The Elephant in the Bubble - Part One
Whoever controls the public's access to information can shape it, and thus controls public opinion. America's decline began in 1996 with Keith Rupert Murdoch's introduction of FOX News to American television.
Murdoch's motivation has always been power and money, not political ideology. Had he thought he could make more money by introducing a left-wing propaganda network instead of a right-wing one, he would have. After all, this is the man who backed the Australian Labor Party on a social platform that included universal free health care and free education for all Australian citizens. Murdoch's forays into journalism had been limited to tabloid trash and titillation, scandal and sensationalism, and manipulation of public opinion. Anything other than what Jack Webb used to intone as "Just the facts, ma'am."
His tentacles are far-reaching. In his native Australia: The Adelaide News, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mirror, The Herald and Weekly Times, and a host of other tabloids; in New Zealand: The Dominion, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph; in Great Britain: The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, and satellite network Sky Television; in Italy, controlling interest in satellite television Sky Italia; in Hong Kong, Star TV (broadcasting from Hong Kong to India, China, Japan, and more than 30 Asian countries); in the United States: The San Antonio Express-News, The New York Post, an interest in 20th Century Fox, and Metromedia television stations which became the basis of the Fox Broadcasting Company. Murdoch also owns the Website and magazine The Weekly Standard, 34% of Direct TV's parent company, and the Fox movie studio. Oh, and he bought Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and SmartMoney.
Rupert Murdoch is obviously an opinion shaper. But while there have always been newspaper magnates -- on a significantly smaller scale, such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer -- who attempted to manipulate public opinion on their editorial pages, Murdoch has gone further, manipulating public opinion through the presentation of the news itself, and then by presenting commentary and analysis as news, and finally by offering fantasy as fact. But it was Fox News, in combination with two other forces, that split the American social and political fabric in a way not seen since the Civil War. I'll talk about that in my next post.
Next: "The Elephant in the Bubble - Part Two"