With Rupert Murdoch in the capital attempting to manage the fabulously escalating scandal afflicting his media empire, I came across a fascinating entry on the BBC blog of Adam Curtis, the producer who brought us the documentary series The Power of Nightmares and The Century of the Self.
The ironically titled ‘Rupert Murdoch: A Portrait of Satan’ draws heavily on the BBC’s archive to build an absorbing picture both of the media mogul’s rise to power and his modus operandi. It was interesting to be reminded of something that now feels like ancient history: how Murdoch’s papers in Australia campaigned against Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the 1975 Australian election, a campaign that included a significant distortion of unemployment figures. The news pages of the Murdoch papers, in the words of a former political correspondent of The Australian, Paul Kelly, were “to a certain extent turned over almost as propaganda organs of the papers’ editorial line.”
In the past, Murdoch has at times portrayed himself as a man fighting against supposed forces of elitism. It is interesting to be reminded of the very comfortable start in life the media tycoon enjoyed: the son of a regional newspaper magnate in Melbourne, he completed his formal education at Worcester College, Oxford, not long after paying his dues as a £10 a week sub-editor on the Daily Express while, apparently, living at the Savoy hotel. Not bad digs for a lowly hack. Well, they do say that it’s not where you come from but where you’re at that matters.
Anyway, I heartily recommend reading/watching Curtis’s piece of work: ‘Rupert Murdoch: A Portrait of Satan’