Letters to the Editor

Murdoch & News Corps—The Cancer Eating the Heart Out of Our Democracy

By Ted Newcomen

Recent coverage of the trials and tribulations of Rupert Murdoch and his News Corps group has largely been confined to the UK—but similar, if not worse problems, are being totally overlooked here in the United States. The game may yet be up for Murdoch in London but his grip on U.S. news and politics is even more powerful and insidious, as he gets a free ride from America’s “lamestream” media and support from his corrupt lickspittle lackeys in Washington and Wall Street.

If it’s true that the knowledge of certain impending death concentrates the mind and clarifies what’s really important in life then I recommend Socialist Viewpoint readers watch the final recorded interview with the English writer and TV dramatist Dennis Potter.1

Made in April 1994, only eight weeks before his death from pancreatic cancer, the interview says much about Potter’s view of modern life and even more about Rupert Murdoch and his pernicious influence on news distribution and the political process.

Potter actually had a pet name for the cancer that was eating away inside him, “Rupert.”

He gave it this seemingly harmless soubriquet so he could “get close to it.” He went on to explain that as a writer the ideal plot may be where someone (like him) had only three months to live and who would they choose to kill?

Potter chose the Australian media mogul because “there is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press. And the pollution of the British press is an important part of the pollution of British political life and it’s an important part of the cynicism and misperception of our own realities that is destroying so much of our political discourse.”

Murdoch’s News Corps is now the world’s second largest media conglomerate (in terms of revenue), behind only Walt Disney. Among its better-known U.S. holdings are the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, Harper Collins, Hulu, National Geographic Channel, Fox Channel & News, and 20th Century Fox film studios.

On both sides of the Atlantic corrupt politicians and their tame regulators have bent over double to ensure that Murdoch successfully flouts media ownership limits and shafts the concept of a free, responsible, and accountable press.

The latest revelations in the UK about phone hacking, bribing the police, and frightening political leaders are just the tip of a very toxic iceberg that had the likes of Tony Blair going cap in hand to Murdoch’s corporate functions when he was still British Prime Minister.

Dennis Potter never lived to see the truly cringe-making depths to which our elected officials would go to please the Murdoch Empire but he probably wouldn’t have been that surprised, coming from a history of upsetting the establishment with his written work and unorthodox approach to television drama. But there is no doubt that his heart lay in the right place and he well understood how political power is undermined and corrupted by an irresponsible, selfish, and unaccountable media.

At the time, Potter believed that “the state of decay” (to our political and social processes) was deeply set in. In his final interview he even acknowledged the fact with “great regret, pity, shame, self-shame.”

However, he still thought it was salvageable—just, but was “up to the people to stand up and shout a bit.” Typical English understatement perhaps, but never a truer observation came from a greater writer and insightful human being.

Sixteen years later and it is probably too late for such gentle protest from the proletariat. Now, nothing less than drastic surgical amputation or vigorous chemotherapy is going to save the USA from the poisonous machinations of Rupert Murdoch, News Corps, and their disgusting camp followers.