Contributed by Jim Hayes
Rupert Murdoch’s announcement of his stepping down as chair of News Corp and Fox News will no doubt bring cheers from millions of people around the world. His toxic version of news, clogged with its customary sensationalism, deliberate misinformation, influence over governments, and promotion of what amounts to a twentieth century form of fascism, has inflicted a great deal of harm.
Murdoch announced the news in his United States flagship newspaper the Wall Street Journal. But the 92 year old tycoon is not exactly going into retirement. He will merely change roles, and most probably, continue to exert his toxic influence from behind his son Lachlan.
Photo from Getty Images
He wrote, “For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles.”
Lacklan is a chip of the old block, groomed to continue on the same track. He shares his father’s politics and style. There will be no change here, and it might even get worse.
Rupert Murdoch’s stepping down form formally leading the media empire makes sense. At 92, he hasn’t a lot of time to hand over the family business. More importantly, the business is enmeshed in a series of scandals and lawsuits, with him as the central figure. His reputation, and that of NewsCorp, Fax, his other media platforms have fallen around the word. Newsprint circulation is falling, and so are viewers of his television stations.
Try as he may, Rupert Murdoch’s efforts to penetrate as the principal force in digital media and information has hit a brick wall.
This scenario is reflected within Australia, where he originally came from. Rupert inherited the origins of his empire from his father Sir Kieth Murdoch, who already owned a big slice of Australia’s print media. It was after expanding to England taking over the smutty news of the World, and introducing the anti-union headquarter in Wapping with the support of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This became the model and springboard for the rise of the global empire.
In Australia, Murdoch moved to successfully take over more than three quarters of print, television, and radio media. Governments assisted this by progressively watering down laws limiting cross ownership over different forms of media.
Murdoch’s capacity to make or break governments paved the way. His power became so potent that would be prime ministers and government required his endorsement to succeed.
Through this, Murdoch was able to shape policies. The keystone ones were the promotion of extreme neoliberalism in economic and social policy; fanning racism against those of colour and different faith; leading media away from investigative reporting, towards trivialised, manufactured, and misinformation news. He has been a leading force in involving Australia in a series of wars against others.
Rupert Murdoch, who went on to centre his empire in the United States and become a citizen of that country, has been crucial to how far the unhealthy subservience of Australia to the demands of Washington has gone. A relationship which has brought a shift towards the militarisation and leads us to confrontation with China.
Murdoch is a major influencer over domestic policies, ranging from economic management and industrial relations to health and education, climate change and lowering carbon emissions, the treatment of Australasia’s first peoples, and the treatment of refugees arriving by boat.
NewsCorp and its satellites have had a corrosive effect. Although the departure of Rupert Murdoch might be regarded as a wonderful thing to see, it is action that puts an end to the monopoly he created that I needed.
For a start, cross media ownership laws must be restored. outlawing anyone from having a private monopoly over media is the next step.