In all of the recent talk about Twitter and whether or not Elon Musk's frankly obscene 43 billion bid will ultimately succeed, a few things got lost.

A sense of scale was one. What kind of nation are we that we cheerfully allow our digital public squares to be owned and controlled by bumptious billionaires, who call the shots globally?

Another thing that got lost was an engaged public debate about the dangers of putting that much concentrated political power into the super rich's hands, particularly when it has become clear from his recent public posts that men like Elon Musk have all the political sophistication of a Reddit troll?

The future is too important to entrust to rich but obviously arrested adolescents, who have poured more into owning Twitter than Tesla, but we never hear anyone saying so.

That's because in America we still believe that if you have the money you should have the access, we believe that if you can pay then you can own, and it doesn't really matter what it is that you're attempting to purchase be it democracy or the future of America, if it has a price then it's obviously for sale.

We sell weapons of war to dictatorships whose deep pockets overrule our misgivings, after all, we open manufacturing plants in nations that brutally oppress their own people, we sign treaties with belligerent nations that lay siege to their neighbors, we elevate the market and underplay its disastrous effects.

In recent decades as the number of our homegrown billionaires has grown from about 200 in 2000 to over 700 in 2022 their outsized political and social influence - added to the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth and access here in America - has finally come home to roost.

Behind Elon Musk we can discern the shadow of fellow billionaires like Rupert Murdoch. Somehow, for all the effect his media empire has had on the planet, Murdoch has continually escaped public scrutiny, a puppet master who prefers you to gawk at all his flashy puppets.

But if you walk into the Fox News building at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan you will see giant posters of his main evening anchors glaring down at you the way giant portraits of Benito Mussolini used to greet Italian citizens.

The sheer scale of these grandiose photos of anchormen and women reflects their outsize and lasting influence on the national political discourse. They are not just people but movements, in other words, working in concert with Murdoch's own hand-picked politicos, to pursue the path that one Australian foreign billionaire finds most profitable in the USA.

We don't talk enough about the dangers of allowing that much of our future to be controlled by so few, or by one. Murdoch owns newspapers, news stations, and channels in Australia, America, the UK, and Europe and there is no question that his media empire has helped influence elections and dictate events in each.

In fact, the sphere and reach of his influence is literally imperial, a digital Roman empire that extends from Sydney to Shoreditch, creating controversies where there are none and anger where there was only indifference, the better to promote his own interests and reap the rewards of his own investments.

Putting too much power into one man's hands never ends well, history is constantly reminding us, but do we listen?

Ask yourself what made another billionaire called Donald Trump ever interested in a presidential run at all? Was it the desire to do good and elevate the nation, or was it the thought of adding America to his portfolio, thereby enriching himself and his family of grifters?

We should be alarmed at the outsize influence a tiny number of obscenely rich men are having on the direction of our futures. We should be talking about how to defend a pillar of democracy – the media and its digital watering holes where stories are first run and responded to – from the outsize influence of deep-pocketed individuals with their own undeclared agendas. 

Fox News exists for only one reason, after all. It's a nonstop Three Card Monte trick to hypnotize credulous marks whilst their democracy and future are being shaped and determined for them. It's activism pretending to be journalism. It's the distraction a showman makes whilst his accomplices metaphorically pick your grandparents' pocket.

Murdoch realized long ago that if you can shape a person's beliefs you can shape their future, if you can filter what they see and engage with you can construct a new reality for them, but a dangerous side effect of living in an outrage echo chamber is that everyone outside it starts to look like the enemy.

Even their fellow Americans. Especially their fellow Americans. That is why the conversation about billionaires owning vast media empires is now so urgent and so overdue.