Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Murdoch Empire Implosion and the Saudi Connection: George Galloway on Prince Al-Walid bin Talal; The Prince's Interview on News Corp and Business Ethics

Rupert Murdoch and his son James are questioned by members of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, July 19, 2011. (ABC News)

I first saw the opinion piece in Al Jazeera by former British Member of Parliament George Galloway, copied below from the Al Jazeera site, on Saudi Wave. I thought it was worth sharing here, for discussion by Chez Chiara readers--particularly the unholy alliance between the Murdochs and Prince Walid bin Talal, the Saudi owner of his own media mega-corporation, which includes Rotana and LBC, and a major share holder in News Corps. I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

Before a series of phone-hacking scandals, Rupert Murdoch was one of the world's most influential media moguls [AFP]

Murdoch empire sinking beneath the sands
A phone-hacking scandal is exposing shady ties between the UK's political elite and a right-wing media baron.

George Galloway Last Modified: 18 Jul 2011 20:38

"Look on my works, ye mighty; and despair!" So said the base of the statue of Ozymandias of Egypt - Ramasses the Great, Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt - discovered deep under the desert sands in Shelley's epic poem Ozymandias.

The poet's point being of course that though undoubtedly great, in his day, ultimately Ozymandias and his empire went the way of all flesh, and all empires. So it seems is going the empire of Rupert Murdoch, once the greatest media conglomerate the world has ever known.

Absolute carnage is currently being caused in British public life by the fall-out from the illegal phone hacking carried out by Murdoch's servants. In a story transfixing the country, there are often developments several times daily including arrests of powerful people and resignations from some of the best known public figures in the land.

Like all good scandals follow the money is the maxim. And the question made famous by Watergate - "What did he know and when did he know it?" is the one on everybody's lips. The "he" in question is, increasingly, the prime minister himself.

David Cameron is slowly sinking into the Murdoch quicksands for several reasons. His relations with Murdoch's top-brass, now under investigation, have turned out to be almost comically close. He was a "riding partner" of Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch's British CEO, who was arrested by police on Sunday.

Since becoming prime minister just fifteen months ago, Cameron has had 26 meetings with Murdoch's executives. Cameron's wife was likely the only person to get more meetings with the PM than Murdoch's executives.

Cameron, against the advice of his deputy prime minister, employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications director. Coulson, who has been at the centre of the hacking probe, was arrested on July 8, while his deputy was detained last week.

This has snowballed, causing the resignation of Britain's top two policemen and several other senior Murdoch executives.

Two months after Coulson was finally pushed out of his official position as communications director, and was under criminal investigation for phone hacking, Cameron invited him to spend the weekend at Chequers, the British prime minister's country home.

Such is the turmoil in London that respected commentators - on Monday for example Professor Roy Greenslade, the pre-eminent media pundit - are calling on Cameron's deputy Nick Clegg to table a motion of no confidence in the PM.

Last week, that would have been a joke. Today it doesn't seem so funny, or unlikely.

I declare an interest. I was one of the first people to be informed by Scotland Yard - London's Metropolitan Police - that my phone was being hacked by a private investigator working for Mr Murdoch. They visited me in my office in parliament and told me this, so I began a legal action which is set to come before the courts in December.

It didn't surprise me all that much in the light of my role as a leader of Britain's anti-war movement, a champion of the Palestinian cause for over 35 years, and a defender of Muslims both at home and abroad. Even Mr Murdoch wouldn't dispute the fact that these are causes far from his own heart. This throws up a contradiction now coming more clearly into focus.

Prince Walid bin Talal bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud, the second biggest shareholder in News Corporation after Murdoch, recently gave an interview, on his yacht, to the BBC flagship programme Newsnight. The Saudi prince declared himself "a good friend" of Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch (probably the next executive to be charged by the police in the scandal).

He defended both men briskly, but in doing so drew attention to the fact that he is the second biggest shareholder in the Murdoch empire, and that the Murdochs were major shareholders in his own Rotana media empire in the Middle East.

An unholy alliance, surely? Mr Murdoch is the co-owner, with Prince Walid, of Fox News - one of the most virulently anti-Muslim television stations in the world. The station gives a megaphone to the likes of Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sarah Palin. In the US, Fox's role was to throw gallons of petrol on the flames Islamophobia which were leading to the burning of the Holy Quran by vigilantes.

Then there is the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy. The planned building was, of course, not at Ground Zero. It was not a mosque but an Islamic centre. The centre was partially funded by Prince Walid, the co-owner with Murdoch of Islamophobic media fire-raisers including Fox News and the New York Post.

Prince Walid it will be recalled was roundly insulted by the government of New York City when they returned the cheque he donated to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. A glutton for punishment no doubt.

