Have you and your minions no sense of shame?
These sentiments have been ringing across the United Kingdom lately and indeed across the entirety of the News Corporation empire. Revelations of unethical and illegal misdeeds at one of the most popular tabloids in the UK have dominated headlines around the world and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation–owner of the now defunct News of the World–is at the center of it.
This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to those long-time Murdoch haters who have been waiting for the day when the dark prince of media showed his true colors and revealed his true nature. For others, Murdoch has been nothing short of a media savior–the man personally responsible for saving moribund metropolitan news dailies and building the most innovative and diverse media holding companies in the history of mass communications. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9c-QVw-FWs
It is unlikely that Rupert Murdoch personally ordered the editors at News International (the parent company of News Corp’s UK print properties) to do the things that were done to innocent citizens over the last decade, but it is his relationship to those editors and executives (including his son James) that deserve exploration by law enforcement and regulatory agencies in the UK and abroad.
One thing we can count on in an increasingly contentious and aggressive media environment is continued cynicism about the press that has increased over the last two decades. Is Rupert Murdoch solely responsible for that? No, but the current scandals rocking the UK media will certainly make things worse and increase the public’s distrust of all media regardless of merit or ethics. That is a danger to the continuing fundamental right of a free press in civil society.
Though we in the United States like to believe that one individual can change the world, in reality it is very rare. It could be argued though that Rupert Murdoch is one of those rare personalities that actually does change the world. Love him or hate him, the world would probably be a very different place without him.
Honoring the legacy of Rupert Murdoch, this week’s viral video of the week digs into the archives of the internet to uncover this gem of pre-YouTube British television.
For several seasons in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Hugh Laurie (now famous as television’s sociopathic House, MD ironically hosted by Murdoch’s Fox Television)and Stephan Fry had a sketch comedy show on the BBC. They produced this parody of Frank Capra’s Its a Wonderful Life in 1994 which proves that one of the best usages of YouTube is its capacity to make available old television shows at the click of a mouse–a recipe for addiction unrivaled by caffein, nicotine and heroin combined.
While this video hasn’t inspired the kind of virality of Rebecca Black, it has benefited from the News of the World scandal and increased scrutiny of News Corps’ media practices. Note how the video’s views (there are at least three other versions of this on YouTube) doubled this week and that over time the video has steadily grown aided by twitter and reddit postings.