Showing posts with label murdoch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label murdoch. Show all posts

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Rupert Murdoch, Rhodes-Rothschild and De Beers


"After cashing out of the diamond business, Nicky Oppenheimer has moved into investing. The Oppenheimer family ended its 85-year reign atop diamond giant De Beers in 2012 when Nicky sold his 40% stake to mining conglomerate Anglo American for $5.1 billion in cash. Anglo American, which Nicky's grandfather founded, now controls 85% of De Beers; the government of Botswana owns the remaining 15%. Nicky Oppenheimer served on Anglo American's board for 37 years through 2011, and he retains an estimated 1.8% stake in the company. His E. Oppenheimer & Son entity controls investment arms Stockdale Street Capital and Tana Africa Capital, a joint venture with Singapore government-owned investment firm Temasek. Tana holds minority interests in African food manufacturers Promasidor and Regina Co."



"Is there a connection between Rupert Murdoch and the House of Rothschild...?

Interestingly enough, in the history of South Africa, there was a White man of the Jewish religion by the name of Barney Bonarto...." 


"...who, when the rich Whites decided that he wasn't operating in a certain sort of 'professional' way, all of a sudden, his boat to England, he went overboard.

Rupert Murdoch, the way that he got his start in America was that another White Man of the Jewish religion, Robert Maxwell - who was deep in debt & mystery - went overboard, on his way to.... Somewhere. And Murdoch gathered up his assets.


Murdoch has unlimited finance - he bought the [LA] Dodgers, didn't he? 

He bought Football off of NBC, or whatever.

Murdoch has more money than he has assets - Murdoch's unlimited financing comes from his relationship with De Beers Diamond Mines of Australia, his predominant financier.

That's the connection.

- Bro. Steve Cokely





http://murderiseverywhere.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/barney-barnato.html

South Africa has had its share of colorful characters, many of whom have been associated with the mining industry. Usually the person whose name first comes to mind is Cecil Rhodes, one of the founders of diamond giant De Beers. I plan to write about him later in the year because he was one of the most influential people in Southern Africa.

Today I want to say a few words about the other man who founded De Beers – Barney Barnato. One of the unusual things about him is that he still enjoys a good reputation even though he has been dead for over a hundred years. This is in contrast to Rhodes, whose reputation is mixed at best.

Barnato was born in London with the name Barnet Isaacs in one of three years. He claimed he had the same birthday as Rhodes – 5 July 1853. Most biographies put the date a year earlier, but Wikipedia claims that his birth certificate says 21 February 1851. His family was poor – his father a seller of second-hand clothing, and he left school – the Jews’ Free School – very young to help support the family.

He and his brother Harry became entertainers, Harry doing magic tricks and Barnet acrobatics. It was as a result of their shows that Barnet became known as Barney Barnato. Records relate that Harry always took the bow at the end of their act. Eventually the theatre manager shouted, “and Barney too”. The brothers liked the sound of that and became Harry and Barney Barnato – the Italian entertainers.

Their father also taught them how to box, and Barney fancied himself as a good boxer and fought a number of times, probably for money. But he was very short – I’ve found one reference that puts him at 5’ 3” (about 1,6 metres) - and did not do very well.

When diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1866, Harry and his cousin David Harris went off to make their fortunes. Neither were successful as amateur diamond traders. But David won a large bet in a gambling establishment and returned to England with a reasonable amount of money – enough to tempt Barney to go to Kimberley too. When he arrived, having walked for a month from Cape Town, he had very little money. But he had a very outgoing personality and was a superb salesman. And he was hard working. He and Harry started putting on theatrical shows again to make a little money, while Barney got to know the diamond business and, more importantly, the diamond people.

He joined forces with a Louis Cohen, starting a small company. They wold tour the diggings in and around the Big Hole, buying and selling stones. Barney always sealed a deal with both parties taking a swig from a brandy bottle he carried around. About this time, the flow of diamonds from the yellow sand started to dry up. But Barney had listened to a geologist, Dr. Atherstone, who told him how diamonds were formed and pushed to the surface in pipes. Barney basically bet all the company’s money on buying up some claims and started to dig the blue soil (Kimberlite) below the yellow. At first few diamonds were found, then they flowed freely. 

