For several weeks, Glenn Beck has relentlessly demonized CUNY Political Science professor Frances Fox Piven. His attacks have inspired death threats and been met with widespread condemnation. Below, Frances Fox Piven responds to Beck. His paranoid rants, she says, pose a greater danger to American democracy than to her personal safety.
From a February 8 column published on the website of The Guardian:
When the process of governing is incomprehensible, manipulation and propaganda thrives. The strange stories that Glenn Beck creates with his chalkboard gain traction with Americans, who are made anxious by the large changes that have overtaken the United States, including the election of a black president and the increasing racial diversity of the population, deindustrialisation and the decline of American power abroad, as well as cultural changes in sexual and family norms.
By telling simple fairy tales that trace these big and complex changes to the machinations of particular people, Beck makes the changes comprehensible in a way, and also makes the people who are presumably responsible the targets of his listeners' frustration and outrage. Partly because it is utterly irrational, and partly because it is an effort to bully and intimidate his political opponents, this is dangerous for democratic politics.
Like father's employee, like son?
Rupert Murdoch's son James reportedly crashed the London offices of The Independent because the paper had produced promotional ads stating, "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
The Guardian reports:
But [Rupert's] son James seems less ready to turn the other cheek, as it were. And this would seem to be the most plausible explanation for why Murdoch the younger, the chairman and chief executive News Corporation Europe and Asia, caused a media sensation on Wednesday by striding across the editorial floor at the Independent newspaper to berate its editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner.
In common with so many of the unpleasant episodes involving angry young men in modern London, it was a squall about reputation and respect. The newly relaunched Independent had produced a series of relatively innocuous promotional ads assuring readers: "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
There is no evidence that Murdoch senior has even seen the ads, but witnesses report that directly upon seeing Kelner, who was supervising the final production stages of that night's paper, Murdoch the younger began angry remonstrations. "What are you fucking playing at?" was his opening gambit.
The episode left experienced journalists shocked. "They strode in like a scene out of Dodge City," said one. "Murdoch scanned the room, you could almost hear him saying 'Where is he?'"
It looks like the younger Murdoch may be a big fan of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly who has become infamous over the years for ambushing those critical of the conservative network.
He failed miserably with MySpace.
He launched the right-wing TheFoxNation.com claiming it was "time to say 'no' to biased media and 'yes' to fair play and free speech." Quit laughing.
He may be interested in buying Twitter.com.
He paid big bucks to settle hacking lawsuits.
Now, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, is apparently readying himself for war with Google.
The Guardian reports:
Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.
In recent months, Murdoch his lieutenants have stepped up their war of words with Google, accusing it of "kleptomania" and acting as a "parasite" for including News Corp content in its Google News pages. But asked why News Corp executives had not chosen to simply remove their websites entirely from Google's search indexes – a simple technical operation – Murdoch said just such a move was on the cards.
"I think we will, but that's when we start charging," he said. "We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story - but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."
The 78-year-old mogul's assertion, however, is not actually correct: users who click through to screened WSJ.com articles from Google searches are usually offered the full text of the story without any subscription block. It is only users who find their way to the story through the Wall Street Journal's website who are told they must subscribe before they can read further.
Murdoch's attitude towards the internet - which appeared to have thawed when he bought social networking site MySpace for $580m in 2005 - has stiffened more recently.
Additionally, it emerged that MySpace, which has struggled in the face of competition from Facebook in recent years, was due to fall short of its targets in a lucrative search deal with Google – a slip that could cost the site more than $100m in payments from the internet advertising giant.
Actually, it might not be that bad if Murdoch pulls News Corp content off of Google. Think of the millions of people that would be inoculated from his... ummm "fair and balance" approach to journalism.
UPDATE: Google has responded. This Telegraph headline says it all: "Google: Rupert Murdoch Can Block Us If He Wants To."
According to a report in The Guardian, Rupert Murdoch – chairman of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News – has "paid out more than £1m (about $1.6 million) to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories."
Fair and balanced (and illegally obtained?)
Romenesko summarized the sordid story:
...Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper subsidiary paid about $1.6 million to settle court cases involving allegations that its reporters worked with private investigators to hack into numerous public figures' cellphones. Murdoch tells Bloomberg News that's news to him. "If that had happened, I would know about it."
As if his takeover of MySpace wasn't enough.
The Guardian reports on speculation that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, "could be ready to make a play for [Twitter]."
From The Guardian (emphasis added):
As the media world's most powerful figures gather in Sun Valley, Idaho to discuss the state of the industry the topics are likely to range far and wide. But aside from subjects like the economy and the influence of the internet, one question is likely to dominate conversations among the event's moguls and millionaires: will anyone broker a deal to buy Twitter?
The hyped internet company's chief executive, Evan Williams, is one of hundreds of faces attending the shindig - a high-profile but secretive event organised by investment group Allen & Co. The fact that his fellow attendees reads like a Who's Who of the internet industry - including Google boss Eric Schmidt, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, new AOL chief Tim Armstrong, and media magnates Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch - has lead some to speculate that an acquisition could be on the cards.
Among those who believe a deal could be brokered at Sun Valley is journalist and entrepreneur Michael Wolff, who believes Murdoch could be ready to make a play for the San Francisco startup.
Talking to Yahoo, Wolff said that Murdoch showed no evidence of regretting the purchase of MySpace, the social network he bought in 2005 that recently underwent severe cutbacks.
"I don't think he feels that he was burned badly," he said. "They made a good deal and then the company soared to a theoretical valuation of $15bn. Where is it now? Certainly not at $15bn, but I think it's probably over $600m - though maybe not too much."
Wolff, who wrote a biography of the 78-year-old and now runs a news aggregation website, said that Twitter could add substance to Murdoch's online empire.
"I think they would say that they were caught," he said of the MySpace acquisition. 'They didn't have the technological heft to support this kind of company. Could they get that technological heft by adding Twitter to their formidable new media assets?"