I am the son and the heir of nothing in particular.
April 22, 2010 7:19 PM   Subscribe

"What are you f**king playing at?” Mr Murdoch asked Mr Kelner in a loud voice and in front of dozens of bemused journalists."
This week, 300,000 copies of the UK's Independent newspaper were distributed for free advertising the paper's claim to editorial independence stating, "Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election – you will".

According to the Financial Times, Murdoch's son James subsequently stormed into the Independent's newsroom brandishing a copy of the edition, protesting it besmirched his father’s reputation. "Lively times," the Guardian observes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (62 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
If like me you imagined Malcolm Tucker grilling editors over unwanted media coverage, you'll relish "his" weekly election briefing in the Guardian.

Meanwhile, the Mail is devoting an entire section to the utter destruction of anyone not named David Cameron.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yellow Journalism at its finest. :P
posted by zarq at 7:24 PM on April 22, 2010


Christ, what an .....
posted by blucevalo at 7:24 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Too bad there wasn't a young intern around that instinctively whips out their cellphone and start a video recording.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:27 PM on April 22, 2010


Distributed for free advertising editorial independence, but not delivered free of advertisements I assume.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:35 PM on April 22, 2010


"besmirched his father’s reputation"?!?

What a joke. The Murdoch's are some of the WORST people on the planet. Little Jimmy Boy is a fucking idiot.
posted by chance at 7:35 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


[dee-tee-tee-tee1]

Good evening Mr. & Mrs. American and all ships at sea, This just in: Noted libel mongers "son" announces that his father, does indeed have a, quote, reputation. enquote

[dee-tee-tee-tee1]


Item!: Liberace, when will her marry?

[dee-tee-tee-tee1]
posted by Relay at 7:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Besmirched is such a wonderful word. Such a simple and innocuous little thing, yet it holds much more weight than phrases like "totally fucked up", "shat upon" or even the jagged "dared to utter the truth about". Besmirched, I love you.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:49 PM on April 22, 2010


I am the son and the heir of nothing in particular apparent-ly.
posted by nola at 7:51 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


" it besmirched his father’s reputation"

Furthermore, you shat on my dungheap.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:52 PM on April 22, 2010 [45 favorites]


Please, Rupert - do us all a favor and put your web content behind a paywall like you want to do. After three years of the Murdoch press in the UK demonizing Gordon Brown and yesterday's ridiculous swiftboating of Nick Clegg, I think most people wouldn't mind such a development.

Well, on second thought, the Tories might - and the Republicans definitely would.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 7:57 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Mr. Murdoch would like to have his reputation re-smirched, now.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:04 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I saw this earlier on; it's kind of staggering. Murdoch and Brooks (neé Wade) breaching the Indie's office security and then proceeding to storm about on the editorial floor demanding blood. Actually, it's fucking nuts. To give an American equivalent: can you imagine the top two executives from the NY Times storming into the offices of – say – the Chicago Tribune, or the Baltimore Sun, and screaming bloody murder at the editor for the position they'd taken on Obama vs. McCain?


I saw Kelner being interviewed by Channel 4 news earlier and he had about the most succinct explanation of what the fuck was going on: News International have staked both their money and their reputation on Cameron winning the election, and have put all of their considerable muscle behind him. And now that it's looking like Cameron might not win, they're absolutely fucking furious, because if Murdoch Jr and Brooks can't deliver the election result that Rupert wants, he's not going to be a happy bunny.

And thinking about it, there's another reason for them to be raging: the Indie's campaign brings out into the open all the stuff that Murdoch likes to keep in the background, namely his enormous influence on British politics. The minute someone starts pointing this influence out to the electorate – on the front page of a newspaper, no less* – is the point where Murdoch's motives start getting more scrutiny. And if there's one thing that Murdoch hates – even more than he hates losing, which is a lot – it's being under scrutiny.


*even if that newspaper is the worst-selling daily in Britain, and is mostly preaching to the converted.
posted by Len at 8:09 PM on April 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


Obvious rebuttal.
posted by Mblue at 8:13 PM on April 22, 2010


This besmirching talk makes me think of "she's blackening my name in the village" for some reason.

Which makes me think that it'd be kind of awesome if a Cajun joint were to serve like "besmirched catfish" or something.
posted by cortex at 8:22 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, it's fucking nuts.

