back to article Rupert Murdoch was never Keyser Soze

If children didn't believe in Santa, thousands of grown men wouldn't dress up in fur-trimmed red jumpsuits, put on false beards, and give children unwanted gifts in tents every year. Perhaps some would, but they'd probably be arrested. For the past fortnight, TV and newspaper editors in the UK have pushed aside stories of …


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  1. Alfie

    politics and media

    I just dont get their obsession. I'm sick of hearing or reading that "the PM will announce today" or some such 'news'. News reports should tell us what has happened not what is going to happen. It sounds more like job creation to me, spin doctors and the like arent necessary to carry out a political job.

    1. IsJustabloke
      Thumb Up

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

      This is also a pet hate of mine too...

      I also dislike the way TV Journos editorialse while delivering teh pre-announced "news".

      Don't tell me what to think you idiots... just give me the facts and I'll make upo my own mind.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Oh Andrew...

    Are you too young to remember the way Murdoch demolished the D-MAC/squarial project, or just too naive? OK the squarial folks didn't need much help in being demolished, but part of the reason Murdoch had the massive borrowings Andrew does write about was so he could fund forcing the potential competition off the market (not to mention funding keeping the Murdoch organisation going through a strike or two with no newspaper revenue).

    Andrew, are you old enough to remember the undertakings re editorial independence which Murdoch was forced to give before buying the Times? And how unenforcable they were when editor Harold Evans (?) was forced out because he was unacceptable to Murdoch.

    Andrew, you do realise that profit and loss accounts in the modern era can be arranged and audited to say whatever the client is prepared to pay for?

    There are a great many more similar examples, in plain sight, for anyone with eyes to see.

    Andrew clearly doesn't get it.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Oh Andrew...

      Mostly irrelevant, but one of your anecdotes is interesting:

      >> funds.... keeping the Murdoch organisation going through a strike or two with no newspaper revenue <<

      The Times shut down for almost a year 1978-1979 when it was owned by Thomson. Murdoch didn't acquire it until 1981.

      When News Int moved to Wapping it didn't miss a day because of the strikes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        When News Int moved to Wapping

        It didn't miss a day, because this was the ultimate strike breaker. Abandon the strikers and set up shop somewhere else

    2. Daniel 1

      He has it all arsey-versey, as usual

      He's identified that Murdoch is where he is, today, partly because he doesn't get how the media has changed in the last decade. However, he forgets to consider what it was like before that change happened.

      Sure, Murdoch was doomed because the world would move on and he would eventually be too old to move with it, but hindsight is a great thing. It's like saying that, ultimately, we didn't need to worry about the KGB, because the Warsaw Pact was set to implode under its own weight.

      Murdoch's empire is a stupid, ridiculous thing, from another age; but so were many things. The past is another country, but it was a real place, and we all lived there.

    3. JimC


      My memory of that was that the fundamental thing that demolished it was that they were all mouth and no trousers - plenty of quids spent on advertising but couldn't deliver the technology. The classic Dilbertian thing of not listening to the techies in a technical arena...

      Once they'd demolished their own company Murdoch picked up the pieces cheap. But I was never that interested to be honest, I could easily be wrong.

      1. Paul M 1


        Not quite...

        Rupert managed to get the gov to allow him to broadcast using the cheaper PAL system while BSB were using the superior but more expensive D2-MAC.

        By doing that Rupert delayed all the wonders of modern TV that we take for granted (widescreen etc) by over a decade.

        Of course it also helped that the sats he was using were also used by German broadcasters with programmes like Tutti Fruiti etc.

  3. Stefing

    Yeah, right

    So, the article correctly points out that Murdoch's paper organs hemorrhage money but also claims that they don't wield undue influence - if that is true then why does he have them then, hmm?

    1. Steve Crook

      Missed the point of the article

      He didn't say that they didn't have influence, he said that there was no justification for the politicians *giving* him influence. That is, had the politicians refused to kiss Murdochs arse there was nothing he could have done to them or to this country worth a damn. It was the politicians perception of his influence that gave him the influence in the first place.

      This is partly why there's all the fuss, the politicians want him to have been all powerful, because then they can claim some justification for what they did, and not been seen as a bunch of self serving wankers.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Missed the point of the article

        Yes, exactly.

      2. Captain Underpants


        But the rot goes further back than Andrew's article mentions - hell, Thatcher's government should by rights have referred Murdoch's purchase of the Times to the Monopolies commission, but Murdoch convinced someone to bend the rules for him.

        So yes, a large part of the problem is the political element but without a media tycoon playing Who Can Be The Biggest Bastard none of this could've happened. It takes two to tango and all that. Andrew's article goes too far and can be read to suggest that Murdoch is basically a publisher who was convinced to do naughty things by Evil Politicos Looking For Friendly Media Coverage, when the reality is more along the lines of "Convergent goals led to a coalition between Evil Politicos and an Evil Publisher".

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missed the point of the article

        "But the volume and intensity of coverage is defined by the real size and reach of News Corporation. And this is not reality, but a myth."

        We then have a graph showing online news site traffic figures, but no equivalent mention of something like newspaper circulation figures - surprising, given the disdain for the relevance of the Internet and "online media" shown in many Register articles.

        The point might be that politicians give News Corporation influence, rather than that News Corporation and Murdoch demand influence, but when you've got three million readers a day you're going to be influential either way. I'd agree that saying "Murdoch made me invade Iraq" would be a bit rich coming from Tony Blair, but then again saying that "Murdoch helped me sell the invasion of Iraq" would be somewhat closer to the mark.

