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John Passant

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July 2011
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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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On Murdoch – again

This piece updates and refines my previous article Murdoch: the scandals that keep on giving.

Does it get any better than this – Rupert Murdoch beating the retreat?  Well, maybe if he died along with his media empire it would be even better.

Illegal phone hacking, bribing police, perhaps covering up criminal activity, paying what looks suspiciously like hush money to victims….It just goes on and on.

The crisis has forced Murdoch to close down The News of the World in Britain, the paper at the centre of the allegations. It was a slimy sensationalist shock horror star exposing benefits bashing anti-refugee racist anti union rag whose journalism makes Murdoch’s reactionary Daily Telegraph and The Herald-Sun here in Australia look like serious journals. 

Let’s look at what News of the World did that forced Murdoch to ditch his most profitable newspaper.

It hacked into the phone of murdered school girl Milly Dowler. This gave false hope to her parents that she was still alive.

It hacked into the phones of victims of the 7 July London terrorist bombings and their grieving relatives. It bribed police and officials for information.

This is the same police force which ‘investigated’ allegations against Murdoch’s empire and did nothing despite what is now known to be overwhelming evidence of widespread criminal activity.

News of the World hacked into the phones of relatives of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It appears to have illegally obtained information about former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He called Rupert Murdoch’s company ‘a criminal media nexus.’ It had descended ‘from the gutters to the sewers. The tragedy is they let the rats out of the sewers.’

This of course is the same Gordon Brown who in 2009 refused to order an investigation into phone hacking by the media. To do so may have upset the Murdoch Empire and jeopardised his slim chances of re-election.

Murdoch’s decision to close The News of the World down was a calculated attempt to save his bid for British Sky Broadcasting. Murdoch owns 39 percent of this river of gold and wanted full control.

It didn’t work. Given the scale of the illegality, the contempt for ordinary people and the anger they feel, normally compliant British politicians rebelled and Murdoch withdrew his bid.

Now Murdoch is manoeuvering to buy back shares in his main company and cement his control and that of his family. The fact that he is doing this means he fears his own position might be under threat from other shareholders who want to protect their rapidly dwindling investment. Oh the irony – Murdoch eaten by the market.

The drivers for hacking the phone of a murdered school girl, terrorist bomb victims and their families and the relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are money, advantage over the competition, more advertisers, more sales and more profits.

The 2.7 million readers of The News of the World made it a very attractive outlet for advertisers and thus profitable for Murdoch. It gave Murdoch power – over the public and especially over politicians.

It would be foolish indeed to imagine that this phone hacking was the result of a few bad apples, or that Rupert Murdoch’s News group in the UK is the only media institution to sink so low. Certainly Murdoch’s The Australian has pointed out the long list of other British newspapers which used the services of the same private investigator The News of the World had used for some of its illegal activities.

Surely this level of media criminality and gross disregard for ordinary people could never happen in Australia, could it?

Don’t bet on it. The same competitive pressures that drove the criminals at The News of the World in Britain to bribe police, to hack phones and illegally obtain banking and family information about the former Prime Minister exist across the globe.

Combine falling readership numbers and competition from other media forms with a particularly aggressive approach to media – journalists as an expensive cost of production eating into profits, journalism as entertainment and shock horror revelations to titillate and excite the alienated working class and keep their minds off the politics of change – and there is every reason to imagine the Murdoch model of news on the cheap and reaction at the ready, complete with bribery and illegal phone hacking, is being replicated across the globe, and not just by sections of the Murdoch press.

In the United States four senators have asked for an investigation into reports that Murdoch journalists hacked into the phones of 9/11 victims and their families.

It is possible too that the drive for an increased audience might infect public authorities as much as private ones and that pressure could lead to seemingly august public media institutions undertaking journalistic pursuits which are less than pure.

It is no accident that the man who successfully attacked the journalists’ union in the UK would have on his payroll reporters who thrive on a culture of sensationalism and illegality where others, including murdered school girls, are but a mechanism for a greater good, Rupert’s profits.

Murdoch destroyed the power of media unions in Britain in the 1980s. This gave him free rein to sink even lower into the gutter of racism, division and sensationalism. It is no accident that the man who gave us Wapping has given us whopping media criminality.

