Mar 4, 2016

Mayne: Rupert’s never had a democratic triple play quite like 2016

There is little ideological coherence to Rupert Murdoch's three personal goals for 2016.

Stephen Mayne — Journalist and Founder

Stephen Mayne

Journalist and Founder

Rupert Murdoch is marrying Jerry Hall in London tomorrow, and he’s having a service to celebrate the occasion at St Bride’s -- “the journalist’s church” -- on Fleet Street, of all places. The newspaper industry may have long departed, but Rupert is nothing if not sentimental as he delivers those uplifting marriage vows for the fourth time, this time with Jerry Hall, the most famous “rock chick” the West has known. But there is something else right now that is even more noteworthy in the 63rd year of a remarkable career spent relentlessly building a global media empire. You see, the head of the world’s most powerful family has never had simultaneous political power plays quite like what is unfolding at the moment. Sure, Rupert backed Thatcher all the way, he backed Whitlam in 1972, and his Fox News was the difference in getting George W. Bush over the line in 2000. But as Rupert gathers with friends to celebrate his 85th birthday next Friday, how’s this for a “to do” list in the months ahead?
  1. Do whatever it takes to stop America having its first female president, even if that involves backing a sexist pig like Donald Trump at the November US election;
  2. Do whatever it takes to split the West by getting Britain to cut ties with Europe at the June 23 Brexit referendum; and
  3. Undermine Malcolm Turnbull by supporting Tony Abbott’s destabilisation campaign, even if that risks a Shorten Labor government in Australia.
There is little ideological coherence to those three goals, but the common driver is hate. Rupert can’t stand the centralist socialists of Europe and wants Britain to be free of it, even though he claims to be a great supporter of immigration. The fact this would potentially stitch up UK Prime Minister David Cameron is an added bonus, particularly as his likely replacement, London mayor Boris Johnson, is a Murdoch favourite son in the mould of Tony Blair. Cameron is hated for unleashing the resources of the British police and legal systems onto Murdoch after the phone-hacking scandal. Moving to his home town of New York, Rupert has long hated Hillary Clinton. He’s firmly in the Anyone-But-Hillary camp, and if that means backing Donald Trump, then so be it. Rupert took to Twitter this week urging the Republican establishment to get behind Trump in his latest controversial intervention focused on stopping Hillary. As for Malcolm Turnbull, he can never be forgiven for not only failing to pay homage, but even stooping to public insults. Rupert, like most other independent observers, believes Malcolm Turnbull was calling him a “demented plutocrat” at The Saturday Paper’s launch party in March 2014. There was also Malcolm’s pointed Twitter sledge about US gun control December 2012. Despite more than 1 million Australians breathing a sigh of relief and switching their vote after Turnbull deposed Tony Abbott, the Murdoch press has never formally endorsed the move and closed the book on Abbott’s disastrous prime ministership. Yes, Turnbull was an old “Packer man”, whereas Abbott did most of his journalism on the Murdoch payroll at The Australian, but why on Earth is Murdoch personally trying to rehabilitate toxic Tony? No Murdoch outlet has yet reported what Media Watch revealed on February 8: Rupert was personally squiring Abbott around Washington during his most recent visit. And if you thought Tony Abbott was grovelling about Rupert at the IPA’s 70th birthday do in April 2013, how about this statement from his spokesman to Media Watch?
"Mr Abbott was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with President Obama privately at a lunch on Saturday 30 January, 2016. Mr Abbott was the guest of Mr Rupert Murdoch AC."
Who else calls the phone-hacking Dirty Digger “Mr Rupert Murdoch AC”? Certainly not Malcolm Turnbull, who is currently proposing changes to Australia’s media ownership laws that Murdoch is opposing. That might explain the Festival of Tony Abbott coverage in The Australian over the past few days. Bizarrely, the proposed reforms would actually be good for the never-ending Murdoch expansion plans. Ten could buy Southern Cross’ regional Ten stations, Foxtel could buy Ten, and News Corp could buy Sky News. Similarly, Lachlan Murdoch would no longer personally be sailing close to a breach of the “two out of three” rule courtesy of his Nova radio business, News Corp’s dominant newspaper position and the 22% stake that Foxtel and Lachlan together hold in Ten. But no, the Murdochs officially hate anything Malcolm Turnbull does, and if they can’t unscramble the anti-siphoning laws on live sport for Foxtel, they don’t want any changes at all. For most 85-year-olds, it’s time to slow down and smell the roses, but the next eight months are shaping up to be a fascinating test of the famous Murdoch power over Western governments. If there’s no Brexit and Hillary is meeting Malcolm in the Oval Office early next year, then maybe it will be time to instead consider a Rupexit from the News Corp and 21st Century Fox boardrooms. If, alternatively, we have Prime Minister Bill Shorten meeting President Donald Trump to discuss a political crisis in a divided Europe, you’ll know that Rupert will have chalked up three of his greatest “achievements” since cheerleading the Iraq invasion of 2003. And didn’t that go well.

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8 thoughts on “Mayne: Rupert’s never had a democratic triple play quite like 2016

  1. David Griffin

    How much of the current terrible state of affairs in politics that people are always complaining about can be traced DIRECTLY to Murdoch?

    Abbotts ascendancy and the success of his negative style was definitely made successful by the Terrorgraph and friends relentlessly going after Gillard.

    In the US I feel like Trumps supporter base comes directly from the Fox news viewers that Murdoch and Ailes have so successfully terrified and angered.

    Same goes for UKIP in the UK.

    Climate change, the Iraq war…

    Rupert is a Barnacle on humanity.

  2. James O'Neill

    “his Fox News was the difference in getting George W. Bush over the line in 2000”. Actually, as Bob Fitrakis has shown, the election of Bush the Lesser owed more to a rigged voting system and a corrupt Supreme Court than it did to Murdoch.

    The other point underlying your argument seems to me to be this. How is it that in a democracy we allow one person to accumulate such power? The proposed media law changes seem to me to be merely fiddling at the edges.

  3. Jaybuoy

    I hope his jawbone flatlines soon..

  4. zut alors

    SBS recently repeated a 2013 doco about Murdoch which reminded us of an amusing line delivered to Rupe by the owner of Bloomingdale’s department store in NYC:

    “Your readers are my shoplifters.”

  5. AR

    Mr Mayne – you were born to be his Kitty. That last paragraph is something to savour.

  6. Matters Peter

    1). Whatever Steven Mayne wishes to call Rupert Murdoch, there is only one apt description for him – DEMAGOGUE.
    2). Whatever his hate sessions at the moment, Rupert is now a discredited has-been. The capacity of his combination of gutter press and shock jocks to brain wash the Australian electorate to vote for his favourite puppet has been destroyed by that puppet proving himself a buffoon of a Prime Minister and I have no doubt, the same situation exist in places elsewhere.

  7. Norman Hanscombe

    The highlight of this article was the quaint accusation that someone outside the Crikey Commissariat showed “little ideological coherence”.

  8. Luke Hellboy

    Good point on the politcs of Tony Blair and Boris Johnson far outweighing their differences…

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