Rupert Murdoch, Alex Salmond, and Rick Santorum

In the US, today is Super Tuesday – it’s the day ten states caucus to choose their state’s candidate for President: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. For Republicans this year they get to choose between Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. (The odds of any of them actually defeating the incumbent to become President are… low.)

On Monday 20th February, Rupert Murdoch tweeted:

Portraits of Brooding Journos:

The Leveson inquiry is revealing the stranger-than-fiction culture behind how the news sausages gets made. Knowledge is power and information can be just as corrupting a currency as money or political authority. What’s incredible about the Leveson inquiry, however, isn’t just how long this power has operated unchecked and counter to the public interest, but the sheer quantity of lurid and tragic details of people who suffered in solitude while a systematic cover-up appears to have been orchestrated from the highest level. 25th February 2012


David Allen Green, New Statesman:

Let’s break down a criminal enterprise into elements. Are there allegations of criminal activity? Yes, both in terms of hacking and corrupt payments. Was that alleged criminality for commercial purposes? Yes. Were there alleged wrongful payments to the police? Yes. Were there contacts with the police which provided alleged early warnings of investigations? Yes. Was the knowledge of any of this possessed at senior levels in the organization? It would appear so. Was there a deliberate silence to the outside world about what was known? Yes, again it would appear so. Were public officials misled? That seems the case with at least the PCC. And were police investigations closed down in circumstances for which there is still no good explanation? That would indeed appear to be the case. 27th February 2012

On Tuesday 21st February:

A spokesman for the First Minister said Alex Salmond called Mr Murdoch to discuss his new newspaper, The Sun on Sunday, and said they also talked about the tweet.

Mr Salmond said: “It was an interesting eight words: a textbook example of how to deploy a tweet and cause a great stir. We are in a debate in Scotland and internationally about Scotland’s future, and I welcome all contributions to the debate, including Mr Murdoch’s.”

The tycoon’s words followed a tweet on Sunday in which he said: “Alex Salmond clearly most brilliant politician in UK Gave Cameron back of his hand this week. Loved by Scots.”

Steve Bell's cartoon of Murdoch with Santorum & Salmond

The next day, 21st February, Salmond and Murdoch chatted on the phone. I doubt if they discussed Rick Santorum‘s “values”, but here they are:

Rick Santorum:

  • Would repeal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Relative: We got good news. [Relative's pregnant wife] won’t have to have her baby at the charity hospital because we found out we qualified for Medicaid. We’re not sure how that happened, but it did. And instead of going to a clinic for check-ups, she gets to go to one of the best ob-gyn doctors in town.
    Rude Pundit: You wanna know why? You’re not gonna like it.
    Relative: (sighing, knowing what’s coming) Go ahead.
    Rude Pundit: Because Obama’s health care reform expanded Medicaid. It just went into effect.
    Relative: So I guess I have to support it now.
    Rude Pundit: Yeah, you do.

  • Would ban same-sex marriage
  • Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —
    AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.

    Noticing that Santorum’s name had become near synonymous with far right views, a sex columnist named Dan Savage decided to try to give Rick’s moniker another meaning. In 2003 he held an open contest for his readers to come up with a sexual slang definition of “Santorum”, and of the thousands of suggestions that flooded in, one proved to be the clear winner. Savage then set up the website www.santorum.com, and began “spreading the Santorum”. -What’s in a Name: Rick Santorum’s Disgusting Google Problem

  • Pro-Life
  • For Rick Santorum, by the way, that doesn’t just mean “abortion is bad!” (even though his wife had an abortion to save her life in 1996)
    He’s against contraception, because contraception encourages abortions.
    He’s against all pre-natal testing, because that encourages abortions.

    My bottom line is this – if medical science provides us with a tool that can reduce the number of stillbirths, catch and repair malformations caused by spina bifida, prepare delivery room staff for newborns with serious medical needs and prepare families for a heartbreaking loss or a child with special needs, why would we as a society want to throw that away and return to the dark ages? This is a question we should be asking anyone who endorses Santorum for President, and something for you to consider if you or your loved ones are planning to have children.

