By Amitabh Pal on July 20, 2011

Is the phone-hacking scandal going to result in the collapse of Murdoch’s empire?

The truthful answer is that no one knows. But it sure isn’t helping.

Rupert’s holdings in three continents have been tainted, so far. He’s had to testify before the British Parliament and has had a foam pie thrown in his face. A number of members of the News Corp’s inner circle have resigned or been arrested. If only I could muster a bit of sympathy for the guy.

His troubles in Britain are well known. The highly profitable News of the World has been shut down. Murdoch's bid to lord over Britain’s satellite airwaves has had to be called off. And two former whistleblowers have actually been found dead.

But even stateside, the toxic effect of the scandal is further poisoning the reputation of his holdings, such as the Wall Street Journal. The paper began with a fawning softball interview of Rupert and followed that with a barrage of seven editorials and columns dedicated to defending its ownership.

“I think this establishes the Journal as a mouthpiece for News Corp., unfortunately,” says Sarah Ellison, the author of a book on Murdoch’s 2007 takeover of the paper.

At Fox, the folks are at a complete loss. The aggressiveness that marks the network’s pursuit of non-scandals is noticeably lacking here. It’s hard not to revel in the discomfort of a channel that more than any other media outlet in recent times has contributed to the misinformation of the American public.

Over in Australia, Murdoch’s land of birth, Rupert’s grip on Australian politics is loosening. Spooked by his near-monopoly over large segments of the media, politicians there have generally been hesitant to take him on. No longer. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that there could possibly be an inquiry into News Corp’s holdings in her country.

What could further damage News Corp. here in the United States?

The company could be charged with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, under which a U.S. company that gives bribes abroad can be prosecuted. The FBI is investigating the accusation that the voice mails of families of Sept. 11 victims were hacked into. (There are also intriguing allegations about Fox headman Roger Ailes operating a “brain room” to tap into phone messages of his targets.)

Then there’s the boycott option. This is more complicated than you would think, as Eric Stoner details at Wagingnonviolence.org. It would mean avoiding everything from Terrence Malick’s philosophically rich “The Tree of Life” to any book published by HarperCollins. Facebook and Twitter pages to shun Murdoch have come up.

There’s a rough road ahead for News Corp.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Al Jazeera Incident Shows Xenophobia Alive in America."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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