Friday, April 05, 2019

Planet of Aliens

The taking of offence is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones and aliens
— Ecclesiastes 7:9

Planet Murdoch

Six months. More than 150 interviews. Three continents.
The result: a must-read, three-part story about media mogul and Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, his family and how, the Times says, they “turned their media outlets into right-wing political influence machines that have destabilized democracy in North America, Europe and Australia.
Reporters Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg wrote a spectacular story that would make a great TV show. In fact, it looks like the HBO show “Succession,’’ which is eerily similar to the Murdoch family’s real-life drama. Among the incredible details in the Times’ story:
  • Murdoch nearly died from a fall a year ago, setting off a power struggle/feud between Murdoch’s four children, especially his two sons, Lachlan and James.
  • Lachlan and James have fought over the direction of Fox News, with Lachlan leaning far right and James, the more liberal of the two, wanting more balanced coverage.
  • Murdoch’s attempt to take over Sky News in England was blown up because of perceived nastiness on Fox News.
There are other stunners as well, such as how Murdoch helped orchestrate the rise of Donald Trump to president even though he referred to Trump as a “(expletive) idiot,” how Trump prefers Bill O’Reilly to Sean Hannity and how Hannity warned Trump attorney Michael Cohen to be on the lookout for Trump mistresses.
This just scratches the surface of an extraordinary look at one of the world’s most influential families and how their power has shaped politics and media in the United States, Europe and Australia.

Marcia Langton, via Pursuit

I think I am a policy influencer. I’m not a minor influencer but I’m not a major one either, and so how do I fulfil this public image of the leader?

Joy McCann, via The Atlantic

An adaption from McCann’s upcoming book, ‘Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean’.

Farewell to what was a truly weird Parliament

These last years in Australia’s political circus have been so littered with crazy that the abnormal has become normal.

British politics' breakdown: Leak forces Parliament's evacuation

Water poured through the roof of the House of Commons during a taxation debate Thursday, forcing lawmakers to evacuate the chamber.

Life inside the bubble

If you were to write down all the provocative details in the New York Times’ exhaustive and must-read piece about Fox News’ owner Rupert Murdoch and his family, you might run out of ink.

From Murdoch’s near-death a year ago to his sons feuding for control of the company to Murdoch’s true feelings about President Donald Trump, the Times story is one juicy nugget after another.

But a larger theme emerged: Murdoch pounced on the opportunity to program news for conservatives who felt their voice wasn’t represented in the so-called mainstream media. That thinking gave way to the rise of Trump and helped Fox News become the cable news primetime leader. Murdoch’s network has become the go-to source for many who lean right politically. Actually, for many, it isn’t just the go-to source, but the only source.

Fox News is not alone in this business model.

For all the positive technological advances we’ve seen in the past 40 years, the emergence of cable television does create a troubling climate where viewers can pick the version of news they want to hear. Long gone are the days of Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor and David Brinkley, when our news came in (mostly) objective half-hour bites. The major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) still give us our traditional nightly newscasts, but now the rest of our news comes around the clock, much of it with opinion and slant — both shaped for the audience that is watching that particular channel.

Having more journalists and outlets digging for injustice, uncovering the truth and serving as watchdogs is a good thing. But it is troublesome when TV viewers live in a bubble where they only watch (and implicitly trust) a network that tells them what they want to hear.

Consumers of such news are the ones who need to recognize when they are being fed partisan messages. That’s because certain cable news outlets are not going to stop with their agendas, which is first and foremost to gain viewers. You read the Times story and you realize that Murdoch cares more about profits than journalism. For him, it’s about giving the people what they want, even if it’s not always good for them.

If you read the The New York Times’ amazing story on Rupert Murdoch and his family, you might have seen similarities to HBO’s entertaining series, “Succession.” Just how close are the two stories? Esquire’s Kate Storey compares fact to fiction.

Misinformation is inciting violence around the world and tech platforms don’t have a plan to stop it. That’s the lead item in this week’s “Factually” newsletter from Poynter’s Daniel Funke and the American Press Institute’s Susan Benkelman.

Poynter’s weekly roundup of the best in local journalism includes this week a shocking jailhouse investigation, the sad cost of evicting the homeless and — on a lighter note — some really cute photos of baby penguins.

Hilarious item of the day: Twitter told the French government that it will not allow posts from its new voter-registration campaign due to issues with the country’s anti-fake news law.