        Still, any investigation of the propaganda relationship between politicians and the media needs to include outlets of bile like the Daily Mail, the Mirror, Star, and so on. The real power of these publications is the way they claim to represent their readership, but in pandering to wilful ignorance, the dishonesty of such claims lies in the way such publications can drift editorially and yet the punters are unlikely to buy anything else.

      4. Burch

        Re: Missed the point of the article

        Care to speculate why David Mellor's private life was smeared all over the Sun? It's not difficult. Mess with Murdoch and he'll finish you.

      5. duhhuh

        We are Keyser Legion. We are many.

        The point is, if the politicians refused to kiss his arse, they wouldn't be allowed to acquire the position as politicians in the first place. With current state of society, there is no way some random Joe could make it to become a politician.

        Murdoch is not Keyser. If anything, he is one of many Keysers, that create the octopus of true rulers, whos many tentacles are the Bilderbergs, Club of Romers etc. etc.

        The politicians, media serfs etc. are just suckers on top of the tentacles.

  4. skoop
    Thumb Down

    Can we keep the politics off this site please!

    If newspapers dont make money then why are the wealthy so eager to buy them? Information is power is an oft repeated phrase, in the 92 election the Evening Standard had the Headline 'Labour To Raise Income Tax to 60%'. Not sure anyone could objectively say that torrent of lies from news international, the mail group and the express didn't influence that election. As I say information is power, maybe I should have said misinformation is power!

    1. nyelvmark

      Can we keep the politics off this site please!

      Uh, no. Sorry.

      What on earth do you think 'politics' means? Avoiding politics is a bit like avoiding oxygen.

      1. Magnus_Pym

        missed the point?

        As every political speech is now available before it is made through the usual media outlets what is the point of making the speech at all?

        By letting the paper know what they are planning to say the political parties are giving the appearance of legitimacy to everything the papers print. This is apparent for-knowledge is then transferred to malicious misinformation about something or someone they don't like.

        The broadcast news now reports on tomorrows headlines. Not because it is actual news but because it will become news when it is published.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "If newspapers don't make money then why are the wealthy so eager to buy them?"

      Because they don't make money. Who else has money to burn?

  5. Dave Murray
    Big Brother


    "Murdoch is trying to take over the world's media he must be stopped!"

    "Hello Mr Schmidt, Mr Brin, Mr Page... please come in and advise us on copyright law, internet law, etc."

    Politicians... they're as stupid as they think we are.

    1. 5.antiago
      Thumb Up

      This is interesting!

      "They're as stupid as they think we are."

      BTW, I really like this phrase


      Someone said above, "the past is a country, but it was a real place and we all lived there". This of course references the famous saying but it's a excellent choice of quote because it's really relevant to the idea that newspaper owners can(/could?) drive public opinion and it's relevant to what you're saying here.

      We're now entering a new phase of public communication, and we're all becoming gripped by a new mindset, a New Media mindset. And it has a whole new bunch of challenges riding in on the coat-tails that, as you suggest, we really shouldn't forget. We're living in what will be a foreign country in 10 years time, and they'll talk about how we thought things are supposed to work.

      But before we tackle all that, before we tackle the death of privacy and the implications of recording and cross-referencing everything, I want News International and Associated Newspapers to burn. The current media model is a rot in our society

  6. Graham Bartlett


    What Kinnock's doing there works fine on stage, or in front of a load of workers. He just didn't realise that it doesn't work on TV.

    Same as John Major. In person, apparently John Major is very impressive - he's a big muscular bloke, and there's no wimp goes talking to crowds stood on a soapbox. But on TV he looked rubbish compared to Slick Tony.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      John Major

      I always feel sorry for John Major, and cant help but think that his spitting image character brought him down. He seemed a relatively normal and honest guy and actually did a pretty good job of turning the economy around - so good in fact that Nu Labour kept his policies for pretty much their first term.

      Lets face it Tony Blair was pretty much a Tory PM really, because that was what was needed to get himself elected. Brown was a bit more true Labour, which had the usual consequences for the country.

      Regarding the current hysteria about NI - most people really don't care. Labour, the BBC and the other media orgs care for obvious reasons. The BBC news website has had it as the top story almost everyday for 2 weeks, but have a look down at the "most read" section. It would appear that most of their readers dont care nearly as much as the BBC do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        >I always feel sorry for John Major, and cant help but think that his spitting image character brought him down

        Rather like Thatcher he played up to that image - any sympathy you have for him should be tempered by how he has subsequently made his multi-millions.....Google the Carlyle Group sometime....

    2. Chris Miller

      "ridiculous Kinnock"

      Another great article, Andrew - you should be awarded the 'Orwell' after they've rescued it from Johann Hari.

      OTOH Kinnock may be ridiculous, but have you and all your family each got a 6-figure platinum-plated pension courtesy of the taxpayers? Now who's ridiculous, eh?

  7. spiny norman

    Some good points

    I've often wondered if the Tory grandees weren't secretly horrified when Major won that election. Had Kinnock won, the Tories would have had 4 years to regroup and find a decent leader, by which time the electorate would have had more than enough of Labour. Instead, it was Labour that regrouped and the Tories fell into a pit it took 13 years to climb out of.

    Even so, New Labour only came to power by entirely ditching their grass roots support. The Sun and NotW provided a very convenient platform to give the appearance of reconnecting with the great unwashed, without actually having to meet them in person. Similarly, Eton Dave finds it much nicer to test the opinion of working class Tories at a Rebekah Wade Christmas party than going carol singing at an old folks home. Plus they've all seen what happens when a party leader meets the lower class faithful and accidentally leaves the microphone on.

