NEW YORK — Fair warning: This column is a defense of Rupert Murdoch. If you add everything up, he’s been good for newspapers over the past several decades, keeping them alive and vigorous and noisy and relevant. Without him, the British newspaper industry might have disappeared entirely.
This defense is prompted in part by seeing everyone piling in on the British hacking scandal, as if such abuses were confined to News International (we shall see) and as if significant swathes of the British establishment had not been complicit. It is also prompted by having spent time with Murdoch 21 years ago when writing a profile for The New York Times Magazine and coming away impressed.
Before I get to why, a few caveats. First, the hacking is of course indefensible as well as illegal. Second, Fox News, the U.S. TV network started by Murdoch, has with its shrill right-wing demagoguery masquerading as news made a significant contribution to the polarization of American politics, the erosion of reasoned debate, the debunking of reason itself, and the ensuing Washington paralysis. Third, I disagree with Murdoch’s views on a range of issues — from climate change to the Middle East — where his influence has been unhelpful.
So why do I still admire the guy? The first reason is his evident loathing for elites, for cozy establishments, for cartels, for what he’s called “strangulated English accents” — in fact for anything standing in the way of gutsy endeavor and churn. His love of no-holds-barred journalism is one reason Britain’s press is one of the most aggressive anywhere. That’s good for free societies.
Murdoch once told me: “When I came to Britain in 1968, I found it was damn hard to get a day’s work out of the people at the top of the social scale. As an Australian, I only had to work 8 or 10 hours a day, 48 weeks of the year, and everything came to you.”
So it was easy enough, from 1969 onward, to rake in the media heirlooms. Along the way he’s often shown fierce loyalty to his people — as now with Rebekah Brooks, the embattled head of News International — and piled money into important newspapers like The Times that would otherwise have vanished.
The second thing I admire is the visionary, risk-taking determination that has placed him ahead of the game as the media business has been transformed through globalization and digitization. It’s been the ability to see around corners that has ushered him from two modest papers inherited from his father in Adelaide to the head of a company with about $33 billion in annual revenues.
Adéu a Nihil Obstat | Hola a The Catalan AnalystDesprés de 13 anys d'escriure en aquest bloc pràcticament sense interrumpció, avui el dono per clausurat. Això no vol dir que m'hagi jubilat de la xarxa, sinó que he passat el relleu a un altra bloc que segueix la mateixa línia del Nihil Obstat. Es tracta del bloc The Catalan Analyst i del compte de Twitter del mateix nom: @CatalanAnalyst Us recomano que els seguiu.
Moltes gràcies a tots per haver-me seguit amb tanta fidelitat durant tots aquests anys.
dimecres, 13 de juliol de 2011
En defensa de Murdoch
Roger Cohen, columnista del New York Times:
Publicado por NO a les 1:03 p. m.