Page-three girls--the sort of outstanding journalism we've come to expect from Rpuert Murdoch.
The Parliamentary report is as outmoded as the monarchy. Where have they been since 1969? That’s the year Murdoch landed in the UK and took over a decent-but-troubled newspaper called the Sun, converted it into a tabloid, kicked out its vaguely left-oriented staff, and made the “page-three girl” part of the British lexicon. (For those who’ve never seen a page-three girl, think Playboy in newsprint.) Murdoch was a Thatcherite during the 1980s, though he admired the Iron Lady from abroad, having moved to the United States and taken citizenship there in 1985.
His first big U.S. venture is another milestone for creative journalism–he took over the Star, that staple of bored patrons standing in supermarket checkout lines across the nation and the major faux news rival of the National Enquirer. In 1986, Murdoch launched the Fox Broadcasting Company. Need I say more?
Well, yes, I should. In 1995, the Federal Communications Commission investigated Murdoch for violation of media antitrust laws. Once upon a time, media mogulship was controlled in this country–one was not allowed to own multiple news outlets in the same market. There was a quaint idea circulating that competition prevented manipulation of information, ensured that multiple viewpoints and ideologies would be aired, and gave consumers a silly old thing called “choice.” That great “liberal” Bill Clinton scuttled that rule. (If Clinton’s a liberal, I’m the schizophrenic reincarnation of both Marx and Engels!) Thanks to Bonkin’ Bill–whom Murdoch repaid by running several fundraisers for Hillary, though he generally channels about $1 million per year to Republicans–Murdoch was able to launch a new venture in 1996: Fox News. That outlet is to objective news what a gallon of Jack Daniels is to sobriety. I’m sure that America’s squeamishness about sex is the only thing between anchor Patti Ann Browne and a video version of the page-three girl on Fox News Live.
Murdoch’s record has been tawdry and sleazy everywhere he’s set up shop, and that includes Italy. My lord! What does it say when a country that produced the Borgias and whose major media player is Silvio Berlusconi finds Rupert Murdoch’s behavior questionable? Is there anyone on the planet who thinks Murdoch is fit to run a media empire? Probably not, but the better question to ask is whether there’s anyone in the United States that cares enough about the public to strip Murdoch of his power, overturn Clinton’s foolish ruling, and restore competition to the North American media.