(Image: Private Media)

How long can Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch maintain their silence on the disgraceful role that Fox News and the New York Post played in the rise and subsequent implosion of America’s worst ever president, Donald Trump?

As long as it takes for a Democrat-controlled White House and Congress to crank up its committee system and summon the male leaders of the world’s most powerful family to give extensive testimony about their pivotal role in the rise of dangerous right-wing extremism in the United States.

In light of the January 6 storming of the Capitol, it’s an obvious move, not unlike the five-hour Washington grilling that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faced in 2018 after the 2016 election and scandals involving Cambridge Analytica.

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With the Murdochs having played a key role in endangering the lives of America’s political leadership via years of whipping up Trumpist anger via Fox News, maybe a future Albanese government might consider banning the increasingly dangerous US citizen Rupert from entering Australia again.

If ASIO can ban Chinese billionaire political influencer Huang Xiangmo from visiting Australia, why not Rupert, who has done far more damage to civil society and democracy in Australia, the UK and the US than any Russian info-war merchants or the CCP thugs in Beijing?

By way of comparison, the likes of Murdoch-free New Zealand and Canada have smoothly functioning democracies and were able to sit out the Iraq invasion, given the war-mongering News Corp leadership had no platform through which to hammer the invasion message back in 2003.

Murdoch turns 90 on March 11. Should the old man be grilled in these COVID times? Given he was vaccinated in England late last year, it shouldn’t be too much of a risk to take one of the private jets to Washington for hearings into the role Fox News played in stoking the anger that led to last Wednesday’s remarkable event.

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull both claim the Murdochs run their business empire more like a hard-right political party than a media outfit, so when giving evidence perhaps Rupert should be asked to explain all the not-so-subtle board ties he has with prominent Republican establishment figures.

Paul Ryan was Republican House Speaker until his retirement in January 2019, after which he was appointed to the slimmed-down, seven-person Fox Corp board two months later.

Fox’s corporate cousin News Corp also has a former Republican politician on its nine-person board in the form of Kelly Ayotte, who represented New Hampshire in the US Senate for six years until 2017 and was chosen by John McCain to do a Bible reading at his 2018 memorial service.

Ayotte was appointed by Rupert just a few short months after being narrowly defeated by her Democratic rival in the 2016 election, once again demonstrating the speed with which he pounces on establishment Republican politicians for board positions shortly after they depart Washington.

How long will it take him to strike a deal with toxic Trump?

While Rupert has never appointed a ranking Democrat to any of his boards, the Republican connections run far deeper than just paying dozens of current and former Republican operatives to be Fox News contributors.

Elaine Chao quit in disgust as Trump’s transport secretary last Thursday — but while some of the coverage mentioned she is married to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, it went unremarked that she had previously served under Rupert for five years as an independent director of 21st Century Fox.

Rupert’s announcement trumpeting Chao’s appointment in 2012 made no reference to the fact she was married to McConnell — but he did mention at the 2016 AGM in Los Angeles, held the day after Trump was elected, that she was an apology as she had been off campaigning very hard.

The Murdochs have basically been in control of the chief propaganda arm of the Republican party ever since Fox News launched in 1996. In more recent years they haven’t even tried to hide their bias with these blatant Republican board appointments.

Rupert was reportedly reluctant to get behind the initial Trump run for the presidency in 2015-16, only to pragmatically pivot to back the winning team — and then provide largely uncritical propaganda coverage for most of the past four years.

Has he changed his tune? There has been much coverage of The Wall Street Journal editorial demanding Trump’s resignation, along with the “Stop The Insanity” New York Post splash urging him to accept the electoral result. Yet the Fox News after dark crew of Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham have largely maintained their blind devotion to Trump and the conservative cause since January 6.

As most sensible players jump off the smoking ruins of Team Trump, it’s time Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch whipped these pathetic Trump loyalists into line, or instead pull the old sudden vacation trick, which often happens when they fall out of love with controversial Fox News talent.

For more on how Murdoch helped give us Trump, go here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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