    1. paulf

      Spot on

      This hits the nail on the head. I've read a lot about Rail privatisation which was a big policy of the 1992-07 Major gubbermint and the reading I've done touches on this (Christian Wolmar is a good author on this).

      Rail privatisation had been proposed in the run up to the 1992 election and also before then; but even the Iron Bitch hadn't gone that far despite her many other sell offs. Perhaps she realised that anything that needed a public subsidy to survive couldn't be privatised without becoming a costly private sector gravy train (Ahem)....

      Anyway - winning the 1992 election was a surprise to the Conservatives. Their plan for rail privatisation had only been talked about before then. Since they hadn't seriously expected to win they hadn't done any serious work on it. Suddenly the curve ball of their victory was clear and they they had to rush through the 1993 Railways Act which enacted privatisation as they realised they had to get it done within a single 5 year parliamentary term. This was because the Labour opposition (especially after the regroupings you mention) was getting stronger and talking about opposition to privatisation.

      This involved (among many other things) finding title deeds to tens of thousands of properties, buildings, bits of land, stations and the like so that they could actually flog it off.

  8. Captain Underpants

    Hmmm, I think you're a bit too forgiving, Andrew

    While you're right to suggest that plenty of politicians share a healthy portion of the blame for the influence which is attributed to Murdoch's various media interests, you seem to have a selective perception of relevant facts in evaluating Murdoch's position.

    You've only got to read John Pilger's article about the Murdoch media coverage of mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians, or the Sun's coverage in the run-up to the 1992 election, to realise that the man does appear to be willing to use his media assets to his own advantage.

    I'm not happy to hear politicians or top police officers crying about they really wanted to change things but couldn't because The Bad Man was busy touching them in their special places with his Investigating/Publishing Organ, but there's also plenty of evidence to suggest that the Bad Man is, in fact, a Fairly Massive Bastard Indeed.

    1. Steve Crook

      Sort of agree...

      He is a massive bastard and I hope he gets everything he deserves. But the power he has (or had) is the power we or our representatives gave him. People buy his newspapers and watch sky TV.

      There was no coup, no revolution we gave it to him willingly. We were told and we did it anyway.

      Frankly, are the Sun, Mirror, Star, Express, and Mail any better than the News Of The Screws?

      Have you ever watched 'The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer'? there are parallels.

      1. Captain Underpants


        "There was no coup, no revolution we gave it to him willingly. We were told and we did it anyway".

        Yep, and this applies as much to the dodgy politicians as it does to Murdoch. The fact that there was more than one player in the game doesn't preclude the possibility that all the players are or were absolute twats with sociopathic tendencies.

        And yeah, the NotW is just one sad example of what passes for news, and a sorry effort it is if what you want is investigative reporting and journalism worth a damn. But then the solution to the bigger problem is to get a better class of human and to put a bunch of them in a better class of society than we've currently got access to, so as feasible options go we're pretty much stuck with trying to give a bollocking to the aforementioned twats for their misbehaviour.

    2. Greg 16


      So where is the power in Sky other than threatening the BBC TV Tax machine? You could argue Sky news has power, but hardly anyone watches it. UK living or Dave are hardly a threat to democracy.

      Regarding the papers, do the papers tell their readers what to think, or do readers buy papers that reinforce their belief's? Would you/do you buy the Sun/Mirror or Times/Guardian and would you change paper - and if not why not?

      Its a little insulting to suggest that people cant think for themselves regarding politics.

      1. Captain Underpants

        @Greg 16

        Humans in general haven't demonstrated a particularly good species-wide ability to question those in power (whether the power be journalistic, military, political or educational in nature) and frankly if you don't think that newspaper editiorial edicts can have an influence on readership you're being very very naive/optimistic about the thought processes involved in human decision making.

        1. Greg 16


          As I've already said, MOST people tend to buy papers that reinforce their opinions. I dont agree with most of the stuff that's in the Sun, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure that the Sun is simply reflecting their readership. People who dont agree with whats in there, will buy something else that does reflect what they agree with, be that the Mirror or whatever!

          I think that your parents and upbringing have a far far greater influence on your beliefs and opinions than any newspaper.

      2. airbrush

        its all about the swing

        Politicians don't even bother with 90% of seats any more its all about the small number of votes in the Target constituency. If you can convince a few thousand swing voters you'll be paying more tax or not to bother voting because they're all the same then its job done. When debate stops being rational we are a worse nation for it. The inspiration for the tea party is our anti euro UK independence party. Fox news is the mail.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Insulting perhaps, but true

        "Its a little insulting to suggest that people cant (sic) think for themselves regarding politics."

        In Canada, the Tories' branding of Lib leaders via attack ads was quite effective. My very lovely but poorly educated mother parroted the attack ads verbatim.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          I'm willing to bet my house that she was already a tory voter. I also strongly suspect that the libs had their own attack ads?

  9. Eponymous Howard

    Which BBC do you listen to?

    ***The Beeb avoided immigration ****

    Eh? Eh?

    Not the BBC I listened to (nice quoting of a Tory muppet from yesterday's debate tho'). 5Live was an outlet for every wailing whiteboy with an axe to grind and, often, sickeningly indulgent of them (I say as the white son of a truck driver).

