Real News Network- Murdoch Shaped British Politic for over 40 years
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. And in London, Rupert Murdoch is in town trying to stem the tide of the scandal engulfing his empire, at least the publicity tide. But whether the real power of Rupert Murdoch will be touched is another issue altogether. He still owns The Daily Sun. Even if News of the World has been closed down, that was only a Sunday newspaper. And there's already plans in place for a Sun of the Sunday. They're calling it Sun of Sunday versus Sunday Sun, 'cause that name has been taken already. But the real issue here is Rupert Murdoch's both television and newspaper power in shaping the politics of Britain for over 40 years. Now joining us to talk about the history of this is Dr. Leo Panitch. He teaches at York University in Toronto. He's also the author of the book The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour. Thanks for joining us, Leo.
LEO PANITCH, PROF. POLITICAL SCIENCE, YORK UNIVERSITY: Hi, Paul.
JAY: So let's dig into the history of Murdoch and how he helped shape particularly the Labour Party, which people, Americans might be a little surprised at, 'cause he's always here associated with supporting the Republican Party here.
PANITCH: Well, he's a very right-wing character. The fact that he supported the Labour Party doesn't change that one iota. He's known in Britain and in Australia as "the Digger" because of his Australian roots. And he came in in 1969 and bought The Sun, which was pretty much a working-class paper. As Dennis Potter, the great British playwright, television playwright, the guy who wrote The Singing Detective, put it in his last interview, there's no person in Britain more responsible for polluting what was already a very polluted press. So one shouldn't think that this was, you know, something that he did all by himself. But when he picked up The Sun, he took that working-class paper, which had a history going back to the '50s, when it had actually been The Labour Herald before it changed its name and had been trade-union owned and had been a Labour Party paper, essentially, and he immediately turned it into a political rag that attacked the left. You may have heard the term Bennism used as a terrible epithet, the four letter word Benn referring to Tony Benn, who was a cabinet minister in the 1960s and then moved to the left when he realized how little he could do in a British government.