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Does Murdoch matter?

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Robin Lustig | 11:01 UK time, Friday, 27 April 2012

I want you to imagine a country in which the foreign-born owner of what was to become the world's biggest selling newspaper was also a government minister.

It's a country in which the then prime minister offered a government job not only to one newspaper tycoon, but to two -- the second said no thanks, so he became the government's "director of propaganda" instead.

It's a country in which a former Cabinet minister stood down as an MP and immediately became the editor of a major broadsheet newspaper.

You get the picture. This was Britain for much of the 20th century. Lord Beaverbrook, owner of the Daily Express, was made minister of propaganda in 1918 and was a senior minister in Winston Churchill's Cabinet during the Second World War. Lord Northcliffe, owner of both The Times and the Daily Mail, was appointed director of propaganda by Lloyd George. Bill Deedes was the Tory MP and Cabinet minister who in 1974 became editor of the Daily Telegraph.

And while we're at it, how about Cecil King, another mighty media mogul, then owner of the Daily Mirror, who in the 1960s became so convinced that the prime minister, Harold Wilson, was a danger to the country that he started discussing with MI5 and Lord Mountbatten, apparently in all seriousness, a plot to overthrow the Wilson government?

All of which bring us, naturally enough, to Rupert Murdoch, and his two riveting days of testimony to the Leveson inquiry. Controlled, just, self-deprecating, sometimes, sardonic, frequently. This was a man whose every answer seemed to carry an implied sub-text: "You know, this really is the most appalling waste of my time ..."

Perhaps you regard all the hoo-ha over Murdoch and Leveson as no more than journalistic navel-gazing and typical media self-regard. While the country slips back into recession and thousands of people worry about losing their jobs, does it really matter if a media tycoon occasionally yelled at his editors, or if successive prime ministers tried to cosy up to him in the hope of a return favour or two?

Given our recent history, as outlined above, is Rupert Murdoch really such an ogre that he deserves the acres of newsprint and hours of air time that have been devoted to him?

You will, I am sure, make up your own mind. But if you believe that ordinary citizens have a right to know how their elected politicians operate -- and if you believe that the media have a duty to keep an eye on how they go about their business of governing the country -- then, yes, what we learned from Mr Murdoch surely does matter.

Mind you, some of what he said -- even though it was all said on oath, as if in a court of law -- has been directly challenged. The News of the World's former legal manager called his evidence yesterday "a shameful lie". Gordon Brown called his account of a telephone conversation between them "wholly wrong".

Lord Justice Leveson will, at some point, have to decide how reliable Mr Murdoch's evidence was. Will he accept the media mogul's repeated insistence that he never, ever asked for a favour from a prime minister? Or will he pay more attention to Mr Murdoch's assertion that the principle of "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" is simply the way the world works?

So here's one reason why I would argue that all this does matter. We have in place a regulatory system that's meant to ensure that media ownership does not become so concentrated that it acts against the public interest -- and that media owners are "fit and proper persons" to run a media operation.

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal, which is alleged to have involved criminal behaviour "on an industrial scale" (more than 40 arrests so far, although no charges brought as yet), emerged just as the Murdochs were bidding to acquire the whole of the satellite broadcaster BSkyB. That would have given them an even more commanding presence on the UK media scene.

It's now alleged that the man responsible for deciding how the government should handle that bid, the culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, may have been acting more as an advocate for the Murdoch bid than as a judge of it. If true -- and he denies the suggestion categorically -- it would make a mockery of the whole regulatory process.

It may well be true that with the advent of new media technologies -- the internet, and especially social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook -- traditional media owners have a lot less power than they once had. Information spreads these days without any need for a newspaper or a broadcaster.

But we'll always need someone to keep an eye on what governments are doing, and for that to be done honestly, we'll always need a free, diverse media, with no single owner exerting monopoly power.

Last July, when the Murdochs shut down the News of the World ("I panicked," Rupert Murdoch told Leveson yesterday. "But I'm glad I did"), I quoted Thomas Jefferson. Here he is again: "If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."


  • Comment number 1.

    'Does Murdoch matter? - Gordon Brown called his account of a telephone conversation between them "wholly wrong"'

    An account supported by...?


    'BBC presenter Andrew Neil, a former Sunday Times editor, said Mr Brown had vowed revenge against Rupert Murdoch, telling the media mogul: 'I will destroy you.'

    Which may explain the relative sidelining of this episode by the BBC as perhaps the facts get assessed for that famous watertight oversight (ie: consignment to the memory hole of 'doesn't suit the narrative'). Or, as in this case, gets passed through that special filter of BBC editorial of what stays in vs. gets left out.

