Posts Tagged ‘Murdoch’

A Quiet Walk Midst an Insurrection

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

(This was written three years ago. The words still stand.)

By Bob Gaydos

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

  I took a walk around the pond  Wednesday afternoon, January 6, a little before 4:30. It was cold, but still light out. The sun had just begun to set. As I walked I thought about how lucky — privileged — I was to be able to enjoy such a quiet moment in such a beautiful place in such a shithole country.

    No, friends and family, I haven’t moved. I still live in America, in a particularly scenic part of it, I think. For new readers, that place is upstate New York. It’s a place where a man can be alone to enjoy nature, if the man turns off his electronic devices.

     Two hours of watching live news reports out of Washington, D.C., had made me feel something I had never felt before — a combination of fear, anger, sadness, shame and profound outrage. The calming words and presence of President-elect Joe Biden had finally broken the spell the scenes of chaos had cast on me. It will end, I told myself. It will not succeed. There aren’t enough of them. They are all fury and delusion, taking selfies as they lay waste to the seat of government of the country they profess to love. Ignorance and arrogance, the Trump formula. In the end, it fails, but oh the harm it does. He doesn’t care. They, the rioters, are too dumb to know. That’s the nicest way I can put it. Or they are racists. Or both.

       Those are the facts. And for several hours on a Wednesday afternoon, as our Congress was attempting to perform its constitutional duty of confirming a new president,  these “Make America Great Again” terrorists made it look like one of those “shithole countries“ their leader once referred to with intent to insult. Yep, that’s what it looked like to me. …


        … As I resume writing, it is now a week later. Trump has been impeached, again. Incitement to insurrection. Five people died in the attempted coup on The Capitol, including a police officer who was beaten to death by the rioters. White rterrorists carrying a Blue Lives Matter flag killed a Capitol police officer. They spread feces and urine throughout the building. They ransacked offices and went looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. The whole time, the rioters took selfies of themselves. Eventually, they went home or some D.C. bar, apparently thinking that would be the end of it. Just a friendly little failed insurrection in the nation’s capital, broadcast live around the world.

           If you stop to think about it – and apparently the rioters did not — the ignorance is astounding. It is surpassed only by the hypocrisy of the Republican members of Congress who encouraged and invited the assault and who voted against seating Biden as the duly elected president, even after the insurrection had been quelled. They stuck to the lies of the election being stolen from Trump, even though every one of them – except for perhaps a couple of conspiracy lunatics — knows that that is a lie. It was Trump’s biggest and most dangerous lie. In truth, a treasonous lie.

         Since that now infamous Wednesday, much more has been revealed about the attack on the Capitol. It wasn’t as innocent as it first appeared. There was a plan. There may have been inside help from some Republican members of Congress. Maybe even from the Capitol police, who were woefully unprepared for a massive event that was announced well in advance. There was a delay in getting National Guard troops to the scene, perhaps caused by someone in the Defense Department.

          There will be investigations. May they go on for as long as necessary and bring to justice all those who we’re involved in this assault on America. Every last one of them. Homegrown terrorists. White supremacists. Members of Congress. Conspiracy nuts. Nazis. Klansmen. Racists. Pick a name. The list includes police and ex-military members as well. The attackers were virtually all white, which is why they are still alive. Lock them all up. People who bring swastikas and Confederate flags to attack the seat of the government of the United States of America deserve no mercy.

           Trump now stands accused by Congress and convicted by the majority of the American people and the rest of the world of Inciting an attempted overthrow of a duly elected government. But his accomplices in the Republican Party are also guilty. They have ignored his assault on democratic principles for four years, out of fear or for their own gain or because they agreed with him. They deserve what they’re reaping. The party deserves to die. May it be reborn in some semblance of a responsible political party, perhaps including those Republicans who had the courage to speak out publicly and fight against Trumpism.

