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back to article Rupert Murdoch was never Keyser Soze

If children didn't believe in Santa, thousands of grown men wouldn't dress up in fur-trimmed red jumpsuits, put on false beards, and give children unwanted gifts in tents every year. Perhaps some would, but they'd probably be arrested. For the past fortnight, TV and newspaper editors in the UK have pushed aside stories of famine …

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FAIL

Yeah, right

So, the article correctly points out that Murdoch's paper organs hemorrhage money but also claims that they don't wield undue influence - if that is true then why does he have them then, hmm?

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Missed the point of the article

He didn't say that they didn't have influence, he said that there was no justification for the politicians *giving* him influence. That is, had the politicians refused to kiss Murdochs arse there was nothing he could have done to them or to this country worth a damn. It was the politicians perception of his influence that gave him the influence in the first place.

This is partly why there's all the fuss, the politicians want him to have been all powerful, because then they can claim some justification for what they did, and not been seen as a bunch of self serving wankers.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Missed the point of the article

Yes, exactly.

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@Steve:

But the rot goes further back than Andrew's article mentions - hell, Thatcher's government should by rights have referred Murdoch's purchase of the Times to the Monopolies commission, but Murdoch convinced someone to bend the rules for him.

So yes, a large part of the problem is the political element but without a media tycoon playing Who Can Be The Biggest Bastard none of this could've happened. It takes two to tango and all that. Andrew's article goes too far and can be read to suggest that Murdoch is basically a publisher who was convinced to do naughty things by Evil Politicos Looking For Friendly Media Coverage, when the reality is more along the lines of "Convergent goals led to a coalition between Evil Politicos and an Evil Publisher".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Missed the point of the article

"But the volume and intensity of coverage is defined by the real size and reach of News Corporation. And this is not reality, but a myth."

We then have a graph showing online news site traffic figures, but no equivalent mention of something like newspaper circulation figures - surprising, given the disdain for the relevance of the Internet and "online media" shown in many Register articles.

The point might be that politicians give News Corporation influence, rather than that News Corporation and Murdoch demand influence, but when you've got three million readers a day you're going to be influential either way. I'd agree that saying "Murdoch made me invade Iraq" would be a bit rich coming from Tony Blair, but then again saying that "Murdoch helped me sell the invasion of Iraq" would be somewhat closer to the mark.

Still, any investigation of the propaganda relationship between politicians and the media needs to include outlets of bile like the Daily Mail, the Mirror, Star, and so on. The real power of these publications is the way they claim to represent their readership, but in pandering to wilful ignorance, the dishonesty of such claims lies in the way such publications can drift editorially and yet the punters are unlikely to buy anything else.

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Holmes

Re: Missed the point of the article

Care to speculate why David Mellor's private life was smeared all over the Sun? It's not difficult. Mess with Murdoch and he'll finish you.

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Meh

We are Keyser Legion. We are many.

The point is, if the politicians refused to kiss his arse, they wouldn't be allowed to acquire the position as politicians in the first place. With current state of society, there is no way some random Joe could make it to become a politician.

Murdoch is not Keyser. If anything, he is one of many Keysers, that create the octopus of true rulers, whos many tentacles are the Bilderbergs, Club of Romers etc. etc.

The politicians, media serfs etc. are just suckers on top of the tentacles.

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WTF?

Oh Andrew...

Are you too young to remember the way Murdoch demolished the D-MAC/squarial project, or just too naive? OK the squarial folks didn't need much help in being demolished, but part of the reason Murdoch had the massive borrowings Andrew does write about was so he could fund forcing the potential competition off the market (not to mention funding keeping the Murdoch organisation going through a strike or two with no newspaper revenue).

Andrew, are you old enough to remember the undertakings re editorial independence which Murdoch was forced to give before buying the Times? And how unenforcable they were when editor Harold Evans (?) was forced out because he was unacceptable to Murdoch.

Andrew, you do realise that profit and loss accounts in the modern era can be arranged and audited to say whatever the client is prepared to pay for?

There are a great many more similar examples, in plain sight, for anyone with eyes to see.

Andrew clearly doesn't get it.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Oh Andrew...

Mostly irrelevant, but one of your anecdotes is interesting:

>> funds.... keeping the Murdoch organisation going through a strike or two with no newspaper revenue <<

The Times shut down for almost a year 1978-1979 when it was owned by Thomson. Murdoch didn't acquire it until 1981.

When News Int moved to Wapping it didn't miss a day because of the strikes.

