Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Murdoch’

The Real News Scores a Win

Thursday, June 27th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

The Post staff rebelled against a proposed new editor with a questionable ethics past.

The Post staff rebelled against a proposed new editor with a questionable ethics past.

    Score one for the good guys.

   In a time when (1.) “fake news” is thrown around routinely as a way to delegitimize real reporting by real journalists while (2.) social media is awash in actually fake news produced by fake journalists and (3.) the airwaves are polluted by well-funded “media” outlets pushing outright lies, all to support the propaganda machine of the Trump Republican Party, The Washington Post recently provided a lesson in what has historically been considered basic journalism ethics in America.

  Actually, The Post staff with major help from The New York Times gave Post management a lesson in basic American journalism.

    In brief, they forced the ordained new editor of  The Post to change his mind about taking the job because, well, it’s always more pleasant to work with people who like you and who share your principles and ethics. Or, in this case, lack thereof.

     Robert Winnett, the Post editor-to-be, announced that he’s decided to stay in England, where his brand of “journalism” is accepted and (by some) even admired, rather than come to The Post, whose staff was in revolt over his selection.

     That’s because Winnett was involved in a scandal that engulfed British newspapers years ago in which stories based on hacked or stolen phone and business records or records purchased from a data information company were published to embarrass prominent politicians and celebrities. Lawsuits followed.

      Those practices are frowned upon by legitimate American news organizations and have been for a long time. Winnett denied taking part in those activities, but both The Post and The Times published articles quoting individuals involved in those sensationalized stories saying Winnett was in it.

      Indeed. So was his almost new boss, Post CEO and publisher Will Lewis, who was, in fact, Winnett’s actual boss at The Sunday Times, a Rupert Murdoch newspaper across the pond. Lewis was reported to have assigned Winnett to do one of those hit jobs.

    Still, Lewis did manage to get hired as the top dog in Washington. Apparently, The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, didn’t notice or didn’t care that the British style of “journalism,” as practiced most outrageously in America by Murdoch-owned Fox News on TV and to a lesser extent The New York Post, wasn’t acceptable for major American media, especially those with a reputation for fairness and ethical practices, like The Washington Post.

     Bezos, who turned Amazon into a mega profit machine, is understandably concerned that The Post is losing money. Maybe he never considered all the advertisers that newspapers lost when businesses flocked to the Internet to companies like Amazon to promote their products.

   In any event, Bezos wants The Post to establish a third news-gathering wing, presumably centered on the Internet. Lewis wanted Sally Buzbee, the Post’s former top editor, to take over that new job, but she properly took it as a demotion and resigned. The Times and Post stories story on Winnett followed. Hence, the search for a new editor. (A new publisher wouldn’t be bad either.)

     Back in London, Chris Evans, top editor at The Daily Telegraph, Winnett’s current newspaper, sent a message to his staff saying, “I am pleased to report that Rob Winnett has decided to stay with us. As you all know, he’s a talented chap, and their loss is our gain.” 

     Well, chaps of a feather do stick together.

     In any case, the hope here is that Lewis and Bezos and others at The Post who maybe were thinking of taking part in some form of UK “hit job“ journalism get the message: The First Amendment protection afforded the press in this country in the Constitution is not a license to lie, cheat, steal or in any other unethical way ruin people’s lives for the sake of selling more newspapers or getting more clicks on social media.

    Not yet at least.

(Editor’s note: The author worked for more than 40 years at three daily newspapers, all of which followed the basic ethical principles of American journalism. Two of them — The Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton and The Times Herald-Record in Middletown — were tabloids in size, but not in the practice of journalistic sensationalism. The Evening Capital in Annapolis, a standard broadsheet, was no less rigorous about ethical practices.)

A 12-Step Program for Republicans

Monday, January 29th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

38E746B5-A254-42AA-9A6F-7683C3D4A74CThis column is updated from three years ago because it’s election time again and, well, denial is the first, big obstacle. Until and unless they can admit they were/are powerless over Donald Trump, Republicans have no hope of recovering. They will be forever known as Trumpaholics, people addicted to avoiding reality and destined for a life that is, by any reasonable measure, unmanageable. I cite the last eight years as evidence.

  But, as they say, there is a solution, one that has changed lives for the better for millions of people worldwide — a 12-Step program. It has worked miracles for alcoholics; it can work for Trumpaholics.


       I’ve written on addiction and recovery for more than 15 years. One of the recurring stories I’ve heard over that time is that the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are not just a proven way to stop drinking, but also an excellent formula for living a good life. Getting rid of the booze — or in this case, the Donald — is only the beginning. Republicans can reap these rewards, individually or as a party … but only if they really want to change.


