The main thing you need to grok about the 37th richest person in America is that his media properties are as pervasive as global warming. The same with his worldview. Rupert Murdoch is a Godzilla-sized propaganda shunt in the shape of a dildo jammed up the interior of humanity, pumping in a daily dose of the trance-inducing drug BOFTRAP — bend over for the rich and powerful.
Is Rupert Murdoch some new kind of semi-Satan? I would argue yes. “J'accuse,” as Emile Zola thundered on the front page of L'Aurore. Here's my case.
Murdoch brings you Fox News, the 24-hour cable news channel he launched in 1996.
It is the most successful 24-hour news channel in America.
It is the most successful news channel because it gives its ultra-conservative bias an outrageous tabloid spin.
It is responsible for a standard of political reportage and commentary so crass, it sinks many levels beneath the deepest mud in Lake Victoria. And it's got countless Americans hooked on their daily shot of BOFTRAP.
Fox News has brought the news itself — let alone news opinion — to a bizarre new low. A shameless, dumb and immoral low consisting of at least five parts of poison.
One, an agenda to the right of Jean-Marie Le Pen. Two, facts more misleading than Faust's best friend. Three, suspicions more dire than those harbored by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Four, outbursts as hysterical as the ranting of Elizabeth Taylor in “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” And five, lies more mendacious than those splooged by Shakespeare's Iago.
The people of Fox News called one speech from our President “indoctrination.” Which one was that? The back-to-school speech addressed to school kids, urging them to stay in school and work hard. This is the kind of so-crazy-it-must-be-true smear tactics developed by the Nazi Reichminister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels.
Can you imagine the likes of Walter Cronkite getting up to such Fox News baloney? Can you imagine anchors like Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw delivering what Fox calls “news”? Can you imagine any fair and balanced person hooking us on the BOFTRAP drug?
You can't. But you may have thought that what Fox does is actually news, albeit from a conservative angle.
It's not news from any angle. It's nuts. Plain nuts.
The “news” people of Fox accuse Obama of being a socialist. If an actual socialist like Rosa Luxembourg were to hear Obama's views, she'd sputter with outrage. The distortions of Fox News start with the English language: it's Orwell's Oceania all over again — up is down, war is peace, capitalism is socialism.
Fox News is like a satire of rightwing news developed by a team of Monte Pythons trained by Stalin. It's a parody of the news presenting itself as real. Even Stephen Colbert, a parody of this parody, cannot sink his absurd parody persona to the surreal forty-fathoms-under-the-sea level of Fox News.
This “news” channel helps organize and publicize anti-Obama demonstrations, where its own employees appear as speakers and where Americans display images of our President as Hitler. On the Fox News channel, its paid opinion people come up with the most outlandish accusations, which its paid “news” people then present as something that happened in the news.
A vicious self-fulfilling circle of constant crap.
All paid for by the Wizard of Oz, Rupert Murdoch (Oz as in Australia).
1. THE MAINSTREAMING OF CRAZY AMERICA
Fox News has turned the news into a National Enquirer outlet. It has debased news coverage to the nonsense of tabloid idiocy. It has completed the tabloidization of American culture by introducing its crass and vulgar ways into discussions of the highest import.
It has mainstreamed the crazies in America — birthers, creationists, evangelical homophobes, racists, polluters, climate change deniers — the entire spectrum of what one might call ill-informed American scum. It has expanded the reach of the underbelly of American idiots to places where they never existed before.
Fox News is news for scum by scum.
It is a propaganda tool that produces scum content to create scum people, who then vote for scum politicians, who then go on to create a scum government that reduces a once proud America to a scum nation, hated and feared by the rest of the world, as happened under those two scum artists Bush and Cheney.
And this is all the doing of one man: Rupert Murdoch. Without him, the crazies would be restricted to rightwing talkradio and the South. Because of him, the unbelievably dumb, nuts and vile utterances of Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity and crew are poisoning the minds of our Great Unwashed and Washed on a daily basis.
Because of Rupert Murdoch, there is a national soapbox for all the creepy-crawlies of American culture.
Because of Rupert Murdoch, hate has a platform. Because of Rupert Murdoch, truth is murdered every day. Because of Rupert Murdoch, America is flooded with the presence of the most un-American Americans that America has ever known.
Because of Rupert Murdoch, the other news channels take the crazies seriously and give equal time to everyone from climate change deniers to anti-abortion terrorists to women-haters, Mexican immigrant-thumpers, gay-bashers, birthers, creationists, and Christians who demonize folks who aren't their kind of Christian. Apparently, being balanced now means you have to balance common sense with the most outrageous BS from the most extreme upchucker of absolute BS from the bizarro world of complete and total and utter BS beyond BS.
2. HATE WORKS
Funny thing is, Murdoch's very own grownup kids are ashamed of Fox News. But he can't get rid of it: it makes too much money.
Here's the line-up of cable-news viewers, on average, between the advertising-ideal ages of 25 and 54, for the month of October 2009:
Fox News: 689,000 viewers.
