Posts Tagged ‘Murdoch’

And So It Went … A Review of the Events of the Week

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.

Ridicule, lie, insult, lie, mock, lie, bully, lie. Hate.

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Hate.

White, white, white, white, white, white, white. Hate.

God bless America. God bless Donald Trump.

She said/she said. She said she said/she said.

Ego, ego, ego. Lies, lies, lies. Fear, fear, fear. fear.

Hate.

For those fortunate enough to miss it, the preceding is my synopsis of the Republican National Convention, which dominated the news last week. This is by way of resuming my contribution to the Internet dialogue with a regular Sunday collection of events that piqued my interest, tickled my fancy or struck me as almost too dumb for words (see above).

For this first installment, I’m going back more than a week because the major media apparently had no time to report on anything but the white supremacist rally in Cleveland. So …

  • Mick Jagger is going to be a father,
    Mick Jagger ... proud papa to be, again

                              Mick Jagger
                 … proud papa to be, again

    for the eighth time. Gathering no moss (sorry), Jagger, who is a great-grandfather, will be 73 when the baby is born next year. Mom-to-be is a 29-year-old former ballerina, who is said to be quite content with her relationship with the Rolling Stones frontman, which includes everything but marriage, living together and Mick changing diapers. Mine not to judge. I was 50 when my first son was born, 52 for the second. But I changed a s***load of diapers. Also, vasectomies are safe.         

  • Interesting footnote that occurred to me as I researched Jagger: He has four children, aged 18 to 32, with his former partner, Jerry Hall, 60. She and Jagger split 17 years ago. Earlier this year, Hall, a former model, married media mogul and billionaire Rupert Murdoch, 85. There’s no talk of additions to their extensive families, but Hall chose a favorite site of her old Rolling Stones days for her honeymoon with Murdoch, who just seemed happy to complete the climb to get there. Draw your own conclusions.
  • The Russian track and field team was disqualified from the 2016 Olympics because of what was described as a state-sponsored comprehensive doping program involving the 2012 Olympics and other competition. (The International Olympic Committee, never known for bold action, decided not to ban the entire Russian team, leaving that decision to the ruling federation of each sport.) The sports world was not shocked at the news, but, responding on social media, Russian fans criticized the author of the report that fingered the Russian testing lab and government officials by saying he was a typically biased American. He was, in fact, a typically neutral Canadian academic. Denial knows no nationality.
  • Pokemon Go. Why didn’t I buy Nintendo stock two weeks ago? I have no idea how the virtual reality game works, but these people should be working for the CIA. Maybe they are. (By the way, there’s a Charmander hidden in this copy, which you can find if you buy the app. Only $1.99. See the e-mail below.)
  • The National Basketball Association moved its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans. The principled move was a response to North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law, which is a classic example of the fear-based legislation proposed in the Republican platform at that hate-fest in Cleveland. Well-played, NBA.
  • Terry Collins, manager of the New York Mets, had the honor of managing the National League team in this year’s baseball All Star Game. He had two Mets on his roster for this exhibition of the sport’s best. Players consider it an honor to be chosen. They consider it even more of an honor to actually play and when your manager is the All-Star manager, you figure on having a good chance of getting in the game. Go figure. Bartolo Colon, at 43, the oldest all-star and a fan favorite, never got to pitch. Neither did Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ star relief pitcher. They were not happy, but politely kept it to themselves. Collins managed to get players from the 14 other teams in his league in the game, but said his guys were only going to be used in “special” situations that didn’t arise. Terry, Terry, Terry, the whole game was “special” and it didn’t mean anything in the standings. These were your guys. Special treatment would have been letting each pitch to a couple of batters.
  • Roger Ailes was fired as the boss of Fox News, by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News. Ailes was shown the door
    Roger Ailes ... Fox boss no more

                                Roger Ailes
                         … Fox boss no more

    (with a hefty severance check) when Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox anchor, filed a lawsuit  against him claiming sexual harassment. Other females then joined in to say Ailes had behaved the same with them. The move by Murdoch was swift. (It’s good to be the king and a billionaire.*) It was also without much controversy, probably because Ailes is well-known as a thoroughly despicable person. He is, in fact, in large part responsible for creating the orgy of anger and paranoia reported at the top of this   column by molding Fox News into an organ of fear, bigotry, misinformation, disinformation, and hateful, negative, bordering-on-compulsive propaganda directed at Democrats, in particular Barack Obama, the first black American president, and Hillary Clinton, who, if there really is some method to all this madness will soon become the first female American president.