Murdoch's newspapers in Britain are little better than their US-counterparts and include photographs and sexualised images which would never see the light of day in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. As a whole it is safe to say that Murdoch's nearly 200 newspapers - and his television stations in so far as he can compel the latter which are more tightly regulated - are bastions of fanatically pro-Israel, anti-Muslim bigotry.

Yet they are co-owned by a member of the Saudi Royal family who not only approves of these practices, but regards the mogul Murdoch as his "good friend".

Murdoch's plans to take 100 per cent ownership of British Sky Broadcasting now lie in ruins like Ozymandias's broken statue. Aged 80, he may, at the pace we are moving, be ousted by his own shareholders before long.

His dream of a Sky Arabia, however, remains a clear and present danger. Like the tobacco manufacturers, the more they are run out of towns in the west the more they concentrate on selling their addictive poison in the east. NewsCorp, with Prince Walid, may be sailing your way. Beware of pirates ye Arabs.

George Galloway is a British politician, author, journalist and broadcaster who was a Member of Parliament in the UK from 1987 to 2010.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera


In his opinion piece, George Galloway refers to an interview for BBC Newsnight on the News Corps scandal with Saudi Prince Al-Walid bin Talal (see related posts listed below). The full interview with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is available on the BBC Newsnight website here. The interview as aired on the BBC is below.

The Prince rightfully makes distinctions about which part of the News Corp mega-corporation is implicated in the current hacking scandal, yet as the investigation goes on, there is concern that the improprieties may have crossed into other domains of Murdoch's news empire. For that reason, the Americans are launching their own investigation into US based Murdoch holdings. Although he emphasizes management responsibility for good business ethics, the Prince also falls back on the "a few bad apples" theory of ethics. While this can be true, and needs to be addressed, often the few bad apples are at the very top and have set practice and policy that is then systemic. All the apples become tainted, and the barrel needs to be tossed--and all the other barrels checked for cross-contamination.

There is no doubt that Murdoch's arrival on the London tabloid scene, and the circulation wars he started upped the ante for what constituted "news" and a "scoop". The specific way in which Princess Diana was hounded has been attributed by some to this phenomenon. Other royals were subject to the fascination of the public and the press, but none to that date had been quite so persecuted.

As Murdoch is testifying, it seems he is using the ignorance defense, or, as so deftly exemplified by Inspector Renault in the film Casablanca, "I'm shocked, shocked, to find that gambling [malfeasance] is going on in here!":

Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Related Posts
Royal Saudi/non-Saudi Marriages and Their Children Part III--Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal
Royal Saudi/non-Saudi Marriages and Their Children Part IV-- Prince Khalid bin Al-Waleed
Royal Saudi/non-Saudi Marriages and Their Children: Reflections

See Also:
George Galloway participating in the Doha Debates, This House believes only a new dictator can end the violence in Iraq (Wednesday January 31 2007), on the No side, with Adnan Pachachi, vs Sabah al-Mukhtar and Robert Baer on the Yes side. This was my first introduction to George Galloway. Watch the audience reaction to his opening comments, on the video here, at 15:30-16:22. Bonus, an Iraqi audience member on the Sunni-Shia divide, in response to Robert Baer, at 33:56-34:20, including the audience reaction.

BSkyB Chairman James Murdoch, News Corp Chief Executive and Chairman Rupert Murdoch (R) appear before a parliamentary committee on phone hacking at Portcullis House in London July 19, 2011 (Reuters)


Wendy said...

I can hardly wait to see what they uncover next!

Majed said...

I know it is very bad to rejoice at someone else 's fall, but I am really rejoicing over this one,I am sure finally people will realize that Martin Luther was not wrong when wrote his ( The Jews and their lies) I think his soul is rejoicing with me.

Countrygirl said...

Majed can you explain what Jews matters in the Murdoch mess? But of course it's always Jews fault.

Majed said...

Simply becuase Rupert Merdoch is a JEW to the core.

It is not always their fault, they did few good things too they gave birth to Albert Eienstein and Monica Lewinski.

Majed said...


Simply because Rupert Mirdoch is a jew to the core,but you are a clever girl search for yourself I had copied the link from Wikipedia to post here,because it was showing his mother was a jew,when I rechecked before posting this comment for the word JEWISh Ancestory, guess what pooof just like that it was not there so I deleted the link.

It is not always their fault, jews did few good things, they gave birth to Albert Einstein and Monica Lewinski and I cant but appreciate their jenius and perfect portrayal of victim role.

countrygirl said...

MAjed newflash for you Murdoch isn't a Jew is catholic....but of course when you hate jews you see jews conspiracy everywhere....what about Soros? but of course for you it's ok since he's an hard left who thinks everything coming from the right is something evil!

You are so full of hate that can't thinks cleary..

I don't see why Monica Lewinski did some good thing she is only a woman who did NOTHING in her life unless you can consider what she did a good thing...ok it's was good for Obama. Let's compare nobel prizes won by Jews vs Muslim people.

