Saturday, 6 July 2013

Murdoch Backs His Journalists

And he Criticises the Police
SOME months ago Jeremy Hardy on the News Quiz on Radio Four, confessed to some difficulty in distinguishing between 'libertarian socialism and authoritarian anarchism' with regards to the Leveson Inquiry and Rupert Murdoch.  Ought one to line up with Leveson and the Hacked-Off celebrities against press freedom, or should one be on the other side and end up defending Murdoch?  Jeremy Hardy was clearly spoit for choice but came down on the side of press freedom which I suppose would be 'libertarian socialism'.  Some anarchists and socialists today may well prefer to be on Leveson's side.

On Wednesday Channel 4 News broadcast a recording it had got from the investigative Web site Exaro, in which Rupert Murdoch made comments during a meeting with The Sun journalists criticising the police investigation into the phone hacking scandal as being 'totally incompetent'.  This recording was taken apparently during a meeting last March between  Mr. Murdoch and his journalists on The Sun newspaper.  Murdoch is heard remarking about the investigation:
'It's a disgrace.  Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent.  The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at 6 in the morning is unbelievable.'  He dismissed the inquiry saying it is 'the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing.'

Ofcourse since July 2011, Mr. Murdoch's newspapers in Britian has been under close scrutiny by Parliament, by a separate judicial inquiry and by police, who are looking into accusations of illegal phone tapping, corruption and other misbehaviour.  Scores of former Murdoch employees have been arrested as the story raised questions of ties among the press, the police and the political elite.

The thing is that one should expect Murdoch to back his journalists, as that is the ethical thing for him to do in these circumstances.  Editors should stand by their journalistic team, and some times journalists should be prepared to break the law in the pursuit of truth.  In journalism there is no place for cowards.  That is why many northern anarchists were concerned when Freedom, the anarchist paper, in about 1999 failed to back the publication of a series of articles criticising Professor Noam Chomsky's linguistics which were submitted for publication in their journal 'The Raven'.  Initially the articles were accepted including the most critical one submitted by Rupert Read, a Wittgensteinian academic and Green Party activist, but it then came to the attention of Professor Chomsky and his former political secretary in England, Milan Rai (now editor of Peace News), and pressure appeared to have been applied behind the scenes, and Freedom's then editor, Charles Crute lost his nerve and wrote to me to say that the set articles criticising the great man Noam Chomsky could not be considered because the material was 'too technical' for the readers of The Raven.  Although I was at that time the Northern Editor of Freedom the people with influence at Freedom Press, unlike Rupert Murdoch, did not seem to consider they should back journalists against the great man, Professor Noam Chomsky.   Perhaps we should not be surprised when even today Freedom fails to deal with serious issues of concern within the anarchist movement.

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