If there were one phrase, one debate that has catapulted in popularity regarding mass media in the United States, it would be “media bias.”
Rupert Murdoch, robber baron of the media industry, is the proverbial king of this phenomenon.
The concept of media bias that raises heart rates and hell across all political parties and affiliations generally circulates around Fox News, the cable news channel under Murdoch’s umbrella. This station for years has delivered questionable stories with the all-too-noticeable undertone of a right wing bias.
However, rather than blame Fox for its neo-conservative support and censorship of opposition, I would like to broaden the target to encompass Murdoch’s entire corporation: NewsCorp.
NewsCorp, which includes, but is not nearly limited to, Fox, the New York Post, the Times of London, HarperCollins, Myspace and most recently the Dow Jones, controls 175 newspapers and 35 TV stations distributed and broadcasted over five continents.
Though his influence is almost purely socio-political, the recent addition of the Dow Jones (specifically the Wall Street Journal) extends his proverbial arm of power into the business and financial realm.
This, however, still begs the question, “what harm has Murdoch done with his media empire?”
In the months before the war in Iraq, Murdoch and NewsCorp played an integral role in swaying support toward the right wing and the war itself.
To quote the New York Times, “the editorial policies of almost all his English-language news organizations have hewn very closely to Murdoch’s own stridently hawkish political views.”
His idolization of Bush and Blair in the time preceding the invasion was invaluable in the deaths of over 3,000 American men and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
And though both the British and American governments were in direct denial of the role of oil in the support for invasion, Murdoch was not. In 2003 he was quoted as saying “The greatest thing to come out of [the war] for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That’s bigger than any tax cut in any country,” according to the International Relations Center, another policy think tank.
It gets worse.
Murdoch’s blind censorship of any criticism toward the Chinese government’s questionable at best humanitarian record raises protest from anyone concerned in the slightest about international civil rights.
According to the Center for American Progress, a policy think tank, Murdoch’s publishing company HarperCollins tore up a contract for a memoir by the last governor of Hong Kong when they found opinions critical of the Chinese government therein.
After BBC aired stories regarding Chinese human rights violations, Murdoch removed them completely from his Chinese satellite, StarTV.
The CAP continues in saying that his subordinate and son, James, then attacked the Falun Gong, a spiritual group known for its protest against the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square, for being dangerous and apocalyptic. Moving his attention toward Hong Kong, he demanded that democracy advocates in the small, shadowed nation “should accept the reality of life under a strong-willed ‘absolutist’ government.”
Perhaps most devastating, however, is the damage exacted by Murdoch on the media industry.
Through his financial success as an information tycoon, Murdoch has shown any up-and-coming or struggling news corporation that sensationalism over honest reporting makes money, that one must sacrifice journalistic integrity for viewer support and economic achievement.
In the age of information, we cannot afford to take this step.
Phil Elder is a senior political science major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org