            America has been put on notice. There are those among us, appearing publicly as patriotic citizens, but operating out of hate and fear that their dream of a white, Christian nation with everyone else second-class citizens, is about to die. And in their foolhardy effort to avoid that fate, they may have actually hastened it. Republicans who remained silent, evangelicals who remained silent as Trump ravaged democracy, all stand indicted. Those who supported him financially along the way and now seek to distance themselves, all stand indicted. Rupert Murdoch and Fox News stand indicted. 

            In a country Trump would call a “shithole,” those seeking to overthrow the government usually try to get the military on their side if they hope to succeed. When they don’t, they don’t. As I watched with Lester Holt on NBC News as the idiots stormed the Capitol, I kept thinking, well, sooner or later troops with weapons and bullets will arrive. Hopefully, with orders to shoot. I also was dumbfounded that people were posting images of themselves on the Internet as they perpetrated this terrorist attack against this nation and gave no thought to the fact that this would make it easy to track them down and arrest them. Ignorance and arrogance.

              Yes, we have a lot of work to do, but the first thing is not to give into Republican pleas of coming together for the good of the country. They spent four years quietly watching Trump tearing the country apart. They must pay the price. I repeat, there are many more of us than them and what is necessary now is for all who know and love and respect what this nation is about to speak out forcefully in defense of it. Bring to justice those responsible. Convict Trump. Convict him again and again on whatever charges may be filed when he leaves office. Teach young people that actions have accountability. When we get around to it, teach young people about civics and government and history in school again. Clearly a lot of Americans slept through those classes. Evangelical Christians are on their own in this one.

           Joe Biden faces a monumental task when he becomes president on January 20, but he will have full control of the Congress to back him up and, I believe, fervent support of a vast majority of Americans as well. That white mob that assaulted the Capitol was an embarrassment to this nation, but maybe a lesson as well. American exceptionalism was put to the lie.

            No, this is not a “shithole” country, yet. I can still take a quiet walk around the pond every day. But those who would take the right to feel that safe and at home in this country away from anyone whose skin color or nationality or religion or politics they find fault with must know there can be no healing until the wounds are closed, Not until the guilty are prosecuted and those who aided and abetted admit their guilt. Not until journalists are not casually referred to as “enemies of the people.” Not until children are not put in cages. Not until all lives truly matter.                      


Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at






Rupert, Don’t Call Me; I’ll Call You

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

  I used to work for Rupert Murdoch. Briefly. Not by choice and not directly. It was an accident of capitalism, but not the serendipitous kind I prefer.

   Fortunately for me, it was uneventful. He left me alone, and I left him alone. That is to say, he didn’t tell me what to write in editorials for The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., and I didn’t tell him how to run his international News Corp. media empire that at the time included The Sun and The Times in the United Kingdom, the Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, and The Australian in Australia, and, in the United States, Fox News, 20th Century. Fox, the New York Post and the Dow Jones Co., which included Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal and Ottaway Newspapers, a group of small to medium-sized community newspapers. That’s where Murdoch and I crossed paths, so to speak.

     Or rather, as I said, not to speak. The Record was a good-sized community paper (100,000 circulation on Sundays at the time), but small potatoes in Murdoch’s frame of reference for influencing the way people think and vote. Although Murdoch was well-known for his conservative views, I could write all the liberal-leaning editorials I liked, following in the tradition of David Bernstein, a partner in creating The Record, and Al Romm, a longtime editorial page editor who preceded me.

     In fact, that’s the way things were when James Ottaway Sr. swapped the Endicott Bulletin with Bernstein for The Record and when Ottaway, having created a profitable chain of community papers around the country, eventually sold them to Dow Jones Co. and retired to enjoy his Arabian horses in Campbell Hall, not far from Middletown. Murdoch eventually bought Dow Jones.

   In my experience, owners, whether down the road, or somewhere in downtown Manhattan didn’t usually mess with editorials unless, like Bernstein, they wrote them themselves.

    I’m taking this trip down memory lane because the Murdoch assault on democracy, decency and the journalistic dedication to truth once taken for granted in this country has finally cut me to the raw.

