Much Too Late

21 September 2023


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Rupert Murdoch Finally Retires

Rupert Murdoch is to the news business what small pox is to human health. His career in Australia, Britain and the US has been an unmitigated assault on everything the journalistic profession values. His papers knowingly publish lies, and his TV stations broadcast them. The late great Mike Royko, a Chicago journlist of the highest caliber, said "no self-respecting fish would allow itself to be wrapped in a Rupert Murdoch newspaper." So, the news this morning that the 92-year-old boss of Fox and News Corp. is stepping down is good news. His son Lachlan is almost certainly an improvement, albeit a small one.

The elder Murdoch wrote, "Our companies are in robust health, as am I. Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years -- I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them."

One disputes the health of the companies, and healthy at 92 is different from healthy at 32. The fact is that he cannot go on forever, and it is probably better for all concerned that the torch get passed sooner rather than later. Still, his Fox business has had to pay out $787 million in damages for defamation to Dominion Voting Systems, and it faces a $2 billion lawsuit for the same behavior from Smartmatic, which wrote the software for voting machines. When one operates a news outlet, this kind of trouble taints the brand as well as costs the shareholders.

Speaking of shareholders, Fox is facing some shareholder lawsuits for the Dominion/Smartmatic nonsense. If it were just John Q. Public and his 100 shares of stock, it would not matter much. New York City\'s five pension funds are suing, though. They hold abbout $28 million in Fox stock.

"We are shareholders at a company that, unfortunately, has a longstanding practice of allowing conspiracy theories that its executives and its board know are false to be repeated over and over and over again, despite the very clear and present risk of defamation lawsuits eroding shareholder value," New York City comptroller Brad Lander, who oversees the city\'s five pension funds, said. One does not know how that will play out, but the odds are good that the funds will win.

In leaving, the elder Mr. Murdoch slammed the competition, arguing they were "in cahoots" with a "rarified class" of elites. He alledged the competition peddled, "political narratives rather than pursuing the truth." This is deliciously rich coming from a man who has been in cahoots with politicians on three continents for decades and who has been found liable in court for broadcasting and publishing lies about the 2020 US presidential election. He vowed to continue to engage in the “contest of ideas,” but in order to compete, one must tell the truth.

When it comes to undue influence in the press, Mr. Murdoch stands out. When he wanted to launch a fourth US TV network (Fox, which brought the world the Simpsons), American law required him to be a US citizen. Rather than do what all other immigrants do (get a green card, pass the citizenship test), he called in some favors. Congress passed a bill making him a US citizen. Nothing like skipping the line because one can endorse a politician in one\'s newspaper at election time, or endorse an opposing candidate during the primaries.

That is a lesson not wasted on the younger Mr. Murdoch. CNN Business reminded viewers this morning, "Lachlan Murdoch has privately criticized Trump, saying that he disagrees with much of the way the former President behaves, sources told CNN. Murdoch has gone so far as to tell people that he believes if Trump were to run again, it would be bad for the country."

The future is going to be interesting thanks to the new retiree. And that might be bad for the country, too.

© Copyright 2023 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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