Travelling through the US of A, I have been amazed at the nature of how the media business has been turned upside down over the past 72 hours — and dear Rupert Murdoch is at the centre of it.
Watching CNN’s State of the Nation on Sunday morning, a White House spokeswoman (damn, only remember her first name — Anna) launched a vicious attack on Fox News as the “unapologetic media arm of the Republican Party”. She then gave a full 10 minutes to lambasting the viewers with examples of Fox’s “right-wing bias, unethical reporting, ridicule of everything that the Obama administration has done, etc”. She went on to say that the White House was “distancing itself” from the Fox News programs and, in effect, declared war of the network. CNN then hauled up a parade of journalists, TV pundits and, interestingly, a bunch of people who are reputedly big in the “blogosphere” (one woman, a Miss Nah, was captioned as a leading political blog writer and Playboy freelancer). Each one of this parade roundly condemned Fox and its right-wing bias. Some heavy stuff.
Flicking the remote to Fox gave another perspective. Holding court was none other that Senator John McCain (remember him?). The subjects — more troops to Afghanistan, better military strategies at home and abroad, Obama’s Nobel Prize (guess what he thought of it!), how there are 40 million Healthcare-uninsured people in the US and what was going to happen to them. McCain and another parade of sound bite experts carried on for two hours slamming the Obama administration on anything and everything. They slammed the digital world, calling the use of the term “blogosphere” juvenile.
Interestingly, one pundit remarked that this was a fight over the centre. Obama could appease his left-wing factions easily. Fox could drag the centre into the right’s camp.
Naturally, the two networks replayed and replayed the segments throughout the next two days, pausing only to refresh the commentary and restate their positions. As I write (it’s Wednesday) it has not stopped.
Compare this activity to a week ago when SkyNews UK waged a consistent campaign against Gordon Brown, challenging him to a presidential debate with David Cameron on Sky (naturally). Then, Rupert took the muzzle off the red top’s big barrel — The Sun blasted out that they were now withdrawing their support of Brown and the Labour Party and it was Viva Tories!
One can only reflect — is this Rupert’s last stand using the traditional media (his comfort zone) to blast out his political opposition or is it a desperate fight against the new way of doing politics: tweeting, Facebook, virals, blogs, and dealing with minor but influential groupings.
How this plays out is anyone’s guess.