Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Demagoguery, Propaganda, Scandal, Sleaze, and
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 19, 2011
Famed journalist George Seldes (1890 - 1995) condemned press
prostitutes in books like "Lords of the Press," denouncing their corruption,
suppression of truth, and news censorship before television reached
large audiences, saying:
"The most sacred cow of the press is the
press itself - the most powerful force against the general welfare of the
majority of the people."
Australian journalist Bruce Page authored a
book on Murdock titled, "The Murdoch Archigelago," calling him:
of the world's leading villains (and) global pirate(s)," rampaging the
mediasphere, telling world leaders what he expects from them and what he'll
offer in return. It's "let's make a deal," Murdoch-style that's
uncompromisingly hardball, some on the receiving end calling it an offer
they can't refuse.
On air and in print, his operations support
allies and beat up on adversaries, enough at times to affect political
outcomes his way, especially in Britain and his native Australia, but also
helping hard-right US candidates.
For mass audiences, he specializes
in sensationalist pseudo-journalism, distorting the truth, at the same time
juicing-up reports on murder, mayhem, mishaps, celebrity gossip and soft
porn for audiences that love it.
He's so beyond respectability, in
fact, that former Chicago columnist Mike Royko (1932 - 1997) once said "no
self-respecting fish would (want to) be wrapped in a Murdoch paper....His
goal (isn't) journalism, (it's) vast power, political power," and, of
course, bottom line priorities. If ideologically acceptable and sells, he'll
feature it and has for decades.
From his early beginnings to his
current unrivaled media world status (unless scandal now brings him down),
he's wielded unchallenged power ruthlessly as a world class predator, using
deception, chicanery, arrogance, artfulness, charm, cunning, sheer muscle,
will, intimidation, poisonous influence and toadying to get his way by
bullying people to prevail.
Bereft of ethics, his media empire
includes a bordello of print and broadcast outlets. In his book titled, "The
Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch," Michael
Wolff called him a monarch, gangster and con man, interested only in power,
control and profits.
Given his history, clout, connections,
manipulativeness, and hardball style, a fitting headline in the wake of the
News of the World (NOTW) scandal would be Murdoch comes a cropper.
If only true, bringing down the world's leading media villain, purveyor of
sleaze, and power hungry news baron - clawing, exploiting, and hacking his
way to notoriety and fortune.
In fact, however this affects him
going forward (at age 80), expect his media empire to survive like
caught-in-the-act Wall Street bandits - stealing billions, penalized
millions, a few insiders at times going down, then back to business grabbing
So far, however, a bumpy ride followed London Guardian writers
Nick Davies and Amelia Hill breaking the story, headlining on July 4,
"Missing Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by News of the World," saying:
Murdoch's UK tabloid "illegally targeted (her) and her family in March
2002, interfering with police inquiries into her disappearance, an
investigation by the Guardian has established."
After that it was
all downhill, evidence showing Murdoch's NOTW hacked into phones and
electronically spied on prime ministers, other politicians, celebrities,
royal aides, Prince William, perhaps the queen, and innocent victims like
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's Peter Hart said
he "may have hoped that....clos(ing) down News of the World" would make the
story "go away, but (it's) getting bigger by the day if not by the hour."
Even prime ministers aren't immune, according to London Independent
writers Oliver Wright and Nigel Morris, headlining on July 16, "Revealed:
Cameron's 26 meetings in 15 months with Murdoch chiefs," saying:
Since becoming UK prime minister, David Cameron met with Murdoch "executives
no fewer than 26 (times) in just over a year...." In fact, Rebekah Brooks,
News International's chief executive and former NOTW editor "is the only
person (Cameron) invited twice to Chequers (UK prime ministers' private
country house since 1921), a privilege not extended even to the most senior"
Eight months ago, Murdoch's son James (his heir
apparent as News Corp. chairman and CEO) was also a Chequers guest, as well
as NOTW editor Andy Coulson, arrested this week "in connection with police
corruption and phone hacking...."
Moreover, documents revealed that
News International executives and editors had 15 private meetings with
Cameron since May, showing the grip Murdoch has on British politics, able to
make or break aspirants in print or on air. In fact, veteran Labour MP
Dennis Skinner calls him "a cancer on the body politic" because of his
influence on electoral outcomes.