R.I.P. GOP. Lincoln rolled over in his grave last week. So did Eisenhower and Reagan. John Boehner cried. Paul Ryan lied. And so it went.

* With a nod to Mel Brooks.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Journalism: By Murdoch and by Lowry

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

By Jeffrey Page

It’s been 10 years since the death of Bill Lowry, one of the great people of journalism. To appreciate how great, let us consider for a moment his complete opposite.

That would be Rebekah Brooks, until recently the CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s herd of British newspapers. Now, The New York Times reports, she’s about to be charged with withholding information in the hacking scandal.

Recently The Times noted Brooks’ testimony before a Parliamentary investigating committee and her perhaps unintended revelation that her professional life was everything it should not have been. She told her questioners that she “kept in touch by telephone, text message and email” with her favorite British politicians, including David Cameron, the current prime minister. Hmmm.

The Times continued, “They met at lunches and dinners. They socialized at cocktail parties, birthday parties, summer outings, Christmas celebrations and, in one heady instance, on a yacht in Greece.”

So there you are, a reader in Britain trying to get unbiased information when the person who runs your morning paper is having a high old time with the people she’s supposed to cover.

Enough of Brooks.

In the mid-seventies, Bill Lowry was the Sullivan County bureau chief of The Times Herald-Record. He made sure that if you were going to work for him, you understood certain rules that only a blithering idiot could misinterpret. No, um, if invited, you would not sail the Greek isles with the people you cover.

In fact, you accept nothing but words from the people you write about, and you always check the accuracy of those words. He insisted we stick to a bit of old Chicago wisdom: You trust your mother but cut the cards.

If Bill was interviewing a source at the local luncheonette, he would insist on picking up the check. No one in his right mind ever would have believed that Lowry could be bought with a cup of coffee and a cheese Danish but he worried how it would look if a reader walked in at the moment that a mayor or a political party leader grabbed the check. At such moments, if struggle was futile, Bill would leave a $5 tip.

We worked in an office a block from Kaplan’s Delicatessen in Monticello, a place that made great mushroom and barley soup. It was snowing and bitterly cold one night when Anne Kaplan – she owned the deli and was mayor of Monticello – was closing up. She brought two quarts of mushroom and barley to the bureau. “To keep you guys warm,” she said and walked out.

Lowry ran after her to return the soup. Then he went to a nearby diner and bought coffee and sandwiches for his reporters. Annie thought Bill was crazy, and of course he was no such thing. We loved Lowry.

He and his brand of journalism infuriated a lot of people who were used to being palsy-walsy with reporters and editors. An example: Bill and I were covering local court one night. A woman faced charges of prostitution and theft of a john’s credit cards. The john didn’t want the case to be in the newspaper and the judge ordered the courtroom cleared – of the press and no one else. Understanding a perversion of judicial power when he saw it, Bill told me to leave but he refused to budge.

As a cop escorted him out, Bill yelled to me, “Write this story!”

When he wrote about unusual patterns in racetrack payouts he was threatened with physical harm. On any number of stories he spotted headlights in his rearview mirror that may or may not have been back there a little too long.

His heart was as enormous as his conscience. One example: He allowed some local characters to pass the time in the bureau including an old man we knew only as Mr. Barash. Mr. Barash appeared to be about 80 and spoke with a thick Yiddish accent. He would sit and stare out the big front window. “Nice day,” he would say more than once no matter what the weather. When it was time for lunch, Bill would get an extra sandwich for his guest.

Bill chased important stories such as the fact that some of the most god awful slums in Newburgh were owned by some of the most respectable politicians. He wrote compelling stories about the trials and sentencing of the serial killer Son of Sam. He wrote about the treatment of poor people by the affluent, and about the conditions under which poor people had to live.

He sought to relieve misery by exposing it for as long as it took to change, possibly the result of his education by the Redemptorist Brothers at an upstate monastery where he came this close to becoming a priest. Instead he joined the Army. Later he switched to journalism, and practiced the brothers’ fourth vow after poverty, chastity and obedience – perseverance.

Later in his career, Bill went to The Record in Hackensack where some assignment editors liked his writing and sent him to write about the 1986 World Series. The Red Sox beat the Mets 1-0 in the first game, and Bill wrote: “So here it is, the opening of the World Series. Some 55,000 fans jam Shea Stadium to overflowing. Millions more watch on television across the country. Can Christmas be far behind? It’s The Game. And it’s a bore.”

