Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Framing The Narrative: Murdoch v. Assange

I should be doing something else right now. As my wife frequently reminds me, I don't get paid to write about WikiLeaks. And that is exactly the problem.

Rupert Murdoch employs thousands and thousands of people, many of them on excellent salaries. His empire includes movie studios, book publishers, and other avenues to public perception. He has a backdoor entry pass to the UK PM's office, dictates US political discussion on a daily basis, and holds politicians around the world in thrall. Meanwhile, wealthy advertisers queue up to give him money in exchange for favourable reporting (or non-reporting) of their business interests.

In Murdoch's empire, talking points from above dictate the news delivered to the masses. Yet Rupert's writers need only scan the front pages to discern how best to please their boss and get prominently featured. It's a culture of corruption, as countless recent articles have documented, designed to maximise profits and political power.

But the media landscape is changing. Why should we ordinary citizens of the world keep paying for news, when we can get it online for free? But then, if media organisations are not making a profit, how can they afford to keep supplying news for free? This remains the great unresolved Catch-22 of the C21st Fourth Estate.

News Corporation is planning more firewalls to protect media content, despite the previous failure of such models at organisations like the New York Times. The UK Independent newspaper is now running an online survey asking readers to tell them how the paper can deal with the shifting media paradigm. The Economist prominently features an on-going debate on the subject.

Meanwhile, I suspect The Guardian's apparent anti-WikiLeaks crusade may be motivated by a desire to "own the space" that WikiLeaks has staked out (namely, the safest place to publish leaks in this new globalized, digital world). Yes, all the big media organisations are scared, even Murdoch's dreaded nemeses at The Guardian.

The sad fact is this: there's just not much money to be made from telling the truth these days. Not when clever lies, well concealed, can lead to far greater profits. Not when the news is available to everybody for free on the Internet, and most people would rather go on Facebook anyway, or watch porn instead. And especially not when you have to compete against media conglomerates and political parties heavily subsidised by Big Business. Nearly all independent online media ventures, like their big media competitors, are struggling to turn even a tiny profit.

The most obvious alternative funding model is state-owned media (sshh, don't scare US readers). But unfortunately, Big Business lobbyists are buying up our governments too. Even in relatively free democracies such as Britain and Australia, state-controlled media outlets like the BBC and ABC have been castrated, politicized, under-funded, and pulled into line.

And so, as the hypocritical Murdoch empire most elegantly exemplifies, we have reached a point where Big Business can effectively control both the policies of our politicians and the content of our media. What, then, is left to us? The Internet remains the final bastion of freedom, as many people realise. But now the Top One Percenters are seeking to control that as well.

And this is the real narrative in the contrived battle between Julian Assange and Rupert Murdoch. Whatever Murdoch's sad minions might suggest, it is not a battle between News Corporation and its more established, reputable (and *supposedly* WikiLeaks-loving) competitors. It is in fact a full-scale Information War between wealthy elites and ordinary citizens, as informed WikiLeaks supporters around the globe understand.

Murdoch outlets have tried to frame the narrative as an historic confrontation between Rupert's supporters (never mind the News Of The World scandal, people, we've already moved on) and his competitors. They are utilising their own negative stereotyping of WikiLeaks to support the ridiculous conceit that competitors have somehow broken US laws by publishing government secrets. Effectively, they suggest that WikiLeaks has co-opted the competition into criminalising Murdoch. Or something.

The ironic truth is that it is not Julian Assange (under house arrest, financially embargoed, facing extradition or execution) but Rupert Murdoch (freshly flown home from London but set to lose control of News Corporation) who is really scared. The ageing Zionist's fear is betrayed by the mindlessly irrational nature of his paid hacks' and wannabes' attacks on WikiLeaks and anyone else who dares even try to hold him to account.

No doubt Murdoch's political and commercial partners are also scared that WikiLeaks will expose their corrupt business practices. And surely they realise that destroying WikiLeaks is just the beginning. Throw Julian Assange into a Guantanamo Bay cell and others will rise to take his place. In this day and age, the only way they can fully manage people's access to information is to seize total control of the Internet.

So it's no surprise they are whipping up anti-WikiLeaks and anti-hacking hysteria in order to justify ever more Orwellian laws. And that's the real story here.

A recent hit-piece in Murdoch's reviled "The Australian" newspaper brings together the amalgamation of business, political and media agendas. The Big Business partnership with government now masquerades behind buzzwords like "privacy" and "security", so who better to write an attack on WikiLeaks than the co-author of a book on Privacy Law. Especially if he has publicly subscribed to the Murdoch-sponsored notion that torture is "a moral means of saving lives".

Meanwhile, we WikiLeaks supporters continue to trust that Truth itself has an enduring value, and that exposing the misdeeds of the world's most powerful elites will lead us all to a more free, fair, and equitable future. After all, there's got to be more to life than money, right?

PS: If anyone wants to offer me a lucrative writing contract, my wife would be very thankful. But more importantly, readers with the wherewithal should consider supporting WikiLeaks and other organisations who continue to fight, against ever-growing odds, for truth, peace and justice.

19 comments:

  1. Wow, what a great read. Not only are you writing like a professional journo/writer, but have something they lack: moral authority.

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  2. More importantly, why's Murdoch not being treated the same way as Assange? Why aren't assets being frozen? Why aren't computers being seized while News Corp/Int probably delete any evidence? Why aren't these people being arrested and held accountable?

    Oh yeah that's right. He paid to put the government where it is. Assange is just doing his moral duty.

