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Tuesday, 29 January 2013 07:00

Rupert Murdoch’s Hypocrisy

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On January 27th, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal headlined an editorial “Treasury Gets a Citibanker,” and Murdoch’s mouthpiece excoriated the new Obama-appointed Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, because he had been a high official at Citigroup when he and his sponsor there – Citigroup’s top risk-analyst, who was the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin – had approved the purchasing and marketing of crooked mortgage-backed securities for which the bank was subsequently bailed out by U.S. taxpayers. This Murdoch editorial praised former FDIC chief Sheila Bair for her having opposed the bailout, and it claimed, “Like these columns, Ms. Bair wanted to clean out Citi’s management and asked her fellow regulators to consider putting it into receivership,” which progressive Democrats had actually supported for all of the megabanks, as an alternative to the George W. Bush Administration’s proposed taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.

There is a blatant lie implicit in the Wall Street Journal’s editorial: the implication there that the newspaper had opposed the bailout when it was a Republican-pushed proposal, under a Republican President, and when it actually passed Congress and was signed into law by George W. Bush on 3 October 2008.

The original Administration proposal, from Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson of Goldman Sachs, had been so outrageous that it was widely condemned by Republicans as unnecessary, and by Democrats as a bailout of megabanks, and so it was defeated in the House on 29 September 2008. The Wall Street Journal’s lead story the next morning was headlined “Bailout Plan Rejected, Markets Plunge, Forcing New Scramble to Solve Crisis,” and this news report from Murdoch’s hires opened: “The House of Representatives defeated the White House’s historic $700 billion financial-rescue package.” The plan wasn’t called there any “bailout,” because it was a Republican plan (even though, in the House, 60% of Democrats had voted for it, and 67% of Republicans had voted against it). Rupert Murdoch doesn’t control only his editorials; he also controls what his “reporters” “report,” or how they “report” it, and he didn’t want this bailout to be negatively portrayed.

The newspaper’s editorial at the time was even clearer in its opinion, and (not coincidentally) in the same general vein as its “news” report. Headlined “The Beltway Crash: Congress Lives Up to Its 10% Approval Rating,” it explicitly condemned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and presented a photo of her along with “Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill),” since everyone knew that Rahm would soon be in the White House if Obama were to win the Presidency on Election Day, November 4th. (Murdoch wanted to smear them both.) The WSJ’s editorial thus said, “The majority party is responsible for assembling a majority vote, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed in that fundamental task.” Nancy Pelosi had “failed” to pass George W. Bush’s proposed legislation. Tut, tut, for that!

Because of the rejection of Hank Paulson’s unmonitorable bailout of Wall Street, Democrats in the Senate rewrote it as a monitorable bailout, and so it was passed and signed into law on 3 October 2008. If it had not passed at all, the Second Great Depression would have immediately hit. What was done on that day was the best that could have been achieved under the circumstances, at that time.

The Wall Street Journal was never an opponent of that bailout until after the Democrat, Barack Obama, became President. A typical editorial was published from Murdoch’s hires on Monday, 10 December 2012, headlined “Harry’s Bank Bailout: How Long Do Bankers Expect to Rely on a ‘Temporary’ Rescue Plan?” This editorial correctly opened: “As early as Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) will seek to extend a 2008 emergency program that aids banks and their wealthiest customers.” The implication there that Murdoch was a populist was something that Joseph Goebbels would have admired. A bailout of Wall Street’s “banks and their wealthiest customers” is what both Bush and Obama wanted. That’s what the bailout of Wall Street had been designed to do from its very outset, and Murdoch wasn’t opposed to it until it became, under the new “Democratic” President, a “Democratic” operation, a “Democratic” transfer of trillions, from the masses to the classes.

Throughout it all, Wall Street knows on which side its bread is buttered the more. That’s one reason why Rupert Murdoch had wanted to buy the Wall Street Journal in 2007 from the honorable Bancroft family, who (unlike Murdoch) didn’t think that their newspaper’s news reporting should be controlled by them; only its editorials had been, which is why the WSJ had been a great newspaper under their management. Murdoch changed that; he turned it into a trade-newspaper for Wall Street firms. That’s what it now is.

Wall Street knows that its bread is buttered far more on the Republican side than on the Democratic side. When push finally came to shove in the financing of the 2012 Presidential campaign, Obama certainly wasn’t helped by the banksters whom he had bailed out and refuses to prosecute for their heinous crimes that almost collapsed the global economy. That assistance and forbearance weren’t enough to satisfy them: They favored Romney, virtually all of whose top contributors were Wall Street firms. By contrast, Obama’s campaign received most of its big money from employees of universities, high-tech firms, Obama’s own Administration itself, and media conglomerates – a much more diverse group, all-around.

Rupert Murdoch is no more of an authentic populist than the “völkisch” Adolf Hitler himself was. The two would probably have gotten along famously, except for one thing: Murdoch is more modern; he’s no anti-Semite. He doesn’t share that stupidity from Hitler and from his times.

Perhaps there is some progress, after all. But when Murdoch’s attitude toward Blacks is considered, perhaps it’s not really that much (to judge by his Fox “News”). And his attitude toward women is also not a lot different than Hitler’s was, except that Murdoch’s infatuation with blondes displays itself in somewhat different ways (such as by showing more skin and using it to sell things).

Obama’s Administration could probably successfully prosecute not just the banksters but Murdoch (such as for his foreign bribery), but he chooses not to do so. (Instead, he pursued John Edwards, Don Siegelman, and other Democrats; and Siegelman is now in prison on Karl Rove’s frame-up of him that’s been relentlessly supported by Obama.) If Obama continues this unearned beneficence toward his “opponents” (and viciousness toward Democrats) into his second term, then perhaps Democrats should renounce him. After all, when Obama told the banksters, on 27 March 2009 (at a secret White House meeting with them), that “My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” and thus analogized them to the Blacks who had been lynched in the Old South, what he said there was way out of line. Yet, he has been following through on that promise, till the present day, and most Democrats still think that he isn’t basically a conservative.

Maybe the opposition between Murdoch and Obama is just for show. But then, who would be the worse hypocrite: Murdoch, or Obama?


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.