By the end of the year they had sold £100 000 worth – a fortune at the time.

Of course, success brought notoriety – and people accused Barney of dealing in stolen stones. He always denied this, and no charges were ever laid.

This success brought him into conflict with Rhodes, who wanted the money from diamonds to finance his sweeping political ambitions in Southern Africa. After a battle lasting several months, in which the shares of Barney’s company soared as a result of take-over attempts, Rhodes outmaneuvered Barney, forcing him to sell his share of the company in return for positions in De Beers – the company that resulted from the various mergers. Barney took home a cool £4,000 000. Some historians believe that Rhodes eventually clinched the deal by offering Barney membership in the prestigious Kimberley Club, something that Barney had wanted as proof of his acceptance in the community. 

He also became a member of the Cape parliament.

A while later Barney was tempted by the gold that had been found in the Johannesburg area in 1886, and started the Johannesburg Consolidated Investment company (JCI), which also became very successful and profitable.

The gold rush caused great tensions between the miners, called uitlanders or foreigners, and the Boers in whose country the mines had been found. Soon the uitlanders outnumbered the locals, and President Kruger and his parliament changed the voting laws to make it difficult for the foreigners to get the vote. Obviously they were scared of being ousted. Rhodes saw this as an opportunity and encouraged a raid into the Transvaal by a small force led by a Dr. Jameson. It was a total fiasco, and some of the some of the supporters of the raid in Johannesburg were tried for treason and sentenced to death. 

Barney threatened President Kruger that he would pull all his businesses out of Johannesburg unless these death sentences were commuted. Eventually Kruger capitulated and the men were spared. At the time JCI employed 20,000 Whites and 100,000 Blacks on the mines.

In 1897 Barney and his family sailed for England. Somewhere near Madeira he was lost overboard and drowned. Officially he committed suicide, but there is circumstantial evidence that he may have been murdered. Travelling with him was a Solly Joel who was walking with him at the time of his fall overboard. He was related in some way to Barney. Nine months later Barney’s nephew Woolf Joel was murdered and Joel inherited the bulk of Barney’s estate.

Throughout his life, Barney never forgot his roots and provided funds for various Jewish institutions in London, including his old school. Today there is a school and a suburb named after him in Johannesburg – Barnato Park.

The mystery surrounding Barney’s death remains just that. At least old Barney was true to the theatrical maxim by which he lived: 

"Always wind up with a good curtain, and bring it down before the public gets tired - or has had time to find you out."

Barney Barnato is buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Willesden, London.

Stan – Thursday

PS. Am going to listen to Car tonight at Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis.

http://murderiseverywhere.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/barney-barnato.html




"Rupert Murdoch, the global media mogul who is now a kingmaker in American politics, was brought into those power circles by the infamous lawyer/activist Roy Cohn who arranged Murdoch’s first Oval Office meeting with President Ronald Reagan in 1983, according to documents released by Reagan’s presidential library.



“I had one interest when Tom [Bolan] and I first brought Rupert Murdoch and Governor Reagan together – and that was that at least one major publisher in this country … would become and remain pro-Reagan,” Cohn wrote in a Jan. 27, 1983 letter to senior White House aides Edwin Meese, James Baker and Michael Deaver. “Mr. Murdoch has performed to the limit up through and including today.

The letter noted that Murdoch then owned the “New York Post – over one million, third largest and largest afternoon; New York Magazine; Village Voice; San Antonio Express; Houston Ring papers; and now the Boston Herald; and internationally influential London Times, etc. Cohn sent the letter nine days after Murdoch met Reagan in the Oval Office along with Cohn, his legal partner Thomas Bolan, and U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick.
In a photograph of the Jan. 18, 1983 meeting, Cohn is shown standing and leaning toward Reagan who is seated next to Murdoch. Following that meeting, Murdoch became involved in a privately funded propaganda project to help sell Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, according to other documents. That PR operation was overseen by senior CIA propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. and CIA Director William Casey, but the details of Murdoch’s role remain sketchy partly because some of the records are still classified more than three decades later.


