For the left, Rupert Murdoch truly is an, if not the, Antichrist. He has been so before Trump and is likely to be so after Trump is gone. This is one of the great political constants of the last four decades across much of the English-speaking world.
That Murdoch has “extremely polarised” our politics, or that he has “poisoned” our media, is really a shorthand for “he has dared to provide an alternative view” for that part of the electorate that is instinctively not left-wing. More so than any other media owners (most of them by now in any case gone, like Conrad Black), Murdoch has successfully worked to fill this rather big niche in the market.
Today, he and his media empire are the only thing standing in the way of the total monopolistic domination of the English-language media by the left-wing Public-Private Partnership of state-run and funded and various supported privatemedia outlets. That’s why the left hates him – if not for Murdoch, left-wing voices would be the only ones heard and read by the hundreds of millions of people in the United States, Great Britain and Australia.
The post-Marx, Gramscian/Frankfurt School left has seen the path to political power leading through the gradual take-over of the “commanding heights” of cultural production – if you can influence and control what people are taught, what they see, hear and read, what they feel and what they think, you will get your hands on the levers of power in a surer (and more peaceful) way than through a revolution and take-over of the means of production. This is in a way the reversal of classical Marxism where the economic power arrangements shape the culture of the people; for the new, cultural left, those who control the culture will in time hold the economic and political power too. This is not a conspiracy, just an ideological outlook that explains why our contemporary culture, education and the media overwhelmingly skew to the left.
But Rupert Murdoch remains a giant steaming Australian turd on the banquet table of the modern left.
Look at the United States. Of the biggest circulation daily newspapers, only two can be considered to the right of centre – “New York Post” and “The Wall Street Journal”, though the later more in its opinion pages than news reporting. Both are owned by Murdoch. The rest of the field offers various shades of conventional left. In 2016, only six newspapers endorsed Donald Trump (granted, a rather unconventional GOP candidate) for president, including such giants of print industry as “St. Joseph News-Press”, “Santa Barbara News-Press”, “The Waxahachie Daily Light”, Hillsboro’s “Times-Gazette”, “The Antelope Valley Press”, and (for a change in pace) “Las Vegas Review-Journal”. You get the drift. News and popular interest and lifestyle magazines – anything from “Time” to “Vanity Fair” — skews even more decisively to the left. On the small screen, Fox stands alone versus all the major free-to-air and cable channels. Radio is the only mass medium with a significant right-of-centre presence, talk radio having been an oasis of voices other than the progressive mainstream for at least 30 years now.
In Great Britain, Murdoch owns the tabloid “Sun” and the respectable “Times”. The former is actually pretty ecumenical both in reporting and in opinion. The only other major British daily more unequivocally associated with the right, “The Telegraph”, is not owned by Murdoch, which makes it a significant outlier in the English-speaking world. Murdoch’s Sky is the only counterbalance to the progressive bias on the silver screen, led, of course, by the taxpayer-funded BBC empire.
Australia is a newspaper outlier. This is where Murdoch’s media empire has started and this is where Murdoch owns just over half of daily newspapers, altogether accounting for about 70 per cent of the total circulation. The others, including the Nine newspapers, correspondingly lean to the left. If Australians at least have a better than elsewhere choice in print media, the television is pretty uniformly non-right, nowhere more so than at the state-owned (read: taxpayer-funded, left-run) ABC. As an alternative to it all there is only Sky, which as a subscriber-only service has a smaller reach compared to the free-to-air channels. Then there’s the trust-fund kids of The Guardian Australia, the abuse of union superannuation funds that is The New Daily, the left-wing Melbourne millionaires’ playthings such as The Monthly and the Saturday Paper and Crikey and that symbol of so much that is wrong with our universities, The Conversation.
Take away Murdoch then, and you have the mainstream media almost completely devoid of voices other than the conventional left-wing perspective in opinion and the crusading, politicised, biased reporting in the news. The alternative provided by most (but certainly not all) Murdoch’s outlets means that the progressive “education” of the population cannot be successfully concluded. As the popular observation goes, the left loves diversity in everything except opinion. The progressive utopia looks like United Colors of Benneton all singing from one catalogue. That we’re not there yet, despite the ginormous effort by the left, is largely due to Murdoch.
No wonder the left hates him so much. But he is 89 (though if it’s true you’re only as old as the woman you feel, thanks to Jerry Hall, he’s only 64). His children are no ideological warriors; they range from safely conventional to conventionally left-leaning.
So let’s enjoy Rupert while we still can – after he’s gone there is no one person to replace him in his role as the lone counter-point to the left’s domination of the media. We will need an army of Ruperts instead to stand athwart the narrative and call the bullshit. And we better start planning for it soon.
Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk, where a version of this piece also appears.
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