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25 Jul, 2011

Murdoch’s Global Reach Needs Much Deeper Probe

The sordid Murdoch phone hacking saga is only the minute tip of an iceberg of cronyism, corruption and nepotism in the West. The real story is how the Murdoch empire has influenced politicians, manipulated public opinion and shaped the global geopolitical and economic agenda over the last 20 years.

In what could prove to be the story of the century, a goldmine of data is available for researchers, academics and investigative journalists to probe how this hydra-headed conglomerate of movies, television, cable network programming, direct broadcast satellite television, integrated marketing services, newspapers and information services, book publishing and other media-related assets has been used for everything from acting as a cheerleader for military campaigns to promoting neoliberal globalisation and influencing diplomatic efforts at the United Nations.

How to connect the millions of dots? Here’s just one example.

Log on to News Corp’s webpage and look up the board of directors. There prominently mentioned as number two on the list is the name of José María Aznar, President of  the Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis. Look up Aznar on Wikipedia and you will find that he was prime minister of Spain from 1996-2004.  In 2003, Spain was one of the key European countries to provide logistical support for the U.S. attack on Iraq.

Then look a little further. In 2010, Aznar founded the “Friends of Israel Initiative,” with the stated goal to “counter the attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders”. He believes that “Israel is the West’s first line of defense, and must be protected.”

In the past, any linkage between his pro-Israel tilt, his backing for the Iraq war and his presence on the News Corp board would be dismissed as a “conspiracy theory.” That will be extremely difficult today. Further evidence of the Murdoch empire bolstering pro-Israeli politicians will come with a quick examination of Murdoch’s links with Tony Blair, who also played a key role in starting the Iraq war.

That, I repeat, is only a very, very minute tip of the iceberg.

In the United States, the holdings of News Corp. include Dow Jones & Company, the Wall Street Journal, 20th Century Fox, the Fox Broadcasting Company, SKY Italia, Harper Collins Publishers, MySpace, hulu.com, Beliefnet, AmericanIdol.com and Rotten Tomatoes.

An illuminating commentary on this ownership structure appeared on the media website, www.theGrio.com which describes itself as being “devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.”

The commentary says, “Fox, admittedly, is the most successful cable news network in America. But its journalistic integrity is largely non-existent, with the entire operation geared toward promoting a conservative political agenda and platform. Facts are written and re-written to fit the story that Murdoch, Roger Ailes and their cronies are invested in promoting. Ailes, Fox’s president, served as a media consultant to Republican presidents Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.”

The evidence mounts. The term “conspiracy theory” recedes even further.

Even as the scandal was grabbing headlines worldwide, Fox News, which goes by the slogan “Fair and Balanced,” was playing it down.

Between July 6-15, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism analysed the number of weekday prime-time minutes Fox devoted to the News Corp. scandal, including four hours of daily prime time and an hour a day of daytime programming.

According to the Pew Center, “The analysis finds that the Murdoch- owned Fox News Channel devoted about one-fifth as much time to the story as MSNBC and about one-sixth as much time as CNN.”

The name “News Corp” does grave injustice to the word “news”. The empire is for all intents and purposes a modern-day Pravda, devoted to mind-bending and mind-numbing, one of the greatest propaganda scores in world history.

It was Fox News which played a major role in highlighting the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Just go back over the editorials, commentaries of the Murdoch-owned media, and the links between the so-called “journalists”, the academic think-tanks, lobbyists, corporations and politicians will become more than obvious.

In the days preceding the 1998 demolition of the Suharto regime in Indonesia, and the 1997 Asian economic crisis, Asia was a regular punching bag of Western corporations, politicians and media, especially the Asian Wall Street Journal, for its “cronyism, corruption and nepotism.”

Now the tables are turning and the age of accountability is dawning. More whistleblowers of conscience are set to come out of the woodwork – even at the risk of their lives.

Regardless of East or West, North or South, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It then follows a natural cycle of events. Arrogance sets in, and people in power begin to think themselves to be beyond reproach and above the law. And that is the beginning of the end.

This story of the century must be told with a deep-rooted exploration of the hidden agenda behind the “globalisation” process, the open markets and financial liberalisation that has opened the way for modern-day financial terrorists to manipulate currencies, commodities and economies. This should include a closer look at this shadowy group known as “Bilderberg”.

More facts are set to emerge in the courts. On July 19, a U.S. law firm filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of the common stock of News Corp who purchased during the period from March 3, 2011 through July 11, 2011.

The Complaint alleges that “defendants knew or were reckless in not knowing that, with the knowledge and consent of their editors, employees at News of the World …. have been hacking into the cell phones messages of more that 4,000 people for years.”

The lawsuit seeks to recover damages on behalf of all those who purchased or otherwise acquired News Corp securities during the Class Period.  It invited all those who purchased or otherwise acquired News Corp securities during the Class Period, and either lost money on the transaction or still hold the securities, to consider joining in the action.

However, along with the revolutions under way in the Arab world, the scandal is yet another one of a series of anti-climactic events disrupting what would have been the original agenda – marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with more solemn ceremonies designed to remind the world about the scourge of terrorism, primarily of a variety associated with one major global religion.

And here’ some more grist for the “conspiracy-theory” mill.

Isn’t it curiously surprising that just as the world is preoccupied with the Murdoch saga, and a range of other very significant earth-shaking issues such as the European debt crisis, the gargantuan U.S. budget deficit and the upcoming declaration of Palestinian statehood, out pops yet another terrorist attack (in Norway).

The Murdoch scandal vanishes from the headlines – just like that. It’s back to business as usual.