Bill Muehlenberg


The world’s attention is now focused on Rupert Murdoch, his media empire, and the collapse of News of the World. The phone-hacking scandal surrounding Murdoch and News Corp is of course making front page headlines, but some hard questions are worth raising.

First, a few obvious caveats. There is now an investigation underway concerning all this so one must guard against presumption here. It remains to be seen how all this will turn out. Also, if illegal activities were undertaken, I am not here seeking to justify those.

All I really wish to do here is expose some glaring cases of hypocrisy and double standards. And they can be found here in abundance. One simply has to compare the recent case of Julian Assange with this situation. While there are some obvious differences, both involve the unethical and at times illegal obtaining and dispersion of information.

Yet the mainstream media (rightly referred to as the lame-stream media) bent over backwards to turn Assange into a saint. He could do no wrong, and the Left sought to turn him into one of our greatest heroes ever. I even heard a quite confused Christian seek to compare him to the prophet Jeremiah!

But he is nothing of the sort. He is simply an ego-maniac and a raving lefty who hates America and who, by his own admission, wants to do as much damage to America as he can. Thus the reason Julian was treated as a hero and deified, while Murdoch is treated like a zero and demonised, is quite simple: The MSM loves Julian because he is a left-winger who hates America, whereas the MSM hates Murdoch because he is conservative and supports America. This explains much of this blatant hypocrisy.

As one commentator has asked, “Why do people make a distinction between ‘leaks’ and ‘hacks’? Talk about splitting hairs! In both instances, people exploited stolen information, for their own gain, and to the detriment of others.” Yes, and in the case of Wikileaks, actual lives were put at risk. But I hear no moral concerns about that coming from the Left.

And consider other equally appalling scandals, such as ClimateGate. The MSM barely even raised a whisper about this. This case of blatantly unethical activity went largely unreported by the MSM. So the Left and its media spokespersons are quite happy to engage in selective outrage.

Only those things which are contrary to their leftist agenda seem to get a mention. And when it is a conservative like Murdoch, you can expect to see all guns blazing. But when a sacred cow like climate change is the focus, you can bet any stories adversely affecting the alarmists’ agenda will go unreported. As one commentator said on another site:

“Possibly the most mind-numbing example of gross double standards is this pearl from New York Times columnist Andrew Revkin, defending his paper’s decision not to publish the ClimateGate emails: ‘The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.’ Surely unbeatable? For the love of Pete, isn’t that the main traditional function of investigative media – to alert the public to things ‘never intended for the public eye’? Never mind we are considering the greatest attempted channelling of wealth in peacetime this planet has yet seen. Yes, it’s rich.”

Quite so, and what about Saint Julian who also acquired unethically, if not illegally, documents with “all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye”? Why did the NYT and all the other media outlets not also then have a blackout of this material?

Instead they broadcast it far and wide, and celebrated Julian as some sort of international hero, if not a Christ-figure. All this has a word for it. It begins with ‘h’ and ends with ‘ypocrisy’. But the Left and their media allies never have been too bothered about gross double standards and blatant hypocrisy.

And there will be further implications of this secular-left war against Murdoch. Israel will also feel the ramifications of all this, since the Murdoch press offered solid support of Israel over the years. So the left and the MSM now have double reason to drag him down, since they tend to hate Israel as much as they do the US.

As I say, Murdoch is no saint, and those involved in illegal activity will and should be dealt with by the law. But I can go along with Brendan O’Neill here when he writes about “Murdochphobia”. He too highlights the double standards going on here.

He says, “It isn’t surprising that Murdoch-bashing often sounds eerily similar to conspiracy theorising – because, like conspiracy theories, it too is underpinned by its adherents’ own profound sense of dislocation and angst. It was largely the left and the cultural elite’s inability to make inroads with the public which led them to conclude that some other, super-sinister force must have us in its dastardly grip.

“It is no coincidence that the liberal-commentariat view of Murdoch as the controller of minds and the dictator of agendas really took off in the 1980s: because it is directly proportionate to the declining fortunes of the Labour Party and of mainstream left-wing thinking in general. If you were to draw up a graph to illustrate this, you would see that the axis marked ‘Belief in Murdoch’s awesome power’ goes up just as the axis marked ‘Influence of mainstream left-wing thought’ goes down.”

He continues, “Of course it’s true that Murdoch is influential, and it’s also true that in the 1980s and early 90s his British papers supported Thatcher and, far more reluctantly, John Major, before switching their allegiance to New Labour in 1997. Yet the notion that he exerted an authoritarian ‘malign influence’ was simply a way for left-wing thinkers to dodge getting to grips with some profound shifts in the British political landscape at the end of the twentieth century.

“It wasn’t Murdoch who stole working-class tabloid readers from Labour and handed them to the Tories; Labour had been losing working-class support for years before the ‘Murdoch invasion’. Labour’s support amongst the manual working classes (many of whom read tabloids) fell from 62 per cent in 1959 to 38 per cent in 1983. Bashing Murdoch became a way for Labourites to avoid analysing their own disarray.”

Even of more concern is the hypocrisy over phone-hacking. This was an old party trick of the previous Labour government. As Myles Harris informs us, “In the hysteria there has been no mention of Britain’s most prolific phone hacker, the government, or that it was the previous Labour administration – now pointing the finger at News International – that gave birth to its worst excesses. Since the year 2000 British officials have been given almost unlimited powers to hack into the phones, Emails or open the letters of anyone they think may not be acting in their interests. A total of 253,557 applications were made in 2006 to intercept private communications. Nearly all were approved. 600 public bodies can monitor people‘s private communications and in the same year 122 local councils asked to spy on 1600 individuals. While councils have come under pressure not to abuse such powers, there is no reason to think numbers in general have fallen to any degree since then.

“The legislation is drafted in such a way that officials don’t have to have a precise reason for spying on you. It may be they think you are an Arab terrorist, but it can also be because you have tried to get your child into a school to which educational bureaucrats have forbidden you to apply. Your e-mail can also be hacked by local council officials for putting your dustbin out on the wrong day. The police can peep at it if they think you are insane. A schizophrenic discovered this when the police suddenly demanded the key to this poor man’s totally harmless but encrypted e mail. He refused and was imprisoned for months then transferred to a mental hospital.”

To report this is of course not to justify it. I am not here making the case for phone-hacking. It is merely to point out the utter folly of those on the Left wailing about phone-hacking as if it is only the domain of Murdoch and conservatives.

And of course leftwing politicians here are also trying to capitalise on this. Bob Brown wants an inquiry into the media in Australia, and Julia Gillard said journalists should stop reporting “crap”. In both cases what they really mean is they want those elements of the media which criticise their views – including issues like the carbon tax – to effectively be silenced. They don’t want a media review, they want restrictions on – if not censorship of – any opposing voices.

But as I said at the beginning, my intent here is not to exonerate any wrongdoing or illegal activities. When the full inquiry is completed, any wrongdoers should get their just deserts. But what I am greatly concerned about here is the rank duplicity by the MSM and the Left. Their expertise at selective moral outrage is becoming as predictable as it is tedious.

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