     How dare he? How dare he set up a news franchise to (1) deliberately falsify the news to advance his political views and financial interests then (2) throw his employees under the bus by acknowledging the Fox News fiction when someone with money and the facts on their side decided to sue him for damages to their reputation and (3) act as if he had nothing to do with it?

     The lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems accuses Fox News of letting its “news” anchors regularly repeat as fact the Donald Trump lie that the 2020 election had been stolen from him, with Dominion’s participation, even though, as internal Fox emails showed, everyone there knew Trump had lost legitimately. That there was no fraud.

   In a deposition in the Dominion case, Murdoch said that any Fox executives who knew that anchors who reported that election fraud had cost Trump the election, while knowing otherwise, “be reprimanded, maybe got rid of.”

  This, even though Fox had gone from initially reporting the truth of the election, that Joe Biden had won, to pushing Trump’s election fraud lies, both at Murdoch’s direction. And all because many Fox viewers weren’t buying the truth and were defecting to other conservative media to hear pro-Trump propaganda.


     In sum, Rupert Murdoch displays a cynical disregard for the truth or the gullibility of his audience except when it suits his purpose. For example, having known Trump for years and wearied of his many faults, Murdoch reportedly took an active hand in crafting an editorial in one of his other mouthpieces, the New York Post, basically urging Trump to fade off into the sunset  after losing legitimately in 2020. Murdoch felt Trump would actually read and heed the Post editorial, rather than one in the more buttoned-down Wall Street Journal.

      Didn’t happen, thanks in great extent to the cult aura that Murdoch’s empire had helped form around Trump.

       No individual, in my opinion, has been more responsible for the spread of disinformation and the spreading loss of trust in mainstream media — print and television — in America than Rupert Murdoch. Now, at 92, he’s trying to act like an innocent. It won’t wash. 

       Whether the Dominion lawsuit changes anything at Fox remains to be seen. After all, money talks in Murdoch’s world. But thus far, the apple doesn’t seem to have strayed far from the tree. Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s son and chief executive officer of Fox Corporation, in a defense of his organization, said: “A news organization has an obligation – and it is an obligation — to report news fulsomely, wholesomely and without fear or favor, and that’s what Fox News has always done, and that’s what Fox News will always do.”

      Forget the fear or favor baloney, Lachlan clearly doesn’t know the meaning of the word fulsome. Cambridge English Dictionary: “Fulsomely: In a way that expresses a lot of admiration or praise for someone, often too much, in a way that does not sound sincere.”

     Maybe Lachlan should forget about calling in editorial suggestions. And notice that he never said honestly and accurately.

 Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at


America Has a Narrow Escape

Friday, November 13th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos


Celebrations, like this one in Philadelphia, irrupt it across the country at the news of Joe Biden’s victory.

Celebrations, like this one in Philadelphia, erupted across the country at the news of Joe Biden’s victory.

We got off lucky. Four more years of Trump might have killed the Great American Experiment.

     It has taken me a few days to sort through the feelings I’ve had since Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. There was relief, of course. But more. When I read that Biden had finally been projected as the winner, four days after the election, it felt as if a huge weight I didn’t know I was carrying had been lifted off my shoulders. That’s apparently how worried I was about the future of this country.

     I do not state this lightly: No president in my lifetime, not even Richard Nixon, has done more to damage the basic foundations of this nation than Donald Trump. For point of reference, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president when I was born.

     Trump has not done it alone, of course. He has had the willing, cowering support of most of the Republican Party, top to bottom, in his assault on decency, democracy.and the rule of law. He has had the fawning, self-serving support of white Evangelical grifters, who convinced their followers to pray for Trump and donate to their always needy churches, to forget the hypocrisy and immorality of it all. He has had the angry, armed support of rejuvenated, suddenly hopeful, groups of white supremacists. The KKK credo (“America First”) and Nazi flags had a rebirth, thanks to Trump. And he had the unwavering support of millions of seemingly ordinary Americans who I’m sure would deny vigorously that they had any racist, bigoted, misogynistic bones in their body or that they were too lazy or too embarrassed to find out if those conspiracy theories, like much of what Trump said, were lies that fed their pre-conditioned biases.