  • Does Not Support Immigrant Amnesty
  • The fate of the 12 million human beings who now live in this country, who have done nothing that our politicians and their corporate backers have not encouraged them to do for decades. It would be brutally unfair–not to mention impractical–to deport them all, and if we’re not going to deport them, the only way we will end the cycle of migrant worker exploitation is by granting them citizenship.

    I harbor no illusion that our leaders will actually grant amnesty. They count on donations from corporations that benefit, directly or indirectly, from the exploitation of undocumented workers. But if they were really interested in solving the problem of illegal migration, they would find a way to quickly deprive corporations of their pool of undocumented workers and, issues of basic human decency aside, we don’t have the law enforcement manpower to forcibly deport 12 million people. We can only drive them further underground, where they will have even less access to human rights protections–which is very likely what conservative immigration reform politicians want, since that outcome would benefit the corporations that pay their campaign bills. -Tom Head, Why I Support Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants

    And why Rick Santorum doesn’t.

  • Creationist
  • …words fail me. (However, XKCD doesn’t.)
    XKCD: Belief

  • Allow Death Penalty Sentence
  • “When there is certainty, that’s the case that capital punishment can be used. If there is not certainty, under the law, it shouldn’t be used.” —Rick Santorum, 23rd January 2012
    Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment. (Apr 1994)
    Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals. (Apr 1996)
    Between 1977 and 1999 “more than 570 people have been executed in the United States. Executions have become so routine that they are rarely given anything but perfunctory notice by the media.” And the prospect that innocent people will be executed in America is horrifyingly likely. The Atlantic, Alan Berlow, “The Wrong Man”, November 1999 783 people have been executed in the US from 2000 onwards to the present day – 6 so far in 2012.

  • Religion in Schools
  • Ironically…

  • Abstinence Only Education
  • The abstinence-only approach to sex education is not supported by the extensive body of scientific research on what works to protect young people from HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unplanned pregnancy. An assessment of the peer-reviewed, published research reveals no evidence that abstinence only programs delay sexual initiation or reduce STIs or pregnancy. – AIDS Policy Research Center & Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, Policy Monograph Series – March 2002

    It is important to note that abstinence-only education is not “sex education,” but rather a promotion of one subjective view of “morality.”

    In my middle school’s abstinence-only program, the teacher showed us a glass of water that had an Oreo soaking in it for about an hour next to a nice, clear glass of water and asked us which one we would rather give to our future spouse. How lovely, to be compared to a glass of soggy-Oreo water.

    Sex is portrayed as dangerous and dirty. Our teacher told us that even if you had a condom that covered your entire body, you could still get your partner pregnant and/or get an STI. -Colleen Leahy, Indiana Daily Student, 16 February 2012

  • Prayer in School
  • Ironically….

  • Does Not Believe in Climate Change
  • Outlaw Medical Marijuana
  • Ironically….

  • Against Stem Cell Research
  • Santorum is an opponent of embryonic stem cell research, and in his opposition, he cites other scientific avenues like adult stem cell research as an adequate substitute… which it isn’t.

    Stem cells offer the potential to revolutionise the treatment of degenerative diseases and to provide new tools and technologies for the discovery and development of new therapies. It is one of the most promising and rapidly developing areas of medicine today. Whilst, many years away from market, stem cell therapies offer hope to those affected by devastating chronic illnesses. -Scottish Stem Cell Network

  • Against Further Education
  • Rick Santorum, speaking at the Americans for Prosperity Presidential forum in Michigan a week ago:

    President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob. There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to [the] test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.

