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:
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.
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?