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The Wizard of of Oz

With the governments of the US, Australia and now the UK in the hands of erratically dangerous leaders, much anger has been directed at Rupert Murdoch. I think we give the man too much credit.

It’s tempting to portray Murdoch as a modern day William Randolph Hearst, pulling the strings of government and influencing the minds of the masses with yellow journalism. Murdoch is more than happy to be seen in that light, but I suspect the reality is more pathetic.

I see Murdoch as a frail old man behind the facade of an archaic & decrepit media empire. He’s never recovered from the Leveson Inquiry in the UK, his influence in the US has always been overstated and I see no evidence the LNP would behave differently without his input.

I’m not saying Murdoch isn’t an evil bastard, or that the world wouldn’t be better without him. Nor am I saying his media outlets don’t help shape public opinion, they do. But the world is a bigger place than what’s within Murdoch’s grasp, or the scope of his imagination.

By crediting Murdoch with the current descent of political leadership, we’re ignoring the many corporations whose wealth, influence and anonymity has delivered fascists from Trump and his imitators to Bolsonaro & Durante in under three years with the expectation of immediate payback.

The single biggest factor that brought the Nazis to power in the 1930s wasn't fanaticism or support from a military establishment seeking to regain prestige. It was the support of corporations who saw a chance to profit from the industry of war, not to mention slave labour.

Those corporations, most of them still doing well today, didn’t support the Nazis out of ideology or because they were inherently evil. They did so because they saw an opportunity for profit at a time when, in their minds, profit took precedence over any moral concerns.

That mindset exists today among many corporations who see the opportunity for profit (and tax cuts) by influencing the political process. If you want to know what a corporation thinks is an acceptable way for society to operate, look at how it treats its employees.

People are right to direct anger at Murdoch, but it is a mistake to direct anger exclusively at him. As long as the institutions that have bankrolled politics & society on its current trajectory maintain a degree of anonymity, they will never fear any consequences.