Rupert Murdoch Admits He Does Tell His Newspapers Who To Back And What To Print
By Darryl Mason
Okay, prepare yourselves, and try not to be too shocked by this revelation :
Rupert Murdoch has admitted to a parliamentary inquiry (in the UK) that he has "editorial control" over which party The Sun and News of the World back in a general election and what line the papers take on Europe.
Mr Murdoch's comments were revealed in the minutes from evidence he gave behind closed doors on 17 September in New York, during the committee's inquiry into media ownership.
But the News Corporation chairman said he took a different approach with The Times and The Sunday Times. While he often asked what those papers were doing, he never instructed them or interfered, he said.
The minute stated: "For The Sun and News of the World he explained that he is a 'traditional proprietor'. He exercises editorial control on major issues – like which party to back in a general election or policy on Europe
Which raises the obvious question, how many of the 70% of all Australian newspapers that Rupert Murdoch controls does he instruct to back or attack chosen politicians, political parties or political causes?
Is the Sydney Daily Telegraph as editorially independent of Murdoch's influence as the London Sunday Times?
Or can The Australian newspaper claim that honor?
Was the Herald Sun free to back Howard over Rudd in the elections? Or was the Herald Sun's pro-Howard line more for reasons of 'balance'?
Perhaps the UK parliamentary enquiry revelations explain why Murdoch blogger Andrew Bolt (whose blog features on the main news.com.au portal, as well as the Herald Sun and Courier Mail websites, reaching hundreds of thousands of Australian online readers) was so enthusiastically pumping the fact that, just before the election, the Sydney Daily Telegraph backed Rudd, while the Herald Sun did not, and why Bolt was earlier so vehemently denying that Murdoch's papers went hard after Howard when he refused to step down.
Murdoch's revelation of purposeful editorial control should not be a revelation to readers of The Orstrahyun blog.
As regular readers would remember, Murdoch clearly admitted, back in June during his climate change awakening, that not only did he instruct his newspapers to push a certain reality that he favoured, but he could also muster the entire forces of his internet, newspaper, cable and TV empire to push his belief systems onto the world and change not only what they believed, but how they behaved.
Here's Rupert Murdoch explaining how this would be done on the issue of 'waking up' his readers to the reality of climate change :
"We need to reach (our audience) in a sustained way. To weave this issue into our content-- make it dramatic, make it vivid, even sometimes make it fun. We want to inspire people to change their behavior.
"The challenge is to revolutionize the message.
"We need to do what our company does best: make this issue exciting. Tell the story in a new way.
"Now... there are limits to how far we can push this issue in our content."
"...we can change the way the public thinks about these issues..."
Within weeks of Rupert explaining how effectively his vast media empire can wage a psychological war on its viewers and readers to influence their beliefs and behaviour, most of his dozens of Australian city and suburban newspapers became champions of fighting climate change, launching special liftouts, dedicated websites and awareness campaigns over the next few months, under such Al Gore mantras as 'Saving Planet Earth'.
UPDATE : On September 10, 2001, John Howard had a long, private dinner with Rupert Murdoch in Washington, DC. Howard was suffering some of the worst poll numbers of his career, and the Liberal Party was scoring its worst poll ratings since the mid-1970s. But Tampa was heating up the front pages back home, and 9/11 was about to shock the nation.
Murdoch allowed himself to be interviewed by the media when he exited the restaurant with Howard, in scenes that were repeated in early 2007, in New York City, with then Labor prime ministerial hopeful Kevin Rudd.
From an ABC Radio report on the Howard-Murdoch 2001 dinner :
For two hours the two men sat alone in the upmarket Oxidental Grill deep in conversation. At 10:00pm local time they emerged and Mr Murdoch was asked by waiting journalists who'd win the next election.
RUPERT MURDOCH: No, we never discussed it.
REPORTER: Do you think Mr Howard deserves a third term in Office, Mr Murdoch?
RUPERT MURDOCH: Mm?
REPORTER: Do you think the Prime Minister deserves a third term in Office?
RUPERT MURDOCH: It doesn't matter what I think. You ask my editors.
REPORTER: Mr Murdoch, how do you think Kim Beazley would go as Prime Minister?
RUPERT MURDOCH: It would be very interesting.
REPORTER: Were they productive discussions with Mr Murdoch?
JOHN HOWARD: Well, we had a pleasant dinner.
REPORTER: Did you talk politics?
JOHN HOWARD: We talked everything.
MARK WILLACY: There's little doubt about that, given Rupert Murdoch's interest in media policy and the extraordinary influence of his Australian print empire. His response when asked if John Howard deserved a third term is well worth another listen:
RUPERT MURDOCH: It doesn't matter what I think. You ask my editors.
Rupert Murdoch was far more forthcoming on Kevin Rudd when he was asked by a journalist in early 2001 whether or not he thought the contender would make a good prime minister. The reply then was, "Oh, I'm sure..." Big smile.
A note we received yesterday, from a person who claimed to be a former staffer in John Howard's office, said that it was common gossip within many government departments that when John Howard refused to hand over the leadership to Peter Costello at the end of 2006, Rupert Murdoch was less than happy. And that editors of at least two Murdoch Australian city papers, likewise, were less than happy.
The self-claimed former Howard staffer said that when Rupert Murdoch publicly appeared with Kevin Rudd in New York City in April, 2007, laughing and grinning after a long meeting at the News Corp. headquarters, and then dinner together, a climate of doom descended amongst many in the prime minister's department. The belief was that Murdoch had given Kevin Rudd the Big Tick, particularly after the "Oh, I'm sure" quote was aired, which meant Howard was probably finished.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph soon became very obvious champions of Kevin Rudd, and Howard suffered a sustained stream of extremely negative Daily Telegraph front pages, featuring large photos showing Howard looking old, stressed and confused.
But then again, one city newspaper doesn't win an election. Does it?
"We want to inspire people to change their behavior....The challenge is to revolutionize the message...We need to do what our company does best: make this issue exciting. Tell the story in a new way...we can change the way the public thinks..."