    'if you believe that ordinary citizens have a right to know how their elected politicians operate'

    I do. As I also believe I have the right to know about, say, publicly funded broadcasters' activities, who seem very keen on 'holding to account' but often less so when the spotlight turns. With an internal self-regulatory process of its own that seems to operate on the basis of 'we always get it about right'.

    Luckily Levenson has exceptions.

    Exceptions that, as some in the BBC might coin, 'critics are saying: unique ones'.

    Using the word propaganda can often be... 'brave' to conjure up in such circumstances, especially around public institutions that get voted upon over the decades, year by year, vs. those that never have and, it seems, never will. Especially in vast concentrations of tribally-directed media monopoly power.

    Who keeps an eye on the media who, by any measure, are unaccountable by vote or voluntary support? Paid for by the public but, using law and FoI exclusions, often laws only to themselves.

    The public might be really interested in that, especially if theirs were being worked against, if they had the choice.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Perhaps you regard all the hoo-ha over Murdoch and Leveson as no more than journalistic navel-gazing and typical media self-regard."

    Funny you should say that...

  • Comment number 3.

    Robin writes

    "But we'll always need someone to keep an eye on what governments are doing, and for that to be done honestly, we'll always need a free, diverse media, with no single owner exerting monopoly power."

    Yes we do yet he works for the company with the greatest monopoly BY FAR - BY MILES - the company that goes overboard with Leverson coverage trying to the minor competition closed (note wall to wall when Murdoch is involved and almost nothing when say the Guardian gets a mention). A company paid for by tax that attacks those trying to run a business. A company that is only watched over by a group of like-minded bubble-living liberal elite that fail entirely to redress the partisan drivel that is drip fed - very gradually but oh so persistently - to the already semi-brainwashed public. BBC News needs root and branch decontamination.

  • Comment number 4.

    Part 1:
    Yes, Murdoch matters, but so what?
    There was something disgusting about phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. The News Corporation owned tabloid hacked the phone mails of SEVERAL THOUSAND citizens of Great Britain. Victims included celebrities, politicians, & even a murdered eleven year old kidnap victim. But that wasn't enough to generate type of criminal investigation of News Corporation that would topple Rupert Murdoch and his clan from the throne of the $30 billion News Corporation and into prison.
    The current revelations of cable television hacking, laid out in detail by Australia's Financial Review and the BBC, provide a more concrete connection between outright criminality & Murdoch run media giant. This alleged criminal behavior involves hackers on the payroll of a former Murdoch controlled ISRAEL-BASED COMPANY, NDS, and the demise of cable television competitors in Great Britain, the United States, & Australia due to that activity.
    These allegations are reinvigorating the institutional shareholders revolt that may be the end of the Murdoch clan's control of News Corporation.

  • Comment number 5.

    Part 2:
    Unlike the compromised privacy of citizens due to phone hacking, there is a concrete value that can be placed on the alleged cable hacking activity of the Murdoch controlled NDS . It's called monetary damages. Billions were lost by ventures that attempted to compete with Murdoch but were unable to do so due to compromised security that made their cable systems vulnerable cable piracy (i.e. stolen services).
    On March 15, CISCO announced its intent to acquire NDS in late 2012.
    Rupert Murdoch's investment helped create NDS in 1988. He acquired the company in 1992. That year, NDS hired the controversial Ray Adams as an operational security officer. Adams was a former commander for the London Metropolitan Police (the Met) in charge of criminal intelligence. He retired from the Met under a cloud of suspicion to sign on with security firm Kroll Associates & then - NDS. Adams colleagues at the firm included a former head of Israel's domestic intelligence, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, and an Israeli (Yossi Tsuria) who had plotted a terrorist bombing of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem.
    One of Adams first tasks was to set up a website that served as a haven for cable television encryption hackers. Thioc.com operated for years as a test for security of cable encryption programs, vital to maintaining the security of cable television signals to homes. When a cable firm's security programs are compromised, the firm is subject to undetectable free access to its services. The results can be ruinous as Britain's ITV and others discovered.

  • Comment number 6.

    Part 3:
    There is no controversy as to the nature of Thioc.com. Both NDS and hackers admit that it was a hacker-friendly site. In an email obtained by the Financial Review, Ray Adams admitted that "I created THOIC and still consider it my baby" (email 1131 February 10, 2000). According to hackers using the NDS funded site ($170,000 annually according to an Adams email), they broke the security encryption codes of several Murdoch COMPETITORS. These codes were taken by other hackers and used to steal the services of Canal+, a French cable company, ITV, a British cable competitor of Murdoch's BSKYB cable network (which used Canal+ encryption codes), and others.
    Lee Gibling, an NDS supported hacker, emailed Ray Adams in early 2001 showing Thoic.com members discussed how hackers could learn in its online forums to program software allowing them to hack into cable television.
    A 1999 email shows an NDS looking into a potential hack of ITV's, a direct competitor to BSKYB.
    In a Declaration to the United States District Court, Oliver Kommerling, noted hacker and employed by NDS, testified to the following:
    NDS hacked the Canal+ smart card (usedby ITV)
    NDS engineers created a method by which people would be able to circumvent the security measures of Canal+; and
    NDS then arranged for Chris Tarnovsky to make the code available on the internet.

