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Fear, Power and Rupert Murdoch: The neurology of contempt

May 2, 2012

Yesterday’s majority decision by a British parliamentary committee that  Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to exercise stewardship of a major international company is a bombshell, all the more so as the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has stepped in to support the conclusion.   But more striking is the fear being expressed on behalf of those like Clegg and others who are daring – for the first time in two decades – to stand up to the all-powerful magnate. In the past this would have meant political death – largely via the Sun newspaper’s capacity to swing millions of votes, under the Murdoch empire’s direction. This fear is a symptom of the power wielded by this organisation, a power that is unchecked by democratic controls and restraints. The release by James Murdoch during last week’s  Leveson Inquiry of emails revealing the closeness of links between Minister Jeremy Hunt’s office and News International shows what the Murdochs are capable of. Clearly they have contempt for the politicians they have held sway over. Two examples: Rupert Murdoch is asked whether he thought British Prime Minister was a ‘lightweight‘. A long pause… then the answer .. ‘No, not then…’ Ouch. Second example was James Murdoch’s testimony when told that Minister Jeremy Hunt, who was supposed to be acting in a quasi-judicial role in deciding about a major commercial issue regarding the Murdoch empire, informed Murdoch junior that he had to cancel the meeting because of legal advice. When told that he could still talk to Hunt on the phone, Murdoch snarled “You must be fucking joking. I will text him and find a time.” This was a young man, son of a magnate’s response to a democratically elected Minister of a nuclear power. Think about it. But it shouldn’t be too surprising. People holding absolute power develop a contempt for those – like some UK Ministers – they hold power over. Contempt arises because those they tend to see those they can control as objects, precisely because they can control them. This is going to be a very, very interesting power struggle, but an unfortunate side effect could be a real diminishing of the vibrant British quality press. 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2012 3:15 pm

    “Yesterday’s majority decision by a British parliamentary committee……….is a bombshell”

    Hardly. Personally, I considered it an entirely predictable response, a product of both envy and a desire for revenge. Taking the opportunity to rub into the mud the nose of a man whom the British Left in particular has generally despised for decades, hardly constitutes ‘shock horror’.

    The decision was, in fact, an act of the most staggering hypocrisy. I always cringe at the brayings of the public jackasses who go to make up these “committees”, oblivious as they invariably are to their own constant failure to achieve their stated aims, their own waste, their own fecklessness, their own overwhelming dishonesty and not infrequently, even to their own criminality. “Unfit for purpose” is a label that more properly befits almost every single member of that benighted institution, past, present and, in the absence of any meaningful reform, future.

    The reality is that, at least in my view, the ‘Media’ has nothing like the political power it is so frequently credited with holding. Most “newspapers” do little more than pander to existing prejudice in an attempt to garner the sales they require to remain viable. The notion that a newspaper headline or article can significantly influence the outcome of an election is, frankly, a ludicrous myth. The claim just does not stand up to close scrutiny.

    If Murdoch really did manage to exert ‘control’ over these people as you imply then I would suggest that it was only as a result of the politicians own lust for power and influence that he was able to do so. This does not excuse Murdoch – though it might go so way to explain his apparent contempt for them – but it most certainly does condemn the craven politicians who are, yet again, exposed as self-interested and self-serving.

  2. May 7, 2012 10:07 pm

    “Yesterday’s majority decision by a British parliamentary committee……….is a bombshell”

    Hardly. Personally, I considered it an entirely predictable response, a product of both envy and a desire for revenge. Taking the opportunity to rub into the mud the nose of a man whom the British Left in particular has generally despised for decades, hardly constitutes ‘shock horror’.

    The decision was, in fact, an act of the most staggering hypocrisy. I always cringe at the brayings of the public jackasses who go to make up these “committees”, oblivious as they invariably are to their own constant failure to achieve their stated aims, their own waste, their own fecklessness, their own overwhelming dishonesty and not infrequently, even to their own criminality. “Unfit for purpose” is a label that more properly befits almost every single member of that benighted institution, past, present and, in the absence of any meaningful reform, future.

    The reality is that, at least in my view, the ‘Media’ has nothing like the political power it is so frequently credited with holding. Most “newspapers” do little more than pander to existing prejudice in an attempt to garner the sales they require to remain viable. The notion that a newspaper headline or article can significantly influence the outcome of an election is, frankly, a ludicrous myth – it just does not stand up to close scrutiny.

    If Murdoch really did manage to exert ‘control’ over these people as you imply then I would suggest that it was only as a result of the politicians own lust for power and influence that he was able to do so. This does not excuse Murdoch – though it might go some way to explain his apparent contempt for them – but it most certainly does condemn the craven politicians who are, yet again, exposed as self-interested and self-serving.

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