IAUC Response to “The Tables Are Turned on Murdoch” 7/19
July 20, 2011
News Corp journalistic methods were not only criminal but reflect a newspaper more focused on ‘making’ news rather than simply reporting it. A related issue in this scandal has been overlooked in Mr. Nocera’s commentary. (“The Tables Are Turned on Murdoch” 7/19). The issue has far greater consequences then the “malicious gossip” of which he writes. Mr. Murdoch’s tabloid THE SUN does little to collect news and survives by publishing government handouts without reservation, verification or explanation. It serves more like a government newsletter than an independent voice on current events.
An example. In 1988 British Army SAS members killed three member of the Irish Republican Army in Gibraltar. Within hours the SUN published the government feeds which claimed a huge bomb was defused, there was a gunfight, and the local police shot the two men and a woman. A Thames television documentary later exposed the pack of lies: there was no bomb, there was no gunfight and, according to eyewitnesses, the three were butchered while surrendering. The SUN then moved in with stories of confusion, remote bomb triggers and, more importantly, smeared a Ms Carmen Proetta as involved in drugs, a prostitute and anti-British. The headline in the SUN described her as “The Tart of Gib.” In 1995 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the British government was guilty of “unlawful killing.” Over 300,000 pounds were paid to Ms Proetta in libel damages by not only the SUN but the Murdoch-owned TIMES.
The New York Times was involved in a similar but more nuanced circumstance. In 1985 their London Bureau Chief, Ms. Jo Thomas, was advised she was spending too much time investigating killings by security forces in Northern Ireland and their collusion with loyalists. Instead she was told to work from the Ministry of Defense background material. The very same type of background provided to the SUN in the Gibraltar episode. These same killings have been covered up to this day by Her Majesty’s government. Ms Thomas was removed for “unexceptional reporting” and wrote of this in the Columbia Journalism Review.
The failure to disclose government deceit and corruption by newspapers has grave consequences. It covers for bad government policies that waste time and money and encourages lawlessness that can and does cost lives. The British tabloids in particular demean the very democracy they claim to cherish; providing readers with government spin and misinformation to sustain their ignorance. That is the greater issue which may never be a part of the debate in the Mother of Parliaments.
Michael J. Cummings, Member
IAUC National Board