What's *really* fucking nuts is the Indie editors actually took a meeting with them. How wimpy is that? "GET THE FUCK OUT OF THIS OFFICE RIGHT FUCKING NOW HOW DARE YOU BARGE IN HERE USE THE GODDAMN TELEPHONE IF YOU WANT TO SET UP AN APPOINTMENT ASSHOLES" was pretty much the only proper response.

Except the cussing would be more British-like.
posted by mediareport at 8:22 PM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


The man is evil, and he hath bred evil.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:24 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Except the cussing would be more British-like.
Meaning, they'd glass him in the face, and take his wallet?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:27 PM on April 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


"besmirched catfish"

KA-CHING!
posted by humannaire at 8:28 PM on April 22, 2010


Except the cussing would be more British-like.

"WHAT IN THE FUCK ARE YOU TWO DOING HERE? THE LAST TIME I SAW TWO BAWBAGS THIS BIG IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME I WAS WATCHING SHAVING RYAN'S PRIVATES. I MEAN, I KNOW SPECCY BOY HERE'S GOT DADDY ISSUES, AND I KNOW YOU, DOLLFACE, CAN'T LOOK AT ANYONE IN AUTHORITY WITHOUT WANTING TO HIT THEM WITH YOUR THATCHER-SHAPED HANDBAG, BUT FUCKING COME ON. THIS IS A FUCKING ELECTION, AND IF CAMERON FUCKS THINGS UP FOR YOU, THEN IT'S NOT MY FUCKING FAULT, IT'S YOURS, FOR BACKING SOME SHINY-FACED CUNT WHO THINKS DOLE IS A BRAND OF FUCKING PINEAPPLES. SO GO ON, GET THE FUCK OUT!"

Like that, you mean?
posted by Len at 8:47 PM on April 22, 2010 [81 favorites]


I have to plead a bit of ignorance about the British election, except what I pick up on MeFi... I can't help but wonder if this idiotic stunt by Mini-Mur will hurt Cameron significantly. In my ignorance it seems like things are on a knife's edge and this may have serious repercussions.
posted by edgeways at 8:53 PM on April 22, 2010


"The man is evil, and he hath bred evil."

Interestingly, though, his first two attempts at that sort of fell by the wayside. Lachlan tried evil for a while before discovering he was crap at it and dropping out to follow his true passions of football and what passes for philanthropy in Australia. Elisabeth also dabbled in evil, before very famously taking one look at one of Rupert's hell-hounds and bailing to start her own production company. It looks like James - who, as is traditional in fairytales, is the 3rd and youngest - is succeeding in the quest laid down by his father.
posted by Pinback at 8:56 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if this idiotic stunt by Mini-Mur will hurt Cameron significantly. In my ignorance it seems like things are on a knife's edge and this may have serious repercussions.
How serious I'm not sure but I think your basic instinct is right - people don't like to be told how to vote by Murdoch (and if you look at the figures will often vote against the 'line' of the newspaper they take) and he of course is clever enough to know it's not such a straightforward process - more a long-term job of well-poisoning and ground-shifting, best conducted undercover and away from any scrutiny (easily achieved if you are also the main scrutineer).
posted by Abiezer at 9:02 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Murdoch family, owners of Fox News?

Strange people to be talking about besmirched reputations.
posted by eye of newt at 9:07 PM on April 22, 2010


ugh - you have associated one of the best lines in popular music with THOSE PEOPLE.
posted by pinky at 9:11 PM on April 22, 2010


I remember hearing that some in the Murdoch family didn't like Rodger Ailes and Fox news, ccording to this story
“I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’ horrendous and sustained disregard of… journalistic standards,” Freud said, apparently speaking for Murdoch’s 41-year-old daughter Elisabeth, a former News Corp. executive who owns a television production company, and 37-year-old James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp.’s European and Asian operations and his father’s heir apparent. “Matthew Freud’s opinions are his own, and in no way reflect the views of Rupert Murdoch, who is proud of Roger Ailes and Fox News,” the News Corp. spokesman retorted.
But looking into it it seems, Ailes and James have been getting along just fine since then.

