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Cole writes: "Fox Cable News (not the affiliates but the national propaganda outfit) is the purloined letter of today's news. Because it is out in the open, it isn't being seen."

Rupert Murdoch. (photo: Rex/Shutterstock/FoxNews)
Rupert Murdoch. (photo: Rex/Shutterstock/FoxNews)

Influence: Russia Just Imitated the Rupert Murdoch/Fox Model

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

17 July 17


n Edgar Allan Poe’s “Purloined Letter,” detective C. Auguste Dupin discovers a stolen letter in the thief’s own apartments after police searches had failed to turn it up. It was hidden in plain sight, on a card rack hanging from a ribbon, though it had been resealed. The police had assumed that it would have been hidden away and could not see it in the open.

Fox Cable News (not the affiliates but the national propaganda outfit) is the purloined letter of today’s news. Because it is out in the open, it isn’t being seen.

The allegation is that Vladimir Putin orchestrated the US news cycle by using Russian hackers and Russian media to collaborate with the alt-Neo-Nazi rag Breitbart and right wing social media to smear Hillary Clinton and build up Donald J. Trump. They are said to have targeted close states in hopes of suppressing the Democratic vote by smearing Secretary Clinton as a pedophile and part time witch.

The emails released by Donald Trump, Jr., show that the Russian government was likely using Russian friends of Trump to dangle tidbits before his team, to see how corruptible they were. When Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort came running to meet Natalia Vesselnitskaya, they had their answer. That she did not fork over anything of consequence then is not important. She was an opening gambit, not the end game.

I have no idea whether the Russian narrative is correct. But what I do know is that a much more obvious and successful attempt to manipulate the American public toward the far right has been run by Rupert Murdoch at Fox Cable News since the 1990s.

In fact, Murdoch and Putin are very similar. Both are billionaires. Both are influencers in the US despite being born elsewhere. Despite Murdoch’s naturalization, his values are those of the old “White Australia” policies. Both are amoral and apolitical. Both push the agenda that they perceive will benefit them. Both have pushed Islamophobia for political purposes. Both helped elect Trump and so inflicted enormous harm on the United States of America.

Both use their control of media to engage bullying and threats of smears to manipulate people. John Major revealed that as soon as he became prime minister, Murdoch threatened him. He could have good press or bad press, Murdoch told him. It depended on Major’s policies toward Europe.

Both use hacking to get information with which to smear enemies. Murdoch’s newspapers in the UK routinely hacked into people’s phone messages to get dirt on them. They then erased 20 million internal emails in an attempt to cover it up. I’ve long suspected that Murdoch’s US operations must have done the same thing but that British law enforcement is much less corrupt than the American, so it never came out over here. Putin recently praised his own Russian hackers as patriots.

Murdoch’s Fox is an attempt to subvert American democracy. Its employees have deliberately falsified video. They have retailed blatant lies as news. They have supported an implicit white nationalism. They have propagandized relentlessly for climate denialism. They have promoted war and war industries. They are about knee-jerk support of the Republican Party and more recently of the Trump faction within it. They have show consistent bias against minorities. The whole Mexican Wall fantasy was pushed by Bill O’Reilly for years. Even right wing thriller writer Tom Clancy at one point told O’Reilly it was a stupid idea.

So as everybody is trying to track down some vague and complicated Russian plot, the Rupert Murdoch plot is in plain sight.

And to any extent the Russian election plot has some truth to it, it is simply a use of techniques pioneered by Murdoch and Fox.

Which M. Dupin in the corporate media will dare blow the whistle? your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-6 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-17 15:34
Juan Cole is sliding off the deep end of nonsense. It is true that some commentators on Fox now support and defend Trump and secondarily Puting, but that is not because they are puppets of Putin but rather because they hate Hillary much more. The Hillary Eternal Vengeance Tour -- a.k.a. Resistance Summer -- is the provocation of the crazies on Fox. I've never read Breitbart, so I don't know about them. But if Hillary said "I hate Putin," Hannity would say "What's wrong with Putin."

What a stretch to say Murdoch and Putin are very similar. I don't see any similarities. Cole is just making it up. He's as bad as Fox. He has an axe to grind and he is relentless. His candidate lost and he's now joined the Hillary Vengeance Tour. He and Robert Reich will soon be singing a duet.
+16 # Farafalla 2017-07-17 22:14
Good points. Murdoch is a racist facho. But the Russian angle keeps on giving. Did you see?

It s also about the Russians. Trump is a crook. He hangs with crooks. He likes to rip people off. He was educated by Roy Cohn. He is a criminal sociopath. I think that is the main thing really.
+9 # PABLO DIABLO 2017-07-18 00:43
It is a nice distraction from the corporations pigging out at the trough. People that don't have passion substitute drama.
-10 # FDRva 2017-07-18 01:16
Let me get this straight.
Trump buried the obscene TPP trade deal on his first day in office.

Obama expanded the Bush Wall Street Bailout--and added several more regime-change wars.

But Trump is the bad guy--not the neo-con Unitary Executive Obama?

And only the big bad Red Russky Putin could have denied the universally beloved Hillary Clinton the White House?

By the way the alleged "Russian election meddling" consisted of a now dead pro-Sanders DNC staffer leaking unsecure & unflattering emails. Not a cyber-James Bond operation. lol
+2 # ericlipps 2017-07-18 08:01
Let me get this straight: you think that people concerned about Russian interference in our election believe that was ALL that was going on?

Don't you even read this blog regularly? If you did, you'd at least have heard about the fat thumb then-FBI Director James Comey put on the scale.
+11 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2017-07-18 10:20
Many of us may wish to disagree with anyone who supports Trump. But we cannot soothe one disgust by drinking another foul brew.

