Thursday, July 21, 2011

Murdoch's 'umble Pie

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for July 22, 2011

Lay down with dawgs, git up with fleas

It does no good to point with bony fingers and say, “Shame! Shame!” The toffs sniffed in distain, but the rest of England loved their sleazy tabloids and fed the beast daily. They devoured their Peep and Sneak scandal sheets that ridiculed and exposed the ruling class and boot-licking politicians while always featuring a big breasted tootsie tucked in for sheer titillation.

And it does no good to only point with bony fingers at the unwashed and unbooted tabloid-buying public. The pols and police were in bed with Murdoch as well – Bobbies bribed to betray their profession, politicians, first seduced with promises of his newspapers’ support, then later blackmailed and cowed into silence when they discovered the old man now owned them, lock stock and barrel. Ya gotta dance with them what brung ya.

And Americans can’t draw their skirts aside and claim purity either. Murdoch’s M.O. was a known quantity when he came to town and started buying up whole media empires. It does no good now to point with wagging fingers and say, “We’re shocked – SHOCKED! – to find that Fox News – which gets a license to use the public airways by pretending to be a “news” channel – is really little more than the media arm of the Republican Party.” Or that we’re dismayed by what has become of the once mighty and respected Wall Street Journal. Or demand that the FCC should have invoked the “good character” clause before giving Murdoch free use of the very lucrative public air ways. The FCC? Pluzzeee. Dawgs, fleas. Git one, git the other.

And nobody can pretend that Murdoch’s troubles are simply sui generis. He is an unprincipled man who exemplifies better than most the rotting, celebrity-addicted, greed-addicted, wholly unprincipled popular culture he lives in. But he’s not alone. His cohorts on Wall Street, for example, are brother wolves. And all of them are given an unbridled license to hunt by the Pols in their pockets and by the very citizen-sheep who are on their dinner menu.

And it does no good to profess shock that things for Murdoch have come to this pretty pass. When you keep moving the Line of Outrage closer and closer to the edge, it should come as no surprise that one small misstep will finally send you over the cliff. Even in a sleazy culture addicted to daily outrage, apparently (miraculously?) there are still a few things that can spark some semblance of decency. And hacking the cell phone of a murdered child seems to be one of them.

And don’t waste your time thinking that somehow Murdoch’s fall will mean that things in the media world will change. Or think that the feel-good scenario of repentance and remorse will result in the public rousing themselves from their self-chosen cultural wallow of greed, corruption and lust to somehow become a better, wiser society. It won’t. Corporate media in America is no different than Murdoch media in England – its prime duty is to protect its business interests and enrich its stockholders by any means necessary, not to use its power and influence to accurately inform and educate a citizenry so they are better able to govern themselves.

So, even if Murdoch’s entire empire falls into ruin, nothing will change. His malign influence in the public square will continue for years. It’s become a familiar M.O. in Corporate Media America, where journalistic ethics are seen as a mook’s game in a pandering race to the bottom, which is where the real money is. As media columnist Tim Rutten noted, in England as in America, “Eager for the highly partisan Murdoch papers’ support and fearful of the retribution that seemed to follow anything the company’s editors or executives construed as opposition to NewsCorp’s interests, Britain’s Parliament and political establishment cowered while unprincipled journalists attenuated freedom of the press into grotesque malevolence and corrupt officials made public accountability a dead letter. It was mutually beneficial little arrangement for as long as it lasted, but like any relationship built on fear, it was bound to come apart – with a vengeance.”

So, put away the wagging bony fingers and try to avoid reveling in all this Murdochian schadenfreude. The sad truth is this: In a democracy, we get the media we deserve. That media shapes the information we receive, which then gives us the government we deserve. In short, we have met the enemy. It’s not Murdoch. It’s us.


Alon Perlman said...

I was shocked. It has been a while and I forgot that the wall street journal is published in color. for an interesting ”alleged” quote of Murdoch’s un-kept promises "God, you don't take all that seriously, do you?"

Love the way you lead to the final message.
What we look for now in “news” is information we already know, validation of our entitlement as holders of “knowledge”, which is in fact, no more than highly processed opinion.
We are consuming entertainment, not compiling information about the world around us, information that can lead us to alter our response to the environment. Not bringing real life lessons into the democratic process available to us.
When the news commodity is essentially supplied for free, you definitely get what you pay for. Reductio ad absurdum “The medium is the message”.

Sewertoons said...

The Economist (July 9th-15th, 2011) has a 14-page special report on the future of the news. An excellent read for understanding the why's of how, the history of the news and its future. The internet has been a driver in the presentation of the news.

Great writing Ann on a very topical topic!

mom said...

your last paragraph has me dissenting. we aren't in a democracy. we are in a capitalist nation. capitalism is the farthest thing from democracy. and that's why we get the media we get.
but, being a person who looks at the donut and not the hole, i see a wonderful thing in murdoch, in spite of being rich and powerful and in control of what we see and hear, murdoch, that old bastard, has been snared.

Mike Green said...

There is nothing sweeter than seeing someone hoisted on their own petard.
Word verification "rantings" LOL

Churadogs said...

Mike notes:Word verification "rantings" LOL"

That's funny. Blogspot has a wicked sense of humor?

Re "Mom": The bright spot here is Murdochianism has been "outed," but I won't hold my breath that it will mean much. As for "democracy," people in this country are still free to choose how they want to govern themselves. Right now they have "chosen" capitalism/corporatism. And they're paying for it big time. At any point, they are still free to "choose" another way. So, I wait . . . and wait . . . and wait to see evidence that the people have woken up from their sleep-walking mode.

Spectator said...

Oh well, might as close out the old mogul's businesses and put the employees on the street. Let the stockholders take the hit for a few bad apples. That way the socialists could all take cuts in their living to make sure that the former employees were OK and did not lose any standard of living. We could take all the money from the rich (anyone making more than 50 grand a year, which seems rich to me).

At the same time we should dissolve all the oil companies and car companies. That way we could revert to a non energy using economy and revert to the standard of living of Somolia, or interior China, or better still Cuba! How about Venezuela with it's socialized oil?
The poverty is outstanding, seems like the preferred socialists get the goods. Seems like those who have, always have, regardless of economic or political system. Now just tell me that Fidel and Raoul live like cane workers? Nothing like a government controlled economy to increase individual wealth!

Churadogs said...

Jon, your thinking reflects exactly what's wrong with the Republican Party: Extreme, all or nothing, total black or white, irrational over the edge looniness. A modest tax on the wealthy becomes COMMUNIST CONFISCATION OF PRIVATE WEALTH RICH PUT INTO INTERNMENT CAMPS COUNTRY TAKEN OVER BY BOLSHEVES COUNTRY TURNS INTO CUBA.

Your thinking is ridiculous. That kind of thinking did NOT come out of a USC education. What the hell happened to you since you graduated?? I feel embarassed for you.