K. Rupert Murdoch

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Rupert Murdoch WEF.jpg

K. Rupert Murdoch (Keith Rupert Murdoch) is chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation and the Fox News. He is also a patron of the American Australian Association.


Murdoch was born in Australia on 11th of March, 1931. Murdoch studied at Oxford and working in Fleet Street paper, the Daily Express.

History of media acquisitions

See K. Rupert Murdoch/Detailed history of media acquisitions.

Ties to tobacco

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch joined the Board of Directors of Philip Morris in August 1989 and he continued to serve on their board into the 1990s. [1][2] The relationship appeared to serve PM well. A 1985 PM internal report shows that information that could negatively affect the tobacco industry was routinely withheld from Murdoch-owned newspapers worldwide:

As regards the media, we plan to build similar relationships to those we now have with Murdoch's News Limited with other newspaper proprietors. Murdoch's papers rarely publish anti-smoking articles these days. To sum up, then, on using our natural allies. We have made a start; we have proved that it can be done; we have found that they can be a very effective force; and we intend to do more in the future. at Bates Page 2023268390

This document appears to confirm a bias in reporting on tobacco issues by media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch.


Murdoch told William Shawcross, who authored a biography of Murdoch, that he considers himself a libertarian. "What does libertarian mean? As much individual responsibility as possible, as little government as possible, as few rules as possible. But I'm not saying it should be taken to the absolute limit."

Murdoch rejects any suggestion that doing business with the Chinese communist regime contradicts his conservative political views. Communist values to ingratiate himself with Beijing, he said: "I don't think there are many communists left in China. There's a one-party state and there's a communist economy, which they are desperately trying to get out of and change. The real story there is an economic story, tied to the democratic story," he told Shawcross.

Murdoch believes the criticism of him in the UK is attributable to his success in breaking the print unions and his success in establishing satellite broadcasting. "I'm a catalyst for change … You can't be an outsider and be successful over 30 years without leaving a certain amount of scar tissue around the place," he told Shawcross. [3]

While many attribute Murdoch with the conservative political views of his news organizations, some writers argue this is a misunderstanding of Murdoch.

Media website kaputa cites Richard Stott's criticism of Bruce Page's depiction of Murdoch, who he said "is shown to be manipulative, devious, bullying, ruthless and unscrupulous. But that just makes him a newspaper proprietor. What makes him special is that he isn't interested in the usual playthings of newspaper owners such as Beaverbrook, Northcliffe and William Randolph Hearst, namely political power for mischievous personal ends. For him it is the currency to secure a bigger and better deal or to consolidate current ones." [4]

James Fallows, writing in The Atlantic Monthly, adopts a similar view. “The real difference between Murdoch and an activist like Scaife is that Murdoch seems to be most interested in the political connections that will help his business … In short, some aspects of News Corp's programming, positions, and alliances serve conservative political ends, and others do not. But all are consistent with the use of political influence for corporate advantage. In the books I read and interviews I conducted, I found only one illustration of Murdoch's using his money and power for blatantly political ends: his funding of The Weekly Standard. The rest of the time he makes his political points when convenient as an adjunct to making money,” Fallows wrote.

Fallows points out that while Murdoch’s US news outlets were attacking Clinton in the late 1990’s they were backing the UK Labour Party leader, Tony Blair against the incumbent conservatives. One person interviewed complained about Murdoch’s use of his media outlets to advance his business interests which led Fallows to surmise “In this view, The Weekly Standard and the New York Post, neither of them profitable, are more means than ends”. [5]

In April 2004 Murdoch claimed in an interview with Australian conservative talk show host, Alan Jones, that the ability of individuals and organisations to cheaply publish on the Internet made concerns about the concentration of media ownership obsolete. “There is so much media now with the Internet and people … and so easy and so cheap to start a newspaper or start a magazine, there’s just millions of voices, and people want to be heard. And we don’t really have to worry … you know, the old ideas of it being too concentrated … I think that’s fading away,” he said.

Asked what he considered the major issues that government and others should address Murdoch identified education. “Well, we’re not spending enough money (on education), but probably … you know, we let the teachers unions set curriculas which … you know, don’t teach them the right things. There’s not emphasis on the … really the basic learning that you need if you’re going to go on in a college and into post-graduate work,” he told Jones. [6]

Murdoch and the British Labour Party

When polling indicated that the then Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock, could lead the UK Labour Party to an election win, Murdoch's’ The Sun campaigned strongly against him. The front page on polling day proclaimed "If Neil Kinnock wins today, would the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights". Kinnock was narrowly defeated which prompted a self-congratulatory headline from The Sun: "It's the Sun wot won it".

