| Rupert Murdoch: Fox in the henhouse |
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor
Mar 2, 2007, 01:34
Rupert Murdoch is CEO and Chairman of News Corporation, which moved to the United States from Australia in 1973, purchasing the San Antonio Express-News. Soon after it gave us the supermarket tabloid the National Star, and in 1976 purchased the New York Post, and turned the former liberal newspaper into an ultra-right rag shrink-wrapped in jingo journalism and the flag.
In 1981 and 84, News Corp bought both halves of the 20th Century Fox movie studio, and in 1985 the Metromedia group of stations, launching a fourth US broadcast networking. On September 4, 1985, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen, meeting a legal requirement that only US citizens could own American TV stations. In 1986, the Metromedia deal sealed, the Fox Broadcasting Company was launched like bad news onto the unsuspecting public.
Today, Fox Broadcasting and allied enterprises are deeply into the henhouse of America and the world, reaching over 96 percent of US households, owning more than 175 international newspapers and magazines on three continents, publishing 40 million papers a week, virtually controlling print markets in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
News Corporation’s total holdings range from newspapers, magazines and books, to music/radio/recordings (from India to Russia), to sport teams from Austria, New Zealand and the US, to a baker’s dozen of movie studies and TV stations from the US, Britain, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Poland, Israel, New Zealand to Timbuktu.
And then there is Satellite television UK, DirecTV Group (North and South America), SKY Latin America, Sky Italia, New Zealand, Phoenix Satellite, with landing rights in Hong Kong and select provinces of Mainland China. In Cable, more than 20 channels, with operations in Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, India, Italy, Japan, Korea Portugal, Singapore, Serbia and Spain.
In short, Fox gets around the world’s henhouse of eager viewers with its simplistic, twisted ultra-right palaver. It owns Internet platforms in India and Taiwan, as well as the US MySpace, and a wide range of websites. Other assets include direct broadcast satellite and cable TV systems, personal digital video recorder, telephony, and broad system ventures around the world, as well as sports bars, Sibelius Software, and so on.
This media globalization led Time Magazine in October 1999 to remark that “Rupert Murdoch is the first press baron to be a monster of the world . . . he is the only media mogul to have created and to control a truly global media empire . . . to create first an international press and then a television domain.”
Fox/Murdoch a threat to critical thinking
Murdoch should be taken very seriously given his power to sway world opinion, particularly US opinion, to the far right. While media writer Ron Kaufman writes, Fox News Channel Is an Industry Joke or Welcome to Info-tainment Tonight, Fox/Murdoch are deadly serious about peddling neocon patriotism, ever so palatable to a non-thinking henhouse of viewers.
All charts in Kaufman’s excellent article show Fox taking commanding leads in network and cable “news.” Kaufman analyzes their techniques in great detail.
For instance, Fox’s perennially “upbeat” style is just that, style, along with good-looking anchors, flashy graphics, and triumphant music to hype its message. Fox has, as Kaufman reports abandoned what once was the primary element of TV news, the written and edited story. Fox now deemphasizes factual verification, carefully chosen words or pictures. The stress is on immediacy, cost-efficiency, live interviews with unedited reporters’ stand-up.
Also, rather than covering a wide menu of issues each morning, Fox (leading the cable pack) will focus on a limited number of “core stories” repeated over and over, only occasionally substantively updating them as the day goes on. This is closer to advertising than journalism, utilizing strategic selling points with high viewing frequency and enormous reach to convert minds on issues, rather than inform viewers in depth on a range of world events and opinions in order to allow them to make up their own minds.
Additionally, Fox has its own pack of in-house pundits, who invariably agree in various shadings with the network’s point of view, such as it is. Most notably is Brit Hume’s panel on Special Report. The focus is on American superpower dominance, a corporate-controlled economy and Judeo-Christian ideals. Fox will also go on the vicious attack with those who disagree with their politics, as in this recent hit piece on would-be presidential candidate Barak Obama. Watch these pictures. They speak thousands of words.
Curiously, the right-wing Heritage foundation translates Fox’s agenda as “the principles of free enterprise [unrestrained free market], limited government [relaxing government standards and controls], individual freedom [the USAPATRIOT Act, habeas corpus discarded?], traditional American values [bashing gay marriage, illegal wars, cutting taxes for the rich?], and a strong national defense [offense].” Just about everything that got us in the trouble we are in today.
Murdoch/Fox goes beyond “news”
Reporter Christopher Bollyn writes in Did Rupert Murdoch Have Prior Knowledge of 9/11?, “Less well known, however, is the fact that Murdoch produced a television pilot in 2000, which predicted with uncanny accuracy the attacks of 9/11.” The pilot for the program, “The Lone Gunmen,” was a spin-off based on characters from Fox’s well-known “X-Files.” It was produced by a Murdoch owned company, Canadian Millennium Productions, Ltd., in New York and Vancouver Canada from March 20 to April 7, 2000. The show’s main characters were “counterculture patriots” who published a “news” weekly, “The Lone Gunmen.”
As we know, lone gunmen also refer to all the so-called lone assassins of American history, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Raye, Talmadge Hayer, John Hinckley, et al.
In the pilot episode, which aired March 4, 2001, the storyline “depicted the hijacking of a passenger aircraft by a hostile computer hacker who takes control of the plane computer flight system and directs it to fly into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.”
“The climactic sequence of the pilot shows the plane heading straight for one of the twin towers. But thanks to the efforts of the crew of ‘The Lone Gunmen’ and their powerful ‘Octium’ computer chip, the pilots are able to regain control of the plane at the last second and avoid the building by inches. The pilots do not swerve away from the tower but pull the plane up in a steep climb. In a memorable scene full of suspense, the plane narrowly missed the tower.” So, Rupert’s fiction curiously foreshadowed the reality (sans happy ending) that occurred six months later, on 9/11.