Team Murdoch or team Freud? Who backs whom in the divorce of the decade



Friends in high places: from top left, Emily Oppenheimer, Claudia Winkleman, David and Samantha Cameron, Tony and Cherie Blair, Andre Balazs and Jeremy Clarkson flank Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch (Picture: Rex/Richard Young/David Fisher/xposurephotos.com/David M. Benett/Getty)
It’s the £250 million divorce that is set to divide not just the assets of one of Britain’s most high-profile media couples but will also split London’s elite social circles, and disrupt a political power nexus.
Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud are due to be granted a decree nisi this week, ending their 13-year marriage.
The couple, who have two children together, met in 1997 when both were married to other people — Murdoch, now 46, was pregnant with her second child by Ghanaian financier Elkin Kwesi Pianim. PR guru Freud, now 50, had two sons with Caroline “Pidge” Hutton.
They split in 2000, shortly after Murdoch gave birth to their daughter Charlotte, but were reunited in 2001 and married later that year at Blenheim Palace in a ceremony attended by the great and the good. Since then, they have become one of the most powerful media couples in Britain — their break-up will disrupt a party power nexus that has taken root over the past 13 years. Their sphere of influence straddles the high-octane Primrose Hill gang, the well-connected Chipping Norton set, political friends from both sides of the spectrum (Tony Blair and David Cameron are regulars at the couple’s soirées and weekends) and everyone else from TV titans Jeremy Clarkson and Claudia Winkleman to former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
There is speculation that the split was over a massive falling-out between Freud and his father-in-law Rupert Murdoch over the friendship between Rupert’s now ex-wife Wendi Deng and Tony Blair. Freud has stuck with the ex-PM — Rupert was absent from Freud’s 50th birthday party last year (Tony and Cherie were among the guests). The row is said to have caused huge tension between Murdoch and Freud. Last week Murdoch announced she was stepping down from Shine, the TV production company she founded and sold to her father’s company. Now she is also stepping away from her marriage. So who else will be affected by the Freud-Murdoch divorce?
The BLAIRS
The Blairs have been a regular guests. Tony apparently likes “dossing about in jeans” at Burford Priory but also loves the celebrity crowd that congregates there and at the London parties. His friendship with Freud goes back more than two decades. Freud provided Blair with offices in Mayfair after he stepped down as PM and has continued to advise him in the years since.
Likely to side with: Freud
THE CAMERONS
The couple’s country home in the village of Dean is just a borrowed horse ride away from Burford Priory and the phone-hacking scandal exposed just how close the PM and his wife were to the Freud-Murdochs.
Sam Cam is said to get on well with Murdoch but is said to be cooler to Freud. Cameron attended Murdoch’s 40th birthday at Burford as well as Freud’s 50th bash last year and as leader of the opposition in 2008 used Freud’s private jet to fly to a private meeting with Rupert on a yacht in Greece.  The PM may now not want to be too closely associated with Rupert but he considers Elisabeth to be the next generation. Murdoch senior isn’t so keen — he recently tweeted that he “hopes” his daughter isn’t friends with the PM.
Likely to side with: Murdoch
NICK JONES AND KIRSTY YOUNG
