Tag Archives: Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch, Salmond, and the Swamp of Destiny

On Tuesday 13th March David Cameron proved himself a brilliant game-player – albeit the kind that buys cheat codes.

He left the country for a state visit with Barack Obama.

Early that morning the Metropolitan Police arrested Cameron’s life-long friend Charlie Brooks and Rebekah formerly-the-CEO-of-NI Brooks and four other News International employees. By the time anyone knew about this, David Cameron was safely on a British Airways plane, mid-Atlantic.

As Fleet Street Fox notes, the convenient timing of this arrest just when David Cameron could not be ambushed with questions about his friendship with Charlie, Rebekah, and the horse, must be purely coincidental, and:

It is entirely coincidental that a public inquiry currently scrutinising relations between the police and members of the trade under examination has heard in recent days of senior coppers who have not been doing their job properly.
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Filed under Elections, In The Media, Scottish Politics

I believe in the BBC

What if Scotland votes Yes in autumn 2014 – would we still pay the licence fee – and would we still have the BBC?

In August 2009, at a time when News International were strenuously denying everything, James Murdoch addressed the Edinburgh Television Festival, claiming:

“The expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision.”

(Twenty years earlier Rupert Murdoch had also addressed the same festival, saying much the same thing.)

In the Scotsman, Jennifer Dempsie notes that Scotland would have a larger budget specifically for radio, TV, and iPlayer services than at present: Scotsman:

The licence fee revenue in Scotland is around £325m (sadly the BBC are not too keen to publish official figures in this area). If you assume total BBC Scotland overhead and distribution costs of about £50m (including the contribution to BBC Alba costs), we are left with a public service programme budget for radio, television and online services in an independent Scotland of approximately £275m. A report showed the BBC as providing figures for their total Scottish spend as just £102m plus £70-75m of network-related spending. So, a Scottish public service broadcaster retaining the entire licence fee would have a budget of about £325m, as against the measly £175m currently. Approaching double.

Plus, we could get rid of David Dimbleby on SBC Question Time, forever.

But set against that, while we’d still be able to pick up the BBC on our channels, we’d no longer have access to the full range of programmes on BBC iPlayer. Continue reading

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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

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Filed under Elections, Human Rights, In The Media

The Breitbart problem

Andrew Breitbart used James O’Keefe’s fabricated “pimp videos” to kill off ACORN, the progressive organisation that worked to register low-income voters. That may be Breitbart’s most enduring legacy. I thought this blogpost would be called “the Thatcher” problem, but she is still alive; or the Rupert Murdoch problem, but he’s still alive too.

The problem:

What do you do when someone thoroughly detestable dies?

Unlike Thatcher, who will die well into her retirement (and well after her mind has retired), and unlike Rupert Murdoch, whose evil has generally been carried out through employees and subsidaries, Andrew Breitbart’s evil was active and personal.

On 19th July 2010, Andrew Breitbart posted two short videos showing excerpts of a speech by Shirley Sherrod, Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture, at an NAACP fundraising dinner in March 2010.

In the 1960s Shirley Sherrod established a land trust with her husband, for poor black farmers in Georgia: New Communities, Inc.

In his first post about the video, Breitbart wrote: “In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white.” He also strongly implied that Sherrod was describing recent actions as a USDA official unser President Obama, though since he had seen the full tape he knew that she was talking about an event in the 1960s. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News picked up on this, and accused Shirley Sherrod and NAACP of “reverse racism”, and Sherrod was fired.

When NAACP put the full video up on their website, you can read the full transcript here. The bold section is the part that Andrew Breitbart exercpted for his video. NAACP had accused the Tea Party movement of racism. (This is shown to be true.) Breitbart took a videorecording of a black speaker to a majority-black audience, where the speaker was making an impassioned defense of the principle that it is not black or white but rich and poor that unite and divide Americans, and the audience was applauding her. And Breitbart edited it to make it look as if she were saying the exact opposite.
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Filed under In The Media, Racism

What did Rupert Murdoch know and when did he know it?

