On the Depths of Rupert Murdoch’s ‘Crass’ Roots

Taking down “Michael Wolff’s fat masterpiece of sycophancy about Rupert Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News,” Murdoch Archipelago co-author Bruce Page (CounterPunch, 5/15/09) counters Wolff’s “astigmatic lens of gossip” with “a true outline” of Fox/Wall Street Journal mogul Murdoch’s roots:

Rupert’s father, Sir Keith, founded the dynasty during World War I as a dirty-tricks minion for “Billy” Hughes, probably Australia’s nastiest prime minister. His cover myth as a heroic war reporter has been so thoroughly dismantled that now it impresses none but family retainers and–of course–Mr. Wolff.

At Versailles, Keith was Billy’s ever-present aide in striving to make the Peace Conference into a vicious cock-up, rich in racist and imperialist content. Curiously, the pair would have had zero leverage but for the failure of a plot of Keith’s, which sought in 1918 to remove Australia’s battlefield commander on the Western Front, John Monash, for being an unheroic Jew…. Monash’s divisions led the British breakthrough…which…put Germany–suddenly, unexpectedly–at the Allies’ mercy.

[Australian] soldiers hoped there might be space for a decent peace. But politicians of various brands thought otherwise, and none outdid Keith’s boss in vengeful demagoguery, destroying at last all the credit Monash had gained for Australia. Billy and Keith weren’t prime authors of the Versailles debacle in 1919. But none toiled harder in its cause.

Page sees “two items of present relevance” in “this ironic history” of the treaty that precipitated the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich: “We see the core of the Murdoch business: offering political propaganda services, disguised thinly as journalism,” and then “there’s the stunning Murdoch talent for seizing the wrong end of any available political or military stick,” calling “Keith’s estimate of Monash and Rupert’s of the pseudo-warrior Bush Jr… reciprocals, to be sure, but identically crass.”