Murdoch’s Senior Moment In Davos

Since Saturday, when I first posted this article, Murdoch Confesses To Propaganda On Iraq, the news has been defying Mark Twain’s axiom that “A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on.”

The truth’s boots are on and it is logging miles like crazy. Rupert Murdoch’s admission that he tried to use his media empire to shape the agenda on Iraq is spreading like wildfire. Newshounds, Crooks and Liars, Huffington Post, Carpetbagger, Juan Cole, Raw Story, and scads of lesser known but just as dedicated bloggers are trumpeting this surprising shard of honesty that escaped from Rupert’s lips.

I’m still trying to figure out how such an unguarded comment could have occurred. Is he just so brazenly arrogant now that he thinks he can come clean without repercussions? Is it a coded appeal to his neo-con audience for help to reverse the downward ratings spiral he’s engulfed in? Was it a run of the mill slip of the tongue by a 77 year old with weakening cognition skills?

While I can’t explain what was going through his diabolical mind, I can point to the reason that this story is getting so much play. And, ironically, it’s also something that Murdoch said in Davos. Referring to the Internet, he said that:

…traditional media are also “put right immediately” these days when making mistakes. […] Similarly, Murdoch said “government now has to be much more open” because of the Web

Indeed, the Internet has proven to be the conventional media’s fact-checker. And it isn’t just government whose openness has to be reaffirmed. It’s getting more difficult to use the propagandistic arts because there now exists a public forum over which the message controllers have not yet imposed their domination. I emphasize “not yet.”

The Internet is a powerful medium and the most significant contribution to a democratized media since Gutenburg. But it is not impervious to attack or capture. There is a reason that the Big Media megaliths want to kill network neutrality. There is a reason they want to remove ownership caps for television and newspapers. There is a reason the right wing elements at the FCC, the FEC, and other government agencies relentlessly push for deregulation. These are all ways of transferring the brute force of the Internet into the hands of corporatist elites who will lower its volume and polish its edges. When they are done it will no longer be fit for discourse or dissent. But it will serve nicely for comfort and commerce.

The manner by which this story has been propelled by bloggers and citizen journalists should serve as a reminder that the people still have a voice. But we, the people, must not get complacent either. Events like this will surely stir the media bears, and they are still the most dangerous beast in the forest. Be vigilant and be active because, if you are not, this medium will be lost to us – like all other media before it. Think about that.