MSNBC: 250,000 viewers.
HLN: 221,000 viewers.
CNN (who invented the 24-hour news format): 202,000 viewers.
Hate works. Distortion bamboozles. Lies spread. All you have to do is wrap them up in great graphics and have them presented by pretty blond newscasters and embroidered by crazy opinion makers who were confined to talkradio before Fox News gave them room to vent. There will always be enough idiots in America to take this stuff seriously, and Fox News will keep on creating more idiots until the entire America becomes a nation of idiots, which we certainly were under Bush/Cheney, which was a Fox News paradise. Remember?
3. FROM OXFORD SOCIALIST TO CONSERVATIVE MOGUL
The history of the man behind the national disgrace of Fox News is instructive.
Rupert Murdoch was raised in Melbourne, Australia. His father was the regional newspaper magnate Sir Keith. Rupert went to college in Oxford where he was a Labor Party supporter, which in those days was pretty far left, since it stood for nationalizing the bulk of British industry. Incredible to believe now, but back in the 1950s, Rupert Murdoch was a dinkum socialist.
While Rupert was at Oxford, his pater shuffled off the mortal coil, and Rupert betook himself to Australia to take the helm at the family enterprise at the tender age of 22.
He became very successful. He discovered quite early on that there was a two-part formula to massive success in the media business:
1. Vulgar sex.
2. Hysterical rightwing propaganda.
After great success in Australia, including the launch of Australia's first national newspaper The Australian in 1964, Murdoch turned his sights to the UK. He acquired The Sun and turned it into a sex-and-rightwing-propaganda tabloid. The Sun put sexy women on page three. From 1970 the paper started showing them topless. These “page three girls” were great circulation builders. Murdoch also busted his union (not a bad thing, actually, since they feared the inevitable: computerization).
Murdoch enthusiastically backed Margaret Thatcher, who ruled as the UK's Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
In 1981, Murdoch bought the august Tory paper The Times of London. He appointed Harold Evans as editor, the husband of Tina Brown. Evans left after a year, chafing under a lack of editorial independence, and then wrote a tell-all book.
With the Iron Lady Maggie finally drummed out by her Conservative Party colleagues, and the Conservatives led by the lackluster PM John Major, Murdoch switched to backing the rival Labor Party under Tony Blair. Blair gained power by moving his party to the right, like Bill Clinton did with his party, and remained popular until the debacle of the Iraq War.
After conquering the UK, Murdoch set his sights on the US. He bought The San Antonio Express-News in 1973, then founded a supermarket tabloid Star, and then bought The New York Post in 1976. On September 4, 1985 he became a naturalized citizen so it would be legal for him to own TV stations in the US. In 1986 he launched the TV network Fox. In 1996 he launched the 24-hour cable news channel Fox News. In 2004 he moved his headquarters from Adelaide, Australia to the US so investment funds would give his stock higher valuations. He bought MySpace in 2005 and The Wall Street Journal in 2007. He owns Star TV in Asia and dominates the British pay-TV market with BSkyB. He's got TV properties in many countries, including such places as Turkey and Italy.
During the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Murdoch's 175 newspapers all over the world beat the drums for war like a gang of Shakas rousing their Zulu warriors to decimate the tribe next door.
This is the same guy who hosted a fund-raiser for Hillary's Senate election campaign in 2006, after his NY Post opposed her run in 2000.
When Walt Mossberg asked Murdoch in 2008 if he had “anything to do with The New York Post's endorsement of Obama in the Democratic primaries,” Murdoch replied: “Yeah. He is a rock star. It's fantastic. I love what he is saying about education. I don't think he will win Florida … but he will win in Ohio and the election. I am anxious to meet him. I want to see if he will walk the walk.”
In the summer of 2008, Murdoch pushed for a meeting with Obama and Fox News Prez Roger Ailes, the man whom Murdoch put in charge of his money-printing, uber-conservative, Big Lie propaganda machine (Roger Ailes is Murdoch's Igor-Cheney). Obama wasn't into any such meeting and resented Fox News for smearing him as “suspicious, foreign, fearsome — just short of a terrorist.” Ailes claimed “it might not have been this way if Obama had more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand.” Anyway, Murdoch used the Kennedys as go-betweens, and the three met. A tentative truce was arranged, giving a whole new layer of irony to the words “tentative” and “truce.”
4. AN ODIOUS COMPARISON BETWEEN RUPERT MURDOCH AND JOSEPH GOEBBELS
Goebbels had Hitler. Murdoch had Bush/Cheney. How's that for an odious comparison?
OK, so the Germans killed over 20 million Russians, and various other ethnicities, and the Bush/Cheney kill record of Iraqi civilians ranges from only 601,027 (Lancet survey: March 2003 — June 2006) to 1,033,000 (Opinion Research Business survey: March 2003 — August 2007). So the Germans were at least 200 times worse than Bush/Cheney if you want to use body count as your comparison. But that makes Bush/Cheney a million times worse than my Mom, who killed maybe 300 flies in her life.
