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Increasingly uncomfortable with News Corp’s politics and profit motives, Rupert’s younger son chose chickens and sheep over Fox, and insists he doesn’t watch ‘Succession.’
photo above: John Phillips/Getty Images
WN: A very telling article highlighted below . . .
WASHINGTON — As we sat down to lunch in my garden, I mentioned to James Murdoch that I’ve been reading a lot of classical plays lately and a popular theme is the rancorous battle between two brothers over a kingdom.
“But these plays end in cannibalism and civil war, so at least your family hasn’t gone there yet,” I said brightly.
Above his mask and behind his Kingsman glasses, Mr. Murdoch’s brown eyes widened with alarm.
The issue of dynastic succession — the real one and the one in “Succession,” the Emmy-winning HBO drama that is inspired by the Murdochs — was definitely on the menu, along with fried calamari.
Mr. Murdoch, 47, resigned from the board of News Corp this summer with an elliptical statement, saying he was leaving “due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”
Rupert Murdoch’s youngest child with his second wife, Anna, is loath to get into the epic family drama that found its climax in the 15 months between pushing a deal to sell 21st Century Fox to Disney and ankling the family business he once hoped to lead.
“I reached the conclusion that you can venerate a contest of ideas, if you will, and we all do and that’s important,” he told me. “But it shouldn’t be in a way that hides agendas. A contest of ideas shouldn’t be used to legitimize disinformation. And I think it’s often taken advantage of. And I think at great news organizations, the mission really should be to introduce fact to disperse doubt — not to sow doubt, to obscure fact, if you will.
“And I just felt increasingly uncomfortable with my position on the board having some disagreements over how certain decisions are being made. So it was actually not that hard a decision to remove myself and have a kind of cleaner slate.”
The younger Mr. Murdoch’s disgust had flashed publicly before on a few occasions: He showed the disdain for Roger Ailes he shared with his more conservative, older brother Lachlan, 49.
In 2017, President Trump’s praise for white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., as “very fine people” spurred James Murdoch to give $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. In an email to friends obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Murdoch rebuked Mr. Trump and wrote: “I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists.” The email stood in sharp relief, given Fox’s fetid racism-by-night routine.
Once, James Murdoch thought he could reshape Fox. But in the summer of 2016, he failed to get his father to sign off on replacing Roger Ailes — embroiled in the sexual harassment scandals at Fox News — with David Rhodes, the former president of CBS News.
When Rupert, the chairman of the company, decided to run the network himself, the writing was on the wall. Rupert and Mr. Trump stepped up their dangerous tango and James, those who know him say, eventually decided it was time to get out of his Faustian deal.
Friends say that James has been on a collision course with his family for 15 years. His evolution has been profoundly influenced by his wife, a former communications executive. He is, as one friend puts it, “living much more in his own skin, realizing his better angels and his better instincts.”
But when your last name is Murdoch and those billions sloshing around in your bank account come from a juggernaut co-opting governments across the English-speaking world and perpetuating climate-change denial, nativism and Sean Hannity, can you ever start fresh? As a beneficiary of his family’s trust, James is still reaping profits from Rupert Murdoch’s assets. Can he be the anti-venom?
When Rupert, 89, finally leaves the stage and his elder children take over, that could make three votes in the family trust against one. Is there still time to de-Foxify Fox News — labeled a “hate-for-profit racket” by Elizabeth Warren — and other conservative News Corp outlets? Would Fox and its kin — downscale, feral creatures conjured by Rupert to help the bottom line — be the huge moneymakers they are if they went straight?
He is particularly excited about investing in start-ups created to combat fake news and the spread of disinformation, having found the proliferation of deep fakes “terrifying” because they “undermine our ability to discern what’s true and what’s not” and it “is only at the beginning as far as I can tell.” He’s funding a research program to study digital manipulation of societies, hoping to curtail “the use of technology to promulgate totalitarianism’’ and undermine democracies.
“So everything from the use of mass surveillance, telephone networks, 5G, all that stuff, domestically in a country like China, for example,” he said.
I wonder if this is some sort of expiation, given all the disinformation that News Corp has spewed. (Shades of Melania fighting cyberbullying?)
Their foundation, Quadrivium, has supported voter participation, democracy reform and climate change projects. “I never thought that we would actually be at the point where we would have climate change effects and people would still be denying it,” Ms. Murdoch said.
Mr. Murdoch donated to Pete Buttigieg in the primary, and the couple has given $1.23 million to Joe Biden. So that’s who he’ll be voting for in November then? “Hell yes,” he said with a smile.
I noted to Ms. Murdoch that the effect of News Corp on the world is astounding when you think about it, from Brexit to Trump to the Supreme Court we may be heading toward.
I noted that his father had a very dim view of Mr. Trump — in 2015, he tweeted “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?” — before the pragmatic Rupert came around to the president.
“I’m just concerned that the leadership that we have, to me, just seems characterized by callousness and a level of cruelty that I think is really dangerous and then it infects the population,” he said, referring to the Trump administration. “It’s not a coincidence that the number of hate crimes in this country are rising over the last three years for the first time in a long time.”
With Mr. Trump and Fox, who is the dog and who is the tail?
“It looks to me, anyway, like it’s going to be a hard thing to understand because it probably goes back and forth,’’ he said. “I don’t think you’re going to get one pristine, consistent analysis of that phenomenon.”
Please click on: James Murdoch Demurs
- Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.↩
- It continued:
‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.” The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed. It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.↩
- Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.↩
-  The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.↩
- A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
In June , the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.↩