“… the king on his throne, surrounded by courtiers who laugh at his every joke. One by one, his loyal subjects approach and throw themselves at his mercy. Praising his wisdom and kindness, they beg to be heard. The king waves his hand, the courtiers laugh again and the petitioner’s claim is dismissed.”

Such is the rule of one Rupert Keith Murdoch. Paul Barry, sunning himself at News Corporation’s annual general meeting in Los Angeles for Crikey, sums it up well.

Such fables usually turn, of course; a Shakespearean act of revenge and revolution to strip the ageing, complacent king of his crown.

But nobody says boo in this court — even after the year News Corp has faced, dominated by an unprecedented ethics scandal in its UK operations at the heart of the editorial business. At least not the Murdoch clan and its allies, who hold 40% of the voting power. A motion to give all shareholders a vote was quickly dismissed. The annual push to separate Rupert’s roles as both chairman and CEO of the multi-media conglomerate was again snuffed out. The message to frustrated subjects was made clear by the dotty 81-year-old patriarch:

“When you buy the stock, you know what the company is. If you don’t like it, don’t buy the stock.”

That is to say, piss off.

Journalists and editors who work for Rupert generally take a pretty dim view of flagrant self-interest and a lack of accountability and transparency in business and government. Quite rightly. The hypocrisy is, once again, stark.

Peter Fray

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