Yes, he’s gone!
Rupert Murdoch, the dirty digger of Fleet Street,
admired by a few as the scourge of the print unions, vilified by the many as
the eminence grise behind the
telephone hackers, fawned over by the British political establishment, has
severed his remaining ties with the British press. By resigning from the boards of the companies
that control The Sun, The Times and the Sunday
Times he’s presumably preparing to sell these and other titles in the News
International newspaper empire.
I, for one, won’t regret his departure. Media analyst Clair Enders is another. “The
grip of the Murdochs, finger by finger, has been loosened,” she writes, “and
it’s not in order to return triumphantly.
It’s a permanent shift. James and
Rupert have decided that they are not welcome in the UK, and they’re right.”
As Ed Murrow would have said, “Goodnight, and good
luck”. I would add, “And good riddance”.
Murdoch was always an Anglophobe, despising the
country in which he made his fortune, as a decadent, post-colonial bully in
terminal decline, a viewpoint he inherited from his father. There is no law against such opinions, though
he might have paused to ponder that Britain is one of the few countries
in which they can be expressed freely without inviting serious
retribution. In America, a
country he claims to love, and whose citizenship he has adopted (though for
purely commercial reasons) he would have been run out of town on a rail.
Murdoch’s apologists object to his denigration, if
only on the grounds that he preserved thousands of jobs in the newspapers
industry by rescuing titles on the brink of extinction, and by freeing Fleet
Street from the tyranny of predatory unions.
I agree with them in that instance.
But even the most noxious dictators did some good. Hitler and Mussolini broke the unions
All Murdoch’s actions, even the defensible ones, are
self-serving and enriching, and his influence on the country has been largely demeaning
and corrupting. He published the kind of
papers he joked that he wouldn’t let his children read. He used his supposed power as a press baron
to buy off politicians desperate to gain or cling to office. He presided over, and may have known about,
activities that led to the worst media scandal in history, including the
hacking of the mobile telephone of a murdered schoolgirl.
There were lesser examples of his untrustworthiness
and bad taste – like the broken promises given to regulators when he acquired The Times, and the publication of the fake Hitler diaries (which he allegedly dismissed,
when the fraud was exposed, with the words, “Well, we’re in the entertainment
No, he couldn’t have done any of those demeaning and
corrupting things without the connivance of those he managed to convince were
not being demeaned and corrupted, but that hardly removes the stain from his
If he had one redeeming quality it was that he wasn’t
as corrupt as his rival Robert Maxwell.
As I say, good riddance.