    Ignored Europe? Again, which BBC were you watching? It was, and has been, a major topic throughout its current affairs output for years and gave massively undue air to the arguments of "eurosceptics", including some of the most boorish oafs ever to infect politics.

    If you can't grasp how Murdoch's pernicious influence has corrupted our polity then you really are not paying attention. He wasn't the only one - but he was by a long way the worst.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "massively undue air to eurosceptics"

      The BBC has been massively pro-Europe for 35 years. Sticking the odd nutter on Radio 5 or on BBC2 after midnight is their idea of balance. Same with global warming.

      Saying that sceptics don't deserve any air time at all when it's the majority view of the voters sort of gives you away as a bit brainwashed.

    2. Steen Hive

      It's definitely a different BBC.

      "***The Beeb avoided immigration ****

      Eh? Eh?"

      In the newspeak "journo" dictionary, "avoiding" means not editorialising the subject matter. The BBC in general try to avoid editorialising subjects as much as possible ( with a few notable exceptions such as the Middle East, where they are leant on - and frequently threatened with being shat on).

      The Beeb cover "immigration" (whatever that is as an issue) just fine. Contrast with the NI output from the Sun to Fox News - which in common much of Andrew's, is just one long stream of Editorial.

  10. Daily Mail Reader
    IT Angle

    All seems reasonable... but...

    Fox News... kinda defines Murdoch and has come to represent his empire.

    And it is a deeply unpleasant thing to anyone with a shred of human decency.

    If he ditched that farce of a news station I think he would not be a target of such hatred... your timeline of his "power" lines up with the rise of Fox News.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      your timeline of his "power" lines up with the rise of Fox News

      I agree,

      That is i agree that is what andrew wrote, can help thinking it's bollocks tho murdoch was massively powerfull all through the dark days of thatch.

      1. Daniel 1

        It's contrarian revisionism

        ...And Andrew is nothing, if not, both a contrarian (often for its own sake) and a revisionist. The problem with revisionism is that it provides almost no context, as to why people at a given time, reacted as they did, based on what they knew, and is thus somewhat futile, from a historical point of view. In the 80s, Rupert could lean on you and obliterate you. End (or start) of story (depending on how they felt, and how many column inches it looked like you could be milked-for).

        The fact that, today, we could beat the 1990s News International war machine with a few Google searches, both diminishes how powerful the fact-and-slander-gathering power of News International was, back then, and reflects how mighty us modern folk think we are, with all our self-empowering "Googling"(TM)[verb][citation needed].

        If you weren't the one holding the sling, then you're not David: you were one of the ones paying Goliath protection money - which is part of what I think Andrew is getting at. A great many minnows from the churnalism fish tank are now feeding on a corpse that was actually felled by an adversary much more recognisable to Murdoch, than many now acknowledge: good old fashioned research-based journalism - the stuff that is so unfashionable, these days. The crowd all cheers - and all assume the solution must have been crowd-sourced.

        But to deny (as Andrew is) that Goliath was ever Goliath, is just an excuse for not being the one holding the sling - and, sorry, that's inexcusable. Find something else to revise, Andrew. I'm sure there's a verse missing out of a song, somewhere, that deserves your attention.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: It's contrarian revisionism

          No revisionism here, it was never true in the first place:

          >> Two years later the truth emerged in the definitive study of that election. Labour's Last Chance?, edited by Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell and John Curtice, contained the results of a panel survey in which people who were interviewed after the 1987 election were re-interviewed in 1992.

          Not surprisingly, it found that most Sun, Mail and Express readers voted Tory, while most Mirror readers voted Labour. The question is, did they cast their vote because their newspaper told them to, or did they choose the paper that matched their outlook? The evidence is overwhelmingly the latter.

          The data showed that the shift in attitudes between 1987 and 1992 among the readers of the Sun and other pro-Tory tabloids was much the same as among the rest of the electorate. In both groups, Labour's support rose by four percentage points. The authors concluded: "Neither the Sun nor any other of the pro-Conservative tabloid newspapers were responsible for John Major's unexpected victory."

          So why did the myth of the Sun's influence take hold? One reason is that the opinion polls made a mess of that election, exaggerating Labour's support for months. The Tories were always on course for victory.

          The academics repeated their exercise in the 1997 election, when the Sun backed Blair. Did that make a difference? No, according to John Curtice: 'The pattern of vote switching during the campaign amongst readers of the Sun or any other ex-Tory newspaper proved to be much like that of those who did not read a newspaper at all.' Curtice concluded, to paraphrase, that the Sun may have helped Labour - but only slightly and only before it publicly backed Blair <<

          The "1990s News International War Machine" is a myth.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Data? Methodology?

            And you've missed a trick. I don't read the sun. But I still read its headlines.

            Perhaps you don't understand how propaganda works.

  11. b166er


    not sure where you're going with this really Andrew.

    Rupert Murdoch doesn't stand accused of being an arch-villan as far as I can see.

    He does stand accused of controlling organizations around the world that clearly indulge in some very dubious tactics to obtain scoops/influence politics and that he should really be responsible for such actions.

    His crime really, is to turn a blind eye to actions that it is very likely he knew about and to allow the manipulation of politicians/policemen for his organizations' own gains.

    If anyone was a Keyser Soze, it was probably Rebekah Brooks.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      he either knew about, or at least, set a large budget aside not to be *told* about?

      When Henry II's underlings took it upon themselves to chop up Thomas a Becket without his knowledge, he "walked to Canterbury Cathedral in sack cloth and ashes and allowed himself to be flogged by the monks there." Interesting precedent.

