Chances are that you have heard there is a corruption scandal currently unfolding in the UK. This scandal involves the tabloid News of the World, one of the most popular and far reaching in Britain.
Leave it to Wikipedia to provide a handy short summary of the events timeline:
The controversy began in 2006, when the Metropolitan Police laid charges against Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s royal editor, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, alleging that they intercepted voicemail messages left for members of the royal household. Both men were jailed in 2007. Allegations against the News of the World in relation to illegal voicemail interceptions have continued in subsequent years, implicating other journalists and staff at the paper; numerous public figures, including politicians and celebrities, were found to have been targeted by the interceptions.
The Metropolitan Police began a new investigation into phone hacking allegations in February 2011, at which time more than 20 civil cases against the News of the World were also active. Attorneys for the victims allege that as many as 7,000 people had their phones hacked by the News of the World, and have estimated that litigation over the paper’s actions may cost News Corporation £40 million.
In July 2011, further allegations were made that the News of the World hacked into the voicemails of murder victim Milly Dowler, as well as victims of the 7/7 attacks and relatives of deceased British soldiers. The news was met with public outrage in the United Kingdom. Advertisers withdrew from the News of the World and other News Corporation holdings, and the company’s proposed acquisition of the broadcaster BSkyB was seriously threatened.
On 6 July, British prime minister David Cameron announced to parliament that a public government inquiry would convene to further investigate the affair. The following day, James Murdoch announced that the newspaper would shut down on Sunday, 10 July 2011, after 168 years of publication.
Now, the scandal has spread to include another News Corporation newspaper, The Sun. According to the latest allegations, The Sun obtained Gordon Brown’s (former British Prime Minister) financial history, the details of his son’s medical condition (which at the time were private), his voice mails and even access to his personal bank account, which were all used to exhort pressure on the British government and political influence. British media is coming to terms with the fact that, from the looks of it, public figures were simply pawns in News Corp’s political games. Allegations of blackmail, illegal lobbying and trafficking of influences abound.
To the general public, all of this might seem very domestically British, very distant and while certainly a political misfortune, a series of events that hold little weight for the rest of us, non British residents. Except that our every day lives, no matter where we are, what our socio economic background is, are shaped by this scandal. Because you see, News Corp is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the man you can hold accountable for not being able to access an abortion provider. The man you can hold accountable for the increase of intolerance and xenophobia sweeping the entirety of the Western World. Rupert Murdoch, the man who gave us Sarah Palin’s political career, Gert Wilders international fame, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the erosion of civil rights presented as a necessity and the demonization of Islam and the Middle East. Rupert Murdoch, the man who owns your mass media.
- When AskMen.com publishes an article stating that women should be “shamed” into losing weight, thank Rupert Murdoch
- Anchor babies and the demonization of immigrant women? Thank Rupert Murdoch
- Act like a lady, think like a man and the pervasive stereotyping of gender and “how women should behave”? Thank Rupert Murdoch
- The rise of the Tea Party and the mainstream radicalization of the Western world? Thank Rupert Murdoch
- The constant portrayal of immigrants, asylum seekers, refuges and economic migrants as a threat to Western values? Thank Rupert Murdoch
Because, in case you weren’t aware (and there is a conscious effort to obscure these facts), Rupert Murdoch owns a significant, influencing, far reaching media empire. His outlets include (but are not limited to):
- Publishing house HarperCollins
- Film Studio (and subsidiaries) 20th Century Fox
- Fox News (and all subsidiaries)
- Cable TV networks Sky Italia and Sky Germany
- Dow Jones & Company
- The Wall Street Journal
(I urge you to check the link above to gasp at the extent of News Corp reach and influence).
Now, I am not going to be so naive as to blame the Murdoch media empire for all the ills in the world. But let me clear: it might not be the sole responsible actor in our current sad state of affairs but it has played a very significant, prominent role in it. The Murdoch empire has been the necessary media machinery that relentlessly worked to undermine our rights, our social progress, our autonomy and even our bodies. Since 9/11, the steady radicalization of international politics, the attack on progressive ideas, the constant portrayal of LGBTQ issues as a threat, the raise of the extreme Christian right and the increasing rhetoric of war and hatred have gone hand in hand with an ideology pushed by media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch.
The News of the World scandal, as domestic as it might seem at first sight, only proves the pattern of corruption and relentless pursuit of ideological warfare that has been imposed on all of us. No matter our place in the world, our lives are touched by the spread of these bombastic ideas and the peddling of political measures that affect our livelihood and our well being. It is high time these outlets are exposed and singled out as the hate mongers they are. Because the media we have been consuming for the past ten years has been actively working against us and we should be well aware of who’s the man behind it.