The hyperbole of anti-Murdoch campaigners has reached truly titanic proportions in the last couple of years. Every time you think they’ve outdone themselves there’s always someone willing to go that bit further over the top.
Today’s frothingly bonkers accusation comes from the Hogwarts-sounding Lord Snape, formerly Peter Snape MP, in an interview with Total Politics. Taking a four mile run-up before vaulting the dizzyingly high absurdity bar, he declares:
“…Rupert Murdoch: he’s done more damage to democracy around the world than any dictator or general in my lifetime.”
That’s a rather bold declaration, particularly considering Snape was born in, er, 1942.
Just in case he’s forgotten which dictators have been around since he was born, here’s a handy checklist of some of the most notable for the good Lord to assess the accuracy of his claim.
Tick as appropriate. Has Rupert Murdoch done more damage to democracy than….?
☐ Pol Pot
☐ Chairman Mao
☐ Kim Jong Il
Or, finally, the arguing-on-the-internet classic:
The irony, of course, is that it is Rupert Murdoch’s detractors that accuse him of scare-mongering and over-the-top rhetoric. Perhaps Lord Snape could let us know when Murdoch initiates the Blitz, establishes Gulags, reopens the Killing Fields and/or invades Poland.
The hatred between the Guardian and the Murdochs is a thing of legend, but I hadn’t realised until today quite how far back it goes. Via the ever-excellent Willard Foxton, I came across an intriguing article which incidentally sheds a bit of light on the history of the titanic struggle between the two.
The piece recounts the story of how Rupert Murdoch’s father Keith Murdoch, sent as a war correspondent to cover the disastrous Gallipoli campaign against Turkey in 1915, attempted to expose the military failings which were feeding thousands of British, Australian and Kiwi soldiers into a meatgrinder in the Dardanelles. His and other journalists’ reports were heavily censored by the military authorities on the ground, and eventually Murdoch decided to smuggle a letter to Prime Minister Asquith to bring the mess to light.
(It’s worth noting at this point that the normally excellent Willard Foxton referenced this story on the Huffington Post as an instance of the Murdochs “doing damage to the allied cause in WW1″, whereas I’d personally view it as an example of a journalist doing what they should – investigate and expose serious issues in the public interest, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that.)
The bit that caught my eye was what happened to Murdoch while he was trying to smuggle the letter back to Britain:
He got as far as Marseilles, but there was detained by a British officer with an escort and warned that he would be kept in custody until he handed over the letter. He had been betrayed…by H. W. Nevinson, the correspondent for the Guardian.
And 96 years later, here we are again, watching the Guardian and a Murdoch kick lumps out of each other. I can’t imagine after this week’s events that there’s any chance that peace will be declared in the next 96 years, either.