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He has it all arsey-versey, as usual

He's identified that Murdoch is where he is, today, partly because he doesn't get how the media has changed in the last decade. However, he forgets to consider what it was like before that change happened.

Sure, Murdoch was doomed because the world would move on and he would eventually be too old to move with it, but hindsight is a great thing. It's like saying that, ultimately, we didn't need to worry about the KGB, because the Warsaw Pact was set to implode under its own weight.

Murdoch's empire is a stupid, ridiculous thing, from another age; but so were many things. The past is another country, but it was a real place, and we all lived there.

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Dmac-Squarial...

My memory of that was that the fundamental thing that demolished it was that they were all mouth and no trousers - plenty of quids spent on advertising but couldn't deliver the technology. The classic Dilbertian thing of not listening to the techies in a technical arena...

Once they'd demolished their own company Murdoch picked up the pieces cheap. But I was never that interested to be honest, I could easily be wrong.

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title

Not quite...

Rupert managed to get the gov to allow him to broadcast using the cheaper PAL system while BSB were using the superior but more expensive D2-MAC.

By doing that Rupert delayed all the wonders of modern TV that we take for granted (widescreen etc) by over a decade.

Of course it also helped that the sats he was using were also used by German broadcasters with programmes like Tutti Fruiti etc.

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Anonymous Coward

When News Int moved to Wapping

It didn't miss a day, because this was the ultimate strike breaker. Abandon the strikers and set up shop somewhere else

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politics and media

I just dont get their obsession. I'm sick of hearing or reading that "the PM will announce today" or some such 'news'. News reports should tell us what has happened not what is going to happen. It sounds more like job creation to me, spin doctors and the like arent necessary to carry out a political job.

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Thumb Up

I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

This is also a pet hate of mine too...

I also dislike the way TV Journos editorialse while delivering teh pre-announced "news".

Don't tell me what to think you idiots... just give me the facts and I'll make upo my own mind.

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Can we keep the politics off this site please!

If newspapers dont make money then why are the wealthy so eager to buy them? Information is power is an oft repeated phrase, in the 92 election the Evening Standard had the Headline 'Labour To Raise Income Tax to 60%'. Not sure anyone could objectively say that torrent of lies from news international, the mail group and the express didn't influence that election. As I say information is power, maybe I should have said misinformation is power!

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Can we keep the politics off this site please!

Uh, no. Sorry.

What on earth do you think 'politics' means? Avoiding politics is a bit like avoiding oxygen.

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missed the point?

As every political speech is now available before it is made through the usual media outlets what is the point of making the speech at all?

By letting the paper know what they are planning to say the political parties are giving the appearance of legitimacy to everything the papers print. This is apparent for-knowledge is then transferred to malicious misinformation about something or someone they don't like.

The broadcast news now reports on tomorrows headlines. Not because it is actual news but because it will become news when it is published.

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FAIL

rot

"If newspapers don't make money then why are the wealthy so eager to buy them?"

Because they don't make money. Who else has money to burn?

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Big Brother

Politicians...

"Murdoch is trying to take over the world's media he must be stopped!"

"Hello Mr Schmidt, Mr Brin, Mr Page... please come in and advise us on copyright law, internet law, etc."

Politicians... they're as stupid as they think we are.

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Thumb Up

This is interesting!

"They're as stupid as they think we are."

BTW, I really like this phrase

Anyway:

Someone said above, "the past is a country, but it was a real place and we all lived there". This of course references the famous saying but it's a excellent choice of quote because it's really relevant to the idea that newspaper owners can(/could?) drive public opinion and it's relevant to what you're saying here.

We're now entering a new phase of public communication, and we're all becoming gripped by a new mindset, a New Media mindset. And it has a whole new bunch of challenges riding in on the coat-tails that, as you suggest, we really shouldn't forget. We're living in what will be a foreign country in 10 years time, and they'll talk about how we thought things are supposed to work.

But before we tackle all that, before we tackle the death of privacy and the implications of recording and cross-referencing everything, I want News International and Associated Newspapers to burn. The current media model is a rot in our society

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Holmes

Some good points

I've often wondered if the Tory grandees weren't secretly horrified when Major won that election. Had Kinnock won, the Tories would have had 4 years to regroup and find a decent leader, by which time the electorate would have had more than enough of Labour. Instead, it was Labour that regrouped and the Tories fell into a pit it took 13 years to climb out of.