According to former Times of London
editor/Murdoch employee Simon Jenkins:
"There's no doubt it's been
hugely damaging to" his UK interests. However, rivals like The Guardian,
BBC, and other news organizations exploited it out of proportion, hoping to
capitalize advantageously. So did Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and Bernstein
fame), calling the scandal another Watergate.
At the same time,
Conservative MPs like Zac Goldsmith said, "(p)oliticians have suddently
started to distance themselves from Murdoch....Other times (members) of both
major parties craved his attention in the most groveling fashion."
That despite knowledge of prior illegal hacking. Examples include:
-- In March 2002, hacking Milly Dowler and her family's voicemail.
-- In November 2005, NOTW writing about Prince William injuring his knee,
prompting royal officials to suspect voice mail hacking.
November 2007, NOTW royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator
Glenn Mulcaire convicted of phone mail hacking and jailed. NOTW's editor
claimed no knowledge but resigned.
-- In June 2008, News Corp. pays
soccer executive Gordon Taylor 700,000 pounds to settle charges of phone
-- In March 2010, NOTW paid a celebrity PR agent over one
million pounds to drop his lawsuit.
-- In September 2010, former
NOTW journalist Sean Hoare alleged that phone hacking was common practice,
encouraged by former editor Andy Coulson.
-- On January 21, 2011,
Coulson resigned as David Cameron's spokesman over allegations of phone
-- On April 5, 2011, NOTW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck
and former editor Ian Edmondson were arrested on suspicion of hacking voice
-- On April 10, NOTW formally apologized for voice
mail hacking from 2004 - 2006. It also agreed to compensate victims.
-- On April 14, senior NOTW journalist James Weatherup is arrested on
suspicion of conspiracy to hack communications.
-- On June 7, NOTW
paid actress Sienna Miller 100,000 pounds in damages and legal fees.
-- On June 23, freelance journalist Terenia Taras was arrested on suspicion
of phone hacking.
-- On July 4, Milly Dowler's hacking story broke.
-- On July 7, News International announces that NOTW will cease
publishing after July 10.
-- On July 8, Coulson is arrested. Former
royal editor Clive Goodman is again arrested on corruption allegations.
-- On July 11, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown accuses News International
newspapers of illegally obtaining private information about him.
On July 12, UK lawmakers summon Rupert and James Murdoch, as well as Rebekah
Brooks to testify before Parliament.
-- On July 13, News Corp.
withdraws its takeover bid for UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB. In addition,
Prime Minister Cameron announces a wide-ranging public inquiry into the
-- On July 14, the FBI launches an investigation into
whether News Corp. may have hacked into phones of 9/11 victims after members
of Congress requested it.
-- On July 15, Brooks resigns as News
International CEO. In addition, Dow Jones head Les Hinton resigns.
-- On July 15, New York Times writer Don Van Natta Jr. headlined, "Stain
From Tabloids Rubs Off on a Cozy Scotland Yard," saying:
learned that former NOTW editor Neil Wallis "report(ed) back to News
International while he was working for the police on the hacking case.
Executives and others at the company also enjoyed close social ties to
Scotland Yard's top officials."
"Since the hacking scandal began in
2006," Metropolitan Police Service assistant commissioner John Yates and
other police officials "regularly dined with editors from News International
papers, records show. Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police
commissioner, met for lunch or dinner 18 times with company executives and
editors during the investigation," including eight times with Wallis while
employed by NOTW.
On July 15, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed
the FBI investigation, saying:
"There have been serious allegations
raised....There have been members of Congress....who have asked us to
investigate (and) we are progressing in that regard, using the appropriate
federal agencies in the United States."
What'll come of it isn't
known. Watergate didn't topple Nixon. Harming powerful interests did, so it
remains to be seen if Murdoch committed similar transgressions. If so,
retirement at age 80 may follow, but not the demise of News Corp. and its
flagship Fox News operation, a cash cow New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman
believes will be more valuable than ever.
That depends, of course,
on what, if any, wrongdoing FBI investigations disclose and whether or not
For sure Murdoch sustained a body blow.
Calling it coup de grace strength, however, exaggerates how News Corp will
be affected. It likely will survive long after its aging head steps down,
but imagine a Murdoch-free media landscape. Then imagine freedom from all
managed and junk food news. Tune out and make it happen.
Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
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