Monday, July 11, 2011

"I call my cancer Rupert"



"The Dirty Digger"
Rupert Murdoch (Media Mogul, born Australia 1931)


As a writer you will know that one of the favourite fantasy plots is where a character's told you've got three months to live, and who would you kill? I call my cancer Rupert. Because that man Murdoch is the one who, if I had the time (I've got too much writing to do)... I would shoot the bugger if I could. - Dennis Potter, 1994

As the events surrounding the hacking scandal at the News of the World, News International and Rupert Murdoch have unfolded in the past week, I have thought often about that last painful interview that playwright Dennis Potter gave to Melvyn Bragg shortly before his death in 1994.

In it Potter spoke passionately about Murdoch's responsibility for the pollution of the British press and political life.



Just exactly what Potter was warning us of has now become clear, perhaps even to our politicians who have cravenly allowed an American citizen who pays no UK taxes to become the most powerful person in the land.

Throughout the Blair years there were regular, usually secret meetings between Prime Minister and Media Mogul.

In 2003, when Tony Blair was agonising over the decision to take the UK into a war in Iraq, without a UN reolution, and against the wishes of the majority of the UK population, he spoke on the phone to Murdoch three times in the ten days before the invasion. Murdoch's news organisation, and particularly Fox News in the US, was of course the major cheerleader for the Iraq invasion.

If anything the Murdoch Cameron relationship has been even closer, based on social relationships, particularly with Rebekah Brooks, former Editor of the News of the World, and the appointment of her predecessor, the now disgraced Andy Coulson, as Cameron's communications director. Their efforts were crowned by the announcement in 2009 that after 12 years of supporting Labour, the Sun was switching allegiance.

In 2010 when David Cameron was elected Prime MInister lo and behold one of his first visitors at No 10 Downing Street was Rupert Murdoch, admitted through the back door, away from the public gaze. What did they talk about one wonders?

For a long time one doubted if it would ever be possible to elect a Prime Minister who did not meet Mr Murdoch's approval. The events of the past week now give some hope that his power at last is on the wane.

Congratulations to the Guardian who over the years has made most of the running on this story. C.P. Scott would I think be proud of it. The photo and caption at the top comes from the Financial Times.

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