So yup, no redeeming qualities
posted by delmoi at 9:57 PM on April 22, 2010


I was friends with James in college. He's probably the only person I know who's stipple portrait I've seen in the Wall Street Journal (years before it was owned by News Corp.). He was actually a lot of fun back then. Probably not so much now.
posted by snofoam at 10:04 PM on April 22, 2010


So yup, no redeeming qualities

He smoked pot, and we used to play a game where we'd pick someone in the room and then try to pile all the furniture in the room on that person. To me, that's two redeeming qualities.
posted by snofoam at 10:17 PM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


By the way, I want to take this opportunity to encourage all my fellow Amerikanskis to see beg, borrow, or steal a copy of the fantastic Brit TV show The Thick Of It, which goodnewsfortheinsane references in his first comment here. It's sort of like The Office, only with politics - and it'll learn you about the odd differences between the way it works here and the way it works there. Also, Malcolm Tucker is indeed one of the most awesome TV characters of the last ten years. “...and I will marshal all the media forces of darkness to hound you to an assisted suicide...
posted by koeselitz at 10:26 PM on April 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


Interesting analysis from Michael Wolff

"Now, Murdoch likes winners, even more than he likes Conservatives. One of the most famous headlines of his career appeared in the Sun after the Conservative victory in Britain 1992: “It's The Sun Wot Won It.” Murdoch is still stewing over an ill-timed and inept endorsement of John McCain over Barack Obama (again, against his better judgment—Murdoch likes Obama and was convinced to back McCain by Roger Ailes and New York Post editor Col Allen)."
posted by afu at 10:33 PM on April 22, 2010


He smoked pot, and we used to play a game where we'd pick someone in the room and then try to pile all the furniture in the room on that person. To me, that's two redeeming qualities.

Well, lots of assholes are nice in person. George Bush was supposedly fun to hang out with, that doesn't me he hasn't had an enormously negative impact on the world.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, Malcolm Tucker is indeed one of the most awesome TV characters of the last ten years

Then there's Jamie. Actually, I haven't even seen the show, just the movie. And compilations on Youtube.
posted by delmoi at 10:46 PM on April 22, 2010


Here's what I think is happening in this election: what's moving the polls, the zeitgeist, causing tabloid editors to go into Pravda mode and seasoned commentators to shrug their shoulders with incomprehension... ...The tabloid editors, issuing their concocted weird propaganda stories, are proving spectacularly that they do not get it.
Interesting take from Paul Mason (I promise I'm not part of a cult with him as guru, despite how often I link to the man's writings :D)
posted by Abiezer at 11:24 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Is there any chance of somebody posting an FT mirror that doesn't require registration?
posted by Dysk at 11:39 PM on April 22, 2010


Newspapers should never allow irate critics or rival journalists to enter their premises unchallenged like that. You never know what nefarious scheme they may have planned.
posted by homunculus at 11:42 PM on April 22, 2010


For some reason following the link from this FPP doesn't let me view the FT article without registering, but searching for it on Google News and following that link works fine...
posted by Dysk at 11:43 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was like watching the live abortion of democracy. Marina Hyde on Sky's spin on the latest debate. Sky being another of Rupert's toys and is hosting these debates.
posted by adamvasco at 11:56 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cry me tears emo Rupe
posted by Damienmce at 12:16 AM on April 23, 2010


The British deal, as I understand it, is that if you own a (tabloid) newspaper you are immune from scandal and personal attack. This is simply because you own the ability to strike back at whoever attacks you. So if you are, say, a Russian oligarch or a crooked peer, you purchase a newspaper and you become immune. It'll cost you - most newspapers lose money - but at the global-domination level it's worth it to cover up your affairs and wayward children and drug use and dodgy business deals.

So the Independent going after Murdoch so publicly? They may be furious because this is "not done." The Independent is breaking the unwritten rules. They're not Private Eye...
posted by alasdair at 12:55 AM on April 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election – you will".

That's libel indeed. Of course he'll decide the election (together with Lord Rothermere and Tweedledum & Tweedledee Barclay).
posted by Skeptic at 12:58 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Still, it seems quite brazen of the Independent to trumpet their independence, just as they've been bought by a former KGB agent.
posted by Skeptic at 1:00 AM on April 23, 2010


Lest we forget, and this puts a bit of context to it, The Sun actually ran a front page that said 'It's The Sun Wot Won It', after the Conservative victory (rather against the odds) in 1992.