I can imagine that you consider Protocol of Sion as a masterpiece of literature.

Sorry for the OT but Majed started it.

About what Murduch did was wrong but i don't see why his media empire should suffer, whoever did wrong will have to pay.

Majed said...


Hello,I said they are(Genius) and I mentioned Alber E. this means I admit they are Genius people I like that in them, as for Miss Monica I think she is beautiful isn't she? and she is a jew, that is another good thing in favour of the jews.

I thought I have a quick Yemeni temper but I think your Italian temper is much quicker I just hope I will never meet you face to face in a close combat,but I am not sure may be I would really like to see you.

Wendy said...

Majed, some Arab men come to America and lie to American girls about wives at home, etc. therefore I can assume all Arab men are liars, right??? Well, no I can't. I can't paint all Arab men as liars any more than you can paint all Jews as liars. That is just nonsense isn't it?

Majed said...


This is a jewish site telling you Muroch `s mother is a jew,with a photo of her with her rabbi, at least believe your eyes, persnally I think jew or not she looks like an angel in 100+.

Jay Kactuz said...

Majed, can you do anything but spread hate for jews and those who dislike your religion? Can you not accept that people have a right to speak out against Islam and hold opinions that you don't like, even billionaires? Perhaps you should direct some of your energy into helping those you suffer in Muslims societies, like this man convicted for the terrible crime of apostasy (horrors!).


Quote: "he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and has not repented , the execution will be carried out.

Or let me put it like this: who's writings have brought more pain and death to this planet, Mohammad's or Murdochs?

What this proves, once again, is that the love of money and power is evil, and people will do anything, sell anything for these, even their souls.

The problem with you, Majed, is that you are like all Muslims. You have selective morals. You demand that others be upright, honest and put human rights and dignity above self-interest, yet Muslims do none of these. I really don't think that anybody who says 'praise be upon him' after the name of your prophet has any right to criticize others for their moral failures. You know what I am talking about.

What about that gal Wendi. She sure came out well. She will probably be running the business in a few years.

Countrygirl said...

so Majed someone took a picture of murdoch's mother with a Rabbi so for you she's a jew (btw in the article there's no mention of her religion) they can be friend (and yes maybe you will be shocked but nothing happens if you a friend with a jew).

You are so full of hate and have this sense of superiority only becase you are a muslim. Even when you try to praise in your distorded way some muslim you put anyway a nasty remark "perfect portrayal of victim role." but nowadays muslims are the people around the world that keep on telling that everyone hates them, that they are victims of a global jews conspiracy and other crap like that.

You don't like Murdoch? fine with me but i wondering you don't like him because of Fox News? The article Chiara posted is very biased against Murdoch and Fox only because Fox in the eyes of the author is islamophobic maybe is this the reason you hate so much him? or maybe because he's a jew (and so far i didn't read anything about his religion).

Religion isn't important in the Murdoch mess but in your very narrow mind it is?

Majed said...

Look who is talking,Tell me you are joking,of ourse you are,for the sake of the Only One God there is,review all your comments no matter what the subject was you will notice that,you have always within or far away from the context floged and defamed muslims and Islam,and we aren't even your enemy,while jews are our enemy we are in conflict with them,we have right to hate our enemy,only as long as they are our enemy not beyond that,and history stands for our favor as a proof on that, but I really do not think of myself as a jew hater,I hate those who do bad things,It is not my mistake if this people happened to be the jews,you will tell me not all jews are bad,I will tell you, say that to yourself, it is the same as you,you have seen bad muslims you not only think that all muslims are bad but you perpetually condemn islam itself,at the same time you shame me for following the steps of my big brother.

Wait and see Jay, they will very soon bring a real holocost upon themselves if they kept going on at this pace,but this time at the hands of their Patrons the Americans, for it is their habbit to S...t in the same dish they eat from,it started with taking their buisness away to china and india etc and now with their rating agencies threatening to downgrade US rating in this critical moments,may be it is just a blacmail to extort concessions on issues,but that is not likely,they are like the rats first they make hole,and then be the first to desert sinking ships, the same way they did to prewar Germany.

Wa salli Allahuma Wa Barik Ala Sayyadi Khlqika Ajmaeen (it something much better than praise be upon him the master of all creatures)

Countrygirl said...

@Majed with people like you it's nearly impossible to talk, to have a civil conversation, you say that you aren't a jew hater but a few sentence later you say "they will very soon bring a real holocost upon themselve" in my book you ARE a jew hater.

Deep inside you hate jews for their success, you brand Murdoch as a jew when he isn't his only fault is the owner of fox news the only network that don't drool over muslim and their "so called" plight in the world.

In a previous post you told that you are from Yemen before spreading hate toward others look what is wrong in YOUR own country do you think it's ok for a 8 years old kid to be married off to a pervert?.

