FRIDAY REVIEW

Citizen Murdoch

In the spotlight: Rupert Murdoch

In the spotlight: Rupert Murdoch  

SAVITHA GAUTAM

Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation form the subject of two gripping films.



Two documentaries, but the spotlight is on one man who has often been described as ambitious, charming, cunning and a visionary… media baron Rupert Murdoch.

‘Dynasties: Murdochs’ (September 19, 3 p.m.) and ‘Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism’ (September 26, 3 p.m.) to be telecast on NDTV’s Documentary 24x7, track the life of Murdoch and his News Corporation.

If one film, by Tim Clark, shows Murdoch, the family man, who is determined that his children inherit his company, the other, made by Robert Greenwald, examines how the media empires led by Murdoch’s Fox News, have been running a ‘race to the bottom’ in television news.

His story

‘Dynasties: Murdochs’ opens with the 70-plus Murdoch pumping iron even as his various newspapers roll out of the presses across the globe. That, in a way, sums up the core values of Murdoch and News Corporation that reaches two-thirds of the world’s population. Like Andrew Neil, former editor, The Sunday Times, puts it, “The Sun never sets on the Murdoch empire.”

For a bit of history, the film revisits the time of father Keith Murdoch and how he built his business. Rupert was initiated into the world of journalism by his father. When Keith died suddenly Rupert, who was just 22, left Oxford to take control of his father’s business. And ever since, has been acquiring newspapers across the globe, setting up TV channels and even buying a film studio.

In this intriguing insight into the mind of Murdoch, members of his family including mother Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, sister Janet Calvert-Jones, former wife Anna, current wife Wendi Deng and children Elisabeth, Lachlan and Prudence, are candid about how they feel to be part of an Australian media dynasty. Now in his late seventies, Rupert is determined that his children should inherit his empire.

The Fox News story

If this film paints the picture of a man who loves his family and wants the best for them, Robert Greenwald’s documentary ‘Outfoxed…’ provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangers of ever-expanding corporations taking control of the public’s right to knowledge. It explores a burgeoning kingdom and its impact on society when the media is controlled by one person.

Media experts, including Jeff Cohen (FAIR), Bob McChesney (Free Press), David Brock (Media Matters), former producers, reporters and writers tell the world what it is like to work for Fox News. Many are brave enough to admit how they were forced to push a ‘right-wing’ point of view or risk their jobs. As one employee puts it, “There’s no sense of integrity as far as having a line that can’t be crossed.”

Peter Hart says, “Fox News blurs the line between reporting and commentary.” A sentiment echoed by many other journalists who gave up their jobs at Fox for that reason alone. As Jeff Cohen says, “The media is the nervous system of a democracy. If it cannot function well, neither will the democracy.” And many believe Fox News follows ‘partisan politics.’ According to a people’s survey, the channel ‘misleads the public, be it during the Iraq war or the Bush campaign during general elections.’

So, there they are… two films which show the contrasting sides of a man who believes in what he does and is willing to go to any length to achieve that.

Timings: ‘Dynasties: Murdochs’ will be telecast on September 19, 3 p.m. and ‘Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism’ on September 26, 3 p.m., on NDTV’s Documentary 24x7.



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