The News of the World scandal in the UK has linked an important part of the propaganda arm of capitalism with the police, one of its repressive arms, and bourgeois politicians, the mainstream political arm. It shows the interconnectedness of all 3 arms of capitalism in pursuing their interests at the expense of ordinary people. The News of the World revelations have given us a glimpse of their seedy and shady dealings and their chummy scratch my back relationships.

The Murdoch power saw politicians in the UK appoint former senior Murdoch officials, despite knowledge of their past, to positions of power within their inner circle. This closeness and influence is not democracy. It is another example of a corrupt plutocracy.

For example News International’s chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and former Downing Street chief spin doctor, Andy Coulson, are former editors of the News of the World. Both are friends with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson was Cameron’s chief spin doctor until late last year. Coulson has now been charged over his role in the phone hacking scandal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron met with senior News executives 26 times in his first 15 months in power. That is just over once every two weeks. No doubt they only discussed the football and the weather.

This closeness and influence is not confined to the UK. It is true in Australia too. The relationship between the Coalition and the Murdoch papers is very close.

The Murdoch papers in Australia have run a virulent anti-Labor and energetic pro-Coalition line. This makes Labor at the moment wary of these reactionary rags. However it didn’t stop Gillard visiting Murdoch in the US on a recent visit there.

It doesn’t stop current ALP heavies like Paul Howes and former ALP luminaries like Gary Johns, John Brown and Bob Carr writing for the Murdoch papers or former right wing factional thug Graham Richardson having his own TV show on Fox News in Australia, part owned by Murdoch.

Murdoch has now appointed Tom Mockridge as head of News International to replace Rebekah Brooks. In 1991 Mockridge was the press officer to then Treasurer and later Prime Minister Paul Keating.  Murdoch snapped him up.

The political liars for capitalism are in bed with the media liars for capitalism. Surprise surprise.

In 1972 Murdoch enthusiastically supported Whitlam’s election. In 1975 he campaigned hard for his sacking and supported Kerr’s ruling class coup.

Murdoch supported the US invasion of Iraq. So too did 174 of his 175 independent newspaper editors around the globe. I always wondered what happened to the editor of the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier.

The actions of News of the World show the utter contempt the rich and powerful have for ordinary people, the people who make their profits for them. Politicians have only begun to act because of the outrage of ordinary workers.

Nevertheless the system of co-operation continues. This is the system that makes it acceptable for elected politicians to grovel at the feet of people whose only power stems from their ownership of media outlets and their ability to exploit workers every day.

The News of the World scandal shows the corruption at the heart of the system. Only a thoroughgoing democratisation of the system can create a truly free media and society.

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Comments

Comment from juanR
Time July 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Hi John, I liked both your articles very much. I would like to thank you for reminding people about:
“In 1972 Murdoch enthusiastically supported Whitlam’s election. In 1975 he campaigned hard for his sacking and supported Kerr’s ruling class coup.”
I think it is timely since it is now well over a generation since that dreadful event. If any thing, the man (Murdoch) has become more egocentric, lunatic and dictatorial since those days.

Comment from Ross
Time July 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm

John;The new rumour is that Ruppert is about to move into a new industry.You have hinted at its’ new name. ‘News Corpse Toilet Paper’.Since very few now want to read his sh#t,they will now gladly wipe it away even with the lies attached.

This will warm the cockles of your heart. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixAaBV7W5xc&feature=player_embedded#at=85 The start of the real revolution in Europe may well start in Spain.This is short inspiring and well done with modern music.

Comment from Jolly
Time July 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm

It goes to show that real democracy lies not in the concentration of power. This also applies to media moguls. The trend to give media dominance to any particular individual is tantamount to the decay of real democracy. Wonder how healthy our Australian democracy is at the whim of our media moguls?

Comment from PAUL WALTER
Time July 20, 2011 at 7:08 am

Yes, another paper tiger. The apparatus is still there, its only a blip on reality despite its magnitude. How will a tendency manifest itself in the future and can people who recognise the insult to mind and spirit that is the current system, delay the replacing of the worn component?

Comment from Terrance
Time July 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Paul, can you translate that into English please, I have no idea what you mean!