The Rupert Murdoch NewsCorp scandal is a loud and overdue warning bell about what has long been Murdoch's standard for professional ethics in journalism.
In 2004, I created Outfoxed to expose Rupert Murdoch's war on journalism. Outfoxed examined how media empires, led by Murdoch's Fox News, have long been running a "race to the bottom" in news delivery. The film provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public's right to know. Through exploring Murdoch's burgeoning media kingdom, the film examined the negative impact had on society when one person controls a broad swath of media. Clearly, the story didn't end there.
We've moved far beyond only hearing from the canary in the coalmine. As we now see layer upon layer of corruption exposed, the full extent of the story remains unknown. News of the World is shuttered. BSkyB is temporarily no longer in play for full Murdoch takeover. There are questions about how deep and how complicated the corruption spreads. We know that the voicemail of a murdered thirteen-year-old was hacked. We know bribes were paid to police. We know that soldiers killed in action and their families were also targeted for illegal spying. And now US senators have moved to call for a Department of Justice investigation into whether American citizens were additionally targeted; including whether 9-11 victims too had their phones hacked.
As I follow the unfolding story, it reminds me not only of the warning call of Outfoxed, but also of Brave New Foundation's latest project, an expose of the corruption and power of the Koch brothers. The conglomeration of too much power in the hands of ethic-less ideologues is a shared theme. When this happens in the world of journalism, and when this happens in the world of politics, the public inevitably pays the highest price.
A recent segment of Koch Brothers Exposed examined the intricate right-wing echo chamber the brothers fund in order to propagate policy lies into the mainstream debate. Unsurprisingly, Fox News was a key outlet through which they could accomplish this.
Such pooling of power and control has caused our political and journalistic institutions to lose integrity and to move away from the service they should provide to society. At what point do we say enough to such ideological conglomerate control of journalism and democracy? If the rash of stories this week isn't enough for us to seriously reconsider the role of corporate control of our society, I don't know what will be.
The ever-exposed corruption of Murdoch's empire, along with the ever-exposed corruption the Kochs cause our democracy, can no longer run unchecked. With clear eyes we need to examine the power distribution such entities have, and what must be done to bring ethics and standards back into our public sphere. We need to do this now and with the seriousness a fight for the survival of democracy requires.
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