Press lord Rupert Murdoch isn’t accused of doing anything some of his notorious forebears wouldn’t have attempted given the technology. “You supply the pictures and I’ll supply the war,” William Randolph Hearst is said to have instructed his Cuba correspondents as he ginned up circulation on eve of the Spanish-American War. The hacking and cover-up are bad, but what makes them worse, dangerous for democratic societies, is that Murdoch sits atop an era of media consolidation that results in fewer voices, less real journalism and, as with so much else in the economy, less competition.
Murdoch’s News Corp. controls major newspapers in the United States and United Kingdom, such as the Wall Street Journal and The Times of London. It owns the publishing giant HarperCollins. And it owns Fox News. His agenda is far to the right, especially evidenced on Fox with its partisan coverage and disregard for factual reporting. But News Corp. has even slanted the Journal, one of the most respected names in journalism.
As Joe Nocera, an early supporter of Murdoch’s bid for the Journal, wrote in the New York Times, “Along with the transformation of a great paper into a mediocre one came a change that was both more subtle and more insidious. The political articles grew more and more slanted toward the Republican party line.” Along with shilling for Murdoch’s business interests, including toothless coverage of the hacking scandal, the once-great WSJ was “Fox-ified.”More