  • Comment number 7.

    Part 4: Much bigger that telephone hacking -
    A Wired Magazine article in 2008 confirmed the role of Tarnovsky and the high stakes involved in the suit brought by Canal+ against NDS: Before Canal Plus's case against NDS died, Tarnovsky indicated to the company that Reuven Hazak had given him the Canal Plus code to post it on the internet. He reportedly told the French firm he would testify in the case, but later backed out, citing fear for his life and his family.
    Tarnovsky may have been concerned due to the suspicious death by hanging of another of the Thioc.com hackers, Boris Floricic (Tron) in Germany who had allegedly been involved in a 1998 hacking operation.
    The Canal+ suit against NDS posed a major risk for the Murdoch Empire. Canal+ claimed just what the hackers confirmed and filed suit for billions. Had NDS lost the suit, the damages would have been staggering due to this and other pending suits by other cable companies.
    News Corporation acquired Canal+ from its French parent, Vivendi, and the suit ended. All of the material collected by Canal+ team became the property of NDS. NDS denies any wrong doing in this or any other case of cable hacking for profit.
    The BBC's Panorama television show documented a much broader set of hacking activities by NDS including interviews with hackers.

  • Comment number 8.

    Part 5:
    The London Metropolitan Police (the Met), has done nothing. BSKYB is located in London and any claimed illegal activities would fall under the Met's jurisdiction. The London Metropolitan Police bungled several promising investigations that could have broken the current phone hacking fiasco years ago by fingering Murdoch's News Corporation as the main perpetrator. A detailed deposition given to the phone hacking inquiry by a senior Met officer described how two top Met officials (the commissioner and assistant commissioner) stifled investigations when matters came too close to the powerful in London.
    Ray Adams, the NDS security head who launched the hacker web site, was twice investigated for shielding gangsters before retiring from the Met. The damaging findings of the internal investigations were kept form a subsequent high profile investigation of a racially motivated murder in 1993 where Adam's behavior was called into question. Was the Met protecting Adams? Is is still protecting Adams?
    The U.S Department of Justice has failed to follow up on the cable hacking charges, a major cyber crime despite the evidence brought forth in the Canal+ trial. In fact, in 1998, the U.S. Customs Service partnered with NDS in a sting operation to catch cable pirates in the state of Washington. The sting backfired when the stolen cable security codes became available to cable pirates. Direct TV, then owned by General Motors, lost millions as a result of the operation. Had Justice been a little more curious in 1998, the subsequent hacking and cable piracy would have been prevented.

  • Comment number 9.

    Part 6: It's about NDS & Murdoch and it does matter:
    Yesterday, James Murdoch voluntarily stepped down as Chairman of BSKYB. He said he was aware that his role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSKYB and believed his resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organization.
    During the phone hacking phase of the Murdoch scandals, James had retained his position as BSKYB chairman with an 81% approval by shareholders (BSKYB has its own shares, 39% are controlled by Murdoch, who seeks to buy the remaining 61%). The recent revelations of alleged NDS CABLE SECURITY HACKING and damages started on March 14. Today, without any shareholder vote of disapproval, James stepped down.
    The timing of the resignation by James from the immensely profitable BSKYB is RELATED TO THE EMERGINING CABLE PIRACY SCANDAL.
    James Murdoch and brother Lachlan both worked for NDS in 2002?
    What was their role in the company?
    Wouldn't they be up to their necks in any illegal activities by NDS?
    What did Rupert's sons, both tapped as heir apparent (at different times) to be chairman of News Corporation, tell their father about NDS? What sources other than his two sons were there for Rupert Murdoch to determine the nature of allegedly illegal cable piracy? While the Met, the US Department of Justice, and other legal authorities sit on the sidelines, shareholders seem to know the score (SOMEHOW) & want action NOW!

  • Comment number 10.

    Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has been accused of orchestrating a global pay television piracy operation that successfully undermined its rival networks in Britain, the US, Europe and Australia.
    The allegations were aired last week on the BBC’s “Panorama” program and in a series of articles published by the Australian Financial Review. They follow the phone hacking scandal in Britain that remains the subject of a criminal investigation. The accusations of pay TV piracy are potentially EVEN MORE DAMAGING to News Corporation. While Murdoch’s newspapers are central to his political power, his international pay TV interests generate the largest and fastest growing component of News Corporation’s profits.
    The BBC and Australian Financial Review (AFR) focused on the activities of NDS (News Datacom Services), an Israeli-based software company owned by News Corporation. In the 1990s, NDS established an “Operational Security” group tasked with ensuring the security of Murdoch’s burgeoning pay TV interests. It aimed to prevent hackers and criminal gangs from cracking the encrypted codes and “smart cards” that are used to allow paying customers access to certain programs and channels.
    Part of this work involved NDS recruiting hackers to crack its competitors’ codes and security systems—in itself, not necessarily an illegal activity. NDS employees, however, are alleged to have also distributed the cracked codes on the Internet and encouraged the production of illegal smart cards that would allow people to access pay TV networks for free. As a result, it is alleged, News Corporation’s rivals lost enormous revenue streams, forcing several of them into bankruptcy.
    NDS’s Operational Security was headed by Reuven Hasak, a former deputy director of the Israeli domestic secret service Shin Bet, and staffed with former senior police and intelligence operatives. Operational Security’s activities, the Australian Financial Review noted, are particularly sensitive because it “operates in an area which historically has had close supervision by the Office of the Chairman, Rupert Murdoch.”
    The BBC’s “Panorama” suggested that NDS’s activities contributed toward the collapse of ITV’s digital network in 2002.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Re 11 - "CENSORED"

    I wrote about press barons and put them in an historical context with Murdoch ( Fox News re Iraq / 911 / Afghanistan), William Randolph Hurst (particularly the Spanish American War) and Lord Rothermere's Daily Mail (in the pre WW2 era). Apparently historical facts are now to be censored and are forbidden!

    Come on Auntie, I thought that the denial of history was really beneath you!

  • Comment number 13.

    Part 8 - The first rule of blogging is there is no part 8. With good reason.

  • Comment number 14.

    '12. At 09:27 29th Apr 2012, John_from_Hendon - Apparently historical facts are now to be censored and are forbidden!'

    Now to be?

  • Comment number 15.

    ´The Arrogance of Power´

    This topic has really exploded !

    From the time Dresden (old East Germany) was called ´the Valley of the uninformed´ as they could not receive West German TV but only Communist propaganda -- to the time where most British media was causing the UK public to be on ´the island of the uninformed´ --we can use the term ´the World of the uninformed´ with no tongue in cheek.

    Perhaps the Social Media is our only hope ? Those with ´News Power´ are mostly ´symbiotic´ with political elites who actively prevent any improvements in the ´democratic process´ and prefer a ´Dumbing Down´of their societies.

    Britain is in no way an exception to the rule. Its Feudal structure and the distribution of ´Feudal Titles´ -- ´for services rendered´ to the Status Quo, appears too high a (personal security and honor) fence for some ´News Moguls´ and many journalists ( even within the BBC) to consider jumping over.

    #11 J-f-H

    -- Pity I missed it !

  • Comment number 16.

    #15 qot

    I don't think the issue is one of being 'uninformed', but rather one of being 'misinformed'.

    I'll add that the media has replaced religion as the source of people's Weltanschauung (world-view) - using hermaneutics to reinforce right wing hegemony.

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 RR

    -- Maybe you´re correct on that point. I can only remember when living and later visiting the UK --I could seldom get ´up to date ´news about the World from British media.

    Perhaps it was only the `media´view of not wishing to ´confuse the public with facts´ ?

    -- but I really felt so ´uninformed´ and being in an ´information vacuum´ that purchasing 2 or 3 day old foreign new newspapers became rather expensive.

    Perhaps the links may demonstrate the hypocrisy --uninformed or misinformed ?



  • Comment number 18.

    The BBC hold 70% of this country's media outlets and yet it wet itself when the parasite Murdoch wanted control of BSkyB. Why? Afraid another voice will be heard outside of the liberal media bubble?

    The BBC hand in hand with its provisional arm, the Guardian, used a dead girl to attack a commercial rival. A sickening act. The BBC knew of the hacking when Brown and Blair did 6 years before this putch. Why wait? Were you held back by Brown whilst he was still in bed with Murdoch? Will the enquiry into hacking ever ask these questions do you think? What is the Trust doing about this?

    Murdoch maybe a vile parasite but the BBC is a rank cancer at the heart of our democracy. Time for some chemo ...

  • Comment number 19.

    #16 RR (cont.)

    I once visited Malaysia at the beginning of the ´Anwar´ (still actual) problem -- and bought 4 newspapers --apart from ´self national and governmental praise´ -- nothing worthwhile to read about.

