Blair and Murdoch, sitting in a tree …
We suspect that Wendi Deng may not be the most popular member of Clan Murdoch right about now, having spilled the beans about Tony Blair being godfather to Rupert’s daughter, Grace. Far be it from us to accuse the man who presided over invasions of — at best — debatable legality in Iraq and Afghanistan of dissembling, but it does rather appear that Blair wasn’t keen on that information reaching the public domain. And we can hardly blame him. Even the most charitable commentator would be hard-pressed to avoid the link between a former prime minister being one of Murdoch’s “closest friends” and the unstinting support offered by News International publications to Tony’s crusades in the Middle East.
As Henry Porter says in The Guardian:
It is simply unacceptable for a modern democracy to allow a foreign media tycoon, whose interests are exclusively limited to his business, to act as the national puppeteer, and one hopes that the phone-hacking scandal will eventually result in a stake being driven through the heart of this particular corruption. But there is still, I suggest, some way to go.
The question is, what laws are in place to prevent such associations? Obvious though the links appear to those of us with eyes in our heads, we’re not clear on whether, and how, either Blair or Murdoch could be prosecuted for developing their allegiance. Is it really legal (we ask, incredulous) in this country for a serving prime minister to develop a social relationship with the publisher of a media empire? Very similar questions, of course, need to be asked about David Cameron’s association with Rebekah Brooks. And yet, presumably, it must be, since no-one is suggesting that such association constitutes grounds for prosecution.
The next question, of course, is what are we going to do about it? The laws in this country (as they do in most others) seem to lag behind the development of society. Rupert Murdoch has been a de facto kingmaker for decades, ensuring that we’ve been saddled by government after government friendly to his narrow personal interests. As the power of the media has increased, so has the power of those who own the media to shape public opinion.
That needs to change. And yet, we can hardly rely on a government elected with his support to initiate such change. Where, then will it stem from?