Thursday, 26 April 2012
Brief thoughts: Murdoch, power, BBC
On grounds of 'freedom', Murdoch was allowed to develop his press corporation, mostly based on sport, naked women and a relentless set of stories based on different forms of witch-hunting and demonizing. As he became powerful, so politicians of all kinds felt that they had to court him in order to win power. This process ended up creating open corridors between the Murdoch corp, politicians' offices and the police. It's no surprise then that high-up people in the corp got to thinking that they were untouchable and that they had the power to break those who criticized them. Hacking has been the defining symbol of this.
Leading politicians and the Murdoch corporation are now in a struggle to reclaim legitimacy and are spending a good deal of effort using words like 'integrity' and 'truth' even as it is blatantly obvious that they have tried to evade inspection of their corrupt and invasive practices.
It's too early to say what serious or lasting progress will come from this. Nick Davies emerges from it all with immense credibility. More indirectly, the BBC has a marginally stronger chance of survival. There is no doubt in my mind that a rampant Murdoch-Tory alliance would have sliced the BBC to shreds. A weakened and discredited one will find this much harder to achieve.
It's interesting to me to ponder why and how the BBC mostly avoids the 'corridors' principle though most politicians seem to feel entitled to ring up the BBC to demand that stories are cut or included according to their wishes. If we ask the question could the BBC have ever thought it had the right to hack and cover-up in the way the Murdoch press felt it could, I'm fairly confident I could say no it wouldn't.
I'll be very interested to see whether the BBC will defend itself on these grounds next time the privateers and multinationals fix their sights on the BBC once again.