Rupert Murdoch

Press freedom

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Should socialists support the findings of the Leveson inquiry? Dave Crouch argues that real freedom of the press should not be the freedom of powerful media owners to exercise influence, break unions and erode journalistic standards

There has been an avalanche on Bullshit Mountain. Set off by a timid stamp of Lord Justice Leveson's foot, the landslide of press outrage has buried the real scandal at the heart of Britain's newspapers.

Politicians and senior journalists have queued up to attack Leveson's report as a coup by the liberal establishment (the Daily Mail), opening the door to Stalinist state regulation (the Sun), threatening North Korean-style control (the Mirror), and giving succour to dictatorships such as Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan, China and Russia (more or less everybody).

A Class Inquiry

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The Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking ended in June, no doubt to collective relief in establishment circles. We must wait until the autumn for Lord Justice Leveson to submit his findings to David Cameron. The knowledge that a Lord Justice will report to a Tory prime minister is enough to know not to hold our breath.

The 86 days of hearings have been tedious on one level and extraordinary on another. The prime minister and chancellor, chief constables, billionaire newspaper owners and their editors have been called to account, laying bare a world not just of corruption and cover up but of routine collusion, of "country suppers" and "Yes we Cam" (former News International boss Rebekah Brooks' congratulatory text to Cameron). We now know, for example, how many times Cameron met executives at News International over a period (59).

The Sun isn't shining

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The wheels continue to come off at News International. James Murdoch's resignation as executive chairman is the latest blow. It came a few days after Metropolitan police deputy-assistant commissioner Sue Akers' explosive account to the Leveson Inquiry of a "culture of illegal payments" to a "network of corrupt officials" by the Sun

Ackers' broadside came a day after Rupert Murdoch launched the first Sun on Sunday, replacing the News of the World which was shut last July. His abrupt move followed the dawn arrests of ten Sun journalists - an eleventh is wanted for questioning - sparking such discontent among Murdoch's loyal hacks that Rupert himself descended on Wapping to reassure them.

By Gove: education and the Murdoch Empire

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On 3 October, at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference, education secretary Michael Gove went out of his way to sing the praises of Rupert Murdoch. Gove admitted that he remained "a great admirer of Rupert Murdoch, he's a force of nature, a phenomenon, he's a great man". For a senior minister to still admit to being one of Murdoch's creatures is quite remarkable, but there was a good reason for Gove standing by his man: Murdoch has a central role in Tory plans for British education.

During their first fourteen months in office, Cabinet ministers met senior News International executives 130 times. Over a quarter of these meetings involved David Cameron himself. While in no way wishing to be fair to Cameron, it has to be admitted that his government was merely continuing a long established tradition of British governments kow-towing to Murdoch. This tradition began to take shape under Harold Wilson in the late 1970s, was consolidated under Thatcher, was deepened and extended under Blair and Brown and was set to become even more extravagant under Cameron.

How the mighty Murdoch has fallen

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It's seldom the daily news brings joy such as the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Rupert Murdoch is a man who held prime ministers in his palm - "the 24th member of Blair's cabinet" according to a Labour insider. Yet there he was in July, called to account by MPs, pushed to close his biggest-circulation newspaper and drop his bid to control the absurdly profitable BSkyB, his son James poised to lose his role as heir, his US empire in jeopardy.

From Coulson to Cameron

Wapping lies

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Revelations of illegal practices on Rupert Murdoch's newspapers show one aspect of a media empire built on deceit. Ian Taylor considers News Corporation, New Labour and the move that made Murdoch's fortunes.

Rupert Murdoch's News Group newspapers paid out more than £1 million to stop evidence of phone bugging, hacking and other law-breaking by journalists coming to light.

The Guardian journalist Nick Davies uncovered evidence, published in July, that such activity was routine - directed at ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars. Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil hailed the story as among "the most significant of modern times".

Osama Likes Obama - According to Fox News

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Back in 2000 Fox News announced George W Bush's "victory" before the results had even finished being counted, leading to the widespread media acceptance that Democratic candidate Al Gore had lost, a result eventually accepted by Gore himself.

As the election heats up this time, over once more to Rupert Murdoch's beacon of trustworthy news, which is answering the question on everyone's minds: "Who does Osama Bin Laden want to be the next president?"

According to a survey on its website: "More people think the terrorist leader wants Obama to win (30 percent) than think he wants Clinton (22 percent) or McCain (10 percent). Another 18 percent says it doesn't matter to Bin Laden and 20 percent are unsure."

Obstacles to truth

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In his new book, Flat Earth News, award-winning journalist Nick Davies argues that the main threat to truth-telling journalism has moved from propagandist proprietors such as Lord Beaverbrook to the corporations and their commercial interests exemplified by business magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Rupert Murdoch is a highly successful businessman, a moderately competent journalist in his own right, and a brutal and unscrupulous bully. His interventions tend to come in three forms. First, and most important, he uses his media outlets to build alliances with politicians who, in return, will help him with his business. In his highly revealing biography, The Murdoch Archipelago, the former Sunday Times journalist Bruce Page goes back to January 1968 to provide an early and vivid example of how the man works.

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