As Rick Santorum has emerged to become Mitt Romney’s leading opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, the American electorate said Monday it had slowly begun to realize that the former Pennsylvania senator sincerely believes every deranged word that exits his mouth. -The Onion, 5th March 2012

From distance, Santorum doing great. Values really do count in America, and not sneered at as in parts of Europe. Win Michigan game over. -Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch), 20th February 2012

Iain MacWhirter asked on Sunday:

Why do political leaders, even in Scotland, worship at the tawdry court of The Sun king Rupert Murdoch? What do they think they’ll gain? Murdoch is the most toxic brand in British public life, his crude right-wing publications a byword for bent news and illegal practices such as phone hacking. Yet there he was, the “Dirty Digger” as Private Eye calls the boss of News International, calling into Bute House on Wednesday for a tete-a-tete with Alex Salmond, even as claims of a network of police corruption linked to The Sun were reverberating across the Leveson inquiry. And on the very day that James Murdoch resigned in disgrace from his post as chairman of NI. How many votes does Alex Salmond want to lose?

Of course the First Minister insists Murdoch was just there to talk about jobs as one of Scotland’s leading employers. But if he thinks Scottish voters will believe that then he is out to lunch. Salmond also says that he made his views clear about Leveson and newspaper ethics. But this came rather hollow from a politician who had just leaked the date of the Scottish independence referendum – October 18 – to give the super soaraway Sunday Sun a front-page splash for its first edition.

Is that really the kind of behaviour we expect from our First Minister? That he sells his referendum for a sycophantic tweet from Rupert Murdoch, who called him Britain’s “most brilliant politician” on Twitter.

Apparently so.

Which still leaves the question open: Salmond wants Murdoch to support him. Murdoch supports politicians like Rick Santorum. What will Salmond become, to gain Murdoch’s favour? Tony Blair, David Cameron – how much Labour and Conservative policy over the past generation has been made and shaped to please the Murdoch press? How much SNP policy would be re-made to please Murdoch, if we vote yes in autumn 2014?

Given how far the tentacles of corruption extended into the Metropolitan Police force – not merely cash for tipoffs, but considerable evidence that the Met allowed the Murdoch press to influence criminal investigations and obstruct at least one murder inquiry – who wants to risk that happening in a unified Scottish police force?

The next day [28th February], former BBC Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames told the inquiry that she was placed under surveillance by the News of the World after her husband, a police officer, became the “face” of one of several tortuous investigations into the murder of a man named Daniel Morgan. One of the suspects was Morgan’s business partner, Jonathan Rees, a private investigator paid £150,000 a year by the NoW when it was edited by Andy Coulson. She told the inquiry that Rees, who was eventually tried for the 1987 murder in 2011 (the case collapsed), had “close links” to the paper’s news editor.

So why was Hames put under surveillance? Paragraph 40 of her witness statement puts it clearly: “I believe that the real reason for the News of the World placing us under surveillance was that suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry were using their association with a powerful and well-resourced newspaper to try to intimidate us and so attempt to subvert the investigation.” (New Statesman, 1st March 2012)

But why did the police feel they could act this way? It was reckless beyond belief, and apparently sanctioned, or condoned, at the highest level. Perhaps because the police saw that politicians were already hand in glove with the Murdoch empire and believed that this was just how things were in the “real world”. They believed that Murdoch was indeed above the law, a sponsor of government, confidant of prime ministers, immunised from prosecution by virtue of his constitutional role as the man who decides who is suitable to win British general elections. Truly, we live in the Murdoch State.

And now we even have our own Scottish First Minister worming his way into Rupert Murdoch’s unsavoury inner circle, sending him cosy notes and free tickets, meeting his agents 26 times since 2007. Trying to win favours from Murdoch’s disreputable rags. Politicians always excuse this kind of ingratiating behaviour on the grounds that they have to keep the press on side; it’s just how things are. Well, the First Minister of Scotland needs to be reminded that this is not how things are here. Salmond should disown Rupert Murdoch if he doesn’t want to hear Scottish voters saying: “Ach, politicians. They’re all the same.” (Herald, 4th March 2012)

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Filed under Elections, Human Rights, In The Media

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