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  3. good writing,thank you...can you link us the the 'ongoing' survey in the independent please

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  4. Free?? Where did you get that it is wrong that people should have the news "free"??? You sound very immature and uneducated. You sound more like a Murdock fan...more like him than you thought....AND that maybe is what pisses him off...the today's generation that has it easy just walking into something he had to hustle for.

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  5. blah blah brilliant!

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  6. Jaraparilla,

    this is one of the best articles I've read on the WikiLeaks and News Corp amalgam certain mainstream media have published in the past few days (most notably that piece in the WSJ).

    You totally nailed it with that quote and I couldn't have said it any better in my own words:

    "It is in fact a full-scale Information War between wealthy elites and ordinary citizens, as informed WikiLeaks supporters around the globe understand."

    To stress your point on the "wealthy elites", it's important to note that News Ltd, a subsidiary of News Corp. and owned by Murdoch, has a 70% maket share (!) of the newspaper market in Australia (*).
    The only nation-wide newspaper, The Australian, is also owned by News Limited.

    For the uninformed media consumer, this is very bad news indeed as the vast majority of the Australian newspapers will more or less just follow one editorial line.

    This means that a healthy, pluralist newspaper landscape is virtually non-existant in Australia, making independent newspapers and media in Australia even more important.

    In that context, I hope that this blog post of yours will be widely read (WikiLeaks apparently just tweeted a link to it, that's great for a start).


    (*) source: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2798930.html

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  7. not trying to be mean or anything, but yeah, i'd keep or get a/my day job.

    Also, as your wife should probably remind you, rambling on your blog does not count as looking for a job.

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  8. Clear and to the point. And as you say we all need to make sure that the internet says free for all.

    I recommend voting for the Pirate Party. They seem to be the only political party that actually takes these matters seriously.

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  9. Brilliant stuff. Recommending to a few outlets -to help keep your wife happy

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  10. Philosopher, I got the Independent survey as a pop-up when I visited yesterday. Not appearing now, so maybe random or no longer "ongoing"? It was nicely worded, as in: "We are desperate, please help us!"

    Who Is The Rose, thanks and a nod to @Asher_Wolf (a supremely dedicated Wikileaks supporter/volunteer crowd sourceress) for recent discussion of the "Information War" concept.

    I live on Australia's Gold Coast, where the national, state, local and free weekly papers are all owned by Murdoch. The Gold Coast is also the region where the right-wing coalition parties are most deeply entrenched, and is gaining a reputation as "Australia's crime capital" - coincidence? Meanwhile, our politicians are still wondering if we need an enquiry into media ownership?!?!

    Thanks also to all the Anons. I've been expecting you! :-)

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  11. Excellent writing! I'm not a big fan of Assange, but he is, evidently, still a big step up the ladder from Murdoch.

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  12. Good writing! Sorry I have no answer to the $writing dilemma.

    You say: Meanwhile, I suspect The Guardian's apparent anti-WikiLeaks crusade may be motivated by a desire to "own the space" that WikiLeaks has staked out (namely, the safest place to publish leaks...

    Well, too bad for the Guardian - they can never have that space when they live and work under the possibilty of a "D" notice - Consider the Wikileaks assertion of "cable cooking" by the Guardian here: http://wlcentral.org/node/1490.

    Look around wlcentral.org, you will find a few more links to this terrible piece of work by the Guardian - why would they do it, unless they are under a "D" notice?

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  13. er, I'm not a crazy right-wing women or one of the tentacles of Murdoch's evil empire, but you sound like an unhappy and insecure male.

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  14. I think the power of the Murdoch empire is often overstated. The truth is that the media landscape in now changing very rapidly. People now get their information from a whole variety of sources. One problem with the some members of the left is that the use simplistic conspiracy theories to explain the world. If Murdoch's paper has any power it is because they obviously know the art of propaganda very well. But that's ok as long as there are a variety of views on offer. www.centreblog.com.au

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  15. good work-- which we more often than not do not get paid in money for.. we get paid in soul work.. which is more important, than say- makin money like murdoch et al...

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  16. when does one stop caring ? and talking about fixing problems bigger than ourselves ?

    thanks for picking up the slack while im not helping out at the moment. this blog is important, your wife brings the meaning down because she has lost the will to help and change..

    it feels like all this movement at the station is really about something far more personal, far deeper.. than privacy, or media rights.
    Its really about where this whole fucking thing is going. And how we all don't have a clue at all about what to do, or why to do. We don't know what tomorrow brings, but worse we don't know why yesterday happened. Were all lost in this thing together, and that seems to be more truthful on more levels, than siding with wikileaks or anyone.

    It takes ownership of the situation your actually blogging about to get right past the points we've already dealt with, and to the actual points you can't simply get past. Then its post-blogging, your actually living through the words. Your not talking, its simply being present with the symbol. DMT.

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  17. Dear Writer,
    Keep up the good work & cheers! to your wife ~

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  18. Governments would like us to believe that it's all about Julian Assange and his threat to national security, or is that what they are covering up? Pretending that he's only a threat to women it seems, and cats. The Australian and USA governments would like everyone to be lulled into a false sense of security then ... oops, systems error, mission complete, target is physically confined.
    He must be sick of it. And sick of people profiteering out of him by telling lies, fibs, not the whole story and outrageous insinuations. Then Steven Spielberg makes a movie out of it. But the entire thing is stranger than fiction. I've lost the plot but I love the mystery :-)SD

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  19. But why only Rupert is this ageism
    Slowly but surely the hacks of all fakenewsmedia sharpen their cursor

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