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Why the News of the World scandal is about you, no matter where you live

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
  • AskMen.com
  • 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.

13 Comments

  1. C wrote:

    IknowthishasbeenaddressedbeforebutIcan’tfinditso,um,whydoesthissitelookssoweirdinChrome?It’simpossibletoread.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink
  2. You need to temporarily disable adblock in Chrome, then the site displays as it should.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink
  3. GGeek wrote:

    One of my big “political awakening” moments in college was when I learned that nine – just nine! – companies owned 99% of mass media outlets. Not just TV, but radio, cable, movies, *textbook publishers*, small and large newspapers, news websites, etc.). That number is now down to six:

    http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main

    Of these, I find Murdoch’s empire to be the worst offender in terms of stirring up muck and normalizing reactionary news-ertainment. Seeing evidence of them also flagrantly disregarding privacy laws is not shocking, but it is another disgusting layer of icing on the evil media cake.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink
  4. Jane Osmond wrote:

    Reblogged here: http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2011/07/feminist-blogger-slams-murdoch-media-empire/

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 2:08 am | Permalink
  5. Mejoff wrote:

    “To the general public, all of this might seem very domestically British, very distant”
    Which general public?

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 5:51 am | Permalink
  6. PapushiSun wrote:

    @Mejoff

    The US general public.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 4:51 am | Permalink
  7. Meg Thornton wrote:

    Mejoff @5 – certainly not this member of the Australian one. We’ve had Murdoch-media dominance of our news and publishing for about oooh, forty years or more now? Nice to see him finally getting at least some (cautiously measured) what for.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  8. Helen wrote:

    Yes, as an Australian I can say we have had Limited News and its distortions front and centre for the last few decades. It was instrumental in the overthrow of the Whitlam government in 1975 and is doing its best to do the same to the current Labor government, as well as literally claiming it will destroy the Greens at the ballot box. This latest scandal comes as a further disappointment but no real surprise to us.
    Oh, and I apologise to the rest of the world on behalf of Australians as we were the ones who spawned him. The US is welcome to him!

    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink
  9. Foxessa wrote:

    Not to us: without Murdoch’s Faux Noose we would never have gone to Iraq.

    Hang him. Dismantle his empire. Put him in jail.

    But over here the results might be that Roger Ailes will own Fox, etc., and that’s equally bad.

    We went to the demonstration outside RM’s home here in Manhattan. Hardly anyone was there….

    Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  10. Mejoff wrote:

    @PapushiSun

    Yeah, that’s what I figured, but I would have hoped that Flavia would check her US-centricism and mention that in the article?

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 5:21 am | Permalink
  11. My US centrism?! How about the rest of the world, except maybe UK and Australia has no idea of the extent of Murdoch’s damage? This is not about the US at all, but about continental Europe, Latin America, Asia, etc, all places deeply affected by Murdoch’s ideology but somewhat unaware of his media empire and reach and how political decisions are made based on what he pushes in his media that deeply affect those regions (wars, invasions, immigrant and asylum seekers policies, etc, etc.).

    Murdoch owned media is not limited to the English speaking world. It’s everywhere (with networks across Europe, Latin America, etc). And they have their own news channels that pretty much replicate Fox News ideologies but in local languages.

    You wanted to read US centrism while I was referring to vast areas of the world that might include the US, but certainly are not limited to it. Who was projecting much? ;)

    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink
  12. Mejoff wrote:

    Flavia, you’re no more perfect than the rest of us, and you don’t have to fly right off the handle at every single criticism of the tiniest aspect of your work. I’m not the only person who interpreted ‘the general public’ as ‘the US public’ as you can see above. This blog did not used to contain people on the same side laying into each other tooth and claw over things that could be discussed.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink
  13. Let me recap your past two comments on this post: 1) a snarky one liner demanding I define what I mean by “general public” and 2) an outlandish accusation that I should “check my US Centrism”. In between, no good faith attempt to clarify anything, or to engage in dialogue, just your assumptions which somehow I was supposed to address.

    And now you suggest that we are “on the same side”? Well, with friends like this…

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink