This will be short but delicious. Andrew Porter of The Telegraph is reporting that Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party have deferred to public outrage over an erupting scandal which is quickly consuming the News Corporation, the international media syndicate headed by Rupert Murdoch which also owns (among other American-based propaganda outlets), Fox News. As the link details, Cameron has given in to demands by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg that Murdoch end his attempted takeover of yet another media outlet, the satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
If this story is new to you, I urge you to read this outstanding diary posted late last night by News Corpse, It's Raining Shoes. In that diary you will see an exposure of some of the callous, unethical, and shocking behavior engaged in by the corporate media.
The New York Daily News (not a Murdoch paper but a rival for the downscale tabloid market) reported that Parliament wants Murdoch to testify, though as a naturalized American citizen, he cannot be compelled to do so.
Rupert Murdoch was asked to appear in front of the British Parliament next week to be grilled about the illegal "dark arts" employed by some of his journalists.
House of Commons' Culture Committee chairman John Whittingdale initially said Murdoch, his son James and top executive Rebekah Brooks had agreed to appear next Tuesday, calling it "the first sensible thing they've done."
Later, however, he said it was "not clear" after all if the Murdochs would actually show up.
I would like to add two observations to these stories:
1) This is ultimately not about Rupert Murdoch, or the obviously craven, amoral individuals who run his propaganda outlets. This is about the companies themselves, and their methods of doing business. It's becoming quite clear that if they'll do it in England, why wouldn't they try it here? That's why the Australian-born Rupert and James Murdoch (his son) became American citizens, after all. The revulsion that has swept the British public — and the likelihood that American 9/11 victims' cell phones may have been hacked — ought to be taken with alarm on these shores.
2) A very strong point should be made that this is a perfect example of how a minority party in a legislative body can control the flow of legislation. They do it by controlling the terms of the public debate. If you restrict the contours of the public debate — for example, through memes like "austerity" — then you effectively limit policy options. How do you restrict the contours of the debate? Partly through the artful use of language, as always; but if the weight of public opinion can be strongly mustered to one side or other, it gives that side exceptional political leverage — as long as that card is played, it will trump even the strongest partisan and ideological opposition.
One of the ways you muster public opinion to your side, is to take theirs. And get out in front of it. From the Telegraph:
The move represents another victory for Mr Miliband, who has secured a series of concessions from Mr Cameron since the hacking scandal exploded last week with the disclosure that the phone belonging to the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been accessed by a News of the World reporter.
Now, a challenge to us here:
This really gives the American left a golden opportunity to stop playing defense and kick the rightwing in the teeth. How can we as progressives manipulate this situation to our extreme advantage? Kossacks, all of you who are always complaining about the stranglehold that reactionary corporate entities have on the "news business" in America? Now's your chance to not only strike back, but to take out the Death Star along with the Emperor. Take down News Corporation, and you take down Fox News with it. (By the way, don't bother checking out their coverage of this story, there isn't any.) But even more importantly, you scare the living shit out of every other corporate news organization in the country that remains standing.
I'm asking you all: how do we do this? What could we do, for example, to force some investigations into the conduct of News Corporation subsidiaries in the United States?
What can we do to turn the public revulsion in the UK toward the News Corporation to our political advantage here in the United States?
What can we do to create a shitstorm over this blatant and disgusting corruption scandal, that will have the extra benefit of putting the other side on the defensive for awhile? Considering how much we've been having to fight rearguard political actions for weeks now, it would be a welcome relief to go on the offensive for a change.
UPDATE: Hmmm...Al Sharpton doesn't seem to be afraid of Murdoch, and he has a talent for publicity and political invective...