By Wendell P. Simpson
ABOVE PHOTO: Rupert Murdoch, gives evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in this image taken from TV in Portcullis House in central London, Tuesday July 19 2011.
(AP Photo/ PA)
For the British public, it was one thing when Rupert Murdoch’s ghouls over at News Of The World (NOTW) were penetrating the private lives of the rich and famous—after all, privilege has it’s costs, too, and fame surrenders to the harsh, constant scrutiny of the public domain it was quite another, however, when the pain and grief of innocents became fodder for Murdoch’s march to media domination.
Murdoch is a power mad bully who controls almost forty percent of Britain’s news circulation. His broadsheet tabloids have been both his pulpit and his scythe. He has brandished that blade to intimidate the politicians—very few have dared to cross him for fear of being done over by his media machine—and keep UK journalists cowering in dark corners over worries that their careers would be jeopardized if any should run afoul of his power and influence.
But now the engine of public opinion has been fired up and those self-same cowering institutions are now afraid NOT to jump Murdoch and his army of spectres. Finally, after years of lying prostrate before the machinery of the oligarchs, the people have elected to take back some of their power—and a new kind of insurrection is born; the revolution of the sick, tired and fed up.
By now, the whole world knows the story of the hacking scandal. News Of The World reporters have been illegally tapping into the phones and private communiqués of citizens across the entire strata of British society. Everyone from the royals, to former PM Gordon Brown, to the stars and celebrities who keep the world oh-so-distracted were targets of a campaign of spooking and spying. And the British public ate it up—no people like a good, salacious scandal like the Brits, and News International, the UK arm of his print media corporation, moved papers off the shelves to the tune of 2 million copies a week.
But the party came crashing down when it was revealed a few months ago that NOTW reporters had hacked the voicemail messages of the bereaved family of Milly Dowling, a 13 year-old girl who’d gone missing under suspicious circumstances in March 2002. That revelation—and the disclosure that the private messages of the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan had also been tapped, as well as those of families connect to the victims of the 9/11 New York and 7/7 London attacks—opened the floodgates on Murdoch’s miscreants, calling into question the journalistic ethics of the brand, the integrity of the News International line and the credibility of it’s owner and major shareholder.
This was a bridge too far. The British public exploded into righteous indignation; they demanded answers—and suddenly, pusillanimous politicians who were more worried about incurring the wrath of the proprietor of a media conglomerate than upholding the law and societal standards of decency quickly found themselves staring down the barrel of public outrage.
Stoked by the public fury, the parliamentary peers managed to locate their balls amongst the rubble—and Murdoch now finds himself in the dock. His bid to take over BSkyB, the UK’s biggest single cable provider—a deal that would have turned him into the God Of All He Surveyed—has been scuttled and an investigation is being launched amid charges of bribery amongst high-ranking public officials (Watch out, David Cameron!).
Yeah, it is a great for the common folk—but make no mistake: they’re not muckin’ around with some lightweight here. You can best believe there’s a whole lot fight left in the old dog, and that he’s not going to go quietly into the night. Like William Randolph Hearst before him, Murdoch is one of the most powerful people on the planet, with the ability to access and influence Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congresses, Parliaments and Ministries across the globe—there is hardly any sphere of society anywhere in the world into which his tentacles aren’t plugged.
Murdoch’s media empire is a £20bn ($32.72 billon US) a year worldwide sprawl that includes Fox Film Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News (the platform from which America’s professional crackers spew their cancerous rhetoric), Fox Sports, Hulu, News International, the Wall Street Journal and about a dozen or so other media outlets around the world, from India to the United States, China, Australia and the Middle East.
But, unlike Hearst, Murdoch doesn’t preside over his kingdom at the dawn of a great, hopeful age of technological progress and social and cultural reform, and he doesn’t have an audience that’s transfixed and fascinated by the magic of it all. No, he operates in the twilight of the ascension of the Euro-powers, of a capitalist paradigm in crisis, of ever-widening conflict and contrasts, and the cynicism of an increasingly disenfranchised population.
And when he shut down News Of The World in a bid to shore up his crushed credibility—and, according to former NOTW staffers, save the ass of his side piece, Rebekah Brooks, a News International honcho-ess who presided over the paper during the halcyon days of its hacking—tossing 500 reporters, editors and support personnel into the unemployment queue, his callous indifference to the plight of his own employees only served to throw even more light on Murdoch’s incredible disconnect from the world around him.
It is this increasing understanding of, and dissatisfaction with, the apathy of power that inspired the people of the UK to say, ‘Enough!’
The glorious irony is, the collapse of Murdoch’s regime will likely happen because of a cheap trick concocted and employed by a tiny gaggle of cheesy, unethical pseudo-journalists who reside at the bottom end of the Murdoch food chain—because, every once in a blue moon, shit manages to trickle up.
But this is what happens when a people are diligent and responsible; when they take the reigns and call out for accountability from all sides; and when the calculus of social equality insists that all the angles play out, not just those of an elite few. I call it bloody democracy.