Monday, 18 July 2011


Exactly 70 years ago (1941), Orson Welles made Citizen Kane. One of the best motion pictures ever made, Citizen Kane was based on the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst whose newspapers molded public opinion and influenced politics to a degree that some argue the corporate press determined the course of politics instead of reporting it in an open society where people are provided with information from all sides and all perspectives so they can make up their own minds.

In the late 20th century and until today, Rupert Murdoch is the new citizen Kane, except that this Australian billionaire has engaged in tactics to manufacture news that even Orson Welles would not have imagined so that he can make his flawless motion picture even more intriguing. On 18 July 2011, the British authorities arrested Murdoch's CEO Rebekah Brooks who was involved in the 'phone hacking, police bribery, political intrigue' scandal that involves Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his government.

Nine other people have also been arrested in connection with the "Citizen Murdoch" scandal that is apparently much more far reaching inside British institutions than previously believed. While those working for "Citizen Murdoch" are arrested, he is an d will remain above the law. He does society a favor by lowering himself to testifying before elected officials to 'explain' his side of the story, of how 'his enemies are out to get him', of how he is the hero of the 'common people', of how he is wrongly persecuted by sinister forces, yet, he still apologizes for any inconvenience his corruption may have caused society.

Murdoch became a multi-billionaire and kept spreading his influence globally through the media empire as a result of his political links that invariably involve various levels of corruption. By pushing an extreme right-wing agenda and presenting his media empire as 'pro-market', and by cleverly manufacturing news through populist rhetoric and scandal-style news reporting, "Citizen Murdoch" made himself the darling of conservative politicians and conservative businesspeople who spent advertising their products.

However, the world now knows that 'news' from "Citizen Murdoch" was acquired illegally and that he was only interested in influencing political trends and expanding his empire through illegal means using his considerable political influence. RESULT: loss of credibility, which for the business of media means restructuring the business by other names and new CEOs so that "Citizen Murdoch" can continue to manipulate and manufacture the news so that his vision of events may influence public opinion and public policy.

In an open society "Citizen Murdoch" has the right to present his views freely, but does he have the right to bribe public officials, to wire taps, to use information that he has acquired illegally - in the same manner as J. Edgar Hoover did on politicians, trade unionists and businessmen - and to expand his media empire through insider political influence?

In a democratic society, the public is 'consuming news', but what if the corporation selling news is manufacturing it? In a democratic society, the news magnates have the right to use anti-labor practices, but does the magnate have the right to create anti-labor policies because he has insider influence with politicians that he has bribed?  In a democratic society, the media has the right to acquire news stories legally, but what if, as former PM Gordon Brown has stated, the news organization uses known criminals and criminal methods to acquire stories? Can a 'free' media operate in an open society when media magnates have near monopoly on the media and determine that average citizen is consenting politically and institutionally to what "Citizen Murdoch" wants?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

here here! functional democracy is predicated on an informed electorate. If information is manufactured in order to manipulate the electorate, then so is policy.