Even so, New Labour only came to power by entirely ditching their grass roots support. The Sun and NotW provided a very convenient platform to give the appearance of reconnecting with the great unwashed, without actually having to meet them in person. Similarly, Eton Dave finds it much nicer to test the opinion of working class Tories at a Rebekah Wade Christmas party than going carol singing at an old folks home. Plus they've all seen what happens when a party leader meets the lower class faithful and accidentally leaves the microphone on.

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Pirate

Spot on

This hits the nail on the head. I've read a lot about Rail privatisation which was a big policy of the 1992-07 Major gubbermint and the reading I've done touches on this (Christian Wolmar is a good author on this).

Rail privatisation had been proposed in the run up to the 1992 election and also before then; but even the Iron Bitch hadn't gone that far despite her many other sell offs. Perhaps she realised that anything that needed a public subsidy to survive couldn't be privatised without becoming a costly private sector gravy train (Ahem)....

Anyway - winning the 1992 election was a surprise to the Conservatives. Their plan for rail privatisation had only been talked about before then. Since they hadn't seriously expected to win they hadn't done any serious work on it. Suddenly the curve ball of their victory was clear and they they had to rush through the 1993 Railways Act which enacted privatisation as they realised they had to get it done within a single 5 year parliamentary term. This was because the Labour opposition (especially after the regroupings you mention) was getting stronger and talking about opposition to privatisation.

This involved (among many other things) finding title deeds to tens of thousands of properties, buildings, bits of land, stations and the like so that they could actually flog it off.

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Kinnock

What Kinnock's doing there works fine on stage, or in front of a load of workers. He just didn't realise that it doesn't work on TV.

Same as John Major. In person, apparently John Major is very impressive - he's a big muscular bloke, and there's no wimp goes talking to crowds stood on a soapbox. But on TV he looked rubbish compared to Slick Tony.

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Facepalm

John Major

I always feel sorry for John Major, and cant help but think that his spitting image character brought him down. He seemed a relatively normal and honest guy and actually did a pretty good job of turning the economy around - so good in fact that Nu Labour kept his policies for pretty much their first term.

Lets face it Tony Blair was pretty much a Tory PM really, because that was what was needed to get himself elected. Brown was a bit more true Labour, which had the usual consequences for the country.

Regarding the current hysteria about NI - most people really don't care. Labour, the BBC and the other media orgs care for obvious reasons. The BBC news website has had it as the top story almost everyday for 2 weeks, but have a look down at the "most read" section. It would appear that most of their readers dont care nearly as much as the BBC do.

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"ridiculous Kinnock"

Another great article, Andrew - you should be awarded the 'Orwell' after they've rescued it from Johann Hari.

OTOH Kinnock may be ridiculous, but have you and all your family each got a 6-figure platinum-plated pension courtesy of the taxpayers? Now who's ridiculous, eh?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

>I always feel sorry for John Major, and cant help but think that his spitting image character brought him down

Rather like Thatcher he played up to that image - any sympathy you have for him should be tempered by how he has subsequently made his multi-millions.....Google the Carlyle Group sometime....

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Meh

Hmmm, I think you're a bit too forgiving, Andrew

While you're right to suggest that plenty of politicians share a healthy portion of the blame for the influence which is attributed to Murdoch's various media interests, you seem to have a selective perception of relevant facts in evaluating Murdoch's position.

You've only got to read John Pilger's article about the Murdoch media coverage of mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians, or the Sun's coverage in the run-up to the 1992 election, to realise that the man does appear to be willing to use his media assets to his own advantage.

I'm not happy to hear politicians or top police officers crying about they really wanted to change things but couldn't because The Bad Man was busy touching them in their special places with his Investigating/Publishing Organ, but there's also plenty of evidence to suggest that the Bad Man is, in fact, a Fairly Massive Bastard Indeed.

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Sort of agree...

He is a massive bastard and I hope he gets everything he deserves. But the power he has (or had) is the power we or our representatives gave him. People buy his newspapers and watch sky TV.

There was no coup, no revolution we gave it to him willingly. We were told and we did it anyway.

Frankly, are the Sun, Mirror, Star, Express, and Mail any better than the News Of The Screws?

Have you ever watched 'The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer'? there are parallels.

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@Steve

"There was no coup, no revolution we gave it to him willingly. We were told and we did it anyway".

Yep, and this applies as much to the dodgy politicians as it does to Murdoch. The fact that there was more than one player in the game doesn't preclude the possibility that all the players are or were absolute twats with sociopathic tendencies.

And yeah, the NotW is just one sad example of what passes for news, and a sorry effort it is if what you want is investigative reporting and journalism worth a damn. But then the solution to the bigger problem is to get a better class of human and to put a bunch of them in a better class of society than we've currently got access to, so as feasible options go we're pretty much stuck with trying to give a bollocking to the aforementioned twats for their misbehaviour.