Murdoch apparently hated it at the time, as it went too far in boasting about political influence.
posted by DanCall at 1:19 AM on April 23, 2010


How odd. If a rival paper had come onto the floor of the place I used to work, the reception would have been... somewhat different. The Chief Sub was a guy whose standard method of expressing displeasure with a piece of work he was looking at was to rear up from his desk and bellow, "Which one of you USELESS CUNTS WROTE THIS?"

He was one of the more touchy-feely members of the editorial team.

Storming in and hurling abuse around the newsroom floor would most likely see you flattened.
posted by rodgerd at 1:24 AM on April 23, 2010


I'm quite pleased for the Independent, their new Russian oligarch ex KGB owner is obviously doing it for the lulz in sharp contrast to Tony O'Reilly who just liked owning a newspaper.
posted by Damienmce at 1:54 AM on April 23, 2010


"The minute someone starts pointing this influence out to the electorate – on the front page of a newspaper, no less* – is the point where Murdoch's motives start getting more scrutiny."

I'm not so sure about that.
posted by vbfg at 2:11 AM on April 23, 2010


Oh - and the wrap around on today's Indie bears the line:

Lebedev Won't Decide This Election - You Will

Which is pretty good.
posted by DanCall at 2:49 AM on April 23, 2010


Unfortunately the people that really need to see this story are the daft saps that read Digger's shite, but I can't see that happening
posted by fatfrank at 4:13 AM on April 23, 2010


There's a good piece on Johann Hari's site about the media & the British electoral system.
posted by handee at 5:24 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Independent: "'Sun' censored poll that showed support for Lib Dems"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:31 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"the Indie's campaign brings out into the open all the stuff that Murdoch likes to keep in the background, namely his enormous influence on British politics"

Murdoch certainly doesn't aim to keep it in the background. From "the Sun wot won it" headlines, to declaring allegiances, to the high profile invitations for party leaders and prospective prime ministers to visit the court of King Rupert at his annual News International bunfight he's surprisingly open about his influence.

A more cynical man would say that the Murdochs will have been more furious about the Indy giving away 300,000 free copies than the supposed libel.

Wait until the Indy goes free full time. At that point the Times' (and the Telegraph's for that matter) strategy of heavy promotional sales starts falling apart in a big way. The Grauniad might be less affected - it hasn't made a profit in years anyway - but in the same way that Metro did for the Evening Standard, so the Indy could put a nail in the coffin of one of the big broadsheets.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:51 AM on April 23, 2010


vbfg and MuffinMan:

I agree to a point, but there's a big, fundamental difference between The Sun crowing about its influence and another paper reminding people that Murdoch is pulling a lot of strings. Aside from whether Murdoch did or didn't like the "Sun Wot Won It" splash, that was championing the paper's influence, and that, I think, would be mostly fine with Murdoch. But when Murdoch himself is singled out as the man behind the curtain that's an entirely different story. To most people, The Sun, the News of the World, The Times, Sky, etc., are all individual entities with their own brands, images and histories, and even if people know Murdoch owns all of them, they don't necessarily join up all the dots in a conscious way and think about how they're all working, with concerted effort, towards the same end.

But when another newspaper starts talking about this stuff in public, it serves as a reminder to people that Murdoch – born in Australia, now an American citizen, whose British companies go to great, convoluted lengths to avoid paying tax in this country – wields an uncomfortably large amount of power and influence. As alasdair says above, the Indie is not Private Eye, and going after owners simply is not The Done Thing, no matter how much newspapers revel in pissing matches with each other, which on some days may as well be their main function.
posted by Len at 6:54 AM on April 23, 2010


Things are hotting up. Hours after the traditional British election egg was thrown at David Cameron's shoulder, we learned this morning that James Murdoch and his enforcer, Rebekah Brooks, nee Wade, burst their way into the offices of the Independent to give executives a hard time.

Gosh, that's pretty uncool, and may suggest that expensive suits at News International are rattled by Cleggmania, which could leave them out in the cold if the Tories fail to win on 6 May.