In summer 2011, the Freud-Murdochs threw one of their famous bashes. Notable guests included Nick Jones and his wife, Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young: Jones — the entrepreneur behind the Soho House group — is a long-term client of Freud’s and a former neighbour from those heady Notting Hill years, and had provided two extravagant marquees containing miniature versions of his restaurants Pizza East and Cecconi’s to fire the hungry guests (like most Freud-Murdoch bashes, the soiree apparently continued till 4am).
Likely to side with: Freud
CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN
The Strictly Come Dancing host met the couple through her husband. Mr Claudia Winkleman, Kris Thykier, used to be Freud’s right hand man and they are still pals, despite him leaving to pursue a career in film production. The WAGs hit it off and Winkleman is a regular at Murdoch’s dinner parties and always brings a treat, whether it’s homemade sponge cake studded with Smarties or a bag of sausages and wine from the corner shop. An awkward split in the Winkleman/Thykier house.
Likely to side with: Murdoch
ANDRE BALAZS
Mr Chiltern Firehouse started out on Team Murdoch — Rupert and Wendi Deng stayed at his New York hotel The Mercer for months while their Soho apartment was being refitted. But when Balazs opened Chiltern Firehouse in London, his mate Matthew was the natural choice to do the PR. The two were seen laughing together at the GQ Men of the Year Award at the Royal Opera House last month. Balazs lived in the Chiltern Firehouse hotel for the best part of a year, and it looks like Freud will be welcome any time.
Likely to side with: Freud
EMILY OPPENHEIMER
The De Beers diamond heiress, painter and socialite is a close friend of Murdoch (the pair are horse-mad) and now also shares another common bond with her — Oppenheimer’s 13-year marriage to film producer Will Turner ended in divorce last year.
Oppenheimer, 45, is part of the Chipping Norton set  — Rebekah and Charlie Brooks have holidayed with her at her St Tropez villa and Murdoch often likes to moor her yacht nearby during the summer.
Likely to side with: Murdoch
GEORGE OSBORNE
It was the heady summer of 2008: the Freud-Murdochs were holidaying on their yacht, which was moored off the coast of Corfu; George Osborne was staying nearby at the home of banking heir Jacob Rothschild. Cue the now-infamous “meeting” with Oleg Deripaska to discuss donating to the Tory party — placing the Freud-Murdochs within tantalising proximity to political scandal.
Osborne also attended Freud’s mega 50th birthday bash — he was apparently mocked mercilessly by the Tory illuminati for behaving like a star-struck teen and recording a duet by Bono and Bob Geldof.
Likely to side with: Freud
JEMIMA KHAN
With her home the Oxfordshire village of Woodstock, Khan is part of the Chipping Norton set and also a close friend of Freud. Following the phone hacking scandal she is said to be more wary of Murdoch. Khan and then-boyfriend Russell Brand were guests at the now-notorious post-GQ Awards party held at the Freud-Murdochs’ London home last year. Neighbours complained about the raucous bash, at which Khan and Brand were apparently told to “get a room”.
Other Primrose Hill set members including Kate Moss and Stella McCartney are tipped to side with Murdoch but Khan is said to remain loyal to Freud.
Likely to side with: Freud
JEREMY CLARKSON
Another Chipping Norton neighbour, the Top Gear presenter is one of Matthew’s “bloke mates”  — loathed by Murdoch but tolerated because as a television executive she recognises his cachet as a celebrity.
Fellow Chipping Nortonites include Blur’s Alex James, who is said to get on especially well with Murdoch, and of course Rebekah Brooks, whose close relationship with Rupert is not exactly replicated with this daughter.
Likely to side with: Freud

