Rupert Murdoch's massive mistake in British election
Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 10:56 PM
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These are strange times for Rupert Murdoch. After eight years of unquestioned power through his media in America when George Bush was in the White House, Fox News, Wall Street Journal et al now find themselves on the outside and they don't like it one bit.
Even worse for the 'Dirty Digger' as the British tabloids he doesn't own call him -- he may have made a massive mistake in Britain as well and backed the Tory Party in the upcoming election which is now a fight to the death.
Murdoch backed Labor from the time in 1997 it became evident that Tony Blair would sweep a tired John Major out of office.
But this election, Murdoch's newspapers in Britain have deserted Labor and gone solidly for the Tories, reflecting the reality that every poll showed the Conservative leader David Cameron home and hosed before the election started.
Murdoch's backing is no small matter. Unlike here in America, Murdoch's papers are in a dominant nationwide position, from the upmarket London Times to the tabloid News of the World. His endorsement counts and it has been given to the Tories very bluntly.
Then a most amazing thing happened.
The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg easily surpassed Cameron and Labor leader Gordon Brown in the first debate and triggered a massive surge in the polls.
Suddenly the most predictable of elections has become a toss up.
Polls this weekend show the conservatives narrowly ahead but well short of an overall majority. The real prospect of a Labor/Liberal coalition government looms.
And poor Rupert could not be more unhappy.
His son James barged into the offices of a rival newspaper the London Independent to complain bitterly about the coverage his father was receiving.
The Financial Times reported it like this:
"The newspaper he (James) was carrying was one of 300,000 Independents being distributed for free in the UK that day with a special wraparound front page advertising The Independent’s claim to freedom from proprietorial interference.
The advert stated: “Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election – you will.”
The younger Mr Murdoch reached the busy editorial desk where The Independent’s editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner, was planning the following day’s edition with colleagues, and brandished the newspaper in his hand.
“What are you f....ing playing at?” Mr Murdoch asked Mr Kelner in a loud voice and in front of dozens of bemused journalists.
At that point, Mr Kelner invited Mr Murdoch and Ms Brooks into his office where there was a heated conversation lasting about 15 minutes, one of those present told the Financial Times.
The Independent boss later told colleagues Mr Murdoch had complained, with the use of further expletives, that the advertisement besmirched his father’s reputation."..
Rupert Murdoch complaining about newspaper coverage is like Donald Trump complaining about public relations consultants. Both could not live without them.
Nonetheless, the incident shows how nervous the Murdoch empire is that all will be lost in this British election.
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