Stayed up to watch the Murdochs testifying before a House of Commons committee. They didn’t know a thing about phone hacking. They were let down by those under them. Rupert said it was “the most humble day of my life”. That would be right; Murdochs don’t do humble. It will be a totally new experience. And they don’t interfere in politics. Rupert went in the back door of Downing Street at Cameron’s request to be thanked for the Sun’s support in the 2010 campaign, had a cup of tea and discussed “nothing else”. Yeah right.
Rupert Murdoch has been heavily involved in political manipulation for years. I’m currently reading a fascinating book “The Murdoch Archipelago” by Bruce Page. Published in 2003, it precedes all the current drama. At the moment I’m up to the story of Murdoch’s involvement in the sacking of the Whitlam government in Australia in 1975. Murdoch backed Whitlam in 1972, then switched in 1975 and the Australian attacked Whitlam and supported Kerr, the Governor-General who dismissed his government. At least the journalists had some guts in those days. Page relates how:
“on 28 October (1974) the in-house committee of the Australian Journalists Association wrote to Murdoch that the paper’s political coverage was ‘blind, biased, tunnel-visioned, ad hoc, logically confuse and relentless … (characterised by) .. the deliberate or careless slanting of headlines, seemingly blatant imbalance in news presentation [and0 political censorship.’ 75 editorial staff signed, in spite of the known fate of dissidents inside News.”
In the years since, all the dissidents have been systematically removed and replaced with sycophants like Rebekah Brooks. The Murdoch media have been driven downmarket with a cynical disregard for the intelligence and the values of their readers and viewers. News of the World in England and Fox news in the United States are the new benchmark.
As for James Murdoch, it was fascinating to compare his careful, detailed, fluttery-eyed, excessively chronological flim-flam with the braggadocio of his 2009 McTaggart lecture at Edinburgh where he attacked the BBC, the regulator OFCom, and said that the only criterion for successful news was profit.
There were no smoking guns, the highest point of drama was the right hook administered by Rupert Murdoch’s latest wife Wendy Deng on the protestor who stuck a shaving-cream pie in Murdoch’s face. But I am inclined to agree with The Slog that NewsCorp investors who do have an interest in profit will see both the Murdoch’s, the dodderer and the dissembler, as unfit to run the company in the future. At a time when this particular piece of parliamentary theatre drove currency meltdown in the EU and budget high noon in the US off the front page, what we may have witnessed was the beginning of the end of the Murdoch dynastic dream. Good riddance.