JDB in Conversation with Richie Allen on Talk Radio Europe

I will be returning to the airwaves this evening in my capacity as the Chief North American Correspondent for Talk Radio Europe.

I will be joining Richie Allen’s Evening Show to discuss the financial situation in the United States and the implications for President Obama’s re-election campaign. What impact will this standoff with the Republicans have for the forthcoming presidential election season?

In a wide-ranging session I will also be addressing the growing ramifications of the phone hacking saga as it crosses the Atlantic to draw in former members of Fleet Street now working in the US.

Tune in to hear me discuss these vital issues with Richie Allen on The Tonight Show at 18.00 UK time, 13:00 EST.

Talk Radio Europe is available on-line at http://www.talkradioeurope.com/assets/mediaplayer.php

Murdoch’s Final Fate will be decided in DC, not in London

Forget what you think you know about the current furore surrounding Rupert Murdoch and News International. If you imagine that what is transpiring here in the UK will bring down News International or its illustrious leader, think again. What has started here will not conclude the story, or come anywhere close to it. The real damage will likely be done 3,000 miles away, across a vast expanse of water, on Capitol Hill.

You may recall that the story was slow to build in the UK. As long as phone hacking was confined to a few overpaid celebrities, more famous for being famous than anything else there was not too much to feel sorrow or anger over. What caused the great sea change? As soon as it was revealed that the organisation had acquired access to the phone messages of a murdered schoolgirl and of fallen members of the armed services. Once that occurred, all hell broke loose.

Well, America and Britain are not the same, as the Washington Post reminds us. In this case the Americans are not messing about with the preamble.

What will prove to be the undoing of the Murdoch empire will be any evidence that can be found that connects his business dealings to similar activity regarding fallen US armed service personnel, or worse still, victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The events of 9/11 remain an open wound in the United States; open for exploitation by politicians and the media. If the FBI establishes a link here, then what has transpired here in London this past week, will be but a sideshow to what will occur in the United States. Legal representatives from both the UK and US governments are already in conversation with regard to the situation and possible developments.

I wrote earlier today about the politics of revenge in relation to the UK. The same is true in the United Sates. With bells on.

Politicians are already lining up to call for charges to be filed against Murdoch. Blood is in the water and the feeding frenzy is about to start.

The great danger for Murdoch is that politicians from all walks of life, from all locations and from both sides of the political aisle are lining up to call for hearings and investigations. This is not a partisan issue but rather one on which no politician dare side with Murdoch. That Peter King, the Republican from New York who recently held hearings into the role of Muslims in American society, has refused to do so, speaks volumes. King is also, for the record, a Fox News contributor.

For do not forget that Murdoch’s holdings extend to the formidable Fox News, an organisation that many would love to give a bloody nose. Its critics may well now have the perfect opportunity to deliver this right to the face of the man himself. The network’s repeated efforts to critique its opponents as unpatriotic and lacking in empathy with the military or the victims of 9/11 appears likely to boomerang back on them in a dramatic twist of fate. The very least that this could lead to is the downfall of the Fox News Network.

The folks at MSNBC must be loving it.

The scandal also threatens Piers Morgan, Larry King’s replacement on CNN, due to his past ties to the Murdoch Empire. Like Murdoch, Morgan is another foreigner making his way in a land that will not take kindly to them if they are shown to have exploited the great national tragedy in any way.

The United Sates is the land of opportunity, where fortunes and reputations can be made. However, Rupert Murdoch risks discovering that what goes up can also come down. Having rejected his Australian passport in the 1980s to comply with US media ownership laws, Murdoch may well have exposed himself and his family to the full extent of American law if the FBI investigations go forward and if members of Congress decide to hold hearings into the actions of his organisation. The resignation of Rebekah Brooks has left his son and heir apparent, James Murdoch, terribly exposed to the investigations that are sure to be announced in the coming days. Murdoch may well have purchased his citizenship, but he will find that as a foreigner, he will not have been able to purchase himself any good will when times are tough. Americans are rightly loyal to their own and Murdoch may well find this out to his great cost.

Twenty years ago, Rupert Murdoch’s great rival in the UK, Robert Maxwell, disappeared in mysterious circumstances and turned up drowned in the Atlantic
Ocean at the height of a scandal surrounding his company’s pension fund.

Dishonour, ignominy, scandal: How history loves to repeat itself

It appears that, like Maxwell, the very methods that raised the Murdoch family to great wealth and privilege, risk bringing them shame and ignominy on a terrible scale.

Rupert Murdoch and the Politics of Revenge

Over the past several weeks, the media has gleefully engaged in its favourite game of reporting on itself and the comings and goings at News International, presided over by everyone’s favourite new bad guy, Rupert Murdoch. For a generation, Murdoch has presided over an ever-increasing stable of media outlets, to a point whereby he appears to own every single level of output; newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, film studios, television networks.

As I have mentioned more than once in class, Murdoch has the ability to make a star over night through his many companies. He can print an article, turn it into a book, review it in his newspapers, have it discussed on his TV shows, turn it into a movie at Twentieth Century Fox, have it reviewed across his platforms, sold on demand on his TV platforms etc…

It has been clear for many years, however, that Murdoch didn’t just own things, but people as well. Most worryingly, he appeared to own politicians. Not in the old-fashioned way of course, no one is suggesting bribery. But there was a sense of fear, of dread, of not wanting to have him supporting your opponent. Rightfully or not, the Murdoch press gleefully claimed credit for the 1992 Conservative Party victory, claiming “It was the Sun What Won It!” having previously advised its readers that following a potential victory for Neil Kinnock, the last person to leave the country should turn the light off. The
party that carried the Murdoch press had an uncanny habit of winning general elections in the UK.
Tony Blair realised this and flew half way around the world to court his support.
What is fascinating is the degree to which those politicians who had previously knelt at the Court of King Rupert are now fleeing in droves, lining up to
attack the journalistic practices of the man who had been feared for so long.

The Prime Minster has adopted a balanced view on this, recognising and conceding that both parties had been too cosy for too long with the Murdoch press and it was revealing that a semblance of cross party unity on the issue was rocked only by the typically adversarial and hypocritical tone struck by Gordon Brown’s overblown address to Parliament, which did much to remind us why he is no longer a resident in Downing Street. His flawed and self-pitying attempts to reach the moral high ground have actually done much to assist Murdoch and his Labour Party colleagues appear to have recognised this.

In all of this is the politics of revenge. For decades Murdoch has been able to control the debate, manipulate politicians and the tone of political debate. Now parliamentarians are scenting blood and are rounding on the Dark Lord. It is likely that they are being premature, for if Murdoch has proved anything over the years, it is his ability to survive. The News of the World may have gone, but does anyone not think that it will be back in its new guise, The Sun on Sunday, at some point in the new year? For their own sakes, they had better be right about their assessment of Murdoch’s inability to survive this storm for if they are wrong, then the season of revenge may yet have another turn to take.