Thursday, September 8, 2011

Murdoch, news & democracy

Apart from the eventual outcome of investigations on multiple continents about News Corporation's alleged criminal invasions of privacy, media kingpin Rupert Murdoch has changed journalism, politics and governance, according to columnist John Buell, author of Politics, Religion, and Culture in an Anxious Age and a teacher at Cochise College in southeastern Arizona.

"Murdoch feeds but also reflects a politics of demonization not unique to the United States but exceptionally potent here," Buell writes. "Thus to a greater extent than in most modern democracies, such questions as whether one inhaled marijuana or had a mistress pass for informed and important political debate."

That's a general observation. A specific variation exists, too, Buell says.

"Fox has been an amplification machine for the notion that the U.S. is broke and government, just like today's families, must retrench," Buell writes. "This analysis is only half right. Middle- and working-class families are broke, but the federal Government can borrow money at historically low rates. If it does not borrow -- or tax corporate and wealthy savings -- and spend, we may be sunk.

"The notion that the U.S. is broke is absurd," he added. "If we are broke now, we were much more broke in the years following WWII. Yet in those years the U.S. growth rate topped that of the Reagan era and the fruits of growth were much more equitably distributed.

"The corporate culture of News Corp/ reflected Murdoch's broader political ideals and affected its journalistic practices," Buell continued.