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rupert



Why the US media ignored Murdoch's brazen bid to hijack the presidency.


+++++++++++++++++++

Did the Washington Post and others underplay the story through fear of the News Corp chairman, or simply tin-eared judgment?

Carl Bernstein
The Guardian, Thursday 20 December 2012


SSo now we have it: what appears to be hard, irrefutable evidence of Rupert Murdoch's ultimate and most audacious attempt – thwarted, thankfully, by circumstance – to hijack America's democratic institutions on a scale equal to his success in kidnapping and corrupting the essential democratic institutions of Great Britain through money, influence and wholesale abuse of the privileges of a free press.


In the American instance, Murdoch's goal seems to have been nothing less than using his media empire – notably Fox News – to stealthily recruit, bankroll and support the presidential candidacy of General David Petraeus in the 2012 election.

Thus in the spring of 2011 – less than 10 weeks before Murdoch's centrality to the hacking and politician-buying scandal enveloping his British newspapers was definitively revealed – Fox News' inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama's expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch. Ailes himself would resign as president of Fox News and run the campaign, according to the conversation between Petraeus and the emissary, K T McFarland, a Fox News on-air defense "analyst" and former spear carrier for national security principals in three Republican administrations.

All this was revealed in a tape recording of Petraeus's meeting with McFarland obtained by Bob Woodward, whose account of their discussion, accompanied online by audio of the tape, was published in the Washington Post – distressingly, in its style section, and not on page one, where it belonged – and, under the style logo, online on December 3.

Indeed, almost as dismaying as Ailes' and Murdoch's disdain for an independent and truly free and honest press, and as remarkable as the obsequious eagerness of their messenger to convey their extraordinary presidential draft and promise of on-air Fox support to Petraeus, has been the ho-hum response to the story by the American press and the country's political establishment, whether out of fear of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox – or, perhaps, lack of surprise at Murdoch's, Ailes' and Fox's contempt for decent journalistic values or a transparent electoral process.

The tone of the media's reaction was set from the beginning by the Post's own tin-eared treatment of this huge story: relegating it, like any other juicy tidbit of inside-the-beltway media gossip, to the section of the newspaper and its website that focuses on entertainment, gossip, cultural and personality-driven news, instead of the front page.

"Bob had a great scoop, a buzzy media story that made it perfect for Style. It didn't have the broader import that would justify A1," Liz Spayd, the Post's managing editor, told Politico when asked why the story appeared in the style section.

Buzzy media story? Lacking the "broader import" of a front-page story? One cannot imagine such a failure of news judgment among any of Spayd's modern predecessors as managing editors of the Post, especially in the clear light of the next day and with a tape recording – of the highest audio quality – in hand.

"Tell [Ailes] if I ever ran," Petraeus announces on the crystal-clear digital recording and then laughs, "but I won't … but if I ever ran, I'd take him up on his offer. … He said he would quit Fox … and bankroll it."

McFarland clarified the terms: "The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger's going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house" – thereby confirming what Fox New critics have consistently maintained about the network's faux-news agenda and its built-in ideological bias.

And here let us posit the following: were an emissary of the president of NBC News, or of the editor of the New York Times or the Washington Post ever caught on tape promising what Ailes and Murdoch had apparently suggested and offered here, the hue and cry, especially from Fox News and Republican/Tea Party America, from the Congress to the US Chamber of Commerce to the Heritage Foundation, would be deafening and not be subdued until there was a congressional investigation, and the resignations were in hand of the editor and publisher of the network or newspaper. Or until there had been plausible and convincing evidence that the most important elements of the story were false. And, of course, the story would continue day after day on page one and remain near the top of the evening news for weeks, until every ounce of (justifiable) piety about freedom of the press and unfettered presidential elections had been exhausted.

The tape of Petraeus and McFarland's conversation is an amazing document, a testament to the willingness of Murdoch and the wily genius he hired to create Fox News to run roughshod over the American civic and political landscape without regard to even the traditional niceties or pretenses of journalistic independence and honesty. Like the revelations of the hacking scandal, which established beyond any doubt Murdoch's ability to capture and corrupt the three essential elements of the British civic compact – the press, politicians and police – the Ailes/Petraeus tape makes clear that Murdoch's goals in America have always been just as ambitious, insidious and nefarious.

The digital recording, and the dead-serious conspiratorial conversation it captures so chillingly in tone and substance ("I'm only reporting this back to Roger. And that's our deal," McFarland assured Petraeus as she unfolded the offer) utterly refutes Ailes' disingenuous dismissal of what he and Murdoch were actually attempting: the buying of the presidency.

"It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have," Ailes would later claim while nonetheless confirming its meaning. "I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate."

The recording deserves to be heard by any open-minded person trying to fathom its meaning to the fullest.

