The “24th” Cabinet member is sometimes called Rupert Murdoch in the United Kingdom. No kidding, politicians from both major parties have been dancing to this media mogul’s tune for decades. And not only in the United Kingdom, but also in Australia and the United States. Countries that rely primarily on a two-party system, Winner takes all. The media not only express political preferences but also provide voting advice. Where is Murdoch News Company? It owns tabloids, high-quality newspapers, television channels, film companies and book publishers. It therefore largely determines what the voter sees and reads.
It is impressive how one man managed to build such a media empire, with a turnover of $10.4 billion (2022) and 25,000 employees. Now that Murdoch has announced his retirement at the age of 92, this matter must also be emphasized. Seventy years ago he inherited Adelaide News, a local newspaper. Its media now reaches approximately 73 percent of residents each month in Australia alone.
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However, Murdoch is not a landlord at a distance; He is the one who determines the political path and preference of his media. He invites editors to get out of bed if he doesn’t like an article, and he’s in the newsroom and summons politicians to come. It can make or break them, support or criticize their policies.
This is sometimes very obvious: the sun He went out of his way to mock British Labor opposition leader Neil Kinnock in 1992. The headline became famous on election day, Kinnock as a light bulb with the text: “If he wins, the last person to leave the country can turn out the lights.”
It remains an open question whether The Sun actually won the election for John Major, as it claimed on its front page the next day with “It’s The Sun Didn’t Win It” (years later Murdoch would call it a “tasteless” headline). Or whether the newspaper actually won. Blown with the social wind. But the truth is that since then, Labor leaders have done everything they can to curry favor with Murdoch, including current opposition leader Keir Starmer, who has already been spotted at the media mogul’s parties. Former Prime Minister David Cameron was advised to strengthen ties with Murdoch’s newspapers if the Conservatives wanted to win the British election. He had hired a former editor-in-chief as a doctor, and he had another good friend.
What is more dangerous is the indirect influence that Murdoch enjoys. Research and discussion can be stifled if reporters think the owner doesn’t find certain topics interesting — or is actually telling them so. Other topics can be played. In Australia, climate change skeptics have gained wide space in the Murdoch media, damaging understanding of climate change. In the United States, Fox News supported the lie that Donald Trump won the election. Two of Murdoch’s children – James and Elizabeth – who disagreed with the above choices stepped down from the company.
Read also: Wiretapping scandals, election denials, climate skepticism – Murdoch left his mark everywhere
Robert will soon be succeeded as CEO of News Corp by Son Lachlan, who is more far-right than his father. With elections in both the US and UK looming in the coming months, this is a worrying prospect. Concentrating power in one person is unhealthy. Especially when that person controls the majority of the media in a country.
Read also: Who is Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s son and the new head of the powerful global media company News Corp?
A version of this article also appeared in the October 4, 2023 newspaper.
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