division, Les Hinton, was carried over to the states from his British perch at News International and has already resigned as a result of his association with the disgraced enterprise.

The op-ed takes a decidedly arrogant approach in suggesting that they, for some unexplained reason, are above it all and should not be tarnished. They regard the whole affair as a legal matter that is limited to the UK and that the real problem is the malfeasance of Scotland Yard for not properly investigating the crimes involved. The Journal’s editorial conveniently leaves out any mention that part of the problem with the police investigation is that they were on the receiving end of bribes from News Corp.

The only thing more grating than their arrogance is their victimehood. Apparently the only controversy is that the rest of the media world is ganging up on the long-suffering Wall Streeters and their bosses:

“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous. Fleet Street in general has long had a well-earned global reputation for the blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true.”

It’s not only Fleet Street. The “blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true,” is the standard operating procedure for Fox News. But why is the Journal so surprised about the moral outrage devoted to News Corp when it, so far, is the only party accused of hacking into people’s phones? And it is the only party, so far, accused of bribing the police for dirt on the famous. By the way, that is very different than the practice of “buying scoops” from private sources that the Journal is attempting to conflate with paying off the police.

The obvious attempt to muddy the discussion continues when the Journal addresses the critical of issue of relationships between politicians and the press:

“The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.”

Here is where the op-ed deliberately tries to steer away from the real problem. Even if we were to concede that the BBC and the Guardian seek to influence public affairs through their coverage, the activities that are being “bemoanded” are those where News Corp seeks influence through intimidation and/or alliance with politicians, not via their reporting (which, of course, they do as well).

Next we see the editorial take another stab at victimhood with an unusual kicker aimed at a favorite bogeyman of News Corp, Julian Assange.

“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”

First of all, I don’t know of any mainstream news organization that has given WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. For the most part Assange has been roundly castigated and, so far as Fox News is concerned, he is regarded as a traitor who should face a firing squad. But the Journal is being stunningly hypocritical in that they themselves have adopted the Wikileaks model in an attempt to emulate its success. That is the express mission of the Journal’s Safehouse web site. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about Safehouse, which does little to protect one’s anonymity. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.

Finally, the Journal launches into a defense of allegations that the U.S. could prosecute News Corp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But somehow they spin off such a prospect into an attack on their First Amendment rights. The implication is that any prosecution of a media entity for any crime whatsoever violates the Constitution. That’s a rather broad reading. The Journal complains that…

“Applying this standard to British tabloids could turn payments made as part of traditional news-gathering into criminal acts. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S.”

Is the Journal asserting that payoffs to police officials is an act of “traditional news-gathering?” In most places that’s a violation of law enforcement ethics and it is the reason that the commissioner of Scotland Yard resigned yesterday.

Moreover, the Journal’s closing argument is that the pursuit of criminal activity on the part of the press has, in the past, netted individuals who were not initially suspects. The example given in the editorial is that of Robert Novak who had participated in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Journal notes that others, including reporters at the New York Times, were swept up in the scandal. So What? That’s wonderful! Is the Journal suggesting that the press should keep its collective mouths shut because they might get drawn in themselves? That would be the duty of an honest, ethical press. Report the news – the truth – regardless of self-interest.

It’s as if the Journal is threatening its rivals to stay out of this mud fight lest they get dirty themselves. Really? That’s their defense?

Murdochalypse: Ruse Of The World

It’s too bad that Rupert Murdoch shut down the News of the World. If there were ever a time that it was needed, it’s now. The NotW’s specialty was sordid, scandalous, misbehavior by important persons and institutions. The fall of the House of Murdoch fits neatly in that mold: A billionaire media baron brought down by flagrant violations of law and morality. Numerous arrests and resignations. Billions of dollars in asset value evaporated. Just imagine how the NotW would have covered this story:

Murdochalypse

Today Murdoch’s British newspapers published his personal apology. It is reprinted below. Be sure to hover your mouse over each line for a translation from Murdochese to English.

We are sorry.

The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.

We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected.

We regret not acting faster to sort things out. I realise that simply apologising is not enough.

Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.

In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.

The campaign to rescue Murdoch’s reputation, and that of his company, is in full swing. Yesterday Fox and Friends interviewed a former Nixon flack who tried to paper over the controversy as trivial and commonplace. Today on Fox News Watch, embarrassed by criticism for having avoided the subject completely last week, held a discussion that primarily castigated other media for over-reporting the scandal.

Murdoch himself is shacking up with lawyers and PR consultants this weekend in advance of his inquisition before Parliament next Tuesday. They will likely be advising him on how best to disguise his repugnant nature.

In addition, facets of the British government are edging closer to a hard line on media reform. The Liberal Democratic Party has requested an inquiry by regulators that could result in forcing Murdoch to divest his stake in BSkyB. Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, is calling for the News Corp empire to be broken up:

“I think that we’ve got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20% of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News,” Miliband said. “I think it’s unhealthy because that amount of power in one person’s hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation. If you want to minimise the abuses of power then that kind of concentration of power is frankly quite dangerous.”

Well said. We need more politicians in the U.S. with that sort of courage. It’s reminiscent Howard Dean, who said while campaigning in 2003 that he favored breaking up the big media conglomerates:

“I would say there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country.”

And look what the media did to him. Meanwhile it was disclosed that the Conservative Party’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, met with Murdoch, his son James, and Rebekah Brooks, 26 times since he took office in May 2010. That’s once every other week. So at least we have some political consistency here in that conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are equally devoid of ethics.

[UPDATE] Rebekah Brooks, who just two days ago resigned as CEO of Murdoch’s News International, has been arrested. Who’s next?