      1. Allan George Dyer

        but Henry didn't resign...

        I mean abdicate. A symbolic penitence, and Murdoch will do the same.

  12. Shakje

    Why does the influx of immigrants being white

    mean it's not a racist issue? Just because there's lots of immigration doesn't mean that the people who are crying out that we're being invaded are any more right in their reasons for being offended, and it doesn't mean that the focus on asylum seekers (which I'm sure you well know make up a tiny fraction of immigration totals) is justified at all.

    Regardless, as far as I'm aware, net migration, as far as I'm aware, is still returning to the previous rough figure, suggesting that all the doomsayers predicting that our country would be heaving with Eastern Europeans were being as foolish as they appeared.

    On top of this, the focus on immigration, when you compare it to the increase in population through birth is very minor, and until the general populous is ready to do menial work again, immigrant workers are essential. There are farms near us which rely on Polish workers because they can't afford British workers because the supermarkets insist on stupidly low prices because the average Brit wants good quality but cheap food. Is that really a case of jobs going to the lowest bidder because there happens to be cheap labour available, or is it a case of the farms only managing to survive because of that cheap labour being around?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "the focus on immigration, when you compare it to the increase in population through birth is very minor" It is, and will be, a major part of population increase in the UK.

      "Regardless, as far as I'm aware, net migration, as far as I'm aware, is still returning to the previous rough figure". Wrong. It is remaining at the high level that has been since 2000

      The conflation of concern about immigration, and the presumption of racism is a nasty new orthodoxy.

      So, you tell me why there are large numbers of British workers that can't be employed even to pick vegetables? Who's fault is that?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Minimum wage?

      Could be they can't find British workers provided with transport / accommodation and guaranteed employment without experience, work history or references?

    3. The Indomitable Gall

      Not racism!

      "Why does the influx of immigrants being white mean it's not a racist issue?"

      Because it's not racist to hate micks, krauts and day-gos; froggies and cloggies; gypsies, spicks and wops. Obviously.

      (Says a "mick", before you start.)

  13. Eponymous Howard
    Thumb Up

    And of course..

    ***or is it a case of the farms only managing to survive because of that cheap labour being around?***

    And, of course, EU subsidies, without which British agriculture would be bankrupt.

    But Europe's evil innit?

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Expensive subsidies

      Even with the rebate we pay far more into the EU than we get out of it. We could pay those subsidies directly, why do we need to have it administered by a remote bureaucracy that hasn't had its accounts signed off for the last decade or more?

      The EU adds administrative costs and sucks up a load of money that we could use to benefit our own people instead of paying for other countries' failed economic policies.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        benefit our own people...

        by which you mean ashcroft?

        cos you know thats what would happen if those self serving bastards at westminster got their greedy mitts on it.

        meanwhile the 'ordinary' people of the UK would be crippled meeting the cost of non subsidised food

        great idea that one, i think you should take the rest of the day off

        1. PT

          non-subsidised food?

          Naughtyhorse, you must be very young. Anyone old enough to be buying the groceries when Heath took us into the (then) Common Market will remember with a shudder what happened to food prices. The EU has never subsidised food, at least not for Europeans. It subsidises farmers.

          1. dogged

            The EU...subsidises farmers.

            Not really. Not effectively, anyway.

            On the continent, it subsidises small farmers and co-operatives to maintain a standard of living and the kind of countryside that proves so popular in, for example, Provence and Tuscany.

            In the UK, it subsidises giant factory farms (because these were the emphasis of Government in the post-war austerity years and now are the only farmers rich enough to matter to politicians) and provides grants in order to help City bankers turn small Provence/Tuscany type farms into golf courses and leisure spas. It also levies fines where ancient forgotten footpaths are not disabled-friendly and, should you happen to produce enough milk to make a profit, it fines you double that profit.

            Enough. It's bringing my famer's son side again, and the associated massive risk of suicide.

      2. PatientOne

        Just to correct you

        'Even with the rebate we pay far more into the EU than we get out of it. We could pay those subsidies directly, why do we need to have it administered by a remote bureaucracy that hasn't had its accounts signed off for the last decade or more?'

        The EU has never had its accounts signed off - they can't get them to balance.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          EU Tax drain

          My gf works in academic research (climate change actually) which involves very regular worldwide conferences (holidays) all paid for by EU grants. She constantly tells me it costs the UK nothing because Europe pays for it. When I try and explain the error of her thinking, she says I just don't understand. Maybe she should read the Sun to become more informed.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Wakey, wakey Howard

      Our farms are massively subsidised by Whitehall already. The EU adds more subsidies. Without the EU we could top up our subsidies to save the farms.... or not.

      But it would still cost us less than being in the EU, because our cost of membership includes lots of other things we wouldn't have to do - massive Brussels bureaucracy, bailing out Greece, etc.

      You'll be saying the EU makes the sun shine, next.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


        "bailing out Greece,"

        Err, no.

        Other countries in the *Eurozone* are committed to baling out Greece.

        The UK does not have the Euro as its currency.

        It *is* committed to support arrangements to *all* other countries through the IMF.

        The real issue with Greece is how much crap is circulating as "Credit default swaps" between UK and other banks. IE the laid off odds traded by the merchant gamblers of the City of London.

        Sound familiar? This is *exactly* the pattern of nonsense that brought on the last world banking crisis but with a different source (Greek, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, hell let's just call it the *Southern* debt, that's been accumulating for *years*) instead of US banks dishing out mortgages to Otis Q Crackhead.

