I have to start off by saying that the troubles and scandals now threatening to bring down the Murdoch empire are both long overdue and well deserved payback for a decades of disreputable journalism, not just in the tabloids, but on television channels like Fox News as well. There is no excuse for breaking the law in order to ferret out a story. There is certainly never a reason to hack the phone line of a missing teenager and to delete messages that, by their absence, send false signals to her parents and the police.
I’m sure you are all waiting for the “but,” the turn in the story. Well here it is: I am sick of all the holier-than-thou folks out there who say the Murdochs and their Hench-people should have known about everything that was happening at The News of the World.
Yes the buck stops at the bosses. True the Murdochs are responsible in the end. They do own the newspaper in question. They did create and condone the sick milieu that gave birth to the journalistic atrocities that we are all now hearing about. But when the news analysts and irate journalism types say they can’t believe the Murdochs didn’t know what was going on when the phones were being hacked and the rules were being broken I have to take issue.
I believe it is entirely plausible. Hey these guys are running a huge enterprise with lots of newspapers all over the world, TV stations and satellite and specialty stations. I do not find it hard to believe that they may not have known exactly what was going on at The News of the World.
I was at CTV when W5 produced a story on Chinese students keeping Canadians out of Canadian universities. It was a crock, fabricated by a senior producer on the show. Chinese groups in Toronto organized and protested for weeks. The result was an apology and a lot of red faces at CTV. My point here is that I am certain Murray Chercover, then president of CTV had absolutely no idea that W5 was fabricating a story. Heck I am sure Don Cameron who was V.P. of the news operation had no idea. I even believe that Lionel Lumb who was the show’s producer didn’t know his story was based on lies and untruths. We’re talking about a pretty small network and an even smaller news operation, yet the bosses did not know what was going on. So why is it so hard to believe that Rupert and son didn’t know about the telephone hacking?
Does anyone think CBC President Hubert Lacroix knows everything that is going on at The National or local news in Vancouver? I think Hubert has bigger problems to deal with.
Is it possible that all of us journalism types are ready to throw the Murdochs under the bus because they are exactly the kind of people we have come to despise in news game? They run a company that is most famous for its right wing biases and its penchant for playing fast and loose with the truth. There is so much to condemn them for that there is no real need to attack them for their declaration of innocence.They say they didn’t know about the telephone hacking and the payoffs. So be it. There is no way to prove this one way or the other right now and I assume we all still believe in the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty.
This whole affair, not the wrongdoing, the virulent attacks on the individuals from within their own journalism community reminds me of how Canadian news people reacted to Conrad Black and his troubles. We didn’t like the way he treated the news, too right wing. We were upset by the way he treated his employees, anti-union and worse telling them what their opinions should be when they wrote for him. We hated the perceived arrogance of the man. All of the above meant he was guilty before any trial. All the proof we needed was that it was Conrad Black.
All of that being said, the Murdochs are responsible for the actions of their employees. They did set the tone that created the perceived need to illegally hack telephones so that their tabloids could scoop everyone else. They did create an empire that allows politics to overrule facts. Every day they allow Fox New to publish half-truths, lies and innuendo to further a political agenda. Let’s condemn them for what we know they did wrong and let’s act like the journalists we say we are and stick to the facts when we go after them. Stooping to the Murdoch’s level makes us as bad as they are.