What happens in the Murdoch empire is, ultimately, down to one man, Rupert Murdoch. Others may make the decisions, crossing lines on decency, defamation and the criminal law, but it all comes back to Creepy Uncle Rupe. The involvement of the late and not at all lamented Screws in dark arts, phone hacking and the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan - along with its subsequent cover-up - happened on his watch.
Yes Rupe, two all too similar organisations
So did the smearing, bullying, lying and all the rest practised by the Sun under the editorship of the repellent and unrepentant Kelvin McFilth. It all leads back to Murdoch - he sanctioned it, even if only by his keeping schtum while Kel invented story after story demonising the Irish, gays, lefties, greens, travellers, and anyone who was not white. He kept schtum while the Screws hacked phones on an industrial scale.
And now we know that Rupe kept schtum over the overbearing and paranoid reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Ailes was Murdoch’s appointment, he was left to his own devices, and we now know he was a serial harasser of women. As one former host put it, “Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny”.
Not only that, we now know the lengths to which Ailes would go in order to, shall we say, dissuade anyone who might even consider passing adverse comment on him and FNC, let alone those who might do a little digging in order to shine a little sunlight on the murky world in which the operation existed. Ailes was a deeply paranoid individual.
Murdoch would not have been worth a fraction of his reputation if he did not know this. And the parallels with the Sun and Screws are as disturbing as they are uncanny: Gabriel Sherman wrote a book about Ailes, but a whole two years before it was published, the Fox News boss had had a 400-page dossier compiled on him. Much of the information it contained was in the public domain. But maybe not all of it.
The Murdoch press in the UK had its targets put under surveillance. Ailes had his enemies put under surveillance. Personal information was dredged up. Campaigns were run against them. In the UK, the papers’ newsrooms were infamously laddish and misogynist. FNC, it seems, was much the same. And there in ultimate charge of both was someone who didn’t know what was going on - until he was called to account.
Now, Rupert Murdoch has taken personal charge of FNC, and for part of the week he can be found occupying Ailes’ former office. It’s almost as if he knew the ropes already. Maybe he does. After all, Murdoch did not get where he is today without knowing the behaviour patterns of those he has trusted to run his empire. It beggars belief to dismiss the similarities between his UK newspaper operation and Fox News as mere coincidence.
That dirty great dossier is as much his doing as Roger Ailes’. Likewise the whole gamut of bad behaviour at the Sun and Screws. He now needs to own it. And own up about it.
[You can discover more on UNTOLD: the Daniel Morgan murder HERE]