Saturday, 9 July 2011

Oh Bliss, Oh Ecstasy

Get ready for some real fun: Britain’s Watergate is here and promises to provide months of joyous entertainment and much deserved suffering of the truly and appallingly awful.

The British version of Fox News has taken a huge hit after one of Murdoch’s slime-soaked operations, News of the World, was found out hacking into the voicemails of crime victims and relatives of those of died in the subway terrorist bombings. Incredible as it seems, their reporters interfered with an ongoing police investigation and even deleted messages to a missing woman [above]. She was later found dead.

Needless to say, the Brits are not amused.

Here in the U.S., we are accursed with the steady rotting of political discourse caused by Fox, Limbaugh and other purveyors of hysteria, but it’s nothing compared to the role played by the Murdoch media empire in the Old Country, something much closer to the soft coup achieved by Berlusconi in Italy. In both cases media deregulation and consolidation allowed vast powers to be accumulated in the hands of a single billionaire, thereby subverting the democratic process as illuminated here.

In the Italian case Berlusconi used his businesses to take power directly; Murdoch preferred to exercise it from the wings. But in Britain the game may be up as many further chapters of the scandal are anticipated.

For now, the closing of News of the World, one of Murdoch’s favorite vehicle for recycled sewage, has generated some hilarious about-faces among its soon-to-be-unemployed staff, who all see themselves as victims of a terrible injustice. The Guardian quotes one:

‘The phones on the news desk have been ringing all week with people shouting the nastiest, most vile abuse’. Sort of like what happens when Fox News gets you between their cross-hairs, isn’t it?

The accused top execs are being followed by a media scrum of the sort they usually generated for others. We can only hope that god does in fact exist and that these painful harassments last for months or years.

The coverage of the sudden shift in the fortunes of the Murdoch family [below right] in Britain is massive and particularly focused on whether their current bid to further consolidate the empire with another television channel, known there as BSkyB, may be sidetracked. But a long analysis in The Guardian provided a sharp reminder of what is at stake in this long stare in the foully stinking heart of British politics.

The jointly-signed piece recalls how dependent former Prime Minister Tony Blair was upon Murdoch’s support and in the end how comfortable with the improperly symbiotic relationship. Just before pledging full support to W’s disastrous invasion and conquest of Iraq, Blair was on the phone to Uncle Rupert nearly a dozen times, no doubt getting assurances of the tabloid publisher’s support.

So while millions of people in the U.S. and the U.K. poured into the streets to denounce the unnecessary and criminal war, the voice of the people meant nothing. Blair backed the slaughter of hundreds of thousands on a vote of 1 to 0.

That is the perverse and dangerous system that Hacking-gate threatens at long last.

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