He believed that animals – but especially dogs – had more integrity than people. He brought countless strays home to his place in Walker Valley. He once told a colleague that the only really important story he ever wrote was one that prevented a horse from being put down.

jeffrey@zestoforange.com

Blimey, It’s a Bloody Disaster

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Rupert Murdoch

By Bob Gaydos

Where to begin? Is it with the charming Hugh Grant playing Hugh Grant wearing a wire in the movie version of “End of The World as Rupert Knew It“? Or with the dishy Wendi Deng (Mrs. Rupert Murdoch) playing herself in the same film and then replacing Lucy Liu in the next “Charlie’s Angels” vehicle? I must admit, I’m at sixes and sevens over this hugger-mugger that is rapidly engulfing our British cousins.

Part of me thinks it is smashing that a lot of people who have given journalism a bad name for a long time are finally getting their due. But another part of me is cheesed off to learn how widespread this abuse of power was and how apparently easy peasy it was for the Murdoch’s News International empire to entwine its tentacles in the highest reaches of British government. (Blimey, I can’t even stop writing English English instead of American Engish, I’m so narked about it.)

There really is too much happening so fast at the moment in this scandal to know where to focus. Merely having the Murdoch name at the receiving end of the word “scandal” for a change is almost beyond irony and is surly the source of much of the glee with which the rest of the journalistic world has pounced on the story.

But really, do we start with the fact that the head of Scotland Bloody Yard — the top cop in England — has resigned because a lot of people accuse him, his deputy and other police officials of covering up the phone-hacking scandal that is at the heart of the scandal?

Or how about the fact that Prime Minister David Cameron is so chummy with former editors of Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid that he hired one to be his chief press aide, regularly goes riding (horses) with another and has had 26 meetings with editors of that now-defunct newspaper in his first 15 months in office? Or the suggestion that the Murdoch media empire in Britain is so powerful, former Prime Minister Tony Blair actually gave Murdoch veto power over foreign policy initiatives.

Maybe we should look at the fact that the first Murdoch-employed reporter to admit to the phone-hacking and cop-bribing was found dead at home the other day. He was 40. Police said his death was not suspicious. They have arrested a bunch of journalists, however.

Perhaps the best place to start with this, since it appears likely to be a long-lasting story, is at the beginning. News of the World, which was the largest circulation paper in Britain, featured juicy stories about public figures — entertainers, athletes, politicians, members of the royal family — that were less concerned with fact and news relevance than with their gossip and headline value. Kind of a New York Post on steroids.

To get some of the inside information on these people, the World hacked into voice mails on their phones. Even in England, this is not legal. The list of potential hacking victims is anywhere from 400 to 4,000 names long. Hugh Grants is on that list and he has sued and he did indeed wear a wire to get evidence of the activity. Good job, Hugh.

This snooping has been going on for about six years at least and, a committee in Parliament has charged, some officers in Scotland Yard have been complicit in covering it up — in exchange for cash bribes or promise of future employment. In fact, the first detective on the case resigned and went to work for Murdoch.

As examples of how low the hackers went in their search for “news,” former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, told Parliament of the emotional pain caused when News of the World revealed details of his young son’s cystic fibrosis. And, in what is so far the most callous of all phone-hacking incidents, News of the World listened to voice mails of a murdered teen-age girl and actually deleted some of the voice mails, giving the parents false hope that their daughter was still alive. I must have missed that journalism course in college.

As I said, this is just beginning and the story gets better every day. Heck, I almost forget to mention that a British comedian smacked Murdoch in the face with a shaving cream pie while he was testifying before Parliament. Gotta love that subtle British humor. Murdoch said the day he closed the News of the World was the “most humble” day of his life. He apologized, but he did not take responsibility for any of the actions of his top editors. Neither did his son. Meanwhile, Murdoch’s prize paper in the United States, the Wall Street Journal, ran an editorial supporting the boss, saying, “It is up to British authorities to enforce their laws.”

Rubbish.

This is a trial of the power of the press and the ability of news media to remain independent and objective and to report the news honestly, regardless of who is at the center of it. That has not been a hallmark of many Murdoch holdings. There are bound to be changes in British law regarding ownership of media outlets (Murdoch has nearly 40 percent of British newspaper and TV news stations). And it will be fascinating to see how his holdings on this side of the pond respond. This has really bollixed up their agenda.