It's not like Murdoch was fronting for an innocent old lady. He shares with Bush/Cheney the blood of thousands of Iraqi civilians on his 77-year-old hands.
Yes, Joseph Goebbels has at least 200 times more pints of blood on his hands than Rupert Murdoch. But that hardly washes the red stuff off Murdoch's mitts. The mass murder of civilians is mass murder, whether you murder by the millions or by the hundreds of thousands.
Comparisons and analogies may be odious, but we employ them anyway, because they have great explanatory power.
My contention is that the result of Murdoch's propaganda may vary in degree from the nefariousness of Goebbels, but it is still the propaganda of someone who aids and abets the mass murder of civilians.
Now let's get to their propaganda methods.
They both started out as newspaper men. Goebbels edited the Berlin newspaper The Attack when the Nazis were coming up. Later, as Reichsminister, he controlled all the media.
Goebbels marked opposition leaders for vitriolic attacks, like Fox News does with Nancy Pelosi. He demonized the Jews, as Fox News does when it comes to immigrants, Mexicans, Europeans, Muslims, abortion doctors, etcetera ad infinitum.
I've already pointed out that Goebbels beat the drums for war, just like Murdoch's media empire did.
Goebbels also liked to provoke beerhall battles. The Fox analogy is propagandizing the so-called “tea party” demonstrations, and creating an atmosphere in which guys show up at Obama rallies fully armed, and intimations of threats to the president's life are rife.
At their own gatherings, these Fox News-propagandized teabaggers hold up posters inscribed with slogans like this:
The American Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's Ovens.
Obama is the Anti-Christ.
Hitler Gave Good Speeches, Too.
Cap 'n' Trade? Lock 'n' Load!
Kind of over-the-top, right? And that's only a tiny selection.
Goebbels said something that rather neatly sums up what Fox News does: “It is not propaganda's task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.”
Finally, Goebbels was an expert at the Big Lie. So is Fox News with their dissemination of propaganda that Obama can't be President because he was born in Kenya, or that he is a socialist, a Maoist or a Nazi, or Hitler's equal.
Maybe you think you've read enough facts about mass murder and analogies of various tenuousness to make room for my “J'accuse” argument in your cranium. Maybe you don't. Whatever. As for me, I sincerely believe that Murdoch has done more than enough to earn himself this slur of a moniker:
Rupert Goebbels Murdoch.
5. HOW TO BRING DOWN OUR 21ST CENTURY GOEBBELS
Unfortunately, Murdoch is like Goldman Sachs. He cannot he stopped. He cannot be contained. As long as Fox News and his other ventures make money, he's sitting pretty, and his poison will continue to make America sick.
But his reputation can be ruined. He can be stigmatized beyond the stigmatizing that he's already been stigmatized with.
Look what happened to Goldman Sachs. They were universally admired as the smartest guys on Wall Street. Their officials automatically became our Treasury Secretaries, and graced financial institutions like the World Bank with their presence. That was until 2009. Today the public reputation of Goldman Sachs is in tatters. Why? Because of one article — by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi. “The Great American Bubble Machine.” This is how Taibbi opened his article:
“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
That “vampire squid” line is now the most quoted line in modern journalism. It's so good, I stole it to construct the opening paragraph of the essay you're reading.
Once Taibbi ripped the mask off Goldman Sachs, everyone else and his cousin in Kentucky piled on. For the commentariat, it was a moment as revelatory as the light that blinded Saul on the road to Damascus, releasing his inner Paul. Ping! it suddenly hit the the blind Wall Street pundits: hey, dudes, Goldman Sachs is actually a bunch of well-heeled manipulators and crooked shysters, a major menace to us all.
From universal admiration to universal condemnation in the space of one article.
Maybe this could happen to Murdoch. Maybe he can be tagged as Rupert Goebbels Murdoch forevermore.
What if some Matt Taibbi clone wrote about Rupert Goebbels Murdoch in a national magazine that is read and linked-to by millions? What if the name stuck to Murdoch like a scarlet letter? How about it, you scribes in search of a hot reputation? Let's get that obnoxious name out there.
All together now. Who is the man getting the nation hooked on the terrible drug BOFTRAP?
Rupert Goebbels Murdoch.
What single man did the most to get people behind Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld to go to war with Iraq, which ended up in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians?
Rupert Goebbels Murdoch.
Who spreads the propaganda that Obama is the next Hitler?
Rupert Goebbels Murdoch.
It gives the man a pretty good taste of his own medicine, don't you think? Not as bad as sticking the name Hitler on Obama, but still quite excellent.
Rupert Goebbels Murdoch.
I do believe it has a nice sort of a ugly ring about it. Wouldn't it look just dandy on the cover of Rolling Stone? Or on a sandwich board in Wichita?
It might also be nice to just throw it around and about to see what happens.
Rupert Goebbels Murdoch.
What are you waiting for, dear reader? You have a sense of social responsibility, don't you? And you also have email, haven't you?
Rupert Goebbels Murdoch.
Let's spread the name around. Starting now.