July 28, 2011 by Dan Patton
In 2006, News Corporation lit a fuse that burned for five years until exploding into full blown Watergate intrigue. Conspiracy theories, hasty resignations and contentious inquisitions at the highest levels of Western politics followed that original spark, a voicemail invasion that netted a forgettable scoop about Prince William’s video hobby for News of the World. But unlike the break-in that brought down President Nixon, the phone hack that frustrates Chairman Murdoch may result in a mere slap on the wrist. America, it seems, only cares about the things that Rupert Murdoch tells them to care about.
Since his purchase of The San Antonio Express-News, in 1973, Rupert Murdoch has become something of an absentee landlord in the United States, growing a monopoly that appears to succeed with the cooperation of politicians who either fear its power or share its booty. In 1995, Fox News was investigated for allegedly violating the Communications Act of 1934, which prohibits foreign entities from owning TV licenses. According to the attorney who brought the case, Murdoch “blackmailed the FCC by threatening its existence” and no action was taken. In 2006, he hosted a fundraiser for then Senator Hillary Clinton. In 2008, he described then Senator Barack Obama as “a rock star.” Last year, his company donated a million dollars to the Republican Governors Association. This year, the librarians, nurses and retirees who marched through the State Capitol in opposition to Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker’s agenda — many of them carrying signs that condemned Fox News — were called idiots, leftists and thugs by newscasters up and down the network.
The Chairman’s design to control American politics is executed by the miniskirted young blondes and disgruntled aging honkies who maintain his empire. Led by Roger Ailes, the mastermind behind the elections of Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush, the personalities of Fox News openly ridiculed the relevance of the phone hacking scandal, declaring that the scrutiny is just another example of demonization by the “liberal media.” The Wall Street Journal blamed the situation on lazy police work, sleazy tabloid standards and the whorelike tendencies of politicians before boasting about the increased circulation and content the paper has enjoyed since becoming another lessee in Murdoch’s global flat in 2007.
Although the Journal is largely responsible for costing News Corp billions, its performance matches that of Fox News’ early days. According to a recent Rolling Stone article, “To get Fox News into 25 million homes, Murdoch paid cable companies as much as $20 a subscriber.” Today, Fox is News Corp’s most profitable division, taking home an estimated $816 million last year.
The Journal’s numbers are irrelevant because Rupert Murdoch owns a much more profitable television audience that would rather have its ideological contempt stroked than actually form an educated opinion. Reinforcing this behavior is the popularity of online “infotainment” sites, graphic pachinko nightmares that feature spastic clip art, bizarre stock photography and the occasional announcement that “you’ve won.”
You do not remember entering any contest. You do not know what you’ve won. But you do know that this is the cost of a free ride. And you get what you pay for.
Just like Rupert Murdoch.