We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Rupert Murdoch is 80 years old and his empire makes no sense other than as a reflection of his personality. Murdoch is very good at running television stations but his new media investments have been hopeless. His adult children are not very bright, are widely perceived as such by investors and won’t ever be allowed to run the company or to continue to use the weird share structure that Murdoch is allowed to use to control the company without actually owning a majority of the equity. News won’t survive six months when Murdoch is no longer running it. Seriously, at this point in his life Rupert Murdoch is about as scary as a strawberry blancmange.

– Michael Jennings, in response to an online petition asking him to oppose News Corporation’s complete takeover of BSkyB.

9 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Interesting how controversy has blown up surrounding the alleged spying by News of the World journalists on the family of a murdered young woman, at the same time as this M&A development. (For non-Brits: The NOTW is owned by Murdoch)

    Like Michael, I suspect that rocky times are ahead for the Murdoch empire when RM retires. But you never can tell: one of the sons might be smarter than we give credit for.

  • Well, the hacking voicemail scandal has been going on for some time, and it seems to have been fairly standard practice for a number of the tabloids. The News of the World either may or may not have been the worst offender, although in truth it probably was. It may be interesting that the evidence of the nastiest incident in terms of consequences has come out now, or it may just be a coincidence. I am not saying this should be taken lightly – there should be a full police investigation and if the allegations are true people should probably go to jail for it. I simply find the whole “Rupert Murdoch is a terrible ogre who has done untold damage to this country and must be stopped at all costs” thing to be a bit tiresome. (We saw this at the last election, too). He is one, old, man who is not going to be around much longer. Nobody has ever been forced to read or buy any of his products, unlike certain other British media companies we could mention.

    I don’t think anyone who is still working as a very hands on CEO at age 80 is going to “retire”, in the sense of leaving the job so that he can go and tend his garden and lie on the beach. He strikes me as the sort of person who will be found dead sitting at his desk one afternoon. Either that or he will leave office when he is simply unable to continue for health reasons.

  • Pete

    Jenkins is a typical posh public schooloy Guardian type who has never made a business deal in his life. I doubt Murdoch is too worried about his views on how to make money.

    There’s the typical Guardian comment about intelligence, refering to Murdoch’s children. Guardian and writers readers are very good at recognising lack of intelligence in others.

    Most of the commenters on Jenkin’s article seem to regard Murdoch as more dangerous than a blancmange. There are the usual calls for bans, prosecutions, enquiries and controls which characterise the authoritarian nature of its readership.

  • Kevin B

    Anna Raccoon(Link) has an interesting take on the ‘Millie hacked’ scandal from the point of view of a one-time Fleet Street insider.

    For example:

    A missing teenager, not much of a story, unless you can add a weeping parent, a shifty looking boyfriend, a distraught best friend. Your job depends on you doing just that.

    Could there be a more despicable, heinous crime than doing that? Yes, there could.

    It would be the act of disinterring her memory and redistributing her as ‘Murdered Millie phone hacked’ for political purposes.

    I’d not been following the whole ‘Hackgate’ affair so I learnt a lot I didn’t know.

    As for Murdoch, when he goes, who’s going to be the Right Wing Death Beast du Jour. The Graun and Beeb will be bereft.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course the use of the word “Empire” (in Michael Jennings case clearly a matter of being ironic, Pete you are confusing M. Jennings with S. Jenkins – what Michael wrote is actually a DEFENCE of Rupert M, – but the left use it with total seriousness) shows the lack of understanding the establishment (i.e. the left).

    A business is not an “empire” – it is not based on force.

    The real “empire” is the BBC – which gets it money by the threat of violence (the “license fee” plus a direct government tax money grant for the World Service) whether or not people choose to watch its shows.

    And the BBC has a vastly bigger grip on news than Mr Murdoch has.

    Sky News (even if Murdoch controlled it) is seen by far fewer people – because you have to pay for a sat dish or cable.

    Also the BBC/Guardian newspaper (they are basically the same thing) speak for the education system – the schools and universities (financed by the threat of violence – taxation).

    This is power, this is an “empire”.

  • Paul Marks

    As for “Yellow Journalism” (going through people’s rubbish bins, looking in the letter box, trying to listen to their telephone calls…..) this is actually just “journalism” – it is what real (muck loving) journalists have always tried to do.

    A real journalist is someone who props up a bar somewhere paying a contact for photographs of some famous person’s private parts – for a story on whether they have got a STD.

    “It is a disgusting trade Paul” – perhaps it is. But the alternative is far more disgusting.

    The alternative is “Progressive”, “scientifically objective” “journalism”.

    Where the newspapers see their role as “educating the people” (not finding out who is bonking who).

    The “Progressive” journalists swept away American “Yellow Journalism” in the early part of the 20th century – and the results were not good.

    For example, how many newspapers did the New York Times “no mass deaths in the Soviet Union” campaign sell?

    Very few – most people do not buy newspapers to be told horrible things are NOT happening.

    A “Yellow journalist” might even have made up mass deaths when they did not happen – but they would never have covered up a real story (covering up a story would go against every instinct).

    And the Russia in the 1930s is just one of many stories covered up by the “mainstream” press (and the radio and television that later followed from it).

    Scandal after scandal (mostly domestic) covered up – because selling newspapers did not matter (indeed was “vulgar”), all that really mattered was “educating the public” in the Progressive cause (the goal of the new “journalism” since the time of Woodrow Wilson).

    Even the blatent rigging of an election does not matter to the msm if it is done for the “Progressive” cause.

    For example, in 1960 there were 100,000 phantom (i.e. fake) ballots for Kennedy in Texas alone (and many real votes for Nixon were disallowed) – Illinois was also wildly rigged.

    Yet the msm essentially ignored the story (surely a huge, newspaper selling, story) because (to quote the motto of the New York Times) it was not “all the news that is FIT TO PRINT” (i.e. that fits the Progressive Cause).

    Now I do not like Nixon and I do not dislike Kennedy (who was not really the Progressive his media supporters assumed he was), but an election rigged – and it is a nonstory?

    And this is just one of many examples of buried stories.

    Do we really want this sort of “high minded” media?

    I repeat – a journalist is a hard drinking man in a dirty raincoat, looking for (and paying for) any bit of sleeze he can.

    Sexual, financial or political.

    A journalist is NOT some sort of priest of a weird athiest religion callled “Progressivism” out to “educate the public” in this religion, and to cover up any story that mightg “confuse the public” or lead them into “unfortunate doubt”.

    But that is exactly what will happen to British journalism if the BBC/Guardian campaign against News International achieves its objective.

  • Alec

    “Sky News (even if Murdoch controlled it) is seen by far fewer people – because you have to pay for a sat dish or cable.”
    No you don’t. It’s on Freeview.

  • guy herbert

    Indeed. And even free, I don’t watch it. Not because of Murdochhass, but because it is too lightweight and vulgar even for my short attention span. Like 24-hour breakfast television.

  • Paul Marks

    I stand corrected about Freeview.

    As for Sky News – I do not watch it either, because on the rare occasions I have watched Sky News it has been exactly the same as BBC 24.