        Same s**t, different bucket.

        Perhaps this time when the gamblers say "Save us" HMG will have the b**ls to say "no".

        Just a thought.

  14. Bluenose

    News International does not need to be financially sound....

    or even to be widely read to have influence. It simply needs to identify a significant market segment (say like the Sun) and then to produce headlines and stories that play to that niche's perspective of the world in order to start to have influence over politicians and the public.

    Murdoch's Fox New may only have 5.8 million viewers in the US but that is a guaranteed 5.8 million votes for the Republicans in the main. And it is on givens that parties build financial and solid bases to compete for power. The arguments around immigration and racist stories about muslims have had a major impact on the growth of parties like the BNP since the politician on the doorstep having their stories of favouritism re-inforced by the Sun, Mail and Express will have an impact.

    People are like children, they trust those in power or seeking power to tell them the truth and the newspapers are seen as the people telling the truth, one only has to see the impact of the Telegraph's reporting of the MP expenses scandal (which was not always as accurate as we are led to believe) to see why the people believe them. And one good piece of journalism allows you to have lots of bad journalism which is all taken at face value.

    The one piece in the article which is accurate however is that Murdoch is not the "Bad Man", media in general fits that role perfectly. At the end of the day all media sources have one objective to sell their view to the biggest possible audience and if that means publishing salacious gossip or using underhand tricks to generate stories then so be it. They all do it.

    In terms of the new media, yes politicans now see the benefit of using Google and other internet outlets to increase their visibility and make them seem brave, clever and with it. The new media will do the same as the old and abuse that desire for their own personal (and I really mean personal) profit.

    And they wonder why we don't want to vote or engage with politics; their mates in the media (the arbiters of the public interest) have shafted them.

    1. Chris Miller


      Those 5.8 million Fox News viewers would otherwise all be lining up to vote Democrat? Typical elitist nonsense - all these poor chavs/rednecks are just too stupid to work out where their best interests lie and must have them determined by the evil Murdoch empire, if only we could persuade them to read the Guardian and watch the BBC instead of Fox ...

  15. Anonymous Coward

    rather more Elliot Carver

    I cannot see him as Soze

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    All watched over...

    .. I knew this was Orlowski as I get the voiceover from the series that was on BBC2 recently (which yeah, wasn't his voice but was involved) in my head when reading.

    Great article, thanks.

    I shall use it to annoy those gloating in my fb feed of his "demise"

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Title goes here

    He may have been given power, but it was because he hasd power.

    Personally I read two news sources the Reg and BBC. You wont catch me buying a paper.

    However, The utter tosh that they did not know what was going on it total crap.

    They need to go to prison and the laws reformed so that the papers have the same rules as the TV media.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Be careful what you wish for.

      You really think that Murdoch knew what was happening at ground level in a division that made up less than 1% of his empire? If so that would be a pretty epic case of micro management in his organisation of nearly 60 000 people.

      You want new laws? The Telegraph's parliament expenses scandal story was based on illegally bought information. Guardians wikileaks story was based on illegally obtained information. I'm in no way supporting the behaviour towards Milly Dowler and similar cases, but we should be careful abut throwing out the baby with the bath water. ALL newspapers use private investigators. The PI that has brought about the current hysteria - also worked for the BBC's panorama. They need better morals but moralistic laws are usually pretty bad.

      1. Daniel 1

        He's notorious for micro management

        Haven't you read up on his management style? The fact the News of the World made up less than 1% in financial terms, is itself pretty telling, given how much he used to obsess about it. It's not about income, with Rupert.

        In fact, within twenty minutes of Rupert's statement during testimony, that he would phone the editor off the News of the World "maybe once a month", we had Piers Morgan (of all people) asserting that he would get phoned at least once a week, by Rupert, for upwards of twenty minutes, to discuss what news stories they were running with.

        The 1% thing is a smoke screen: The Times loses Rupert money, but it's still a flagship product. The telling thing about the old man, is how much more the influence mattered to him, than the money. It doesn't matter where you think he got it, or whether you think he got it without merit: he still loved having it and trying to use it.

        1. Greg 16
          Thumb Down


          What influence did the NoW give him? The power to make Kerry Katona a household name? It never had a politics related story in it unless a (usually tory) politician was caught with a prostitute. He may well have called up every week to see what the story was, but thats very different from knowing how the story was obtained, who obtained it and what their names were - I suspect he couldn't care less about that.

          Personally I'm much more concerned by the power of the state owned BBC, which we are all effectively forced to pay for through the TV tax. If people didn't like what Murdoch published then they simply wouldn't have bought it!

          1. Daniel 1

            Get to the point: the 1% thing is a smoke screen.

            It was Britain's biggest selling news paper. You really think that didn't matter to him? Your arguing business logic over a guy whose business is anything but logical.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Murdoch's mythical power owes a great deal to Labour's failure to win the 1992 General Election"

    Only if you slept, soundly, during the entire 1980's.

    This article really is all over the place. Assertion presented as fact, ignoring evidence that doesn't fit with the conclusion.

  19. Alex 14
    IT Angle


    "The Beeb avoided immigration because of the (genuine) historical racist overtones: however immigration really ceased being a racist issue after May 1 2004, when the largest wave of immigration the UK has ever seen began – and which was almost entirely white."

    So it couldn't have been a racist issue because almost all the immigrants were white; instead, it was merely xenophobic. Was that your point?