        So, with a deep bow to Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob and A.A. and adapted in all humility, here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Republicans:


  1. We admitted we were powerless over Trump, that our party had become unmanageable.  This state of affairs is usually evident to non-addicts of the individual’s acquaintance well before that aha! moment arrives, if it does. Members of A.A. say this is the only step they have to get perfect, for obvious reasons. If a Republican can’t admit — still — that Trump dominates his or her every political thought or action, there’s no sense going on to Step 2. Denial. However, if Republicans can look at the past eight years of saying yes to virtually everything Trump did or said and acknowledge the trouble that this blind obedience, this dependence, has caused in Republicans’ lives (broken relationships, lost jobs and opportunities, ruined reputations, trouble with the law) as well as the pain it inflicted on the lives of many others, there is hope.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than Trump or Mitch McConnell could restore us to sanity. (No one said this was easy.) No, this does not mean everyone becoming Evangelical Christians. Quite the opposite. That would simply be swapping blind faith in Trump for blind faith in other con men and women. Give me your money and you will be saved. For a party that professes a belief in strong family values and makes a public display of respecting religious (well, Christian) teachings, this should not be a problem. Theoretically. However, I think it could be challenging to many Republicans who have become used to giving lip service to their professed religious beliefs. Skeptical alcoholics are sometimes advised to pick a higher power of their own choosing or at least to believe that someone whose sobriety they admire has such a belief. Instead of putting their hands on some charlatan’s shoulders and bowing their heads, supposedly in prayer, Republicans should look within the ranks (or without) for a source of strength, hope and faith and emulate that person. It should be someone with a sincere, demonstrated, spiritual footing. Hint: it’s not Ted Cruz. Not a Koch brother or Rupert Murdoch either. Keep looking. Someone more like Lincoln, remember? It may take a little time. That’s OK.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will, our money and our platform over to the care of whatever power we came up with in Step 2.  A key step. Last time out, Republicans did this almost accidentally with Trump. That was blind, misplaced faith in the flashy guy. No willpower, true, but no sense of shared responsibility to the greater good. This time, they need to decide to follow the lead of someone with sound moral principles and then lead their political lives accordingly. That is, decide to do the rest of the steps.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. This step could be a problem for a lot of Republicans because it requires honesty. But if they want to change, they need a list of the things they want to change. For example, lying that the presidential election was stolen while knowing there was never any proof of this would be something to put high on the list. Lying is bad, even in politics. Hypocrisy is just a fancy word for lying. Also, stealing and harming others so as to benefit yourself. Breaking the law, too. Insurrection. All Trump’s pardons did not remove the guilt, they merely freed the guilty.
  5. Shared with that higher power from step two, with ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. In other words, look in the mirror and say, “I have been a self-serving, lying, backstabbing, selfish, hypocritical, cowardly son-of-a-bitch for the past four years,“ and then release a statement to that affect — in detail — on social media. Get Liz Cheney to pose in the picture with you. Piece of cake.
  6. Were entirely ready to have my higher power (with the help of a new party leader of sound moral standing) remove these defects of character. Basically, Republicans must resign themselves to the fact that they have been a group of self-serving, lying, cowardly, etc. since they chose Trump as their leader. This is the truth, the real news. When and if they accept it, they can move on to Step 7.
  7. Humbly asked him or her to remove our shortcomings. Harder than it sounds. First of all, shortcomings seldom ever really go away. They find new hiding places. Republicans will have to become aware of them and try to avoid them. Stop lying about the deficit, That’s a lifetime of work and will require humility. Good luck finding someone to explain that concept to Republicans. Again, not Ted Cruz, who confuses humiliation with humility.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Really. You don’t get to totally screw up a country and just walk away like nothing happened. Not if you want to change.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others. That last part lets Republicans stay out of jail and not hurt their own family by admitting how they routinely cheated minority voters with sketchy redistricting plans and harsh voter registration laws.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when wrong promptly admitted it. This is the new way of living part of it. “I’m sorry; I was wrong.” Try not to abuse this step. Match your words with action.
  11. Sought through regular meetings and work sessions, at which an honest exchange of ideas is encouraged and welcomed, to maintain contact with our new party leader, seeking only to learn what the new Republican Party stands for and the power and courage to carry that out. Prayer and meditation wouldn’t hurt either.
  12. Having had a major reprieve and possibly a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry the new Republican Party message to Trumpaholics and others and to practice its new principles in all our affairs. One day at a time.

   That’s it. The formula for recovery for the Republican Party. But there is one thing more. With alcoholics, the drinking is just a symptom of the disease. When the drinking stops, the disease (much of the behavior) doesn’t go away. That’s why recovery is a daily practice. To avoid relapse.

 The real question for Republicans is what made them Trumpaholics in the first place.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at

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