This week’s All Things Digital Conference brought Rupert Murdoch to the stage for a surprising interview that included his views on the economy, Barack Obama, and the 2008 election.
Reuters: “News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday predicted a Democratic landslide in the U.S. presidential election against a gloomy economic backdrop over the next 18 months.”
Murdoch referred to the current status of the nation’s electoral mood as an “Obama phenomenon” that is fueled by a weak economy. He believes that, while race will be factor, Obama has “totally overcome” any lasting impact from the issue. Asked whether he is supporting 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.”
However, when asked if he had anything to do with the New York Post’s endorsement of Obama he said simply, “Yeah.”
As for John McCain, Murdoch, who called McCain a friend, contends that he “has a lot of problems” and will be hurt by his long tenure in Washington and his association with a party that is battling a “rising political tide” for Democrats.
The surprising thing about these remarks is the abundance of paradox that envelops them. If Murdoch is sincere (not something that can be assumed), then why does he allow his networks and newspapers to spew so much vile disinformation about Obama? The endorsement of the Post, it should be noted, was only for the Democratic primary, not the general election. And the content of the endorsement read more like an indictment. To those who would argue that Murdoch doesn’t meddle in the editorial affairs of his news operations, Murdoch has just openly declared that he does, at least with regard to the Post.
Murdoch also stated that the U.S. is “undoubtedly” in a recession that he predicts will last for up to 18 months. That is squarely at odds with the position of his new Fox Business Network that was founded in part to promote rosy economic scenarios. His managing editor, Neil Cavuto, is a persistent cheerleader for economic viewpoints that are blindingly sunny.
We’ll have to see where this all leads to in time. Will it have any impact on Fox News or other Murdoch assets? His recent conversion on the threat of global warming has not filtered through to his publications or broadcasts, must of which still ridicule the notion as a hoax. In the end, this may just be a strategic move to alleviate pressure from his critics. By making statements like these he can assert that he is a political independent. Meanwhile, his media empire can continue to hammer at Democrats and progressives in an effort to manipulate public opinion. Millions more will see Sean Hannity’s disparagements of Obama than will ever hear of these remarks by Murdoch.