Murdoch and Ailes have erected an incredibly influential media empire that has unrivaled power in British and American culture: rather than judiciously exercising that power or improving reportorial and journalistic standards with their huge resources, they have, more often than not, recklessly pursued an agenda of sensationalism, manufactured controversy, ideological messianism, and political influence-buying while masquerading as exemplars of a free and responsible press. The tape is powerful evidence of their methodology and reach.

The Murdoch story – his corruption of essential democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic – is one of the most important and far-reaching political/cultural stories of the past 30 years, an ongoing tale without equal. Like Richard Nixon and his tapes, much attention has been focused on the necessity of finding the smoking gun to confirm what other evidence had already established beyond a doubt: that the elemental instruments of democracy, ie the presidency in Nixon's case, and the privileges of free press in Murdoch's, were grievously misused and abused for their own ends by those entrusted to use great power for the common good.

In Nixon's case, the system worked. His actions were investigated by Congress, the judicial system held that even the president of the United States was not above the law, and he was forced to resign or face certain impeachment and conviction. American and British democracy has not been so fortunate with Murdoch, whose power and corruption went unchecked for a third of a century.

The most important thing we journalists do is make judgments about what is news. Perhaps no story has eluded us on a daily basis (for lack of trying) for so many years as the story of Murdoch's destructive march across our democratic landscape. Only the Guardian vigorously pursued the leads of the hacking story and methodically stuck with it for months and years, never ignoring the underlying context of how Rupert Murdoch conducted his take-no-prisoners business and journalism without regard for the most elemental standards of fairness, accuracy or balance, or even lawful conduct.

When the Guardian's hacking coverage reached critical mass last year, I quoted a former top Murdoch deputy as follows: "This scandal and all its implications could not have happened anywhere else. Only in Murdoch's orbit. The hacking at News of the World was done on an industrial scale. More than anyone, Murdoch invented and established this culture in the newsroom, where you do whatever it takes to get the story, take no prisoners, destroy the competition, and the end will justify the means."

The tape that Bob Woodward obtained, and which the Washington Post ran in the style section, should be the denouement of the Murdoch story on both sides of the Atlantic, making clear that no institution, not even the presidency of the United States, was beyond the object of his subversion. If Murdoch had bankrolled a successful Petraeus presidential campaign and – as his emissary McFarland promised – "the rest of us [at Fox] are going to be your in-house" – Murdoch arguably might have sewn up the institutions of American democracy even more securely than his British tailoring.

Happily, Petraeus was not hungering for the presidency at the moment of the messenger's arrival: the general was contented at the idea of being CIA director, which Ailes was urging him to forgo.

"We're all set," said the emissary, referring to Ailes, Murdoch and Fox. "It's never going to happen," Petraeus said. "You know it's never going to happen. It really isn't. … My wife would divorce me."


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Well, there's something you don't see every day...




Things visibile in this raw video feed released by NIST under FOIA:

* The attack run / final approach dive of United 175

* Jumpers seen from a distance

* "Edna Citron" can be seen waving in the plane-hole - her head is not yet on fire, however....

* An awful lot of paper.

* Building 7 (in the foreground) looks absolutely fine.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Kennedy's Warning: Obama, Petraeus, Broadwell, Allen and Ham



"I'll tell you right now, unequivocally; I won't give the reason for your resignations.... If I were to do that, this country would go right down the drain..." 

President Lyman Jordan

"You can't HANDLE the truth!!" 


Colonel Nathan R. Jessep









Don't believe the hype.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Bernstein - The Post Exposes a Domestic Coup d'état Story in the Style Section

"The digital recording, and the dead-serious conspiratorial conversation it captures so chillingly in tone and substance ("I'm only reporting this back to Roger. And that's our deal," McFarland assured Petraeus as she unfolded the offer) utterly refutes Ailes' disingenuous dismissal of what he and Murdoch were actually attempting: the buying of the presidency.


The Murdoch story – his corruption of essential democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic – is one of the most important and far-reaching political/cultural stories of the past 30 years, an ongoing tale without equal.

