By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation of Political Power
By David McKnight (Allen & Unwin, $32.99, softcover, 285 pages)
Described as a man with two passions – wealth and power – Keith Rupert Murdoch is “undoubtedly the most consequential human being Australia has ever produced”.
David McKnight explains that power and money are, in fact, complementary objectives, not alternative ambitions.
This no-holds-barred expose of the media mogul’s gigantic empire (which encompasses almost every facet of media) is far from restrained in its attack on one of the world’s richest and most powerful men and the media corporation on which his power rests.
Rupert Murdoch has controlled about 70 per cent of Australia’s newspaper market for many years. Along with the Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and The Australian, even the local newspaper monopoly has huge influence with governments.
His commercial success is apparent, but not as obvious or understood is his winning pursuit of political goals, using News Corporation as his vehicle.
A former journalist and now an academic, McKnight adroitly tracks Murdoch’s influence, from his support for Reagan and Thatcher, to his attacks on Barack Obama and the Rudd and Gillard governments. He examines the secretive corporate culture of News Corporation.
This is an investigation in what McKnight perceives as the abuse of political power and Murdoch’s desire to wield political influence through his media outlets.
Murdoch is not painted as a malevolent mastermind. Instead, McKnight claims that the media mogul is inspired more by broadcasting his view of the world and how it should be run.
In the foreword, author Robert Manne has labelled this book as “disturbing”, saying what McKnight has written is a study of “dangerous media abuse of power and of abject government weakness in regard to it”.
While the phone hacking crisis may have stained his reputation, Murdoch’s influence is far from over.
This book, like its subject, is about a man of ‘strong opinions who arouses strong judgements’. It does not abstain from censure and has no pretensions of being fair-minded.
Edition 399, 04 March 2014
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