Monday, July 18, 2011

Respected Journalist Carl Bernstein Criticizes “Murdochism” For Debasing News Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell

Carl Bernstein was one of the two intrepid Washington Post reporters who helped to bring down President Nixon over the illegalities of Watergate.

He is being seen daily on American TV now and (as above) on British TV decrying the reporting methods and culture which are now being exposed in London, and the manufacture of false news and sensationalism which have left audiences falsely angered and concentrating on all the wrong things.

And which are now resulting in a large popular backlash, and the fleeing of advertisers from the Murdoch newspapers.

On the whole, the UK Murdoch media vehicles reported fairly on Meredith’s case (Sky News, London Times, London Sunday Times, The Sun) but the New York Post stirred things up (see here and here) as did especially Geraldo Rivera on his talk show on Fox TV News.

And the aggressive sensationalist culture did spread far and wide.  The much milder competitor to the New York Post, the New York Daily News, has this to say::

The question now is whether the scandal will bring down the most successful propaganda fount in the world, Fox News, or if it will simply continue to sell factoids as “fair and balanced” fact.

This is much more serious than merely hurling mud at a target who has long helped Republicans by slinging loads of mud. The basic problem is, as Carl Bernstein points out in Newsweek, Murdoch became terribly influential with a simple way of doing things:

Just reduce every issue to a child’s level of perception with sensational headlines leading only to black and white, bad and good. In the practices of his mammoth News Corp., Murdoch always sent ethics and fact flying out the window in favor of profits. .

The New York Times has posted a good history of how and why Rupert Murdoch evolved his media culture in Troubles That Money Can’t Dispel here.

As of today, it looks like Rupert Murdoch and possibly his two sons and daughter may all have to stand down in face of anger from News Corps’ nine independent directors on its board of sixteen. News Corps stock value has been hemorrhaging half a billion a day for two weeks.

The directors may also pull the plug on more newspapers and maybe make News Corp exclusively an entertainment company - and get out of faux news.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/18/11 at 03:18 PM in The wider contextsMedia developments


Having just watched the clip from the Geraldo Rivera Show (see above) I was struck by the comments coming from Steve Moore, (who used to be a Federal Bath Inspector) when he stated that “It was impossible for RS and AK to have had anything to do with the murder of Meredith Kercher.”

I even started looking for the piece of string on his side which when pulled would produce the sound “Innocent!” over and over.

This tired old argument has a mulitude of glaring flaws of course. From the loan wolf scenario (Guede) to the phony break-in and obvious cleanup. The Amandii seem to think that just by saying it didn’t happen that the entire case can be dismissed as a huge conspiracy.

Their continuous approach sounds like a clip from either Harry Potter or some childrens book with the evil Mignini pulling all the strings while laughing hysterically and hiding under his desk.

David Koresh/Jim Jones et al: would have a field day with these people who will believe anything that is spoon fed to them. It’s sad to relate that collectively anything outside of a thirty second sound bite would seem to be beyond their comprehension.

It will be very interesting to hear all of the evidence that the prosecution has so far only touched upon. The next several weeks are going to be very interesting indeed.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 07/18/11 at 07:22 PM | #

Federal Bath Inspector?! Perhaps you are right. Hard to detect skills relevant to the pursuit of justice, that is for sure.

CNN are reporting that they will broadcast live in the US the UK parliamentary hearing tomorrow afternoon from 1:30 at which Rupert Murdoch and his son and ex UK CEO Rebekah Brooks will be questioned.

The phone hacking led to the first wave of arrests but the second which may be bigger and include even Rupert Murdoch himself will be on the bribery of police and politicians. Rebekah Brooks already has one charge on that front (corruption).

Bloomberg figures out that without Murdoch his empire would be worth $20 to $30 billion more.

That won’t exactly enhance Murdoch’s resume.

In Italy another media tycoon just took a big whack. A judge told PM Berlusconi today that he must face trial for the under-age sex and it must be in Milan.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/18/11 at 10:13 PM | #

the big question on the parliamentary hearing is whether or not they will be “on oath”....should be some interesting viewing, brooks tripped up the last time and let the cat out of the bag about paying police.

Posted by mojo on 07/19/11 at 01:24 AM | #

Rebekah Brooks has been cast (According to CNN) as an a very aggressive CEO who rose over a period of seven years from that of secretary to her current position. CNN cast her ascendancy as “Meteoric.”
Sadly a meteoric rise usually translates into an unscrupulous individual who will stop at nothing to gain what he, or in this case she, wants.
Could this kind of aggression to win at all costs translate into Amanda Knox where competitiveness and winning is the ‘be all to end all’ Considering her athletic proclivity and her desire to dominate all things male her jealousy of Meredith would not seem to be too far fetched.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 07/19/11 at 03:23 AM | #

With the hearing on July 25th coming soon, I’m hoping someone wil post a summary of what will and won’t be discussed at that hearing. It would also be informative to read how the rest of the appeal will proceed. For example, recent comments have underscored the value of the mixed-blood evidence.  As that was not part of the review being argued on July 25th, how will the mixed-blood evidence and other evidence be brought before the appeals jury? Will they just read the Massei report or will the evidence be argued again in court?

Posted by Sailor on 07/19/11 at 09:52 AM | #


Of course, the new judge and the jurors will reconsider all of the evidence, including everything that has been presented during the first trial. The mixed DNA evidence hasn’t been challenged by the defense. They merely argued that Meredith Kercher’s blood had been deposited the night of the murder on top of already existing DNA from Amanda Knox. It is up to the judge and the jurors to decide if this theory is credible. In my opinion, it isn’t.

The Knox/Mellas family have incessantly repeated that Amanda’s DNA has been innocently deposited in all those places, because she lived there. If it were one or two spots in the bathroom, I wouldn’t say anything, but her DNA was found mixed with the victim’s blood even in Filomena’s bedroom. According to the Knox/Mellas theory, the probability of Meredith’s blood being deposited on top of Filomena’s DNA in her own bedroom should be much higher than assuming it normal to find Amanda’s DNA practically all over the place mixed with the victim’s blood, even in the bedroom of the flatmate where the break-in was staged.

Posted by Nell on 07/19/11 at 01:15 PM | #

The Wall Street Journal on the setting for today’s parliamentary hearings.

The ex police chief and Scotland Yard’s director of public relations have already faced 10 MP’s tough questions.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/19/11 at 04:03 PM | #

Here’s an organization chart that shows the interlocked players in the Murdoch scandal (click on jpeg to expand)

I guess everyone knows that whistleblowing journalist Sean Hoare has just been found dead? Right after PM Cameron aide Christopher Shales? Whatever happens to the Murdochs, the ‘journalistic’ culture will remain the same.
I think what we need to look at is the corrupting effect that such media concentration has on our democracy.

Posted by Ergon on 07/19/11 at 06:01 PM | #
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