In the unfolding scandal of Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, aside from phone hacking and the buying off of cops, there is another question emerging.
How did these media moguls gain so much political power?
The BBC asks: Who is more powerful - Murdoch or Parliament?
If ever there were a symbol of the uneasy balance of power between national governments and large multinationals companies, it is the spectacle of the British Parliament being poised to vote overwhelmingly (it seems) for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to abandon its bid for British Sky Broadcasting - but being powerless to force him to abandon that takeover.British prime minister David Cameron really has no choice but to at least give the appearance of standing up to Murdoch, but he would not have been as successful had it not been for this man's support.
If Parliament is sovereign, there is something slightly odd about the idea that the vote can be passed and that Mr Murdoch can choose to ignore it.
Maybe Mr Murdoch will eventually abide by the revealed will of the elected representatives of the British government. But as of last night, Mr Murdoch appeared unimpressed that the prime minister and the deputy prime minister decided to throw their weight behind the leader of the opposition's motion calling on him to drop the takeover.
The relationship between politicians and the press has always been a topic for debate, but simply supporting a candidate or party, through spin, has transcended to something far more alarming.
They are now being groomed by the media and even purchased.
Margaret Thatcher had a very close relationship with Murdoch editor Larry Lamb. He would even visit her home, giving her communication advice.
Says Murdoch biographer William Shawcross:
Thatcher was persuaded by advisers that tabloids like the Sun, the Mirror and the Daily Mail were far more important than the more serious papers in influencing voters. The Mirror would always be pro-Labour, but she was advised to cultivate the editors of both the Sun and the Mail.Murdoch's papers appealed to what Shawcross called, "the lower-income group", and their massaging of the campaign was effective.
... Mrs. Thatcher came to Bouverie Street. Lamb said she "accepted a glass of whisky, kicked off her shoes and engaged us all in spirited debate for several hours. We were all impressed, not least by the fact that she listened." Lamb also went to see her at her house "to talk about the kind of campaign she planned, who she felt might emerge as the star performers, and which members of her team we should stick close to.
... On Election Day, May 3, 1979, the Sun's massive editorial., covering the entire front page and continuing inside, was headlined "VOTE TORY THIS TIME. IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO STOP THE ROT." ... The editorial asserted that the Sun as a radical paper was urging a vote for the Conservatives.
The biggest swing to the Conservatives was among the lower-income group, known to market researchers as Us, which included many Sun readers. A victorious Thatcher wrote Lamb what he called an "affectionate" letter and thanked him for his help.It's rather ironic given that Thatcher's policies hurt the low-income group the most, but it didn't matter. Lamb was able to paint her as a champion of the lower class. (Source: Rupert: Ringmaster of the Information Circus, Shawcross, 1992, P. 153-155)
And he was later rewarded with a knighthood.
In Canada, Conrad Black was ringmaster of the media circus, before he went to prison for fraud.
Not only did he shift Canada's media to the right, but he also provided "communication" and financial backing to the neoconservative movement.
As a member of both the National Citizens Coalition (who ran an ABC: Anyone But [Joe] Clark campaign. (Loyal to the Core, Gerry Nicholls, 2009)) and the Fraser Institute, he helped to make sure that they stayed on track. He even allowed an employee, Peter White, to work with Brian Mulroney, to help capture the support of the Conservative youth movement.
Disillusioned with Mulroney, who he deemed not to be right wing enough, he switched his support to Reform, donating $20,000.00 to their 1993 campaign. According to the infamous James Keegstra, Preston Manning was often seen riding around in limos with Black, making him suspicious of the true intentions of the party.
Seeing perhaps more promise in Stockwell Day, as someone who could be manipulated, Black then went to work to create a charismatic leader. According to Trevor Harrison, in his book, Requiem for a Lightweight: Stockwell Day and Image Politics, Black hosted $1000 a plate dinners and allowed Ezra Levant to hold party fundraisers in his home.
Levant was a boyhood friend of Day's son Logan.
With a right-wing media firmly in place in Canada, thanks to Conrad Black, Rupert Murdoch trumped him after a luncheon with Stephen Harper, giving us the vile Fox News North.
So how did the media become so powerful, that they can defy governments, and yet so powerless, that journalists are not allowed to write the truth?
Wow! Isn't neoconservatism grand?