    -- the daily TV propaganda in praise of Malaysia -- only showed Malays in the military parade and formation --no Malaysian citizens of Indian or Chinese ancestry.

    -- considering I was the guest of a highly decorated Malaysian soldier of Indian ancestry -- Malaysia went down a ´notch or two´ in my esteem.

  • Comment number 20.

    #18 DeathnTaxis

    -- The BBC was invented for ´Colonial´ reasons -and NOT for investigative journalism.

    ´We print 1/2 the news that´s fit to print´?

  • Comment number 21.

    18. At 17:17 29th Apr 2012, DeathnTaxis wrote: "... Afraid another voice will be heard outside of the liberal media bubble?"

    'Death' please will your compare and contrast the consequence of media domination by the liberal media and the right wing media.

    I tried to do this earlier (but was censored) by looking at a number of right wing press barons and the consequences of fleeting acquaintance with the truth to further their own views - mainly views that propelled nations into launching wars (Spanish American in the case a William Randolph Hurst and the recent adventures in the Iraq by helping to convince the American people that the Taliban was linked to Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the case of Murdoch's Fox News).

    Can you name a war that was started by the liberal media? The liberal medias' wars are fighting back against tyranny - not being the tyrant!

    I also remember extensive discussion of the role of the Croat nationalist press in creating the conditions for the Yugoslavian civil conflicts.

    If you think that war is a good thing then support the existence of a right wing press - if not don't!

    The balance you seek is dangerous. It is rather like saying, from a liberal perspective, that there should be equivalence between God and the Devil and both should have equivalent air time.

    There can be no equivalence of good against evil and you must, I hope, therefore seriously reconsider your opinion on the matter.

  • Comment number 22.

    Thank you for enlightening me. I shall arrange my Guardian subscription forthwith.

    evil git (reformed)

  • Comment number 23.

    15. At 12:39 29th Apr 2012, quietoaktree -
    Perhaps the Social Media is our only hope ?

    Still rather governed by who 'controls' it, in terms of quality, quantity and, of course, 'editorial' (in, and out).


    So things still get 'seeded' to taste, and then 'discussed', using two US-based social media entities.

    Also one does note that on twitter, most BBC employees source and broadcast using seemingly 'private' accounts that have their affiliations plastered all over the bios (with URLs), and source 'followers' - an apt term) by constant referral to doing so on air. Yet by adding the magic phrase 'views are my own' the BBC is absolved of any culpability in their advocacy. Apparently. And uniquely for a public sector organisation. Not many in the private sector, unfunded by licence fee payers, would enjoy such a concession, and absolution.

    I have pointed that out to a few who, in further examples of moving from propaganda to censorship, feel free to block whose views they don't want aired in their patch. All this has poor historical precedent. Speaking of which...

    '21. At 22:40 29th Apr 2012, John_from_Hendon -

    If you think that war is a good thing then support the existence of a right wing press - if not don't!'

    Wars are started by governments, democratic and otherwise. With or without the support of the public, egged on or cautioned by media, free or not.

    A £4Bpa unaccountable entity I have no option but to fund with no vote on its conduct is not a force that seems democratically helpful in this context. Especially one that constantly advocates, and gains acolytes to the quaint notion that...

    '...you must, I hope, therefore seriously reconsider your opinion on the matter.'

    It may be your view but, for now, not yet, there is no 'must' about it, despite best and ongoing efforts to ensure otherwise.

  • Comment number 24.


    I think that Nick Cohen's latest offering might be of interest to you; and, indeed, to any other contributors.

    To the best of my knowledge, Richard Bacon's was the only BBC radio show on which it was discussed.

  • Comment number 25.

    #23 JunkkMale

    --I agree --we are at threat from all sides -- even from the ´nationalistic serf bottom´(for lack of a better definition).

    The attempt to take my complaints on the many ´referrals´ to the BBC blog appeal instance -- failed miserably. I now believe there isn´t any 2nd instance for appeal --and have been ´taken for a ride´.

    In some ex-communist countries it was forbidden to collect past editions of the Party´s newspaper -with good reason. The Internet causes the same problems for the majority of governments and their ´elites´.

    The balance between spoken ´Freedom of Speech´ and the written, I find particularly tricky. The spoken is fleeting -- while the written (and saved) is more permanent (and dangerous). Some BBC links used on blogs to aid my argumentation -- have been ´referred´and eventually removed. Thanks to the Internet ´the genie is out of the bottle´-- the various media, governments and elite are trying to squeeze it back in -- with the assistance of willing companies where the $ is more important for them. -- immoral mercenaries for the highest bidder that threaten political communication.

    "Wars are started by governments, democratic and otherwise. With or without the support of the public, egged on or cautioned by media, free or not."