Bob@zestoforange.com.

Murdoch Is Sorry…That He Got Caught

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

By Michael Kaufman

“Yes,” write Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan this week in their syndicated weekly column, “Murdoch is sorry —that he got caught.” Their column sometimes runs in the op-ed pages of the Times Herald-Record.… but not this week. As the Record dutifully notes in its articles covering the scandal involving Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp global media empire, “News Corp. owns NewsCore and Dow Jones Local Media Group, of which the Times Herald-Record is a unit.”

Goodman and Moynihan, colleagues on the Democracy Now! radio and television broadcasts, make some telling points in the column titled, “The questions hanging over Murdoch, USA.”

They note how the “contagion affecting News Corp” has spread rapidly in the U.S., as indicated by the FBI  investigation of potential criminal hacking of the voicemails of victims of the 9/11 attacks and calls by lawmakers and grassroots groups for an investigation into whether the bribing of police was a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “As News Corp is a U.S. corporation, registered in the business-friendly state of Delaware, even bribery abroad could lead to felony charges in the U.S.”

If News of the World employees engaged in illegal attempts to access voicemails and the FBI investigation leads to indictments, however, “the most likely outcome would be extradition requests against the alleged offenders, which could drag on for years,” they explain.

“Meanwhile, Murdoch runs his media empire in the U.S. as an unvarnished political operation. Fox News Channel, run by career Republican operative Roger Ailes, is home to the most consistently vitriolic critics of Barack Obama. Leaked memos and emails from Fox vice-president of News, John Moody, and Washington managing editor Bill Sammon allegedly offer evidence of top-down directives to control the message throughout the news day, from linking Obama to Marxism and socialism, to denigrating a public option in the U.S. healthcare debate, to promoting skepticism about climate change.”

Goodman and Moynihan also recount acts of violence that may have been influenced in part by the exhortations of some Fox hosts. “In July 2010, Byron Williams loaded his car in Northern California with a small arsenal, donned body armor, and set off for San Francisco, intending to massacre people at two of [Glenn] Beck’s regular targets, the Tides Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. When police tried to pull him over for speeding, Williams started firing and was arrested.” Williams later told a reporter, “I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he exposed that blew my mind.”

Similarly, Fox host Bill O’Reilly repeatedly castigated Dr. George Tiller, one of the only medical doctors in Kansas who performed abortions, referring to him as “Tiller the Baby Killer” on at least 29 occasions. “In 2009 Tiller was shot in the head at point-blank range, while attending church, by an anti-abortion extremist.”

Aside from the enormous direct influence of his media properties, say Goodman and Moynihan, “Murdoch doles out political contributions. Prior to the 2010 Republican landslide Murdoch gave $1million of News Corp cash to the Republican Governors Association, the group that helped push far-right candidates to executive office around the U.S., notably Scott Walker, who provoked massive labor protests in Wisconsin, and former Fox commentator John Kasich in Ohio.”

Needless to say, Goodman and Moynihan are not impressed by News Corp’s announcement that it is conducting its own internal investigation: “Board members Joel Klein and Viet Dinh….are taking active roles managing the crisis. Dinh was assistant attorney-general under George W. Bush and a principal author of the Patriot Act, the law that, among other things, prompted an unprecedented expansion of government eavesdropping.” Moreover, according to recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Dinh and other directors sold off stock options (with Dinh netting about $25,000) as the scandal broke.

“Klein, a former justice department attorney and chancellor of the New York City school system, joined the board recently to focus on its digital learning business. The New York Daily News reports that a business News Corp acquired just after Klein joined the board is now facing scrutiny, since it deals with schoolchildren’s personal data. New York State awarded Wireless Generation a no-bid, $27 million contract. Now parents are questioning whether News Corp should have such access.

“Perhaps,” say Goodman and Moynihan, “the greatest threat to Murdoch will come from grassroots organizations. The activist group Color of Change has already mounted a protest outside Murdoch’s New York Central Park apartment.” That group was co-founded by Van Jones, appointed by Obama to promote creation of “green” jobs but forced to resign after a withering assault by Beck and other Fox commentators. According to Goodman and Moynihan, an advertising boycott campaign mounted by the group “is largely credited with forcing Beck off the network.”

Murdoch’s hacks at Fox derided Jones and other Obama appointees as “czars” while ignoring the one person who deserves that appellation perhaps more than anyone since Nicholas II, Rupert Murdoch.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.