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FAIL

Power?

So where is the power in Sky other than threatening the BBC TV Tax machine? You could argue Sky news has power, but hardly anyone watches it. UK living or Dave are hardly a threat to democracy.

Regarding the papers, do the papers tell their readers what to think, or do readers buy papers that reinforce their belief's? Would you/do you buy the Sun/Mirror or Times/Guardian and would you change paper - and if not why not?

Its a little insulting to suggest that people cant think for themselves regarding politics.

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@Greg 16

Humans in general haven't demonstrated a particularly good species-wide ability to question those in power (whether the power be journalistic, military, political or educational in nature) and frankly if you don't think that newspaper editiorial edicts can have an influence on readership you're being very very naive/optimistic about the thought processes involved in human decision making.

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@captain

As I've already said, MOST people tend to buy papers that reinforce their opinions. I dont agree with most of the stuff that's in the Sun, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure that the Sun is simply reflecting their readership. People who dont agree with whats in there, will buy something else that does reflect what they agree with, be that the Mirror or whatever!

I think that your parents and upbringing have a far far greater influence on your beliefs and opinions than any newspaper.

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its all about the swing

Politicians don't even bother with 90% of seats any more its all about the small number of votes in the Target constituency. If you can convince a few thousand swing voters you'll be paying more tax or not to bother voting because they're all the same then its job done. When debate stops being rational we are a worse nation for it. The inspiration for the tea party is our anti euro UK independence party. Fox news is the mail.

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FAIL

Insulting perhaps, but true

"Its a little insulting to suggest that people cant (sic) think for themselves regarding politics."

In Canada, the Tories' branding of Lib leaders via attack ads was quite effective. My very lovely but poorly educated mother parroted the attack ads verbatim.

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Anonymous Coward

effective....

I'm willing to bet my house that she was already a tory voter. I also strongly suspect that the libs had their own attack ads?

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OK,

not sure where you're going with this really Andrew.

Rupert Murdoch doesn't stand accused of being an arch-villan as far as I can see.

He does stand accused of controlling organizations around the world that clearly indulge in some very dubious tactics to obtain scoops/influence politics and that he should really be responsible for such actions.

His crime really, is to turn a blind eye to actions that it is very likely he knew about and to allow the manipulation of politicians/policemen for his organizations' own gains.

If anyone was a Keyser Soze, it was probably Rebekah Brooks.

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Happy

Actions

he either knew about, or at least, set a large budget aside not to be *told* about?

When Henry II's underlings took it upon themselves to chop up Thomas a Becket without his knowledge, he "walked to Canterbury Cathedral in sack cloth and ashes and allowed himself to be flogged by the monks there." Interesting precedent.

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Devil

but Henry didn't resign...

I mean abdicate. A symbolic penitence, and Murdoch will do the same.

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FAIL

Which BBC do you listen to?

***The Beeb avoided immigration ****

Eh? Eh?

Not the BBC I listened to (nice quoting of a Tory muppet from yesterday's debate tho'). 5Live was an outlet for every wailing whiteboy with an axe to grind and, often, sickeningly indulgent of them (I say as the white son of a truck driver).

Ignored Europe? Again, which BBC were you watching? It was, and has been, a major topic throughout its current affairs output for years and gave massively undue air to the arguments of "eurosceptics", including some of the most boorish oafs ever to infect politics.

If you can't grasp how Murdoch's pernicious influence has corrupted our polity then you really are not paying attention. He wasn't the only one - but he was by a long way the worst.

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FAIL

"massively undue air to eurosceptics"

The BBC has been massively pro-Europe for 35 years. Sticking the odd nutter on Radio 5 or on BBC2 after midnight is their idea of balance. Same with global warming.

Saying that sceptics don't deserve any air time at all when it's the majority view of the voters sort of gives you away as a bit brainwashed.

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Facepalm

It's definitely a different BBC.

"***The Beeb avoided immigration ****

Eh? Eh?"

In the newspeak "journo" dictionary, "avoiding" means not editorialising the subject matter. The BBC in general try to avoid editorialising subjects as much as possible ( with a few notable exceptions such as the Middle East, where they are leant on - and frequently threatened with being shat on).

The Beeb cover "immigration" (whatever that is as an issue) just fine. Contrast with the NI output from the Sun to Fox News - which in common much of Andrew's, is just one long stream of Editorial.

