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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rupert Murdoch: The Sick Man of the 4th Estate

Or, When Rupert Met Milly

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)

Whether they have cynically timed the arrest, I have my doubts about. But as people have said, it is somewhat unusual to arrest by appointment on a Sunday. - Former Metropolitan Police Commander Brian Paddick

The police know perfectly well that her appearance before the Culture Committee is unlikely to impede their investigations, but by arresting her at this time, it is likely to impede our questioning. - Culture Committee member and MP Adrian Sanders

Perhaps we shouldn't be too happy to hear that Rupert Murdoch's henchwoman, Rebekah Brooks, was arrested today by Metropolitan Police. First, let's look at the suspicious timing of this so-called arrest by appointment. The former News International CEO, while still chief executive officer, had already agreed to testify before Parliament not as a suspect but as a witness. Brooks' arrest earlier today on corruption and phone hacking charges already looks suspicious on account of it happening not only at the lowest ebb of the 24/7 news cycle but at a time of the week when the police officials actively involved in the phone hacking investigation aren't even on duty.

But when one considers what this would do to her testimony, this looks more and more as if it was engineered to stymie British investigators. This "arrest", in fact, looks more like protective custody because now that Brooks has been formally charged, it is almost sure to preclude any meaningful testimony in the middle of an ongoing investigation before litigation has even begun. In fact, the inability or the latitude to say nothing in this case is the logical result of sub-judice. Her appearance before Parliament, if it were to happen, would be filled with the UK equivalent of, "On the advise of counsel, I take the 5th."

Think of how many times we'd heard Bush administration officials and their parade of right wing clowns charitably referred to as press secretaries citing "ongoing investigation" in the middle of one scandal after another as a convenient excuse to stonewall the media. Somehow, the English judicial system, upon which we base ours, is set up so that once a suspect is arrested, however genteel and prearranged it may be, the less information a government enquiry can expect. Think of how many people were arrested, charged and tried as a result of a Government Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, especially when Hanry Waxman was Chairman. I can't think of any, either.

And the right wing's response to this phone hacking scandal, with the last three words sneered moreso than spoken by Steve Douchey of Murdoch's Fox "News" is as predictable as it's pathetic and based on the fear of the fallout drifting over from the UK. By downplaying the scandal and trying to fold it into other big stories such as Anonymous' hacks of Citigroup and other corporations and conflating it with the Wikileaks disclosures, Fox "News" through its minions is trying to diffuse the importance of this through entropy. "Everybody does it, so let's just move on and focus on things that are more important." (The clip then ends with Douchey sequeing into a followup story about Casey Anthony.)

Fox "News" and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and News International are like something out of Frank Miller's Sin City: A rapacious, unscrupulous, politically-motivated organization capable of every evil under the sun in the interests of circulation, ratings and political advantage. No doubt, some right wingers have begun circulating the threadbare and well-worn meme that the ongoing police and government investigation into Murdoch's sleazy practices is (yawn) politically motivated. Never mind that everything Fox "News" does is motivated by rabid right wing politics, engineered and driven by former Nixon henchman Roger Ailes.

Or, for a more elevated cultural reference, Murdoch's crumbling empire is exactly like something out of the late Steig Larssen's Millennium trilogy, a shadowy news organization with its own heavily fortified Brain Room that produced, Athena-like, Willie Horton, rebranded and prepacked as some zombie operative or political suicide bomber for the right wing. Fox "News" and Murdoch's entire empire represents precisely the kind of right wing terrorism and fear-mongering, the same exact brand of skulking, secretive evil that Larssen had fought as a journalist in Sweden.

It's said that every great thing has humble beginnings. The same can also be said of the downfall of every great thing. Even Larssen's prodigious literary talents and imagination couldn't've imagined the downfall of Murdoch's empire would begin with a single 13 year-old murder victim such as Milly Dowler. Or perhaps he would've. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo revolves around the disappearance of another teenage girl.

In one of the most shocking examples of heartless, bottom line-driven sociopathy, it came out a week and a half ago that Murdoch's flagship UK newspaper, News of the World, literally hacked into the child's cell phone after her disappearance and deleted data when her inbox was full to make more room for future messages. Even though the girl's body had yet to be found, you would think the newsroom at NOTW would've had more consideration for the parents, who'd desperately clung to the hope the data deletion was proof of life.

But this is a Rupert Murdoch organization we're talking about. Scruples and a baseline of consideration for parents of missing/murdered children simply wasn't on their agenda. Thank God the BSkyB deal was at least shelved. Imagine what Rupert Murdoch and his right wing minions could've done with those satellites.

And while evidence would have to be presented and cases made by federal authorities, for now it's enough for us to speculate that Rupert Murdoch's Fox "News" would hardly be more ethical, fair and balanced when they serve as a daily referendum on the necessity for an impartial and independent media. They've told countless lies, rarely with retraction, about the President, his agendas, his supporters and virtually every Democrat in the country. Is it really such a leap to assume that the Murdoch-owned and Ailes-run Fox "News" wouldn't resort to phone hacking?

Perhaps Jon Stewart shouldn't feel so comfortable with the US MSM, after all.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Murdoch is not some "miracle" man producing wealth. He was born wealthy with no social mores. Corruption and blackmail are the only bases that he has covered.

A close look at his "empire" would reveal the same cooked books as the Enron Corporation.

The number of failed enterprises that he has dropped money on really makes any chance that the books of News Corps are square between none and zero.