Let’s start off this post with a video:
It’s a quick watch. We see Mr. Rupert Murdoch, the 81-year-old CEO and chairman of News Corporation, the largest media conglomerate in the world, stating in a mumbling manner how he was not aware of bribery committed by his staff in the past. Is it possible that such a grave violation of journalism ethics was not brought to the attention of the company’s director? We think not.
This is political (or business, as Murdoch likely sees it) theater. At this point in his life, Murdoch’s primary goal is to maintain his legacy, that being his empire and the future of his children. The way Murdoch sees it – as many would – is that he built News Corporation from a single newspaper into a worldwide media distributor, issue by issue and show by show. He will die before he allows a scandal like the one at News of the World, which we covered previously, to oust him or his children from their positions of power at the helm of News Corp.
The beautiful thing for Murdoch is that all he has to do is play the Alberto Gonzalez defense:
Apparently Mr. Murdoch (and his family and business partners) staffed his company with a bunch of people who would never let news of company misdoings reach the top tier. That’s a good business strategy – if you don’t hear about the ethics violations, they never happened! Alberto Gonzalez had the same fortune – it was difficult to implicate himself in something which he clearly could not remember.
Murdoch, an extremely successful businessman, knows more than he lets on. We doubt that he directly ordered his employees to hack phones and bribe officials, but he may have turned a blind eye and slipped some extra zeroes into certain expense accounts marked for “lead generation enhancement” and “asset protection.” We also doubt that News of the World is the only News Corp outlet to have taken dark routes to big stories.
The good thing for Mr. Murdoch is that if he never admits knowledge of such actions, and maintains that he and his children only ever handled macro-level operations (large corporate deals, delegation of responsibility, developing new markets, etc.), the board of News Corp cannot possibly oust him. And if Rupert stays in the big chair, his children will inherit the largest media company in the world. But for us, this means that a large portion of official information sources might remain tainted by illegal operations and abuses of power. This is Corporacracy: the whims of a select few affect the lives of many through the corporate beasts that they have created. It is not enough for Murdoch to have earned billions from his media empire. Now he wields his power through a corporate charter, allowing others to do his dirty work as he wields political and economic influence from behind a veil. Hundreds of people have already been put out of work by News Corp’s scandal, personal documents have been privy to prying eyes, and more harm is sure to follow. And of course, those who are ultimately responsible will make sure that someone else pays the price for their actions.