In fact, the background footage for the approach of the plane to the WTC was actually filmed in the spring of 2000 by a “special aerial crew that used a helicopter flying low over Manhattan on a night flight towards the twin towers.” Despite the frightening comparisons between Murdoch’s film fiction and the horrible reality of 9/11, the “Lone Gunmen” episode was never discussed on Fox’s or any other news media -- in spite of the fact that an estimated 13.2 million Fox TV viewers saw the March 4, 2001 show. Perhaps this is the mass amnesia induced by Fox programming.
Yet, Frank Spotnitz, one of the show’s four executive producers, saw it and remembered. The first thing he thought of was “The Lone Gunmen” pilot episode. Spotnitz, plus John Shiban, Vince Gilligan and Chris Carter are listed as executive products of the show. Shiban is also credited as a writer and creator of the pilot. Spotnitz added, perhaps disingenuously, “What’s disturbing about it to me is, you think as a fiction writer that if you can imagine this scenario, then people in power in the government who are there to imagine disaster scenarios can imagine it, too.” Yes, imagine that, Frank. What possible reason would the government or Murdoch have for doing that?
Fox owner’s back-story
Murdoch, as stated, became an American for business reasons. As Action Report online states, Keith Rupert Murdoch was born in Australia on March 11, 1931. Rupert’s Australian father, Sir Keith Murdoch, was a newspaper publisher; his mother Elisabeth Joy Green was the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family. Keith Rupert, through his wife’s connections, was “subsequently promoted from reporter to chairman of the British-owned newspaper where he worked.
“There was also enough of his wife’s money to buy himself a knighthood of the British realm, two newspapers in Adelaide, South Australia, and a radio station in a faraway mining town. For some reason, [Fox’s] Murdoch has always tried to hide the fact that his pious mother brought him up as a Jew . . .” Later in life, Murdoch chose to use the first name of his maternal grandfather alone, without the Keith, as in Rupert Murdoch.
While Murdoch doesn’t speak openly of his roots, he nevertheless has been open about his support for extreme right-wing Zionists such as Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, the latter who wrote a book in 1986 called “The War on Terror: How the West Can Win.” Netanyahu is also a frequent commentator on Murdoch’s Fox News. What’s more, former New York Governor George Pataki said of Murdoch’s New York paper, “There is no newspaper in the US more supportive of Israel than the New York Post.”
Murdoch’s religious/political zeal undoubtedly helped him connect with the men who leased and took control of the World Trade Center shortly before its destruction. These three key figures are Larry Silverstein and Frank Lowy, the leaseholders who gained control of the WTC property six weeks before 9/11. Murdoch’s third buddy is Port Authority Chairman Lewis M. Eisenberg, who approved the transfer of the leases. Curiously, Silverstein/Lowy were the lowest bidders for the leases.
Murdoch as well as Silverstein and Eisenberg belong to and have been honored by a number of Zionist organizations, include the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) and the New York based Museum of Jewish Heritage -- A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Murdoch spoke at its fund-raiser on April 29, 2001. And Silverstein quipped, “I’ll support you (the UJA) . . . as long as you keep it under 110 stories.” After the fact, that’s rather dark humor.
Sharon and Murdoch were also old friends. On Oct. 15, 1982, a month after the massacres of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps of Beirut, war crimes conducted under Sharon’s direct command, Sharon met with Murdoch and others, reportedly to help advance the “West Bank real estate grab.”
Murdoch also had an old friendship with the Czech-born Israeli commando Frank Lowy, a former fighter in Israel’s Golani Brigade. Murdoch emphasized his long friendship in an American Australian Assocation fund-raising dinner in honor of Frank’s son, Peter S. Lowy, in New York on November 20, 2002. Larry Silverstein and his wife also attended the event.
Silverstein and Eisenberg have both had senior leadership positions with the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), a billion dollar charity organization to which Murdoch also generously contributed. The UJA raises hundreds of millions of dollars each year for Israel. Eisenberg has served as chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee in Washington, DC. He is a Super Power Ranger, someone who was willing to contribute $300,000 to the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign. He is also a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Four friends 50 days before 9/11
In those 50 days Murdoch’s close friends, Silverstein Properties and Lowy’s Westfield America were able to secure the 99-year leases on the WTC for $3.2 billion, a fraction of their value, approved by Lewis Eisenberg. The Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey turned control of the WTC over to Silverstein and Lowy on July 24, 2001. Lowy leased the shopping concourse, the Mall at the World Trade Center, and the former Israeli commando Lowy then controlled the 10.6 million-square-foot-complex. The package deal included the Twin Towers and two nine-story office buildings.
Silverstein had already built and owned Tower 7. Seven fell after Silverstein authorized it “to be pulled” at 5:25 pm on 9/11, some eight hours after the morning hits. He was awarded $871 million from Industrial Risk Insurers to rebuild it. His original investment in WTC 7 was $386 million, netting him nearly $500 million profit.
Silverstein and Westfield had also been given the right to rebuild the structures if they were destroyed, and Westfield had the right to expand the retail space by 30 percent. Silverstein subsequently sued for $7.2 billion, claiming 9/11 represented two different attacks on the Towers, leased and insured for $3.2 billion. Silverstein originally leased the property with a down payment of $120 million of borrowed funds.
And what about their pal, Murdoch? Murdoch would sell a windfall of newspapers and magazines in myriad countries post 9/11. Fox News TV ratings would spike dramatically as would Murdoch’s expanding media entities around the henhouse of the globe. In fact, Murdoch made his Christian analog of another era, William Randolph Hurst (the inspiration for Citizen Cane), look like family. In spite of them, here’s to the free press reporting this tale of greed, mass disinformation and disaster!Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.