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Rupert Murdoch: the truth

Comments Off on Rupert Murdoch: the truth 29 June 2017

Rupert Murdoch: the truth

Today, the Sun devotes its entire front page to the Hillsborough tragedy. Unlike in 1989 when editor Kelvin MacKenzie slandered the dead and the living, today contrition appears to be the order of the day. “96 deaths, two inquests, no charges until now 28 years on..SIX FACE JUSTICE”, screams its front page. I am more cynical than ever before.

To state the bleeding obvious, it’s too late for contrition. In 1989, Britain’s leading tabloid newspaper led with this headline: “THE TRUTH. * Some fans picked pockets of victims. * Some fans urinated on brave cops. * Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.” Not the truth; but lies, lies and more lies. During the years that followed, the Sun attempted, in the most half-hearted way imaginable, to right their disgraceful wrong, but once the story was published nothing, but nothing, would be good enough. But even when they were trying to limit the damage to their brand – the real reason for all of their subsequent actions – they continued to employ the man who was personally responsible for the slanders: Kelvin MacKenzie.

People in Liverpool do not, by and large, buy the Sun. It is impossible to do justice to the emotions aroused by Hillsborough, nor the pain, anguish and anger MacKenzie’s crass journalism caused. We now know the truth about what happened in 1989, but even now no one has faced justice. Put yourself in the place of the families of the victims. Your lives would have been ruined by the tragedy, by the years of agony that followed and by reckless and insensitive reporting by the media. The Sun made its editorial choice nearly three decades ago and it is far too late to put it right.

MacKenzie’s poison was still published by the Sun until recently when his anti-Liverpool bile became too much for even Rupert Murdoch himself, a man previously believed to have no feelings, no form of conscience at all. Actually, I am not sure Murdoch made the decision to axe MacKenzie for reasons other than desperate appeasement. And there’s another thing: what about the timing of the Sun’s front page?

Yes, I know their headline today refers to the fact that six people have been referred for prosecution by the CPS, but Hillsborough has rarely been front page news for the Sun. But something else is happening today. The government is to announce later this morning whether Rupert Murdoch can get his hands on the 61% of Sky he does not already own. Rupert Murdoch will then own 20th Century Fox, Sky, the Times, the Sunday Times, The Sun, the Sun on Sunday, Talksport, as well as countless newspapers, TV stations and publishing houses throughout the world. Murdoch already spends more on sports broadcasting in the UK than the national broadcaster the BBC spends on everything. Allowing Murdoch to own and control Sky would be a threat to free speech and the rejection of the principle of media plurality.

The disgusting reports of what happened in 1989 should, in themselves, disqualify Rupert Murdoch from controlling substantial parts of our media. By keeping MacKenzie on the payroll was a clear statement of the continuing contempt Murdoch had for the victims of Hillsborough and his apparent change of heart today should be dismissed for the cynical opportunistic gesture that it is.

I hope MPs would stand up and oppose any decision to allow Murdoch to buy the rest of Sky and if they fail then Labour should commit itself to refer any such merger to the Competition and Markets Association (CMA). Murdoch is not a fit and proper person to be trusted to own any large media organisation and I haven’t even mentioned hacking the telephone of a dead schoolgirl until now.

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