In conversation with American friends, they often identify a paper as “The Times of London” or even “the London Times” and sometimes I correct them – since its name actually is The Times and has been since 1st January 1788, and since officially it is a UK-wide paper, sold from Campbelltown to Norwich. And sometimes I don’t, because as a practical matter of fact all of the papers published from London are London papers – the rest of the country (let alone the rest of the UK) is not regarded as of particular interest – the same line of thinking that leads David Dimbleby, in Edinburgh, to squelch Nicola Sturgeon when she responds to a question that requires an explanation of Scottish election law, on the grounds that Scottish elections are of no interest to Question Time’s audience.

This attitude in the UK-national media that Scottish politics are not something they should have to care about has been to Alex Salmond’s benefit on a few occasions – most notably over his MP expenses. Or rather most non-notably. But Salmond’s courtship of Murdoch is an extraordinary piece of chutzpah – a certainty that while the Scottish papers may take note, this won’t turn into a thing in the UK-national ones – and it is the UK-national papers that are focussing their attention on the Leveson revelations about Rupert Murdoch and News International.

Alex Salmond & Rupert Murdoch on 29 Feb 2012
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Dream of a better nation

For me, independence is not the goal. I’m dubious about breaking up the Union – not least, when I contemplate splitting up the valuable community property of a marriage accumulated over four centuries – but I am drawn to the idea that an independent Scotland could become a better nation than devolution would permit.

Salmond and Murdoch

Yesterday, in the first edition of the new News of the World, there was an interesting political leak: an announcement of the date for the independence referendum, Saturday 18th October 2014. Given that Salmond had already specified the date would be “autumn 2014”, the actual day/date could have been any time between Thursday 18th September (Parliament’s summer recess ends at the beginning of September) to Saturday 22nd November (end of autumn). The consultation period is not yet over, and Salmond had no business giving Rupert Murdoch a date.
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Filed under Elections, In The Media, Politics, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

Toby Young joins the Firm

This is Toby Young, writing of Milly Dowler, in anticipation of his new job writing a weekly column of crap in the Sun on Sunday, the new News of the World:

This is the old News of the World, back when News International believed themselves to be untouchable:

The papers state that from 2008 on, the News of the World had a legal obligation to “preserve all relevant evidence” of phone hacking because it had been notified of civil claims that were pending.

But in Nov 2009 it created the “Email Deletion Policy” to “eliminate in a consistent manner across News International (subject to compliance with legal and regulatory requirements) emails that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation in which an NI company is a defendant”.
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Filed under In The Media, John Grisham

Exemplary sentences and collective punishment

Excellent comment on the UK riots by Iain MacWhirter in the Herald:

Boy steals bottled water worth £3.50 and gets six months in jail, while bankers who wrecked the economy are rewarded with billions in public money.

Politicians demand exemplary sentences for vandals who nicked clothes from Debenhams, ignoring the way MPs helped themselves from the John Lewis list courtesy of their fiddled expenses. Tabloid newspapers demand a crackdown on lawlessness, at the very moment they are found to be engaged in law breaking on an industrial scale.

The only person who has faced any punishment in the phone hacking scandal in recent weeks has been the comedian who threw a custard pie at Rupert Murdoch.

He was sent to jail faster than his feet could carry him. The rest of the Murdoch suits walk free, even as documentary evidence emerges suggesting that they have misled parliament and the police. No exemplary sentences for them. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact senior police officers have been revealed to have been close to the Murdoch clan.

It’s kind of bizarre when  I find myself in agreement with Iain Duncan Smith, too.

One of the first e-petitions on the UK government’s website to get over a hundred thousand and therefore meet their requirements for a debate in the House of Commons, is the loathsome demand that anyone convicted of rioting in London (but, apparently, not elsewhere) ought to lose “financial benefits” and their families should be collectively punished by  being evicted from council housing. (As John Perry noted earlier in the week, council housing isn’t welfare – the families evicted will probably cost the state more in benefits in private rented accommodation.)

The Change.org petition against evicting the innocent has reached nearly 2500 signatures, but nowhere near the 200K+ that vindictiveness demands.

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Filed under Riots, Scottish Politics