Thus is Rupert Murdoch described by a Guardian commentor to Keith Olbermann’s
victory jig post, “How I was hired – and fired – by Rupert Murdoch“. The Dirty Digger seems to have lived by the old Sicilian maxim that it is better to be feared than loved, but not even a Sicilian can outlast a medianista when it comes to cherishing every detail of a long-nursed grudge.
So Frank Rich, another ex-Murdoch-employee, has five pages of high-minded vituperation in New York Magazine on “How Murdoch Hacked America, Too“:
… The real transgressions of the Murdoch empire are not its outré partisanship, its tabloid sleaze, its Washington lobbying, or even what liberals most love to hate, the bogus “fair and balanced” propaganda masquerading as journalism at Fox News. In fact, these misdemeanors are red herrings—distractions from the real News Corp. corruption that now threatens to bring down its management and radically reconfigure and reduce its international corporate footprint. The bigger story is this: An otherwise archetypal media colossus, with apolitical TV shows (American Idol), movies (Avatar), and cable channels (FX) like any other, is controlled by a family (and its tight coterie of made men and women, exemplified by the recently departed Rebekah Brooks) that countenances the intimidation and silencing of politicians, regulators, competitors, journalists, and even ordinary citizens to maximize its profits and power and to punish perceived corporate, political, and personal enemies. And, as we now know conclusively, some of this behavior has broken the law. […] __
It’s not just because Roger Ailes once worked for Richard Nixon that Watergate analogies abounded as News of the World and then the key Murdoch executives Rebekah Brooks and Leslie Hinton were abruptly sacrificed in the family’s efforts to save Rupert and James. Carl Bernstein, more attuned to those echoes than anyone, got it exactly right when he wrote in Newsweek that “too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic.” And not only “liberal” journalists feel this way. Conrad Black, the right-wing Canadian media mogul who has lately been in prison for fraud, recently described Murdoch in the Financial Times as not merely a “tabloid sensationalist” but “a malicious mythmaker, an assassin of the dignity of others and of revered institutions, all in the guise of anti-elitism.” Or as the former Bush speechwriter David Frum said more than a year ago, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.”
If Murdoch is to be undone in America, as in England, it won’t be politicians who take the lead. It will take aggressive journalism, law enforcement, and civil actions to force jettisoned News Corp. executives to sing. The latest so-called independent “management-and-standards committee” commissioned by Murdoch to conduct an internal investigation is particularly laughable, even by his standards. Its scope is limited to News Corp. behavior in England. Its chairman, Tony Grabiner, a London commercial lawyer, reports to Joel Klein, who in turn reports to Viet Dinh, a former Bush-administration lawyer who, in what one hopes is an unintended sick joke, is best known for embracing government phone hacking in his role as principal author of the Patriot Act. Both Klein and Dinh are on the News Corp. board. Klein’s News Corp. compensation this year is expected to be in the neighborhood of $4.5 million.
So far, the only major American news organization to follow the lead of the Guardian in London and devote serious resources to reporting on this scandal is the Times. (The Washington Post, once of Watergate fame, is now edited by Marcus Brauchli, who received a reported $6.4 million News Corp. severance check when he left as editor of The Wall Street Journal in 2008, four months after the Murdoch takeover.) When the Times published its first major examination of News of the World’s hacking as a magazine cover story last fall, News Corp. shills protested that it was motivated by rivalry with the Journal…
Rich’s piece is sidebarred with an “incomplete” list of “Pols on the News Corp Payroll“, including some embarrassingly laudatory pro-Murdoch statements by those same public servants, and a brief Aaron Sorkin satire.
Conrad Black’s smarmy stiletto job in the Financial Times was really far nastier than Rich’s excerpt: “Although his personality is generally quite agreeable, Mr Murdoch has no loyalty to anyone or anything except his company. He has difficulty keeping friendships; rarely keeps his word for long; is an exploiter of the discomfort of others; and has betrayed every political leader who ever helped him in any country, except Ronald Reagan and perhaps Tony Blair. All his instincts are downmarket… He masquerades as a pillar of contemporary, enlightened populism in Britain and sensible conservatism in the US, though he has been assiduously kissing the undercarriage of the rulers of Beijing for years… “
Even Michael Wolff, whose “unprecedented access to Rupert Murdoch for an authorised, candid biography… so irked the media mogul that Wolff found his own love life exposed in Murdoch’s New York Post” can’t resist telling the London Evening Standard that he
… cannot suppress gleeful astonishment at the extraordinary dramas that have engulfed Murdoch, his family and his company, News Corporation, since the phone-hacking scandal broke a month ago… He is convinced Murdoch, 80, will be forced to step down from both his roles as chairman and chief executive. “Rupert has to leave any kind of management position in this company. This man is out of a job,” he says.
Of course, it’s Wolff’s current media home, Adweek, that’s just announced “Rupert’s Worst Nightmare Come True“:
Nick Davies, the tenacious investigative reporter for the Guardian who has broken much of the Hackinggate story, comes to the U.S. in search of News Corp. crimes and coverup…
Davies arrives in New York today. He’ll be there until Friday, and then he’s going to Los Angeles in pursuit of hacking-type practices that might have been carried out on U.S. soil by Murdoch’s U.S. reporters, by his U.K. reporters working in the U.S., or by private detectives hired by News Corp.
If such crimes were committed here, that could mean real trouble for News Corp.—the legal system here is more tenacious and the remedies more draconian than in the U.K.
And Vanity Fair has just announced the publication of its second e-book, “The Master Mogul of Fleet Street”. Its first was an elaborate eulogy for the late Elizabeth Taylor.
Do I hear a faint echo of the “I’m not dead yet!” sketch from Monty Python & the Holy Grail, spoken with just the trace of an Australian accent?