The tape that Bob Woodward obtained, and which the Washington Post ran in the style section, should be the denouement of the Murdoch story on both sides of the Atlantic, making clear that no institution, not even the presidency of the United States, was beyond the object of his subversion. "

Carl Bernstein absolutely, unequivocally KNOWS what is going on, and what the free world has just lived through;

I missed this story too - not only was this Op-Ed column NOT published (or even much promoted) in the American media (the most important and devastating piece Bernstein authored previously had been published in Rolling Stone, not in the Washington Post), the fact of the dateline being three days before Christmas surely cannot be coincidental.

Why the US media ignored Murdoch's brazen bid to hijack the presidency.

Did the Washington Post and others underplay the story through fear of the News Corp chairman, or simply tin-eared judgment?

Carl Bernstein
The Guardian, Thursday 20 December 2012

So now we have it: what appears to be hard, irrefutable evidence of Rupert Murdoch's ultimate and most audacious attempt – thwarted, thankfully, by circumstance – to hijack America's democratic institutions on a scale equal to his success in kidnapping and corrupting the essential democratic institutions of Great Britain through money, influence and wholesale abuse of the privileges of a free press.

In the American instance, Murdoch's goal seems to have been nothing less than using his media empire – notably Fox News – to stealthily recruit, bankroll and support the presidential candidacy of General David Petraeus in the 2012 election.

Thus in the spring of 2011 – less than 10 weeks before Murdoch's centrality to the hacking and politician-buying scandal enveloping his British newspapers was definitively revealed – Fox News' inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama's expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch. Ailes himself would resign as president of Fox News and run the campaign, according to the conversation between Petraeus and the emissary, K T McFarland, a Fox News on-air defense "analyst" and former spear carrier for national security principals in three Republican administrations.

All this was revealed in a tape recording of Petraeus's meeting with McFarland obtained by Bob Woodward, whose account of their discussion, accompanied online by audio of the tape, was published in the Washington Post – distressingly, in its style section, and not on page one, where it belonged – and, under the style logo, online on December 3.

Indeed, almost as dismaying as Ailes' and Murdoch's disdain for an independent and truly free and honest press, and as remarkable as the obsequious eagerness of their messenger to convey their extraordinary presidential draft and promise of on-air Fox support to Petraeus, has been the ho-hum response to the story by the American press and the country's political establishment, whether out of fear of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox – or, perhaps, lack of surprise at Murdoch's, Ailes' and Fox's contempt for decent journalistic values or a transparent electoral process.

The tone of the media's reaction was set from the beginning by the Post's own tin-eared treatment of this huge story: relegating it, like any other juicy tidbit of inside-the-beltway media gossip, to the section of the newspaper and its website that focuses on entertainment, gossip, cultural and personality-driven news, instead of the front page.

"Bob had a great scoop, a buzzy media story that made it perfect for Style. It didn't have the broader import that would justify A1," Liz Spayd, the Post's managing editor, told Politico when asked why the story appeared in the style section.

Buzzy media story? Lacking the "broader import" of a front-page story? One cannot imagine such a failure of news judgment among any of Spayd's modern predecessors as managing editors of the Post, especially in the clear light of the next day and with a tape recording – of the highest audio quality – in hand.

"Tell [Ailes] if I ever ran," Petraeus announces on the crystal-clear digital recording and then laughs, "but I won't … but if I ever ran, I'd take him up on his offer. … He said he would quit Fox … and bankroll it."

McFarland clarified the terms: "The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger's going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house" – thereby confirming what Fox New critics have consistently maintained about the network's faux-news agenda and its built-in ideological bias.

And here let us posit the following: were an emissary of the president of NBC News, or of the editor of the New York Times or the Washington Post ever caught on tape promising what Ailes and Murdoch had apparently suggested and offered here, the hue and cry, especially from Fox News and Republican/Tea Party America, from the Congress to the US Chamber of Commerce to the Heritage Foundation, would be deafening and not be subdued until there was a congressional investigation, and the resignations were in hand of the editor and publisher of the network or newspaper. Or until there had been plausible and convincing evidence that the most important elements of the story were false. And, of course, the story would continue day after day on page one and remain near the top of the evening news for weeks, until every ounce of (justifiable) piety about freedom of the press and unfettered presidential elections had been exhausted.

