Monday, July 18, 2011

Call The Exterminators

As longtime readers of this commentary know, our dislike of Rupert Murdoch and his media empire has less to do with his ideology and significantly more to do with his continual corruption of one of the pillars of our society.

As the story surrounding the ongoing implosion of Rupert Murdoch and New Corp. has continued to unravel, we've remained mostly silent, even as our sources keep telling us that the dishonesty, ethical rot, and outright corruption we've seen so far aren't even the worst of it. Like a rat carrying disease, everything Murdoch has touched now seems to be in danger of collapsing - and we can no longer hold our fire on this matter.

Since we published Friday's edition, several of Rupert Murdoch's highest-ranked corporate executives have resigned and/or been arrested in the U.K. This includes the woman Murdoch called his "fifth daughter", Rebekah Brooks, and the head of the Dow Jones Company and the Wall Street Journal, Les Hinton. Sunday morning, the head of Scotland Yard - considered one of the U.K.'s top law enforcement agencies - resigned over this scandal. Even the U.S. Department of Justice has already moved its actions towards Murdoch's company from an inquiry phase into an investigation that grows larger every day.

Frankly, we're not entirely surprised that the perversion of facts and honesty that have been on display to the outside world for years through Murdoch's so-called "news" companies have now been discovered to be equally poisonous inside the walls of his enterprises. Some sources in the media have been covering this story for nearly a year already.

When - and we're fairly sure it will be when - it's discovered that actions taken by Mr. Murdoch's people violated laws on both sides of the Atlantic, and even in his home country of Australia, the only significant question we'll have is, "Why wasn't this rot cleaned up years ago?"

It has been a well-known fact in media circles for most of a decade that the so-called "news" arms of Murdoch's media companies have been propaganda machines. When it comes down to accuracy and truth, Murdoch's "news" media companies have continually chosen one rule above all else: what will make us the most money?

For most businesses - especially corporations - we grudgingly understand their drive to follow that prime directive, even if we do not always agree with doing so.

However, as we've stated here and elsewhere countless times, the responsibility of the news media in societies like those in the U.S., U.K., and Australia demand more of journalism. Even those entertainers who are not journalists, but who help add understanding to journalism, should be held to a higher level of responsibility than those who are purely entertainers.

It's a function of government that America's founders made clear, that in order for citizens to be able to effectively govern themselves, they MUST be both well-educated AND well-informed.

It's obvious that Murdoch's actions, and those of his employees, were taken with the idea that they would never be caught, and that there were no consequences for their actions. That one of the world's wealthiest individuals has poisoned the minds, the public discourse, and the very foundations of government in multiple countries, purely to enrich himself and his chosen few, should surprise no one. Power corrupts. It always has.

Murdoch's actions make clear something we have been screaming about for years: It is long past time to bring back strict standards and practices in the news media, with harsh penalties for violating those standards - especially in the Untied States.

A person needs only look at the right-wing ideologues in Washington, DC to see the damage that propaganda and lies like Murdoch's can cause. People who are so ill-informed that they're willing to tear down the world's economy in order to defend their own flawed ideology have no business participating in, let alone leading, any form of government, anywhere.

It's long past time to exterminate misinformation and ignorance from our public discourse, for the good of all.

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