    I find your statement OK --I would have included ´elites´ --at the top of the list (hereditary and/or forcibly imposed by the gun, tradition or wealth).

    With some countries continually having armies proportional in size to their aggressiveness (and delusions of ´world´ grandeur of their elites)-- we have not moved far since WWll -- but a least (for the moment) some of those who are interested (even thanks to the BBC) -- can begin to avoid the bombs and bullets --if that be their choice.

    -- Sorry for the ramble.

  • Comment number 26.

    #24 Scotch Git

    -- Having both ´Spycatcher´ and ´One Girls War´ on my bookshelf I can only agree.

    -- Another interesting ´self censorship´example is on this topic.



    --- Mr. Cohen´s article and this appear somewhat related ?

  • Comment number 27.

    #24 Scotch Git

    -- I am sure you will also agree it is a pity that the recent vilification of Gunther Grass and his poem ´What Must be Said´

    -- was published too late to be included in Mr. Cohen´s book to be given as a further example ?

  • Comment number 28.

    It now appears as if Gavin Hewitt´s blog is going totally over to Twitter ?


    -- an easy way to ignore and minimize the views of Ca. 500 million EU population.

    --but hardly a BBC step one can defend.

  • Comment number 29.

    23.At 08:42 30th Apr 2012, JunkkMale wrote: "Wars are started by governments"

    Tell that to the Iraqis who were said by the right wing press to be in cahoots with the Taliban and responsible fro 911.

    If you think information is somehow accurate and governments start wars based on good information you really don;t know what is going on!

    Where are the WMDs that the right wing media said were in Iraq!

    There are many other examples of dire biased reporting causing wars throughout history.

    Get real, governments live in the same data milieu as the rest of us. If agent provocateurs, mainly right wing, are allowed to be seen as unbiased and deserving of equal treatment you are condemning many many people to death!

    Their blood is on your hands and on the hands of people like you!

  • Comment number 30.



    Many special interest groups lobby governments. It's all part of democracy!

    Many people make assumptions about Mr. Cohen's politics because of his surname. You can find his response here.



    Many Israelis agree with you.

  • Comment number 31.

    " I quoted Thomas Jefferson. Here he is again: "If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

    For all the Jefferson compliments -- we should not get carried away.

    --without some objectivity.



  • Comment number 32.

    #30 Scotch Git

    "--- and that British Jews are living through a very dangerous period. They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will excuse."

    --- and that you give us to read ?

    --its not only the politics that is questionable.

  • Comment number 33.


    You should read him. What's Left? is a book that everyone should read.

    His politics are more akin to yours than you imagine.

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 Scotch Git

    -- Yet another society ´losing´ its mental balance--



    -- Fascism with any other name smells as sweet.

  • Comment number 35.

    To JunkkMale #23

    You're interested in accountability and democracy.

    Why aren't you more concerned about the estimated £1000Bpa in inherited wealth that completely distorts accountability, democracy and representation?

  • Comment number 36.

    News Corporation's creation of the Fox News Network has had a profound effect in the US. The use of young good-looking opinionated news reporters and sharp analysis and debates has attracted a wide audience. Their increasingly right-wing views has rejuvenated the Republican party and boosted the seizure of the party apparatus by the extreme Tea Party wing. So yes, Murdoch does matter - a great deal in the US.

  • Comment number 37.

    The issue is about governmental corruption. Big business and how governments facilitate or protect actions that smaller companies are jailed for. The consolidation of wealth has lead to the old feudal approach by governments. The banks, oil and news operate on a different standard...everyone is equal...some are more equal than others.

  • Comment number 38.

    '35. At 05:54 1st May 2012, _marko - Why aren't you more concerned about ...

    Mainly because I don't dance to the agendas of others, much as they may think I should.

    I just look at stuff and crank eyebrows when things don't add up or seem less than accurate in how the information or education gets shared, especially from those who claim to hold others to account but get sniffy when the spotlight falls on them..


    Headline: 'Murdoch 'not fit' to run News Corp'

    Copy: 'Nor is that the only one of the MPs' conclusions...'

    And then, later, at the end... dispassionately, as only befits the biographer of the man now in a bitter row with the boss of the entity in question 'The report's verdict that Rupert Murdoch is not fit to run a big international public company was not supported by four Tory MPs on the committee. The disclosure that the vote on this divided along party lines may lessen its force.'

    I am unsure as to the accountability democracy and representation of a media monopoly I have no choice but to pay for, which has not and cannot be assessed by any means, including voting (that those who rule the land have to undergo on a regular basis), is well supported by 'reporting' such as this.

