A curious sense of entitlement

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

So media mogul and right-wing idol Rupert Murdoch has declared he will turn his business interests away from the UK and concentrate on the US:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jun/28/rupert-murdoch-snubs-britain-billions?fb=native

All very predictable, some might proffer, after being humiliated at the Leveson Inquiry, and being deemed unfit to run a major corporation by a cross-party majority of MPs. Some wags might make the analogy of him taking his football home now he is losing the game. Of course, the game he is playing is ‘power’, and the stadium of ‘neo-liberalism’ is falling down, causing an exodus of supporters, while Chairman Rupe is ordering everyone to return, by virtue of the fact that he built the damn thing and they should all show him some gratitude.

Some softer folk may even be tempted to feel sorry for the avuncular Murdoch, though his feeling sorry for himself couldn’t be complete without him scorning the nation he is about to turn his wealth on. His line: “I worry about this entitlement culture” is a telling one. It exposes many prejudices that have always been ripe in his media’s extreme right-wing polemic. Not only this, but it reeks heavily of hypocrisy.

By entitlement culture, we all know that Rupert means that the average citizen feels ‘entitled’ to a certain level of protection and/or assistance from the state, in his mind excessively. If he were to convey this sentiment visually, it would most likely take the form of a foul-mouthed family of ten, drinking and smoking away their £110k annual benefits package while their offspring hop on and off the juvenile detention carousel and their dogs savage middle-class infants. Whether this caricature is actually true or not is irrelevant. These scenarios clearly exist because Rupert’s newspaper’s say they do, and have pictures and incoherent soundbites to prove it. Quite why The Sun’s investigative reporters are wasting themselves away on the non-thinking man’s rag, when they could clearly do a superb job for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, is open to debate. Perhaps Rupert remunerates lavishly. Or they take home a Page Three girl every other weekend. Or perhaps they just make all of this up to suit an agenda that’s as subtle as a Tesco delivery van crashing through your front door.

Let’s examine this ‘culture of entitlement’ with respect to Murdoch himself, shall we? On the surface, he appears to be an exemplary businessman, who has been nothing but successful in terms of profits and expansions in the media and entertainment sectors. He should be an inspiration to us all, with the way he fought from having nothing to controlling the views of a large proportion of the Australian, UK and US public. That’s if he started with nothing. But he didn’t. Murdoch inherited News Limited from his father Sir Keith Murdoch, on his death in 1952. So already, he had a fantastic head-start in business, not only having a very successful father as an inspiration and advisor, but being given his own newspaper company. Many others may have the potential to expand a company from these modest roots, but where would they get the capital to start the business? Banks do not lend to people with poor or no credit history, thus severely restricting opportunities of would-be entrepreneurs born into the wrong socio-economic background. Rupert never had to suffer the hardest burden of actually founding a small business, it was provided for him. Could this be termed ‘entitlement’?

This is not to say that Murdoch hasn’t worked incredibly hard. As many working people on low incomes and no contacts or businesses to inherit do. People who are paid so little that they must have their wages topped up by the state. This is the kind of ‘culture of entitlement’ that Rupert so despises, and yet his words ring hollow when we see the massive advantages he was afforded by virtue of his own ‘entitlement’, simply by being his father’s son.

The other issue with Murdoch’s words comes when we examine his own business practices. The State ‘culture of entitlement’ comes presumably from the notion that every person wishes to help every other person in their times of need. Murdoch’s business practices have typically included originally buying out any underperforming newspapers, then imposing ruthless management and editorial changes. We all know his editorial agenda, and his tactics for fighting ‘circulation wars’ is just as clear. We need only look as far as his UK acquisition of The Sun, and its transformation from a broadsheet to a tabloid with nonsensical fabricated stories and topless women. Along with the much-derided Fox News, this illustrates Murdoch’s major business tactic has been to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Realising most of the bottom end of the socio-economic spectrum are ignorant to political reality and take media at face value, Murdoch has worked this avenue impeccably, some might argue wilfully distorting the democratic process along the way. Since Margaret Thatcher’s election campaign, The Sun has not only been supportive of economically right-wing governments, but urged readers to vote this way on their front pages, as well as smearing reputations of opponents, mostly with false stories. These opponents have included Tony Benn, Michael Foot and John Major.

Murdoch has of course been supportive of these right-wing governments, particularly the ‘New Right’ axis of Ronald Raegan and Margaret Thatcher, because they promised, and delivered, a shrinking of the state, lower corporation taxes and increased loopholes, as well as giving into lobbying by Murdoch regarding cross-media ownership restrictions and antitrust laws. So one may postulate that lobbying and promoting certain parties who promise to reward you economically, whilst destroying those who don’t, is a rather extreme ‘culture of entitlement’. Though presumably Rupert believes that wielding great media power entitles you to a feeling of entitlement.

This ‘culture of entitlement’ could also extend to a media mogul thinking it acceptable to bribe and blackmail public officials, hack phone voicemails for gossip or leads, and instigate an illegal war to further your own business interests, through guarantees of favourable coverage to the proponents. Not to mention ordering your underlings to pervert the course of justice when you are found out. Maybe this is when a certain ‘culture of entitlement’ leads to a media mogul believing their money privileges them in a similar way to a mafia boss. The biggest irony in all of this is of course that Murdoch criticises State spending whilst contributing not much more tax than the ‘benefit cheats’ he so castigates.

We’re entitled to feel a little smug at potentially seeing the back of Rupert, one might think.

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