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A Proposal: ET should boycott all Murdoch media

by Ben P Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 04:43:44 AM EST

from the diaries. What do you think? I have added a poll.-- Jérôme

I'm not naive enough to think this will make even a modest impact on the media baron's business, but I do think that it represents an important symbolic gesture - and also, in its own small way, a method of shutting out Murdoch's voice from one modest internet forum. What does this boycott entail?


I envision no links to or mentions of any media source run by Murdoch: in particular, Sky, the Times, and the Sun. Murdoch, is one of the greatest threats to genuine democracy in the western world, internally. I could go into various reasons why I think this, but generally I think he is an authoritarian plutocrat obsessed with wielding disproportionate and undemocratic influence on the political processes of the various countries within which he operates. I think he as achieved this goal with relative success in two nations, Great Britain and Australia, and with less success in a third (the United States, although he has some success here). I also don't think it is accidental that the two English speaking nations where his presence is minimal generally have more progressive body politics (NZ and Canada). It is also quite clear that the editorial line of his media outlets, especially the ones he deems most important, do not have significant editorial independence. If they did, would it be credible that all 241 outlets he owns worldwide would have editorialized in favor of the Iraq War? I don't think so.

One major criticism I can see to this strategy is that it is fundamentally illiberal. I don't think this is particularly significant criticism, and I do not think "unilaterally disarming" is a sensible tactic in the combat that is ideological politics. We simply don't have the luxury.

A second, more significant criticism is that it is important to know how important segment of opinion thinks, even if we disagree with it. Well, indeed, yes: but if you want to understand the British right, the Telegraph and the Mail (or even, the Express) are both more widely read than the Sun and the Times, as well as more reflective of grassroots Tory opinion. Both are strongly anti-Europe, but this does reflect an important segment of British thought. But unlike Murdoch's empire, I do not think either paper's is as reflective of a large scale effort on the part of one man to surrepticiously and decisively frame the public debate in ways that reflect his own predilictions and desired outcomes. Basically, and this I address to Jerome in particular, my goal here is to substitute the Telegraph for the Times (as the tabloids are less important in the nature of this site's discourse) as the "go to" source for British conservative opinion.

To conclude, it is my belief that one of the most important goals the "blogosphere" can have, especially for those who define themselves somehow as "left of center," is to use the potential power of this medium to shift public discourse in a way that is favorable to more progressive political solutions. This is certainly Murdoch's understanding of media, and he has used his power quite effectivelty to embed his brand of rightist, authoritarian neo-liberalism. We should do the same, but to different ends. And this strikes me as one relatively easy, small step in doing so.

Poll
Boycotting Murdoch's papers
. Good idea 72%
. Counterproductive 8%
. Useless 20%

Votes: 25
Results | Other Polls
Display:
On the one hand, given that I once spent an inordinate amount of (wasted) energy demonstrating to various progressives how $10 each from enough "libruls" could buy  control of News International, I certainly have a gut sympathy for the boycott.

However, whilst even Peregrine Worsthorne and other old style conservatives have come out saying that the Guardian (!) is the only intelligent newspaper left in the UK, the fact remains that as Yes, Prime Minister put it, "The Times is read by the people who run the country."

Less true under Labour than the Conservatives, but still true. It's worth noting that Cameron's cabal is composed in part of Gove and some other Times types.

The Mail and to a lesser extent may reflect public opinion on the right more accurately, but The Times reflects the governing consensus. This is often an important perspective in Euro-affairs.

I have the occasional argument with an acquaintance on another site who really likes to feel he is "fighting the "lefty" groupthink on the web." He is no hardline rightist but spouts the Times talking points as "centrism." This highlights the distorting power of Murdoch's efforts and is tremendously frustrating as the bias is as plain as in the Guardian, if you have the knack to see it. But is a boycott the right way to react?

I ask because I don't feel the economic effects are noticable. If they were, I would recommend a boycott without hesitation, and indeed I personally do not buy any Murdoch media or click on many links to his sites.

I'd say that rather than boycott, we should have a "guideline." Try to find another source and consider also if this link really represents what you think it does. IF it is about the popular right in the UK it's really worth reconsidering. However, if you want to represent "What Tony thinks" then it may be necessary to use it, but it should be treated with caution.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 04:22:56 AM EST
Its about shifting intellectual discourse and marginalizing a publication like the Times. Not to say that I think ET boycotting it will have a dramatic effect (certainly, it won't), but you have to start small.

Myself, I never read or visit Murdoch sources. Its my own personal boycott. If I want to read rightist opinion in the UK, I'll read the Telegraph.

Ben P

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 04:36:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Problem is that one of the things we have to react to is the campaign of anti-EU bullshit spewed by the Murdoch media. We can't do that if we're not reading it.

