Monday, August 1, 2011

Murdoch & His Legacy

From a post by Russ Baker on the AlterNet blog:
What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally

Rupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. It’s a kind of tribute, in some sense, that the general coverage of his current troubles has reflected the detrimental effect of his influence over the years. Right now, the media, by and large, are focusing on tawdry “police blotter” acts of the very sort that have historically informed Murdoch’s own tabloid sensibility, while the bigger picture gets short shrift.


Here are twelve “take-away” points that are being obscured in the daily rush of revelations, and the related specialized coverage (his wife’s wardrobe and demeanor, the effect on his company’s stock price, etc.):

He has transformed world politics for the worse: It was George W. Bush’s first cousin(John Ellis), working as head of Murdoch’s Fox News election night “decision desk,” who, during the Florida voting uncertainties, called the election for Bush and set off a chain reaction from other media. The eight Bush years that followed, and all that came with them, can in this respect be laid at Murdoch’s feet. ...

He has ridiculed and raised doubts about global catastrophes, and about science itself, while elevating absurd theories and hyping minor matters. ...

He has undermined liberty: His outlets led the drumbeat for restriction or elimination of certain fundamental rights, including those under the US Fourth Amendment, while at the same time supporting unrestrained wiretapping, the harsh treatment of suspects who may have done nothing wrong, and fueling panic justifying the build-up of the national surveillance state.

He has turned the public against the press. By the generally inferior product produced, with a few exceptions, by the majority of the news outlets he controls and the tawdry methods sponsored by many of them, he has eroded the public’s confidence in media in general, tarnishing its belief even in those outfits whose work deserves to be taken seriously. He has also used his outlets to convince the public that other, more conscientious news organizations are ideologically suspect and biased.

He has simultaneously propagandized for “the law” and compromised it. Murdoch properties are the leading hagiographers of law enforcement and the military—while at the same time routinely assailing the patriotism of those who advocate for civil and privacy rights, who question wars, and so forth. Meanwhile, as shown by the unfolding UK drama, Murdoch himself stands accused of compromising the law enforcement establishment—and not just in that country. ...
Read the whole post. It is well worth your time.

Murdoch isn't the only evil influence on journalism. The infamous yellow press of the press barons Pulitzer and Heast go back to the latter part of the 19th century. The world will survive Murdoch like it has survived Hitler, Mao, and Stalin. But Murdoch is a blight on history. He did nothing positive in his life.

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