       Harsh? I think not. Just look around. It’s still going on. But the thing is, this time the rest of America isn’t buying it. The rest of America voted overwhelmingly for a return to sanity, competence, compassion, truthfulness, and respect for the law in the Oval Office. And state election officials have performed their duties in a professional manner, making Trump’s claims of fraud sound ridiculous and desperate. To be sure, many of his followers still claim “it’s not over,” but thousands of Americans danced in the streets when Trump lost, because they knew they were free of the menace of the man who broke bread with dictators, insulted allies and called American veterans “losers.”

         We got off lucky. Yes, we endured four years of arrogance and paralyzing incompetence in the White House, culminating with Trump’s criminally negligent response to the Covid-19 virus, but we also learned some valuable lessons:

         — Racism is not only alive, but widespread in America. It came out of hiding in full force with the permission and encouragement of Trump. Its presence was announced daily on social media, in police actions and in people’s routine daily activities. The videos are there as evidence. Racism is a tear in the fabric of our society that Trump has widened. To continue to blindly support him is to endorse racism. Period. There is no “nice” way to ignore this. But now we at least know that there is much work to be done. Kamala Harris as vice president is an excellent start.

         — The Republican Party has abandoned any pretense at bipartisan governing. In handing control of the party to government-hating Tea Party members and power-at-any-price opportunists, Republicans have become worse than the Know-Nothings of the 1850s. In their blind obeisance to Trump, they have demonstrated that, not only do they not know, they don’t care. America now knows this. Democrats now know this. Disaffected Republicans now know this. A two-party system should be about cooperative governing, not constant pursuit of absolute power. Can the Republican Party be reclaimed by those who know and care?

           — The Electoral College is obsolete. Whoever gets the most votes should win. Trump played on the fears and resentments of a largely ill-informed minority. He gave them a feeling of power. He lied to them, used them to, mostly, feather his branded nest. The country paid the price.

           — A lot of Americans don’t know a lot about a lot of things. I’ve tried to say that as delicately as possible. Willful ignorance has been a hallmark of the Tea Party from the outset. (Where is Sarah Palin, today?) Somehow, being educated, knowing about history, science, literature, economics, the law, health, the arts, philosophy, math, geography … is seen as a bad thing. Higher education is something to be ridiculed, not admired. (Except of course for wealthy conservatives.) The level of gullibility for much of the nation has been raised over the years by daily radio feedings of bigotry and bull from the likes of conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh. But Fox News on TV has been the primary purveyor of the “fake news” Trump likes to talk about. An entertainment enterprise masquerading as a news outlet, it has fed on people’s fears and justified their feelings of resentment, all in order to make lots of money for Rupert Murdoch. It has been particularly damaging to the concept of a free press. It has lied shamelessly, with no significant repercussions, and today millions of Americans have no clue about how to verify if something is true or not. If a statement reinforces their bias, that’s good enough for them. However, closed minds are unable to compromise and we need to be able to do this to live together. The challenge to remedy this demonizing of learning falls primarily to our educators. I’m not even sure where to begin. Well, maybe Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas. Also, getting rid of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.

          We got off lucky, America. It could have been far worse, as Germans well know. Authoritarianism and blind allegiance to a power-driven, truth-hating leader lead to fascism. But Trump’s incompetence ultimately undid him, as it has always done before. Whatever happens to him and his many enablers, there is much healing to do for America and there will be resistance. But now at least we know what we didn’t know about ourselves and our 244-year-old system of government, though it bent, eventually held up. With some adjustments, beginning with the Biden Administration, hopefully we won’t have to rely on luck to survive in the future.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at

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.


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.

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.

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.”


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.

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