As the news continues to unfold of the scandal involving the Murdoch Empire, with revelations and disclosures surfacing almost hourly, you can't help but feel this whole story has become something akin to a Morality Play. Good versus Evil. The temptations and promises of power in exchange for principles. And how it has corrupted and distorted every aspect of our media as the result.
The irony is that it could just have easily gone the other way.
Rupert Murdoch (from an interview early on in his career): “The newspaper can create great controversies, stir up anger within the community, discussion. It can throw light on injustices just as it can do the opposite, It can hide things and be a great power for evil.”
Great power for Evil. Yes, it's certainly become that. And it started with bargains and promises. And in order to achieve that level of power something has to fall by the wayside. Selling ones soul, if you want to go the Morality Play route. It would seem Murdoch did the trade quite gladly and never gave the consequences a second thought.
Murdoch believes he has done nothing wrong. His entire empire is built on the perception he is giving the people what they want and in doing so has made him one of the wealthiest men in the world. That it is subject to the whims of those helping him achieve that power is of no consequence to him. That his entire empire and mission is built on a foundation of bribes and influence peddling seems shocking to those close to him who are now resigning in droves. I was reminded of the documentary footage I saw recently of the citizens of the town of Dachau in Germany at the end of the war, being forced to see what was going on in the concentration camp a few yards away from them. The shock and revulsion were prevalent and the horror at what was done was plainly obvious and how the wave of guilt overcame many to the point of suicide. Not saying the Newscorp scandal is cause for mass suicide, but the sense of sudden guilt and shame is pretty palpable as is the sense of denial. Arrogance making it impossible to believe any moral wrong has actually been done.
As news of the scandal threatens to land here in the U.S., pundits are quick to point out American media aren't anything like British tabloids - we don't hack phones and bribe police. We don't have Page 3 Girls. We don't linger over lurid details. Maybe we don't, but Newscorp and Murdoch have set up a style of journalism that gives winking approval to playing fast and loose with facts, skillfully manipulating the truth so it comes out as a lie and twists lies around so they appear true. Those may not be legal issues, but they are certainly moral ones and it has been the Murdoch Style of journalism that has permeated just about every aspect of our Mainstream Media and turned it into the wall of noise it is today.
Someone once told me Rupert Murdoch doesn't actually care about politics one way or the other - it's only a means to an end. It is a business and a quest for personal power plain and simple. It just happens to impact most peoples lives on a daily basis. But that doesn't seem to, or at least didn't seem to, be of any importance to those in charge and those answering to Murdoch. Not until now as the growing anger and disgust continue to swell.
How this will all play out in the coming days, weeks, months is anyone's guess. I've stopped issuing hunches, because there is no use predicting anything at this point. It has become stranger than I've imagined.
Earlier today (July 16), BBC Radio 4 ran a fifteen minute Profile of Rupert Murdoch, including numerous interviews with those around him, including his own mother who, at 102 is still a presence.
It makes for an interesting listen and it adds to the notion this is a tragedy of far-reaching proportions. Not just for the immediate scandal at hand, but for how information itself has been abused and distorted for a very long time.
And what will it look like on the very long and rocky road back.