Murdoch gave a speech (full text here) in honour of former British Prime Minister, Baronness Margaret Thatcher, at the Centre for Policy Studies. As a public event, it was well timed, with Murdoch's papers in the UK still trying to shake off a phone tapping scandal , his News Corp empire under pressure to lift its bid for the 61 percent of satellite broadcaster BSkyB it doesn't already own and his business in the US defending $1 million donations to political opponents of the Obama administration.
The great irony is that Murdoch still loves the role of 'the outsider' even when the company he runs is the most powerful media conglomerate on the planet. And so he used his speech at the Thatcher event to depict himself once again as a kindred spirit of the Thatcher revolution, a free-spirited, cheeky, classless and dynamic business pragmatist up against the varicose veins of vested interest, privilege and old money. In the process, he served a quite reminder to David Cameron's coalition-building Tories not to forget the most successful conservative politician of the post-war era and to remember on which side their bread is buttered.
Anyone who has watched Murdoch at work over the years knows that he likes nothing better than to be seen as the infamous dirty digger at war with exclusive and self-serving interests, his iconoclastic publications refusing to genuflect to the supposed pillars of our modern democracies; and if one of his on-air charges goes overboard once and a while, that can't be such a bad thing.
But it seems Rupert's championing of "independent, enquiring, bustling and free" journalism only goes so far, because he spends part of his speech trying to link the structural decline of the mainstream media and the rise of the blogosophere as somehow serving the interests of the powerful.
"Now, it would certainly serve the interests of the powerful if professional journalists were muted – or replaced as navigators in our society by bloggers and bloviators. Bloggers can have a social role – but that role is very different to that of the professional seeking to uncover facts, however uncomfortable."By professionals seeking to uncover facts, I assume Rupert refers to Fox showmen like Glenn Beck or the fearless team at The Australian who, in unmasking a public servant blogger, tried to dress up what was a small-minded payback as a case of insisting on the public's right to know.
You see in Murdoch's clannish and inwardly looking editorial world, it's either or. You're either with them or against them. Never does he countenance the possibility that journalists and expert bloggers could work together in serving the interests of the wider population against the rich and the powerful, of whom Rupert strangely never counts himself among.