Rupert Murdoch's enemies: The wrong and the right reasons for hating the media mogul.

Media criticism.
July 20 2011 6:32 PM

Murdoch's Enemies

The wrong and the right reasons for hating the media mogul.

Rupert Murdoch.
Rupert Murdoch during Tuesday's hearing

During Tuesday's parliamentary hearing, News Corp. CEO and Chairman Rupert Murdoch rope-a-doped his way through dozens of questions about the phone-hacking scandal. Questions he couldn't rope-a-dope, he deflected to his corner man, son James.

But Murdoch was eager to punch back when the questions interested him. About a fourth of the way through the three-hour-plus session, MP Jim Sheridan asked whom he blamed for the closure of News of the World and the collapse of Murdoch's bid for the 61 percent portion of satellite broadcaster BSkyB that he doesn't already own.

Perking up, Murdoch said:

A lot of people had different agendas, I think, in trying to build this hysteria. All our competitors in this country formally announced a consortium to try and stop us. They caught us with dirty hands and they built the hysteria around it.

It sounds like a paranoid's ravings, but Murdoch is absolutely right about the existence of a consortium of competitors. Executives representing the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Daily Mirror, the BBC, Channel 4,and the BT Group came together in October 2010 to lobby regulators against Murdoch's BSkyB bid. Their letter stated, "We believe that the proposed takeover could have serious and far-reaching consequences for media plurality."

Advertisement

The Financial Times didn't sign the letter but had editorialized (subscription required) in September 2010 about how the government must bring Murdoch "to heel" and block the takeover. The FT further speculated that fear of Murdoch's press power was deterring British politicians from investigating the scandal.

Much of those rivals' animus for Murdoch is due to his fiercely competitive ways. His restlessness, inventiveness, and risk-taking have driven them batty as he has upended business as usual time and again ever since he arrived in the U.K. in 1968. He's the man who broke the unions, who modernized newspaper production, and whose price-cutting forced other publishers to follow. He's the entrepreneur who took on billions in losses to start a U.K. satellite-broadcasting company. They hate him, in part, because they've never had the brains or the guts to compete against him.

Murdoch is also hated by government regulators who have sought to undo him and failed. One of Murdoch's biggest enemies included Vince Cable, the regulator in charge of assessing the mogul's fitness to purchase the remainder of BSkyB. Cable opposed the purchase but was removed from the BSkyB proceeding last December after he was caught on tape by undercover reporters saying he had "declared war on Mr. Murdoch." As Murdoch goes down, he should be proud of having made such wonderful enemies.

Other Murdoch enemies are petty ones he has created for reasons only his shrink could explain. Of his fellow London newspapermen, the genocidal tyrant once said, "I am sober after lunch, and in some parts of Fleet Street, that makes you a genius." Other Murdoch enemies hate him because he hates them and uses his publications to express that hatred. As Spectator columnist Alex Massie tells me, Murdoch despises all establishments and practically all institutions—the BBC, Parliament, the "royal" family, the New York Times, patricians, and practically anybody who doesn't conform to his populist self-image. "He respects brashness," Massie says, "and hates anything that smacks of patronizing." For this reason, among others, Murdoch adored Margaret Thatcher.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.