NewsCorp: The actions of a few… or the Business Model?

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This clip from the Daily Show gives a little more background on the case (humorously).

Rupert Murdoch has his ass in hot water, Jim, and let me tell you, there isn’t one piece of me that’s rooting for him to come out the other end unscathed. Should the bureaucrats for whom he has shown so much contempt decide to grind him into hamburger, so be it. Bureaucrats are old, angry dogs that sleep in the sun all day, generally too tired to fight until they are poked with a sharp stick one too many times. And when they devour you with the full force of government power that they wield, no diatribes about freedom of the press or strong-handed government interfering with the workings of business will rally enough sensible people to stop the carnage. Didn’t your mother warn youabout poking old dogs with sharp sticks?

I’m wrestling with the liberal in me, the partisan, who really just wants to see a conservative wretch with a taste for cheap whiskey and cheaper hamburger drown in the mess he created. No, I don’t want to be a partisan here. But Murdoch has made a career of tearing down things that people have worked hard to build. Journalism was a profession at one time, staffed by people who practiced a fine art. Once greedy hucksters like Murdoch got their hands in it, the type of investigative journalism and beat reporting that actually has civic value was chased out of the trade. A person like Murdoch will never understand that not everything that has value can be bought and sold.

Murdoch is nothing new in the field of journalism. 100 years ago, Hearst built an empire on slinging gossip, filth, and pulp… anything to sell papers. Journalists might discover terrible things about what meatpacking plants were disguising as “beef,” or the terrible tasks that children were performing in America’s factories, but these findings were dangerous. Give a journalist rope like that, and soon enough, he will be putting a noose around the neck of one of your high-society friends, and where’s the money in that? Hearst put his effort into trivial stories that captivated the minds of the “everyman” – whoever he is – and replaced sourced facts and hard reporting with things like “compelling narratives” and “emotion-value.” It worked, in so much as his papers sold more than papers who did the hard reporting necessary for maintaining civility. But the people in this country who rank people as “success” or “failure” only use a financial yardstick, and only long after a man’s death do they ever see his wisdom in preserving integrity and morality in the face of financial loss. The idea that the financial yardstick can always measure one’s success is an outdated one, and it is tied to an outmoded version of American capitalism that is slowly collapsing into the sea.

The media still don’t want to look this story in the eye. By illegally wire-tapping the phones of everyone from politicians and entertainers to average people who were the victims of bombings, kidnappings and murder, a few reporters ran wild, but they delivered exactly what the bosses wanted: headlines. When you give a con artist rope like that, eventually they will piss off the wrong person, and when they do, heads will roll. To say that I don’t experience a sick pleasure from hoping, daily, that Murdoch’s head will roll too… well, I’d be telling a lie. He has promoted divisiveness and conflict and accelerated the decline of civility in our national dialogue. These days, there is not one political decision made where someone doesn’t consider how one of the half-wit FoxNews pundits will spin the story. Murdoch’s legacy has made us shallow repeaters of daily talking points, lacking the patience and capacity for cognitive dissonance that is required for running a civil democracy.

Stories like this can only happen in organizations with a conservative bent. Part of being conservative is not challenging The Way Things Work. No, no… you put your head down, don’t ask questions, and when the time comes to kill for the boss, you execute. Liberal institutions cannot display this type of organizational efficiency – there are too many employees with their own ideas. That’s why I won’t even bring MSNBC into this story; they only wish they had the fascistic discipline to play in FoxNews’ league.

This screed may only reach the level of “paranoid raving,” but in my mind, it is not hard to conceive of this type of dishonesty being corporate policy at NewsCorp. Our societal bias is to believe that the corrupt actions of reporters to get a juicy headline are the actions of a few, not the directives of the bosses… but at NewsCorp, that’s what they call “the business model.” So I’m going to freely speculate that every tentacle of NewsCorp is tainted to its core. They have made partisanship and division and trash media their calling card, and they have a fetid odor that permeates their very being. Murdoch himself has the look of a man who showers constantly but cannot ever get clean.

Fifth grade children call names and make accusations… I’m supposed to provide context, commentary, something different, but I’m not sure what context there is to give. Frankly, to give context would be a depressing paragraph on the decline of American political civility, and who wants to read a downer like that? We’re the ones who buy his papers and watch his news, and context would only demonstrate that we have turned into a nation of shortsighted half-wits who always must have the last word. And a nation of fifth graders cannot possibly look the problems of the next century square in the eye.

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