The tape of Petraeus and McFarland's conversation is an amazing document, a testament to the willingness of Murdoch and the wily genius he hired to create Fox News to run roughshod over the American civic and political landscape without regard to even the traditional niceties or pretenses of journalistic independence and honesty. Like the revelations of the hacking scandal, which established beyond any doubt Murdoch's ability to capture and corrupt the three essential elements of the British civic compact – the press, politicians and police – the Ailes/Petraeus tape makes clear that Murdoch's goals in America have always been just as ambitious, insidious and nefarious.

The digital recording, and the dead-serious conspiratorial conversation it captures so chillingly in tone and substance ("I'm only reporting this back to Roger. And that's our deal," McFarland assured Petraeus as she unfolded the offer) utterly refutes Ailes' disingenuous dismissal of what he and Murdoch were actually attempting: the buying of the presidency.

"It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have," Ailes would later claim while nonetheless confirming its meaning. "I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate."

The recording deserves to be heard by any open-minded person trying to fathom its meaning to the fullest.

Murdoch and Ailes have erected an incredibly influential media empire that has unrivaled power in British and American culture: rather than judiciously exercising that power or improving reportorial and journalistic standards with their huge resources, they have, more often than not, recklessly pursued an agenda of sensationalism, manufactured controversy, ideological messianism, and political influence-buying while masquerading as exemplars of a free and responsible press. The tape is powerful evidence of their methodology and reach.

The Murdoch story – his corruption of essential democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic – is one of the most important and far-reaching political/cultural stories of the past 30 years, an ongoing tale without equal. Like Richard Nixon and his tapes, much attention has been focused on the necessity of finding the smoking gun to confirm what other evidence had already established beyond a doubt: that the elemental instruments of democracy, ie the presidency in Nixon's case, and the privileges of free press in Murdoch's, were grievously misused and abused for their own ends by those entrusted to use great power for the common good.

In Nixon's case, the system worked. His actions were investigated by Congress, the judicial system held that even the president of the United States was not above the law, and he was forced to resign or face certain impeachment and conviction. American and British democracy has not been so fortunate with Murdoch, whose power and corruption went unchecked for a third of a century.

The most important thing we journalists do is make judgments about what is news. Perhaps no story has eluded us on a daily basis (for lack of trying) for so many years as the story of Murdoch's destructive march across our democratic landscape. Only the Guardian vigorously pursued the leads of the hacking story and methodically stuck with it for months and years, never ignoring the underlying context of how Rupert Murdoch conducted his take-no-prisoners business and journalism without regard for the most elemental standards of fairness, accuracy or balance, or even lawful conduct.

When the Guardian's hacking coverage reached critical mass last year, I quoted a former top Murdoch deputy as follows: "This scandal and all its implications could not have happened anywhere else. Only in Murdoch's orbit. The hacking at News of the World was done on an industrial scale. More than anyone, Murdoch invented and established this culture in the newsroom, where you do whatever it takes to get the story, take no prisoners, destroy the competition, and the end will justify the means."

The tape that Bob Woodward obtained, and which the Washington Post ran in the style section, should be the denouement of the Murdoch story on both sides of the Atlantic, making clear that no institution, not even the presidency of the United States, was beyond the object of his subversion. If Murdoch had bankrolled a successful Petraeus presidential campaign and – as his emissary McFarland promised – "the rest of us [at Fox] are going to be your in-house" – Murdoch arguably might have sewn up the institutions of American democracy even more securely than his British tailoring.

Happily, Petraeus was not hungering for the presidency at the moment of the messenger's arrival: the general was contented at the idea of being CIA director, which Ailes was urging him to forgo.

"We're all set," said the emissary, referring to Ailes, Murdoch and Fox. "It's never going to happen," Petraeus said. "You know it's never going to happen. It really isn't. … My wife would divorce me."