We shouldn't use them for news references, but we need to know what the so-and-sos are saying.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:17:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We shouldn't quote them for news, but only specifically to rebut them.

That could work

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yess, thatss what I meant.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 06:02:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It iss not nice to make fun of me

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:21:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bad Irish hobbits hatess uss, my preciouss.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:25:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"hobbitss" ssurely? Possssibly hobitsess.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:41:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm with Colman. The Rapid Response tactic of Bill Clinton worked and is rediscovered by the Dems in the US. We always need to tap into the other media side and pick them to pieces. Although I would sympathise with a boycot, I don't think it would be the wisest thing to do. Ignoring is not a sound way to dispell them.
by Nomad on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 09:47:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Myself, I never read or visit Murdoch sources. Its my own personal boycott. If I want to read rightist opinion in the UK, I'll read the Telegraph.

I do the same.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:23:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 12:01:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have the occasional argument with an acquaintance on another site who really likes to feel he is "fighting the "lefty" groupthink on the web." He is no hardline rightist but spouts the Times talking points as "centrism." This highlights the distorting power of Murdoch's efforts and is tremendously frustrating as the bias is as plain as in the Guardian, if you have the knack to see it.

Exactly.  This is how Faux News operates.

As it is, I don't read or watch anything owned by Murdoch.  (I can only stomach NBC Nightly News these days.  MSNBC and CNN have too many "Missing Whte Women" reports, and I'm tired of the xenophobic hatred that some CNN personalities -- Loud Dobbs, most prominent among them -- spew.)  Once, in a blue moon, I'll check the Times website, if I'm looking for more information on a story -- e.g., budget day in Britain or something.  But everything I can find on the Times is usually available through the BBC and the Guardian, anyway.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:48:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which papers are included in that?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:12:25 AM EST
You mean I have to stop reading the Weekly Standard? Where else can I find the latest on neocon thinking?

Dialog International
by DowneastDem (david.vickrey (at) post.harvard.edu) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:25:48 AM EST
National Review, maybe?  Why not just take ten minutes to stop by Borders Books & Music to take a look, without buying it?  Borders is a big Democratic donor, too.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we look at this from the point of view of polemics, we can say we need to hone our arguments by taking note of what the other side is saying. But I'd submit that we don't need Murdoch for that -- the majority of Western media, particularly Eng-lang, pretty much floods the zone with the other side's ideas and talking points.

OTOH, there's meta-comment on the media to consider. We do a certain amount of it on ET. It's essential to deconstruct and debunk the messages that the media act as vehicles for. How to do that without ever taking into account Fox News, Sky, the Sun, the Times, etc, seems difficult to me. Especially concerning the EU, to which Murdoch bears very special hatred, and against which he has hugely contributed to turning British opinion.

So I'd put it this way: don't read the Times as a source on conservative thinking, but be ready to bash it if need be.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:51:44 AM EST
Don't quote them as a newssource, but be ready to bash them.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some good points made here.  And I must admit I'm not as sensitive, perhaps aware, of the Murdoch influence as the author and some of the other commentators.

My personal philosophy is different here, in that I try to read news from multiple sources.  First to get different points of view, so I feel I can make an informed decision.  Second, an axiom in business is to know what your enemy is thinking at all times.  And that applies for me to this subject as well.

Google News can be good, as it highlights key stories, but then lists all newspapers, at least I believe all, that are covering the story--so you can see what in-country newspapers from all over the world are saying, and how they're presenting the information.

I

by wchurchill on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:00:43 AM EST
The perfect illustration of why Murdoch's companies are dangerous, to me, can be found when Chris Matthews has guests on from The New York Times and The New York Post -- the latter being Murdoch-owned.  The Post has never been able to compete with the Times as a serious newspaper.  For years it was simply treated as a daily for all ten of the right-wing whackjobs in the city.  (Yes, "all ten" is an exaggeration, but, in a city of 16 million people, only about 600,000 are Republicans, I believe.)  But Matthews, for whatever reason, treats them as equals.

It's that obsession with "he said, she said" news, and the concession tv news seems willing to make to the Right Wing -- "If the Post is biased towards the conservatives, the Times must be the same to the liberals."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:57:51 AM EST
Does this mean I'm not to use the Times in the Breakfast anymore? I like to use different sources for the same topic - and I think it is important to know how they argue. Though I can see that a boycott is valid too.
by Fran on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 02:13:11 PM EST
There are certainly right-leaning English language sources besides the Times. The Telegraph, for one. The Economist. Even The Spectator. For a more tabloid-y source, try the Daily Mail.

Ben P

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 03:09:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to German media today, Murdoch plans to sell his remaining radio stations in Germany.
Maybe he´ll concentrate on "Anglo-Saxon" countries? :)
by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 02:30:00 PM EST


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