When it comes to influencing world
leaders, Rupert Murdoch has an unprecedented ability to get access and
change outcomes. I told an audience at the St Kilda Writers Festival
last night that Rupert alone could have stopped the Iraq War.

Imagine if the combined might of Fox News, Fox Television, BSkyB, The Sun, The Times
and the papers that comprise News Ltd’s all powerful 70% market share
in Australia had come out and campaigned against the invasion in 2002
and 2003. Sure, the neo-cons might have wanted to proceed, but it would
have been much harder to get Tony Blair and John Howard over the line
if they knew it would have meant strong opposition from the mightiest
media empire in Australia and the UK.

Alas,
Rupert was in fact
the keenest advocate of the war after the neo-cons and helped deliver
his mate George W the other two members of the Coalition of the
Willing. So is Rupert at all repentant about having blood on his hands
and also failing to deliver his promised $US20 a barrel oil price after
a successful invasion and occupation? Not a jot.

We’ve long come
to expect Fox News to parrot the Bush agenda in what has become the
greatest abrogation of American journalistic responsibility for balance
that we’ve ever seen. However, now one of Rupert’s minions, Tony Snow
from Fox News, will replace Scott McClellan as the President’s official
spokesman.

Then there’s the tale of what you can watch on Air Force One, as explained by Ken Herman on his entertaining blog overnight:

The controversy du jour aboard Air Force One today was one near and
dear to the hearts of many otherwise happy couples: Command and control
of the TV tuner.

“It’s
come to my attention that there’s been requests – this is a serious
question – to turn these TVs on to a station other than Fox, and that
those have been denied,” Washington Post reporter Jim VandeHei told
Press Secretary Scott McClellan. “My question would be, is there a
White House policy that all government TVs have to be tuned to Fox?”

“Never
heard of any such thing,” said McClellan, soon to be replaced by Tony
Snow of Fox News, long viewed as an operation that enjoys most favoured
network status in the Bush White House.

“My TVs are on all four
different channels at all times,” McClellan said of the four-screen
array across from his West Wing desk.

Despite McClellan’s TV
options, the record will show that – other than when the movie of
reporters’ choice is showing (and that frequently invites a
gender-based battle over what to watch), Fox is showing on the screens
in the press cabin of Air Force One.

As McClellan and VandeHei
talked TV channels, Agence France Presse photographer Tim Sloan
volunteered that he was the one who raised the issue.

“I was the
Fox victim,” he said, “and I was told, the quote was, ‘No,’ when I
asked for CNN. … I was told, ‘We don’t watch CNN here. You can only
watch Fox.’”

Asked who told him that, Sloan said “the magic people at the other end of the phone” in the press cabin.

It seems the Bush White House is entering the delusionary phase of
wanting to only hear the good news. And Rupert’s empire, of course, is
more than happy to deliver it – both officially as spokesman and
pseudo-journalistically through Fox News.

Peter Fray

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