Rupert Murdoch’s desire to buy The Wall Street Journal is creating some entertaining spinning from the Sun King is he flails about attempting to recreate his dodgy past on the question of editorial interference.

The Journal’s remarkable 4300-word analysis of Rupert’s record in this area two days ago has taken many people in News Corp by complete surprise.

And as if to once again confirm the complete lack of editorial independence at News Ltd, the company’s Australian papers are still yet to report on many of the little scoops revealed by The Journal.

Poor Rupert found himself taking swipes at some of his loyal lieutenants because the sad fact remains that Australia is the most embarrassing arm of the empire when it comes to corporate coverage. Whilst the English and American maintain some semblance of neutrality, the Australian sector can always be relied upon to grovel.

Daily Telegraph editor David Penberthy presumably felt his gushing coverage of Rupert’s climate-change backflip would earn him some brownie points, so what must he have made of the following in the Journal:

Just last month, News Corp’s Daily Telegraph, Sydney’s largest newspaper, devoted more than half its front page to News Corp’s own plan to lower carbon emissions. An accompanying editorial proclaimed that Mr Murdoch “has never set a standard more worthy of following”.

Shown a copy of the Daily Telegraph stories, Mr Murdoch laughed, and said, “I don’t know anything about that. And we sure didn’t do that in the [New York] Post, which I’m closest to.” Asked if the Sydney paper’s coverage that day was in effect promoting News Corp, he replied, “Absolutely. Shouldn’t be. That’s bad.”

Even News Ltd’s Australian boss John Hartigan copped a backhander for doing a deal, which was partly driven by Lachlan Murdoch, in which the AFL was promised a certain amount of coverage in News Ltd papers as part of a television rights deal in the late 1990s.

Poor old Harto has egg on his face after Rupert told the Journal: “I have no knowledge of that at all. We certainly would never do that.”

And what about that loyal Rupert servant Frank Devine, who edited a variety of his papers around the world and still writes columns for The Australian. Frank told the Journal of his running feud with Ken Cowley for not attacking the pilots during the big strike of 1989 and claimed this was the reason he was sacked as editor of The Australian.

Rupert then defended Cowley, who is still a News Corp director after almost three decades, and declared that “Frank was a mistake of mine”.

Talk about getting sold down the river.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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