    Do you?

    ps: I'd answer your question, but as befits a propaganda outfit that has its own censorship rules... OT 'n all. Sure you understand.

  • Comment number 39.

    '29. At 17:37 30th Apr 2012, John_from_Hendon -

    Their blood is on your hands and on the hands of people like you!

    Always intrigued at how the BBC mods so many out for simply having views that the odd one does not agree with.

    Meanwhile, I hope you are prepared to stand by that once it sinks in with the BBC whose views they are much more chilled out about, especially Mr. Lustig who, one presumes, does monitor his own blog.

  • Comment number 40.

    '36. At 06:06 1st May 2012, smartsceptic'

    One wonders... if the blanks were filled in differently, about other sources of information and education, would concerns be as acute?

    [ ] creation of [ ] has had a profound effect in the [ ]. The use of young good-looking opinionated news reporters and sharp analysis and debates has attracted a wide audience. Their increasingly [ ]-wing views has rejuvenated the [ ] party and boosted the seizure of the party apparatus by the extreme [ ] wing. So yes, [ ] does matter - a great deal in the U[ ].

  • Comment number 41.

    The Murdoch -Government problems, sounds a bit like two lovers arguing about who brought the crab-lice into the household.

    -- a typical ´plate throwing´ separation, but both will find new partners -- and live happily ever after-- in new symbiotic relationships.

  • Comment number 42.

    39 JunkkMale

    Are you arguing that the parts of the press/media that make up stories to match their own political agenda deserve the same unquestioning attention as those that strive to tell the truth? This is what your attitude seems to me to be.

    There is a difference between propaganda and press freedom you know and we should not be ashamed to distinguish between the two as it matters.

    Telling porkies about WMD for example got/contributed to getting many tens if not hundreds of thousands of people killed.

  • Comment number 43.

    Maybe somone gave Saddam some good advice.

    I salute his advisability!

  • Comment number 44.

    Oops! I dropped an e...

  • Comment number 45.

    42. At 22:34 1st May 2012, John_from_Hendon - This is what your attitude seems to me to be.

    What 'seems to be' getting translated into what is in some minds going to the issue, and indeed a responsibility of many media. But does not absolve the minds that allow themselves to be influenced and get selective in their opinions as a consequence. And to get quite dogmatically definitive in the process.

    'Their blood is on your hands and on the hands of people like you!'

    In this day and age it is as well to distinguish between what is known and what is claimed, which is propaganda in its own right whoever comes out with it.

    Free speech allows you to say it (maybe even obsess about 'the truth' you choose to be served and then believe when I question pretty much all, from authority and media), and I applaud that as what you write can be seen and stand in the eyes of others for what it is.

    However, as an entity with 'rules' that see many a post removed simply for being 'off topic' (when in fact it highlights the partiality at play in editorial or favoured vs. critical comment), once the system or author wake.. or catch up... on what is being oddly permitted in yet further example of variable standards here, they are in a bit of a pickle.

    As are you, as tunnels are poor ways to get to appreciate the beauty, and sometimes dangers, that can exist around your journey.

  • Comment number 46.

    45. At 08:39 2nd May 2012, JunkkMale

    There are limits to free speech. No sane society permits to advocacy of anti-social positions. This is bias, but a proper bias. Extremists always claim that they should not be silenced because of free speech even though they are advocating using their free speech to seek to injure.

    We do not, for example, permit extremists to advocate murder or female circumcision. The position that you take on the necessary equivalence between good and evil is the same form of argument.

  • Comment number 47.

    46. At 15:21 3rd May 2012, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    There are limits to free speech.

    These being presumably, delineated by parameters you feel yourself being the best person to set?

    Hence enabling you to make the claims you have above but seeking to constrain those you do not agree with.

    Interestingly, thus far endorsed, albeit passively, by the BBC and blog author, perhaps in tacit support. Bedfellows indeed.

  • Comment number 48.

    47.At 18:01 3rd May 2012, JunkkMale

    Yes, there are limits to free speech!

    This whole argument boils done to the question which is encapsulated within the 'idea' of 'value free judgements' - and do they exist or not.

    I always argue that they do not. Everything is mediated through our nature and life itself. Death is not the equivalent to life. Your argument, which boils down to arguing that the most heinous and extreme of views deserve equal treatment, is really a non-starter. Wake up and smell the cordite!

  • Comment number 49.

    #23 JunkkMale

    "15. At 12:39 29th Apr 2012, quietoaktree -
    Perhaps the Social Media is our only hope ?"

    "So things still get 'seeded' to taste, and then 'discussed', using two US-based social media entities."

    I was not only thinking about ´Facebook´or´Twitter´ like sites -- but the myriads of others and assuming the whole internet is not ´controlled´.

