Editor’s Note July 2018

When trying to account for Rupert Murdoch’s influence over the past six decades, one of the difficulties is imagining a world without it. As Richard Cooke points out in the July issue of The Monthly, modern life sans Murdoch is almost inconceivable, so entwined have they become. Try to imagine Australian politics without News Corp. Or America without Fox News. “Would Margaret Thatcher have been PM without The Sun?” Cooke asks. “Would the Iraq War have happened without Rupert Murdoch? … Murdoch media properties were so synonymous with the call to arms it is hard to imagine the clamour in a different voice. That indivisibility extends to the rest of our cultural reality.”

Consider the entertainment companies under 21st Century Fox, global sports coverage on Sky, publishing under HarperCollins, websites, TV production companies, his empire’s other newspapers (The Times, Wall Street Journal etc.) … Murdoch isn’t so much a person as an epoch.

In his essay, Cooke describes the sheer scale of Murdoch’s cultural domination while also exploring the common characteristics across his international empire. Murdoch, extraordinarily capable and with an acute eye for human weakness, has been in the business of smashing establishments since he was a colonial boy at Oxford. Whether it was the British establishment, or the American liberal establishment, or Australian Labor governments, or the new multicultural cosmopolitan “elites”, it has been a ceaseless and highly profitable endeavour. Today, his fight is not against “a class so much as a set of ideas, the already beleaguered remains of the postwar social democratic institutions: public universities, public servants, public broadcasters, public transport, and occasionally public health. Anyone who defends them, especially anyone with a degree or a non-white face, is a target.”

Murdoch shares with Trump (for whose rise he must also bear some responsibility) “the trait of underestimating the intelligence of the general public, and not going broke”. And for all of the energy spent on predicting Murdoch’s demise, his influence will unfortunately outlive us all.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.

@nickfeik

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