“For better or for worse, our company is a reflection of my thinking, my character, my values.” Rupert Murdoch
Do you suppose he regrets saying that?
It is fascinating watching the downfall of 81 year old Rupert Murdoch in the very arena that he spent all his life manoeuvring and negotiating in order to build a 46 billion dollar media empire.
However, it’s the kind of grubby end befitting a person who chose to buy silence and paid millions and millions of dollars to make The News of the World phone hacking scandal go away rather than expose the truth.
The News of the World publication was a gutter tabloid publication but it was one Murdoch was happy to own for 31 years. It clearly made him lots of money. Its reporters bribed police officers, hacked the phone messages of hundreds of celebrities, royalty, government officials and others whose personal secrets could be tabloid fodder and then filled pages of their publication which a celebrity obsessed public devoured.
And unfortunately when questioned about these illegal activities Murdoch utilised the defence strategy favoured by every pre-schooler when caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Deny. Blame someone else. Then claim it was an accident.
The absurdity of his defence made me think of Bill Clinton's attempts at defending himself in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal (although completely different scenarios).
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never.”
No-one believed him either and look how that turned out.
Murdoch first claimed that it was just “one rogue reporter” who was responsible for this illegal behaviour. Then, when the evidence became too overwhelming, the one reporter defence turned into “only one rogue newspaper”. More cringeworthy was that he said that the publication was an “aberration” and that he “would have gotten rid of it years ago if its readers had not liked it so much”.
If its readers had not liked it so much.......
What is it about us, the general public, that we love to hear the dirt about others’ lives, celebrities or otherwise?
Look at the rise of Reality TV and the increasing trashiness of magazines, newspapers and even blogs. I think social media has only exacerbated this. Sharing private moments is encouraged and bloggers/twitterers/facebookers seem to post more and more provocative, expletive laden, and confessional postings just to increase their followers. Hopefully, with the demise of British tabloids as we know them, the world may be turning. I hope so.