Rupert Murdoch: True To Form

Last May News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch attended the All Things Digital Conference and made a few headlines with his commentary on the presidential election:

[Murdoch] on Wednesday predicted a Democratic landslide in the U.S. presidential election against a gloomy economic backdrop over the next 18 months.”

That sort of talk had some folks wondering if the old fella was growing a soul. Could the uber-rightist media monarch be ever so slightly scooting over to the left? Asked directly whether he is supporting Barack Obama (like his daughter, Elisabeth) he said:

“I’m not backing anyone, but I want to meet Obama. I want to know if he’s going to walk the walk.”

Since then, Murdoch has met Obama. It should be noted, however, that on that occasion the purpose was primarily to persuade him to appear on Fox News. It was therefore imperative that he pour on the charm while appearing to be neutral. Subsequent to achieving his goal, Murdoch is now publicly displaying his expected preference for leader of the free world (other than himself), and it’s the Republican, John McCain:

Breaking down Murdoch’s reasons for supporting McCain, it seems to be primarily an anti-Obama decision as he never overtly praises McCain. Still it is perplexing given the facts. He says that Obama will:

  • “…give us a lot of inflation.” Never mind that inflation right now is at it’s highest level since 1991. At that time 17 years ago, Bush, Sr. was just wrapping up his term in office. Like father like son.
  • “…ruin our relationships with the rest of the world.” If that does not immediately invoke guffaws given the world’s perception of America under George W. Bush, then note this poll that shows that “Obama was favoured by a four-to-one margin across the 22,500 people polled in 22 countries.” 46% said that relations would improve with an Obama win, only 20% held that view for McCain. Those numbers parallel American’s attitudes as well (46% Obama/30% McCain).
  • “…find companies leaving this country.” As if they haven’t been leaving in droves throughout the Bush years. Forrester Research projects a loss of 1.2 million jobs to foreign soil for 2008, increasing to 3.4 million by 2015.

To an objective observer the facts support precisely the opposite conclusion to which Murdoch has arrived. Nevertheless, the septuagenarian media mogul hangs unto his opinion that it is Obama, and not the Bush/McCain cabal, that threatens the nation’s future. That’s evidence of just how confined he is by his partisan worldview. He goes even further to tar Obama with the crusty old conservative slander that…

[Obama’s] policy is really very, very naive, old fashioned, 1960’s socialist.”

Coming from an old fashioned, 1940’s fascist, I suppose we’ll need to take that with a pound or so of salt.

Anyone who might have thought that Murdoch’s remarks last May signaled a shift in his political ideology may now return to their senses. He is as much a right-wing propagandist as he ever was, and he isn’t shy about it either. This appearance on Neil Cavuto’s “Your World” is one of many that he has booked for himself. To underscore how peculiar that is, try to recall the last time that the CEOs of GE/NBC, Viacom/CBS, Disney/ABC, or Time Warner/CNN, appeared on their own news programs. They are rarely, if ever, guests, and certainly not even close to the frequency with which Murdoch pastes his face on his air.

This most recent booking appears to have been scheduled exclusively to disparage Obama just as the electoral momentum is shifting in his direction. The looming financial crisis has focused the campaign dialog back onto issues as opposed to personalities, and Murdoch wasn’t going to sit still for that. The trivialities and tabloidism that is Murdoch’s stock in trade just happens to advantage McCain, whose campaign relies on shallow griping about celebrities and lipstick. So he goes on Cavuto’s show, calls Obama a naive socialist, enumerates reasons to vote against him that are actually reasons to vote against McCain, and concludes the interview by plugging his new and struggling Fox Business Network.

That’s Rupert Murdoch in a nutshell: An arch-conservative, self-serving, greedy, monopolistic, liar. And always true to form.