What seems to have upset them are ads that the Indy has been running along the lines of "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election – you will." Brooks apparently rang Simon Kelner, the editor-in-chief and now chief executive of the Indy to complain that dog does not eat dog in Fleet Street.


ATTEMPTED STYLE: SMART CASUAL
CATEGORY: BLOGGING (NEWSPAPER DIVISION)
DIFFICULTY: 4.1

USA: 0.0 / RUS: 0.0 / CHN: 0.0 / UK: 6.0 / FRN: 0.0 / CRO: 0.0 // MEAN: 1.0

SUMMARY: BYSTANDERS BLED PROFUSELY FROM EXPOSED MUCUS MEMBRANES; TWO SPONTANEOUS ABORTIONS RECORDED; BABIES, CHILDREN PRESENT WEPT UNCONTROLLABLY. UK JUDGE RAISED, CLASPED TOGETHER, SHOOK HANDS IN 'BRAVO' MOTION. PASSING BIRDS IN FLIGHT TURNED TO STONE AND FELL TO EARTH. FINAL JUDGMENT RENDERED. SEAL OPENED TO REVEAL THE LAMB AND THE DRAGON AND THE HOST. DISSOLUTION OF UNIVERSE EXPECTED.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:20 AM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


If the Conservatives lose the election, and with The Times and the rest of his papers retreating behind their paywall as soon as the its finished, Murdoch's influence could pretty much shrivel up over night.

Of course, if the Conservatives do win they'll probably dismantle the BBC and remove any of the impartiality rules that currently stop Sky News turning into Fox and everything will be worse than ever.
posted by dng at 7:52 AM on April 23, 2010


Funny -- "Kill Bill O'Reilly" by East Coast Avengers just came on as I'm reading this. Nice :)
posted by symbioid at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2010


If you could've found out what Chocolate Starfish meant, I bet that would've explained everything.
posted by pracowity at 9:24 AM on April 23, 2010


Too bad there wasn't a young intern around that instinctively whips out their cellphone and start a video recording a baseball bat.
posted by reynir at 10:48 AM on April 23, 2010


Delmoi, in an interesting twist, it was Elisabeth Murdoch's husband's firm that did the design work for the relaunched...Independent.

I think the Independent should have run their wrapper today with: "PS. He also looks like a malevolent scrotum. See you soon, Jamie!"
posted by reynir at 10:56 AM on April 23, 2010


Not sure what you're getting at, Optimus Chyme, but if you're accusing Michael White of putting on the casual vibe to be down with the kids, man, I would point out that he writes like that all the time. Talks like it too, if you hear him interviewed.
posted by athenian at 3:37 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marina Hyde on Sky's spin on the latest debate. Sky being another of Rupert's toys and is hosting these debates.

It's in News Corp's interest to get the Tories in, thus shoring up their reputation as kingmakers to be heeded when deciding policy. They made a bet on Cameron carrying the election, and with the odds lengthening against that (talk of a Tory landslide has made way for talk of a hung parliament or a Liberal-Labour coalition), they need to do whatever it takes to shoot down the other parties, and right now, the Lib Dems pose the biggest threat.

So Sky News using Fox-style spin to present Cameron as a natural leader and Clegg as untrustworthy/unstable is unsurprising, as is the Sun sticking to its traditional standards of journalistic integrity and fiddling opinion polls. If this doesn't work, I wonder what we'll see next. Will we see posters, ostensibly advertising election coverage, Photoshopped to make Cameron look heroic and/or Clegg look sinister or unpleasant (FOXNews does similar things with the portraits of liberal commentators in the US, giving them large noses and ears, yellow teeth, and so on).
posted by acb at 6:11 PM on April 23, 2010


Not sure what you're getting at, Optimus Chyme, but if you're accusing Michael White of putting on the casual vibe to be down with the kids, man, I would point out that he writes like that all the time. Talks like it too, if you hear him interviewed.
posted by athenian at 3:37 PM on April 23


nice suit

if you're quentin tarantino and you're at a 24 year-old UNLV graduate's house party and no one has cocaine
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:30 PM on April 23, 2010


Len, that's an exceptional synthesis of Tucker and current events.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:50 AM on April 24, 2010


does this mean i can go to murdochs house and start shouting ?


that sounds fair.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:21 AM on April 27, 2010


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