Ever since the discovery that journalists on the News of the World had been hacking cell phone messages, Rupert Murdoch, now entering his ninth decade, is still firmly in control of his media empire while facing the biggest crisis of his career, his very own Watergate, so to speak. Murdoch and his company, News Corporation, got away with decades of bullying, cajoling and intimidating politicians from Australia, the United States and England. For instance it is widely documented that no party had won a British general election without Murdoch’s implicit endorsement. The same applies to Australia – Murdoch controls 70% of print media – where he is known to have established the first “Murdochracy” ie: selecting a string of Prime Ministers to further his grip on the country, and in the United States his Fox News incessantly parrots the Republican talking points, having given his personal blessings to the invasion of Iraq (each one of News Corp.’s 175 newspapers worldwide also editorialized in favor of the Iraq war.)
He became a US citizen chiefly to circumvent rules banning foreigners from owning television stations) and seems content spreading misinformation about climate change, openly advocating against government policies that would curtail carbon emissions or impose other environmental safeguards (see how the former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, got quickly removed after suggesting a modest tax increase on the mining community!)
The old goat has even taken to Twitter to underline his view on climate change: “Climate change very slow but real. So far all cures worse than disease. Shale gas huge breakthrough for US. Half carbon of coal and oil.” Talk about jumping from the pan into the fire!
So what is the old goat up to right now? Well in the UK, another bites the dust as a sixth person, Lee Sandell, is to be charged over the The Guardian’s allegation that the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked by Murdoch’s (now defunct) News of the World and the outcome has the potential to unravel News Corporation now sitting under a magnifying glass, vulnerable to scrutiny by the United States government. However the old goat seems to be one step ahead of the law and is busy with the “demerger” of his empire:
The company will separate its publishing from its entertainment assets, with Murdoch also serving as CEO of the latter, while a publishing CEO will be named later.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. made it official Thursday, saying it will move ahead with a plan to split its publishing businesses from its higher-growth entertainment assets. And Murdoch said he will remain chairman of both entities and CEO of the entertainment business, with a publishing CEO expected to be named later.
The two new companies said it will put together management teams and board members in the coming months and surprise, surprise, an announcement in the Guardian last week names Andrew Knight, a Murdoch man, to head his UK & Australian paper empire with Murdoch himself keeping the reins of his US assets namely the Fox franchises under a separate company. Voila! A sleight of hands, a full house! The old goat will never be caught again, having escaped, Houdini style, the long arm of the law on both sides of the Atlantic, and the Pacific, for good measure! For now.
News Corp.’s film and TV businesses, including the Fox studio, Fox broadcast network, Fox News and other cable networks, would be part of one entity along with News Corp.’s 39 percent stake in U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB.
The company’s U.S., U.K. and Australian newspapers, book publishing unit HarperCollins and education business would be united in a separate company. Key assets in that entity will be Dow Jones — including flagship newspaper The Wall Street Journal — The Times of London and The Sun tabloid, part of News International in the U.K., which has been at the center of the phone-hacking scandal.
Personally I find it shameful that we continue to allow unelected billionaires to acquire more power than elected officials and play havoc with the fate of the planet. He is 81 years old after all, and won’t be seeing the disasters that his companies have helped create.