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IT Angle

All seems reasonable... but...

Fox News... kinda defines Murdoch and has come to represent his empire.

And it is a deeply unpleasant thing to anyone with a shred of human decency.

If he ditched that farce of a news station I think he would not be a target of such hatred... your timeline of his "power" lines up with the rise of Fox News.

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your timeline of his "power" lines up with the rise of Fox News

I agree,

That is i agree that is what andrew wrote, can help thinking it's bollocks tho murdoch was massively powerfull all through the dark days of thatch.

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It's contrarian revisionism

...And Andrew is nothing, if not, both a contrarian (often for its own sake) and a revisionist. The problem with revisionism is that it provides almost no context, as to why people at a given time, reacted as they did, based on what they knew, and is thus somewhat futile, from a historical point of view. In the 80s, Rupert could lean on you and obliterate you. End (or start) of story (depending on how they felt, and how many column inches it looked like you could be milked-for).

The fact that, today, we could beat the 1990s News International war machine with a few Google searches, both diminishes how powerful the fact-and-slander-gathering power of News International was, back then, and reflects how mighty us modern folk think we are, with all our self-empowering "Googling"(TM)[verb][citation needed].

If you weren't the one holding the sling, then you're not David: you were one of the ones paying Goliath protection money - which is part of what I think Andrew is getting at. A great many minnows from the churnalism fish tank are now feeding on a corpse that was actually felled by an adversary much more recognisable to Murdoch, than many now acknowledge: good old fashioned research-based journalism - the stuff that is so unfashionable, these days. The crowd all cheers - and all assume the solution must have been crowd-sourced.

But to deny (as Andrew is) that Goliath was ever Goliath, is just an excuse for not being the one holding the sling - and, sorry, that's inexcusable. Find something else to revise, Andrew. I'm sure there's a verse missing out of a song, somewhere, that deserves your attention.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: It's contrarian revisionism

No revisionism here, it was never true in the first place:

>> Two years later the truth emerged in the definitive study of that election. Labour's Last Chance?, edited by Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell and John Curtice, contained the results of a panel survey in which people who were interviewed after the 1987 election were re-interviewed in 1992.

Not surprisingly, it found that most Sun, Mail and Express readers voted Tory, while most Mirror readers voted Labour. The question is, did they cast their vote because their newspaper told them to, or did they choose the paper that matched their outlook? The evidence is overwhelmingly the latter.

The data showed that the shift in attitudes between 1987 and 1992 among the readers of the Sun and other pro-Tory tabloids was much the same as among the rest of the electorate. In both groups, Labour's support rose by four percentage points. The authors concluded: "Neither the Sun nor any other of the pro-Conservative tabloid newspapers were responsible for John Major's unexpected victory."

So why did the myth of the Sun's influence take hold? One reason is that the opinion polls made a mess of that election, exaggerating Labour's support for months. The Tories were always on course for victory.

The academics repeated their exercise in the 1997 election, when the Sun backed Blair. Did that make a difference? No, according to John Curtice: 'The pattern of vote switching during the campaign amongst readers of the Sun or any other ex-Tory newspaper proved to be much like that of those who did not read a newspaper at all.' Curtice concluded, to paraphrase, that the Sun may have helped Labour - but only slightly and only before it publicly backed Blair <<

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23971834-dont-be-afraid-of-rupert-murdoch-the-sun-never-won-it.do

The "1990s News International War Machine" is a myth.

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Anonymous Coward

Data? Methodology?

And you've missed a trick. I don't read the sun. But I still read its headlines.

Perhaps you don't understand how propaganda works.

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Why does the influx of immigrants being white

mean it's not a racist issue? Just because there's lots of immigration doesn't mean that the people who are crying out that we're being invaded are any more right in their reasons for being offended, and it doesn't mean that the focus on asylum seekers (which I'm sure you well know make up a tiny fraction of immigration totals) is justified at all.

Regardless, as far as I'm aware, net migration, as far as I'm aware, is still returning to the previous rough figure, suggesting that all the doomsayers predicting that our country would be heaving with Eastern Europeans were being as foolish as they appeared.

On top of this, the focus on immigration, when you compare it to the increase in population through birth is very minor, and until the general populous is ready to do menial work again, immigrant workers are essential. There are farms near us which rely on Polish workers because they can't afford British workers because the supermarkets insist on stupidly low prices because the average Brit wants good quality but cheap food. Is that really a case of jobs going to the lowest bidder because there happens to be cheap labour available, or is it a case of the farms only managing to survive because of that cheap labour being around?

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