FDRva is correct about TPP.

FDRva is correct about the Wall Street Bailout, and I'd add Obama's failure to follow through on this campaign promise actually to prosecute the thieves that stole so much from all of us.

These things are simply factual.

It appears that FDRva is also correct on the final point. No mention is ever made in all this hurricane of slober about "Russian election meddling" of what actually was purloined.

The ONLY specific electronic material ever mentioned STILL remains the DNC emails from John Podesta's account. The release of that material would historically be considered what we used to call reporting the facts...a public service...prote cted under Whistle Blower provisions in the law.
+6 # lfeuille 2017-07-18 19:36
Trump killed an already dead deal with Tpp but from what I've read his rewrite of NAFTA is about as bad. Trump is a total tool. Defending him because you hate Hillary is just as illogical as attacking him because you support her.
+2 # FDRva 2017-07-18 01:32
Quite insightful.

Is the author aware of the fundraisers for Barack Obama hosted in London by Elizabeth Murdoch?

Also note that Fox--like many well-financed Dems--urges Trump to 'confront Russia.'
+7 # draypoker 2017-07-18 02:15
Murdoch turned up in Britain some decades ago. He acquired a small circulation leftwing newspaper and rapidly turned it into a very rightwing tabloid, supporting Margaret Thatcher. It rapidly acquired a huge circulation. He used very dishonest "news" methods, concentrating on near pornography and advocacy of nasty policies. It is often observed that he affected the whole media landscape, making the press nastier. Whether he caused changes in society is arguable. He probably affected society and politics, advocating extreme rightwing polices.
+3 # dascher 2017-07-18 20:56
Murdoch was not initially a Trump fan.. murdoch is evil but stupid and could see that Trump was dumb, unpredictable, compromised, apolitical, stupid, and ignorant. Somebody barely able to read even Murdoch's dumbed down rags. He, like everybody else including Trump himself saw very little chance of Trump winning the Presidency. He probably figured Trump would lose but come closer than Romney or McCain managed to do, so he'd be useful as part of the long game to take complete control of the US political institutions.

There is little to no similarity between Murdoch and Putin. Fox news alone could no more have gotten Trump elected on their own than they could get the last two GOP nomineees elected.
0 # draypoker 2017-07-21 13:56
"There is little to no similarity between Murdoch and Putin. Fox news alone could no more have gotten Trump elected on their own than they could get the last two GOP nomineees elected."

Putin has military power, and also economic. Murdoch controls the opinions of millions and persuades them to vote - usually against their real interests.
+4 # relegn 2017-07-18 05:43
The question again for the American people is where to draw the line between free speech, propaganda and treason.
+5 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2017-07-18 10:10
You can rule out treason before opening the door.

Treason requires the act to be conducted in support of a current enemy. Though our US government is bombing and shooting people in many countries, the US is not at war with anyone.
+4 # lfeuille 2017-07-18 19:45
Yes, a lot of the Russia-gate hysteria refers to Russia as an "adversarial nation", not an enemy, but I don['t think that term has any meaning in law. The Deep State and the Dem establishment and their pet journalists use this wordage but non of them are charged with interpreting law. They are just saying it in hopes people won't look further. They do not have the authority to outlaw "adversarial relationships". The US is in adversarial relationships with many other countries on specific issues while being allied on others. It does not make those counties "enemies".
+5 # tedrey 2017-07-18 05:57
All these accusations are very true of Murdoch/Fox. They are also very true of CIA/NSA/FBI. Recent Russian activities are a pale imitation of these models.

"Putin recently praised his own Russian hackers as patriots." And our own lie-disseminato rs, regime-changers , cyber-warriors, and political assassins we are told to view as . . . what?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who watches the watchmen?
+7 # ericlipps 2017-07-18 07:36
Apparently it's only "fake news" if it doesn't serve the Donald's interests.
+10 # Blackjack 2017-07-18 07:43
These plots would have been far less effective had there not been such a gullible public to suck up the lies, half-truths and innuendos. Lack of critical thinking skills, subverted in our educational institutions for years, has been a major component in this exercise in mind manipulation.
+4 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2017-07-18 10:08
Agree, Blackjack, that our public is gullible. But I don't see how our educational institutions have contributed to this. Good education is the only escape hatch.

The broadly dispersed cultural habit of following and believing in the Red Team OR the Blue Team is deeply ingrained in multitudes of daily rituals, from our legislatively enforced TWO party system, to habitual displays of patriotism at sporting events, to participation in churches and other culture generating engines and to, of course, the mind-numbing and highly repetitive mantras played out on TV "news."
+1 # Johnny 2017-07-18 12:51
Our educational institutions have not contributed voluntarily to the stupidity and gullibility of the public, although some of them are beginning to, with their crushing honest discussion of Palestine for fear of their billionaire Zionist donors. But our ruling class is contributing deliberately to the stupidity and gullibility of the public by eviscerating funding for public education, from kindergarten to post-graduate studies.
+5 # Blackjack 2017-07-18 19:19
Jim, it got subverted several years ago when the Repukes started yelling "foul" in educational circles when students were actually encouraged to think critically. Thinking critically means questioning authority and prevailing assumptions. When that happened Repukes started raising holy hell with administrators at higher education institutions, insisting that they were pointy-headed intellectuals, pushing a liberal philosophy. They started having students audio tape lectures they thought too liberal and turned to all kinds of dirty tricks to withhold funding from those institutions. Since funding is so important, right-wingers began to have an undue influence over what was taught. That is still happening. If you haven't noticed, I'm surprised. Betsy DeVos is a perfect example of that mindset. Agreed that "good education is the only escape hatch," but in many cases, it is not as good as one might expect.

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