    Perhaps ´Fahrenheit 451´ will come -- but even that left some hope.

    It is up to the individual to ´educate and inform´ themselves. Even before the internet, other views on current affairs and ´History´were available --but more difficult to find and even read in a foreign language --and there is no substitute for traveling.

    -- I am democratic -- but should I accept views on (say) Greece, Britain, North America or Germany etc. as equal to mine -- when I know the information to be false --as I have seen it for myself ?

    -- should I give the lies of others equal weight?

    -- or should I say ´over my dead body´ when wars are the intention of the misinformation ?

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    48. At 22:35 3rd May 2012, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    47.At 18:01 3rd May 2012, JunkkMale
    Yes, there are limits to free speech!

    As some are finding..

    '50. At 23:37 3rd May 2012, Scotch Git wrote:
    This comment has been referred for further consideration.'

    Who controls the edit suite controls that freedom. Bedfellows in mutual support indeed.

    'Wake up and smell the cordite!'

    In the circumstances that sounds like an apposite sequel to 'political power comes from the power of a gun'.

    Back propaganda with censorship and shots do not need to be fired, but history shows that those who indulge in the former seldom are satisfied to stay just there.

    Speaking of those who burn books whose contents are not felt appropriate...

    I was not only thinking about ´Facebook´or´Twitter´ like sites

    Well, given the BBC is shutting down its already limited and tightly controlled interactive blogs and devolving to these sites, where they seem to feel they can source and disseminate accurate 'news' to represent the British nation, may I suggest that you do, now, if you have not before.

  • Comment number 52.

    #51 JunkkMale

    -- I decided long ago not to participate on ´Facebook´or ´Twitter´ and I also suggest that BBC reporters who believe their journalistic ´calling´ is ´one sided analysis´-- should not be allowed (or should honestly refuse) to use the BBC to spread their (more than 400 character) bias.

    Personally, your pessimism is shared but hope is not extinguished -- after meeting ´free thinkers´ is such places as Haiti --under Papa Doc and his Tonton Macout.

  • Comment number 53.

    52. At 12:12 4th May 2012, quietoaktree
    -- I decided long ago not to participate on ´Facebook´or ´Twitter´

    I confess I do, especially the latter (being over 40 FB is, of course, beyond me), the value of which I can only claim on personal experience. Yes, I do indulge in the odd less than 140 character soundbite, but it really serves (me at least) as a resource for shared factual URLs. As a debating chamber it is facile... and dangerous if taken seriously. Yet that is where the BBC sees its future. Take a look at the last Newsnight blog and see where it has directed, and what has been spawned elsewhere as 'faster', 'easier' and 'better' (I have contributed, but it is soul-destroying).

    'I also suggest that BBC reporters who believe their journalistic ´calling´ is ´one sided analysis´-- should not be allowed (or should honestly refuse) to use the BBC to spread their (more than 400 character) bias.'

    Fully agree, but sadly a boat long since sailed, over the horizon, holed, sunk and now lying at the bottom of the Marinas Trench. Pop over to the last several threads on 'The Editors' to see why.

    'Personally, your pessimism is shared but hope is not extinguished -- after meeting ´free thinkers´ is such places as Haiti --under Papa Doc and his Tonton Macout.'

    And on that positive note, I'll grab any glimmer that may exist. If noting that the author of this thread has revisited enough to 'move on', either unaware or uncaring of what he has instigated and left behind.

  • Comment number 54.

    #54 JunkkMale

    --Having looked at ´News Editors´ I can see what you mean.

    To tell you the truth --I find this blog the most challenging of all and would be very sorry to see its ´Facebook´demise.

    I have no problem ´rattling off´ 400 characters answer from a ´one-sided´ statement (of say-the European blog)-- but being posed a dilemma (gray areas) is different --and this is why I find it so challenging. My possible arguments (for or against) have usually been covered -- and the ´nitty-gritty´ of details remain
    to make a point -- at times a difficult task.

  • Comment number 55.

    54. At 19:16 4th May 2012, quietoaktree - would be very sorry to see its ´Facebook´demise.

    Indeed. But there are certain compensations I am coming to appreciate, such as FB's (apparent, so far) lack of modding, at all, much less on the risible OT excuse.

    As highlighted elsewhere...


    I love the faint whiff of irony in the morning.

    To the question ‘What were people saying?’ on the main political editor’s blog the highest rated was, before the blog itself was pulled (at 179 out of 25,00,000 – they ‘speak for us’ remember), I kid you not…

    14. Darren Stephens
    4TH MAY 2012 – 17:20
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

    Well, they won’t explain, because they know they don’t and will never have to.

    Propaganda propped up by censorship is not pretty or with great historical precedent.


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