If you believe The Guardian and BBC, Rupert Murdoch is the devil incarnate, Beelzebub in a Savile Row suit, the man who has dragged journalism to depths below the sewer and whose amorality has utterly corrupted and cowed our honest, toiling and conscientious political classes – regardless of ilk – almost beyond redemption.
That’s, of course, if you believe the two self-appointed bastions of media godliness.
Not wishing to pre-judge the Leveson Inquiry and utterly condemning the phone-hacking scandal, as a journalist – one who has never taken the News International shilling as a staffer – I have a different take on Murdoch and it doesn’t chime with the portrait of unscrupulous double-dealer others would have us believe of him.
Yes, he’s a tough nut, an ambitious businessman, who has fought, sometimes ruthlessly, to build a global media empire and succeeded. And, oh, how the British establishment hates a winner.
Rupe is also a dyed-in-the-wool newsman, with printing ink flowing through his veins (which is more than can be said of his squirming son, James, tediously spewing corporate-speak to the Leveson inquisitors, who must have found dealing with him akin to nailing jelly to a wall).
I have little doubt, however, that Murdoch Senior told it how it was, to the best of his ability and memory. Nor do I question the veracity that it was a succession of British Prime Ministers – of late: Blair, Brown and Cameron – who courted him and his papers, rather than the reverse.
And let’s look at the positives the Old Man bought to the great British newspaper buyer and TV viewer:-
Despite rampaging printers – who, I can tell you from long experience, held Fleet Street to ransom for decades – he broke their stranglehold with new technology when he set up Fortress Wapping and transformed an industry that was sinking and stinking thanks to bullying union intransigence.
Against all odds – and risking his entire company’s future – in 1989 he created BSkyB (now Sky TV) and gave a telly audience a real, objective alternative to the monopoly of the BBC and its santimonious, Left-liberal agenda. No wonder Auntie has been so vociferous in castigating the News Corp takeover of Sky – they have very real reason to fear its balance, vision and independent approach to reporting news.
Without Murdoch’s millions, The Times (founded in 1788) wouldn’t exist, because it’s a money pit and a British institution would be consigned to the scrapheap of history. It’s doubtful, too, The Sunday Times would exist, either. So little wonder, the pompous Guardian – once a byword for journalistic integrity, but now as biased as the Beeb – is more than a tad chagrined.
And, while The Sun may be too brash for some delicate tastes, 2.6 million buy it each day and it probably reflects popular British sentiment more accurately than anything else on the media market.
So let’s not rush to judgement on Rupe, but take a closer look at those who want to do him down – and ask the question: why?