In 1997, Murdochs UK newspapers – The Sun and The Times – backed Tony Blair’s “New Labour” against the Conservative Party which had been widely discredited after a string of scandals.

While Murdoch’s papers supported Blair in the last two elections, in November 2003 he signaled to Blair that his continued support can’t be counted on. In an interview with the BBC, Murdoch discussed his opposition to a proposed constitution for the European Union and a meeting he initiated with the new leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard.

'Let's just say we have a friendly relationship as I do with Mr Howard, and the jury's out … We'll have to see how the Tory front bench looks, [if] it looked like a viable alternative government, which it hasn't so far. And we will not quickly forget the courage of Tony Blair in the international sphere in the last several months, so we may be torn in our decision. So let's wait and see. It's a long way away, let's see what the Government is doing with Europe, let's see how Mr Howard performs, how the Government performs.'

Murdoch – a US citizen – claimed the proposed EU constitution would erode Britain’s economic sovereignty: “I don't like the idea of any more abdication of our sovereignty in economic affairs or anything else. We'll have to see what's in the final constitution, if it's anything like the draft then certainly we'll oppose it.” [7]

In an interview with Australian conservative talk show host, Alan Jones, Murdoch agreed that red tape was limiting business productivity. “If you want to see how bad things are go to Europe. I mean, that is just crazy there. You have your own national government to go through and quangos – and whatever you call them – and boards and then when they're finished with you you've got to go to Brussels and do it all again,” Murdoch said.

Murdoch went on to criticise Blair’s support for further integration with the European Union. “It can only be personal ego. You know, he's … oh, he's a friend of mine. We've supported him very strongly on Iraq. We think he's been very brave. He came in at a time when the conservative party had collapsed. But on this he just doesn't make any sense,” he said.

Asked about how governments could be prevented from passing more laws affecting individuals and corporations, Murdoch explained that his papers in the UK were campaigning to block further integration with the EU. “Well, I guess when it gets too bad, you do everything you can to change them. We're campaigning … what we're doing in Britain today, we're campaigning every day in our newspapers to get a referendum so it actually gets put to the people before they sign onto Europe or sign in any deeper and we're certain what the result would be,” he said.[8]

In late April 2004 in a major policy U-turn, Blair announced that a referendum would be held on the proposed EU constitution. Why Blair changed his mind, contrary to his strong recent opposition to a referendum, was the source of much speculation.

Some argued that the ongoing controversy was a major political liability for the EU elections in June and the general election, likely to be called in 2005. In a twist on the theme, some claimed that at a meeting in March with one of Murdoch's senior executives, Irwin Stelzer, that Blair was told that unless there was a referendum Murdoch would campaign against the Labour Party in the general election. It is a claim rejected by Blair's office. [9]

A few days later Murdoch told an audience of business people attending a Milken Institute business conference of his concerns about immigration in Europe. "The Muslim populations in France and Germany are much bigger proportionately to what they are in this country [the US] and they have made a very bad job of assimilating them," he said. According to the report he said that in the US most of the Muslim population had been assimilated though there were "pockets of trouble here and there".

"They [Europe] have major centres of problems that are just boiling up. Paris is surrounded by vast blocks of tens of thousands of apartments - all Muslim, all no-go areas for police and totally lawless," he complained.

The European Union, he said, was an "awful French socialist bureaucracy stuck in Brussels, which is deterring investment in Europe, which is over-regulating every business and everybody." [10]

Lance Price, who worked as a media adviser to Tony Blair between 1998 and 2001, writes that Rupert Murdoch "seemed like the 24th member of the cabinet. His voice was rarely heard ... but his presence was always felt." Price was required to submit his manuscript for his recently-released book, The Spin Doctor's Diary, to the Cabinet Office for vetting. He was surprised to discover that a third of the objections by Blair's staff related to Murdoch, reflecting the close relationship between the two. "All discussions ... with Rupert Murdoch and with Irwin Stelzer, his representative on earth, were handled at the very highest level ... The Sun and the Times, in particular, received innumerable 'scoops' and favours. In return, New Labour got very sympathetic coverage from newspapers that are bought and read by classic swing voters - on the face of it, too good a deal to pass up," he wrote. [11]

On global warming

Rupert Murdoch is a major equity share-holder in Genie Energy, where he is also a strategic advisory board member. Genie is a major investor in US and Israeli shale oil and gas projects. According to the US journalism watchdog Media Matters, Murdoch's FOX News has frequently run news stories promoting Genie Energy's shale projects.[1]

Murdoch has stated that climate change should be viewed with "much scepticism" and that humanity shouldn't be "building windmills and all that rubbish."[2]

All of Murdoch's news outlets push a denier line and provide an echo chamber of scientific misinformation. For example, his Australian flagship, The Australian, has run what is known as "The Australian's War on Science" in an effort to sow confusion about the science around global warming.[3]

On the Iraq war

In March 2003, Speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference, Murdoch backed Bush government plans to invade Iraq. "We worry about what people think about us too much in this country. We have an inferiority complex, it seems," he said.