Chiara said...

This discussion certainly deteriorated rapidly into personal attacks, anti-Semitism (of both types of Semites) and Islamophobia.

My apologies that I was offline longer than expected and unable to redirect it earlier.

I thought of deleting all the comments after Wendy's first one, but that would be unfair for the bits of reasonable commentary mixed with the unreasonable ie disrespectful commentary.

I will leave them up as examples of crossing the lines of the blog commenting policy.

I am happy that people wanted to contribute and discuss, and I am happy with disagreement with me or others, just please don't generalize to the point of hate speech, or make personal attacks on each other.

Thanks to all of you for your interest and participation.

Chiara said...

I really think the issue with Murdoch was one of business ethics that were far below the standard for other businesses, including by the ethics in place when he first emerged on the UK market.

The problem now is that beyond Murdoch there has been a new low set in the manner of obtaining and presenting "news", including in what constitutes "news".

Some are arguing that he was taking on the big guys for the benefit of the small guys in some sort of socially aware investigative journalism.

To me he was just selling salacious material for public consumption. Consumer responsibility has a role to play, but if you offer only Spam to people they are forced to eat it, or at least smell it on the plates of others.

More concerning is that politicians and police were so far in bed with all of this. It is not unique in the history of journalism, but has a particularly sinister quality. At the very least, these unhealthy relationships need to be cleaned up again.

As Wendy said in her first comment, the longer it goes on the more widespread and deep it is.

As Countrygirl pointed out George Galloway is very much on the left--even on the left of the Labour Party he represented in the British Parliament. He is however knowledgeable and above board--as evidenced by his win over the Canadian government's refusal of entry and false allegations about terrorist ties.

I look forward to more of you comments on the ethics, impact, and implications of the Murdoch case!

Wendy said...

In some bizarre way I feel a little sorry for Murdoch. He is now an old man and sometimes looks as though the who think is beyond him and that he really didn't know to what extent the bad stuff was happening.

Countrygirl said...

The funny thing is that here in Italy the news about Murdoch and the tipwiring are given ample space on newpaper and news with the ofcourse the negative coment, but on the other hand nothing is done when DA (or even police) gave to the same newspapers (who of course will pubblish) the transcriptions of private conversations of someone who talked to someone else who maybe could be implicated in some crime.

As Wendy said Murdoch is an old man with an huge empire who really knows he he knew of what went on.

Jay Kactuz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chiara said...

Wendy--yes in some ways he appears pathetic, and that is the dilemma of delayed investigations--the perpetrators are older and more feeble than when they were in the heyday of their power and malfeasance. Although it is a vast empire, he is reputedly a very hands on administrator, and did set the tone and tactics originally. He did rightfully gain a lot of sympathy after the despicable pie incident.

Countrygirl-I agree it seems easier for the media to focus on this one man, and there is a certain schadenfreude to the delight of other media corporations in the troubles for Murdoch's. One of the key differences for me is that what Murdoch does is not investigative journalism and serves no higher purpose than profit, whereas the release of some types of information as you mentioned is in the interest of investigation, transparency, and accountability.

Thank you both for your comments!

Chiara said...

Kactuz-I have deleted your most recent comment as being a repetition of your personal attacks and Islamophobia.

I know you like testing limits, and take a certain pleasure in pushing far enough to eventually be blocked from a blog.

I also know we have differing views of hate speech and freedom of speech, with yours adhering to a US model, and mine adhering to that used in most of the rest of the Western world, including Canada and the UK.

You are not blocked from this blog, but I will delete comments that are inappropriate, according to the stated commenting policy here.

Please don't bother libelling me or my blog on others (I read more of them than I comment on). It is beneath you.

Chiara said...

Jay--I read and took note of your reply to my comment above. I deleted it because the topic is not up for discussion. You are welcome to comment on the posts or discussion if you are respectful of the commenting policy here. Thanks for your interest, and the effort that went into your reply to my comment above.

Jay Kactuz said...

I am surprised that you deleted my comment about being deleted. It was inoffensive and contrite.

I guess I cant win with you. Good thing that the world is doing just fine and none of what I said in my first comment has happened in the last day.

You are right, maybe if we ignore these things, they will go away. Maybe there will be no more killing in the name of religion.

Majed said...

Be happy all,the Trial of Mr.Murdoch is the the herald that is calling the end of a very long lasted era that started with BBC , during which those with power and money dominated and decided what the whole world should see and hear and support,and in the mean while it is ushering in the trend of freelancing and the power of every man to inform the world of what he has got to say or show through blogs and social media.

Thank you very much for considering me as a microscopic being that you could not you see with your naked eyes and having taked me so light,I will not cry,actually that did not even hurt me,but I think I was to blame just as much as everyone else.


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