    1. Chris Miller

      How the left has always argued

      If you don't support us you're xenophobic/homophobic/ islamophobic (insert boo-word of choice here). There's a case to be made for the benefits of immigration, EU membership etc. Why don't you try making it instead of insulting your opponents?

  20. Banker
    Thumb Up

    Yep, spot on

    I think Andrews’s article describes the power of the Murdoch myth quite accurately. As an example, click on over to, check out the article the day before Murdock appeared on telly at the commission, title "Are you scared yet? Britain spent last night staring at the ceiling with its duvet clutched tightly under its chin". This, satirically of course, highlights our collective British view of Murdock as this all powerful Soze type. Then look at the article following the event, title "Murdochs know far less about NI than you do".

    The collective view has been challenged, that event showed the reality of Murdoch simply didn't match up to the Myth, turns out he's not that threatening at all.

    Now this Chase Carey dude, he looks like a right scary monster!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah yes the Daily Mash

      That's me persuaded. The Daily Mash suggests it therefore it's true.

      How about the suggestion that the mash and orlowski are constructing a neat straw man.

      Nobody is seriously suggesting he is the devil incarnate "merely" a thoroughly nasty piece of work.

      If you can dismiss (or mock) the fancied suggestion that he is the devil incarnate you risk* minimising the fact he's a nasty piece of work.

      (*unless this is your aim from the start)

  21. spiny norman

    Here's a question or two

    If Thatcher had referred The Times bid to the regulators and said to Murdoch "I don't want or need your support, do what you like", what would have happened? If Murdoch had stayed entirely neutral, would Kinnock have won? Would Blair have lost?

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist

  24. DannyJr

    Different fictional character

    He's no Keyser Soze but he's definitely Citizen Kane material.

  25. Furbian

    Two Words..

    Fox News. Need I say more? Well I'll elaborate the plethora of right wing nuts that they employ what is largely their hate, all day long, day after day, and who runs that evil show?

    Oh and not forgetting how he empowers women in the UK on daily basis by getting them to get to display their .....

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Three Words:

      Nobody watches it.

      1. Will 28

        You are so wrong here

        You said yourself, 5 million people watch it. This may seem insignificant in a country of approx 300 million, but remember that not that so many people there watch the news. Furthermore, those that do watch the other news channels tend to do so because they're free thinkers. Most of those that watch Fox News obey Fox News. So in light of that, 5 million obedient viewers is quite an army to be able to lobby with.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Free press

      Maybe he is giving his audiences what they want? I dont agree with what they put out, and therefore i dont watch/read it - but who the fuck am I to tell other people what to watch/read? I'm pretty sure they wouldnt agree with what I watch/read as well!

      The people who choose to watch Fox news or read the Sun, are the people who already believe in that stuff.

  26. Demosthenese


    Are these real operational losses or accounting losses to avoid paying tax? How much does News Corp or its subsidiaries charge the papers for 'services'?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Probably an accident waiting to happen

    I found this article interesting because I was coming to much the same conclusion myself - for a while. Somehow I couldn't quite see that the profits or readership size of Murdoch's empire (at least the UK part) justified his level of influence in the UK. The statistics in the article are interesting and confirm what I'd learned from other sources.

    But thinking further, there is one very good reason why Murdoch's newspapers are a lot more influential than the apparently much larger BBC news output. It appears acceptable for newspapers to conduct political campaigns, without pretending to be balanced, whereas (say) the BBC at least has to pretend to be unbiased.

    So I think that makes Murdoch's newpaper business the largest political organ in the UK and this is probably why it has a lot of political influence. That's not by accident of course - Murdoch subsidises key newspapers from the rest of his business precisely because of their political impact.

    So in a sense. we have set ourselves up for this by not requiring political neutrality in newspaper publishing and not limiting the size of newspaper groups based on political influence (but only on market share in a business sense). Given that newspapers are the one area where these two "freedoms" co-exist, perhaps it's not surprising that this is where problems have arisen.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    the most amusing part here in the comments..

    ..besides all the twisting and scraping to support the conspiracy of Murdoch being the evil person the *competition* wants him to be, is that they cannot apply the same logic to other 'media moguls' the same.

    using the defensive logic of the satan-claus theory (deliberate!) defenders, then ALL major news outlet owners have the same influence and must be held accountable for every misstep their outlets perpetrate. You cannot release the Sulzbergers and the Soros's from the same liability, responsibility, or scope of influence that you demand of Murdoch.

    Conversely, if those news outlets who are caught manufacturing stories, misreporting lies, and selling a candidate for President (being "in the tank" or the "journoList" issue) are to be considered separate "mistakes" and not an indictment of those outlets' owners, then you must give the same benefit of the doubt to Murdoch as well.

    Lies and media distortion are the same evil regardless of if it supports your prejudices or not. Advocating or supporting anything else is simply at best, using politics and media to destroy a competitor in definite violation of anti-competitive laws. At worst, it's trying to force an ideologically based purge of opinions that you don't agree with.

    We've done horrific wars to defeat the latter.

  29. ideapete

    Announcement ( The New Wizard of OZ ) playing down under

    Wendi's part has been filled by a lady with real balls

    Cowardly Lion , Tin-man, Scarecrow applications for parts ( pun) are totally oversubscribed

  30. Not Fred31
    Thumb Down

    This Orlowski bloke...

