Rupert Murdoch, founder of the Fox network and Fox News Channel and CEO of media giant News Corp has the ability to make grown journalists cry. A quick survey of liberal media blogger Jim Romenesko's Media News page shows an industry in a panic over Murdoch's $5 billion offer to purchase Wall Street Journal parent company Dow Jones.
Why all the fear and loathing?
To put it simply, Rupert Murdoch is one of the few powerful individuals on the right who realizes the importance of the mainstream. Over the years, the right has had success building up an alternative infrastructure of think tanks, magazines, and web sites. Murdoch, however, has been one of the very few to understand that there is no need to "ghettoize" the libertarian and conservative viewpoints. That is why he is feared even though his committment to the right politically is often quite tenuous (he's hosted fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton and is uncompromising in his desire to do business with the Chinese commies).
In the battle for ideas, there are essentially three main fronts: the intellectual front, the political front and the popular front.
Up until the early 1970s, the right had no forces on either front in this country. The wipeout faced by the Republican party at the hand of Franklin Roosevelt mostly did away with the right's political forces. Sure, there were still Republicans but they were generally more of the Dwight Eisenhower variety (who incidentally was the last Republican endorsed by the New York Times and the last one voted for by Dan Rather).
The elimination of the right's political side was inevitable, however, because its intellectual and popular fronts had long since withered away. What was called socialism in Europe had managed to attach itself in this country to classical liberalism. The Marxian theory of the "march of history" had been successfully grafted to American revolutionary tradition, along with a type of Christian socialism popularized by Edward Bellamy in his book Looking Backward.
The libertarian right which had provided the fertile ground for the diverse philosophies of Voltaire, Burke, Locke and others had been effectively extinguished in the American body politic. It wasn't until the mid-20th century and the publishing of Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind, the launch of National Review, and the emergence of philosophers Friedrich Hayek, Leo Strauss and Michael Oakeshott that the right's intellectual heart began beating again. This soon followed on the political end with the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the creation of many conservative and libertarian advocacy groups (including the Media Research Center in 1987) and the victory of Ronald Reagan.
There has been one piece missing, however, and that is the mainstreaming of conservatism. In point of fact, it is conservatism that is the moderate position in politics. It stands between those who would radically change society on some whim or media-generated sob story and those who would take America back to being a closed society defined by narrow international interests and restricted freedom for minorities.
If there is to be an emergence of a conservative popular front--the kind which pervades every aspect of the culture from Hollywood to the tech world to academia--Rupert Murdoch will have played a role in that. And that is why Murdoch is feared and hated by the left above almost everyone other than George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. The media empire that he has built from nothing represents the final threat to the one thing they still have a monopoly on: mainstream culture.
One of the best ways in which this dominance is evident is in what the MSM consider to be stupid. Call it the lunacy gap if you will.
Riffing off a preposterous comment by Bill Maher that the left has fewer "nuts" in it (i.e. fewer religious people), Ace argues that there is a very overt double standard the media applies to things it considers illogical:
The media is very, very big on highlighting the misconceptions -- or alleged misconceptions -- of conservative-leaning Americans. They never tire of telling us that x percentage of conservatives (or FoxNews viewers, or whatever) mistakenly believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.
It should be noted that even that "misconception" is misconceivedly categorized as such. After all, the media has never adequately explained this -- indeed, they've done their level-best to not even mention it: [link is to an article exploring connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq]
None of this establishes more than a friendly relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam, and certainly it doesn't prove Saddam was the author of 9/11, or actually even knew the attack was coming. However, it certainly raises questions about what he may have considered small-bore courtesies extended to Al Qaeda which ultimately, unbeknownst to him, assisted Al Qaeda in carrying out its attacks.
But that's a bit of a side-trek from the road I wanted to be on. Compare the media's relentless "debunking" of the "myth" that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Not only is the media constantly asserting facts not in evidence (the 9/11 Commissions carefully negotiated statement regarding "no operational ties" between Saddam and Al Qaeada is consistently mistated as "no ties whatsoever"), but the MSM also is fond of implying that conservatives are either crazy or ignornant to even have questions about such links.
On the other hand, when 61% of Democrats state they believe that George Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance, or may have known of them -- thus making George Bush a co-conspirator in the attacks -- the media not only does no debunking whatseover, but fails to point out the left is engaging in some fairly serious myth-making itself.
It seems the AP and all the rest have people who monitor Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell 24/7 in the hopes they'll say something stupid. Robertson and Falwell often don't disappoint either. But where are the regular reports on the outright crazy stuff spouted by Louis Farrakahn, Maxine Waters, or Dennis Kucinich? They're simply not there. This is in part because the left has an almost iron-clad grip on what is unacceptable to believe.
The rise of Matt Drudge, the success of Fox News Channel, and the popularity of "South Park" are threats to this dominance. And that is why even though Rupert Murdoch operates fully within the realm of journalistic free enterprise his activities are an affront to "decent people" everywhere.