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"Bravo L'Artiste" John Lanchester • London Review of Books • February 2004 A review of books attempting to make sense of Murdoch ends with a theory of its own:
Murdoch's power and success come from his complete understanding of the modern Western world's first commandment: thou shalt give people what they want. 'There's been nothing in Rupert's papers to make you say: "Now that's a new idea,"' Cecil King observed twenty years ago. 'There's never a new idea. What his papers are about is going further, being louder and more vulgar.' That philosophy, or strategy, has remained true. There is a circularity: Murdoch takes what we want, and gives it back to us in a coarser version – and we find that we prefer it that way. His basic approach, which he pioneered with the Sun and shows no signs of abandoning, is to take an existing form and make it slightly more violent, slightly more pornographic, slightly more envious. We lap it up. News Corp defeats its competitors because it is better at second-guessing the public. The really depressing thing isn't that in the Postmodern, Late Capitalist world, we don't just have the billionaire media tycoon we deserve; we have the media tycoon that we want.