    ... he's some nut that pays you to allow him to publish random nonsense in your publication right? It's not like you pay him or anything, I assume - after all bull farmers will give you their waste products for free.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    1992 Evening Standard headline: Labour to introduce 60% tax

    I've never had a post deleted on a forum before (and I managed get my first too). Seem to get lots of articles like this that ignore the fact that there is no balance in newsprint, the above headline was on election day. You forget it was Kinnock vs John Major he wasn't exactly telegenic either, fear and outright lies won that election. The right then as now employ columnists and newspapers to do the dirty job of making the public sector, unions etc. the scapegoat for all the nations ills, the conservatives don't have to make an argument the papers do it for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Whats your point? The right use fear of increased Taxes. The left use fears of increased Cuts. Same difference and it pretty much sums up the political system of the UK!

      Also the left leaning press is just as large as the right leaning press (left is actually far bigger if you subscribe to the view that the BBC is left leaning) The difference is that the left press is more fragmented.

      Btw - I think some of you seem to forget that ENGLAND votes Conservative by a large majority every election - its the other nations which allow Labour to gain power occasionally. Is it that much of a surprise that Conservative leaning papers are the best selling when countries like Scotland basically have a separate press - almost all supporting Labour?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Murcoch's an influential guy....

    But honestly, his competitors gave him a lot of his chance. His generally right wing news organizations exist largely because they are are a foil to the more lefty mainstream press.

    And if he was REALLY influential, he wouldn't be getting investigated and subpeonad the way he is. With criminal investigations going on in the U.S. and UK, its going to be tough on the Murdoch family's finances if guilty verdicts come down. I doubt the arrests will get as far as Rupert, though.

    1. TheRead

      @Marketing Hack

      A foil to the more lefty mainstream press?

      Strange, I see it a little differently. Murdoch isn't just countering the perceived bias in lefty mainstream press, he's countering the well-known lefty bias of reality.

  33. ideapete

    The New Wizard of Oz Sequel - The case of the missing small round objects - Act 1

    Johnny, whose name implied he had some but didn't, was trounced by Wendi whose sex implied she didn't but obviously did. Ed who shared his with David wasn't wearing them that day so was out of the picture. Gordon always said his were stolen by Tony who rented them as needed anyway, or so Cherie said. Rupert had upside down golden ones and had them fearlessly protected by Wendi and she checked them often. James got rid of his as he was sadly awaiting a pair like Rupert which probably will not happen as his sister Liz has a bigger pair that work anyway. Boris had the biggest ones in town but claimed parliamentary privileged to play with them so no one could watch except by appointment. The Royals all claim theirs are better as they have crowns and are bright blue ( ouch ) and they wear white gloves in case they have to handle ( Do not say play with ) the ghastly things

    Stay tuned for Act 2.

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Politicians did it to themselves.

    Pol "Did you really swing the last X elections"

    RM "You better believe it and if you know what's good for you you'll see things my way"

    Job done.

    If any group in power is *so* afraid of the exposure of their private lives or that someone can influence so much public opinion they fear that person then frankly they are *not* in power.

    He is.

    And they let him. They believed the hype.

    Thumbs down for the politicians, *not* the article.

  35. skoop

    Euro Misery

    The point is that its not possible to have a sensible debate on Europe as there have been so many lies. We pay money to Europe in an attempt to bring all European countries infrastructure etc. to a good level. The countries that bankroll this have tended to more than get their money back in exports from their (now free markets), so may have been good for the Uk. The Euro has messed things up, but Germans like to fix things rather than run away at the first sign of difficulty.

  36. Alan Brown Silver badge


    Ah yes.... a flood of unskilled eastern europeans which the country can't do anything about (who mostly came over to do jobs that the Great Unwashed simply WON'T do because they're better off on the dole) leads to a kneejerk reaction which effectively bans every other category except the ones at the centre of the complaints (categories who don't have access to council housing, benefits, etc and who are mostly skilled people doing jobs the Great Unwashed CAN'T do because they mostly can't be bothered getting off their asses and getting some training.)

    For all those moaning about skilled foreigners being cheaper, therefore reducing incentive for employers to hire locals - for the most part those foreigners have had to entirely fund their own training/education, unlike here. That they're cheaper is a myth - employers can't take on foreigners unless there are no suitable local applicants and they have to pay some fairly stiff fees to the home office to get them approved.)

    It's been pointed out repeatedly that 80-90% of the housing shortages in the southeast are a result of _internal_ migration. Imagine the stink kicked up if people get told they can't move from Manchester to London to hunt work.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Why pick on

    Why pick on 'specifically the past two Prime Ministers'?

    Why was the Rusting Woman called 'Murdoch's poodle' when she was P.M.?

    BTW was anybody else reminded of Ernest Saunders when Rupe was at Westminster the other day?

  38. byrresheim
    Black Helicopters


    Last time I looked in here, there was no problem in Fukushima. Now I learn that Mr Murdoch only is influential because british politicians somehow are under the collective delusion that he is influential. And his influence is vastly overrated. Why don't you write a self help book - sort of: "Murdoch's no danger to political careers, it' all in your attitude"?

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Hindsight - what a thing

    Alright, just because he looked a bit doddery - perhaps intentionally - and employed what someone else whose identity escapes me now very accurately described as the Mafia Defence (ie falling asleep, looking puzzled as to why he's even there, and occasionally exclaiming "What??! Who??!!") doesn't mean he's suddenly a harmless old teddy bear, maligned. Murdoch is nasty, and his nastiness is clearly visible in the nasty culture prevalent in his organisation, which is - to anyone not stupid or courting controversy/pageviews - obviously a reflection of his personality and personal creed. I know the Reg loves being contrarian, but that's no excuse to be plain daft.

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