Rupert Murdoch, though ‘not fit,’ will not quit

In O'Pinions on May 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm
Rupert Murdoch - World Economic Forum Annual M...

Rupert Murdoch – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

Bad boy, Rupert…

Today, a parliamentary committee in the UK came to the conclusion that billionaire mogul Rupert Murdoch is “not fit” to run a major international company.

The news comes, of course, on the heels of the phone hacking scandal that has recently swept through the British journalism world, with Murdoch’s News of the World, among other publications, knee deep in it. The parliamentary committee today also determined that Murdoch’s son, James, showed “willful ignorance” in his handling of the situation.

…but keep on doing what you do…

All of these assertions and proclamations are well and good, except for one thing: they do nothing to change the fact that Rupert Murdoch does run a major international company, and it’s a company that controls a vast percentage of the news consumed in this country.

The public censure also does nothing to shed light on Murdoch’s more egregious fault, the corrosive and corrupting influence on journalism that will linger on long after he’s relinquished the reins. Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and countless other publications in the United States and abroad are controlled by Murdoch’s empire and — regardless of whether or not they’re hacking our phones — will continue to feature his particular brand of spin (which I like to call “I’ll tell you what you want to hear as long as you keep watching”).

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t believe the News Corp slant is politically motivated so much as it is economically motivated. Murdoch simply saw a disenfranchised, angry demographic that also happened to have loads of cash and decided to strategically pandered to that group’s biases. But that strategy is destructive to the field of journalism and the role the media is supposed to play in public life.

…to the detriment of journalism

So Murdoch has been censured for allowing his company to break laws in England — and we should be concerned about that — but we should be more concerned that his company will continue to subtly and almost passive aggressively shape the public discourse, all to ensure the profitable fervor of his chosen demographic.

It may not be illegal, but it’s certainly unethical and antithetical to the public interest.

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