"I think what's important is that the world respects us, much more important than they love us ... There is going to be collateral damage. And if you really want to be brutal about it, better we get it done now than spread it over months," he said. [12].

In April 2004, days after major military clashes in Iraq, Murdoch wholeheartedly backed the U.S. government policy and dismissed the magnitude of the ongoing guerrilla war against coalition military forces. “We have got to see the job through. And I think it is being misrepresented. There’s tremendous progress in Iraq. All the kids are back at school – ten per cent more than when Saddam Hussein was there. There is one per cent more fresh water. There’s … most of Iraq is doing extremely well,” Murdoch said.

“There is one small part where the Sunnis are, which were the people who supported Saddam Hussein, who are giving trouble, and more by, I think, giving cover to international terrorists and people from the Taliban and from Afghanistan coming in. And it’s not - this is notable - they’re not really trying to kill Americans even, they’re trying to kill people, like, from the United Nations. Anyone who is trying to come in and help get their country going properly,” he said.

Murdoch had no doubt that the war in Iraq would have no impact on Bush’s election prospects. “They’re with him on that, completely. He’s going to walk it in. The economy is doing extremely well and, you know, there is an international crisis,” he said. [13]

In November 2006, on the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections, Murdoch downplayed the number of deaths in Iraq. "The death toll, certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any previous war are quite minute," he said. "Of course no one likes any death toll, but the war now, at the moment, it's certainly trying to prevent a civil war and to prevent Iraqis killing each other."

"I believe it was right to go in there. I believe that certainly the execution that has followed that has included many mistakes," Murdoch said. "But that's easy to say after the event. It's much easier to criticize the conduct of the war today in the media than it was in previous wars. I'm sure there were great mistakes made in the past, too." [14]

On January 26, 2007 Murdoch participated in a panel discussion on "Who Will Shape the Agenda?" at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In response to the moderator asking if "News Corp. managed to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq, Murdoch said: 'No, I don't think so. We tried.' Asked by Rose for further comment, he said: 'We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle East...but we have been very critical of his execution.'" [15]

On the Fox Business Network

News Corp. announces that it will launch the Fox Business Network on October 15, 2007. Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News, will also oversee FBN. Neil Cavuto will be the managing editor. [16]

On February 8, 2007, Murdoch promised guests at the McGraw-Hill Media Summit that, "a Fox channel would be 'more business-friendly than CNBC. That channel leap[s] on every scandal, or what they think is a scandal,' he said." [17]

On education

In 2010, Rupert Murdoch said, "w]hen it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S." Murdoch now owns the company Amplify, a digital education provider.[4]

U.S. political contributions

Books on Murdoch

There are numerous books on Rupert Murdoch with those considered to be amongst the best being:

  • George Munster, A Paper Prince, Viking, Melbourne, 1985. ISBN 0670805033
  • Neil Chenoweth, Virtual Murdoch: Reality Wars on the Information Highway Secker & Warburg, London: 2001. ISBN 0436233894 (This has been reprinted in the US as Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Media Wizard, Crown Publishing Group November 2002 ISBN 0609610384).
  • Bruce Page, The Murdoch Archipelago, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2003. ISBN 0743239369

A comprehensive listing of all the main books on Murdoch is available at http://www.ketupa.net/murdoch.htm

A comprehensive timeline on the rise of Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation is available at http://www.ketupa.net/murdoch2.htm


Articles and resources


  1. Murdoch-owned media hypes lone metereologist's climate junk science. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2014-07-17.
  2. Rupert Murdoch: Tony Abbott is an admirable man and Australia shouldn't build windmills and all that rubbish. The Independent. Retrieved on 2014-07-17.
  3. The Australian's War on Science. ScienceBlogs. Retrieved on 2014-07-17.
  4. , Donald Cohen,Bush's Education Nonprofit and Corporate Profits, In the Public Interest, January 30th, 2013.
  5. Board of Directors, Partnership for New York City, accessed December 28, 2007.

Related SourceWatch articles

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

External articles










Articles and Speeches by Murdoch

See K. Rupert Murdoch/Articles and speeches by Murdoch page split off 2011-08-15