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Does Rupert Murdoch support a ‘sadistic corporate agenda’?

Tweet: Rupert Murdoch owns 322 media outlets, all of them speaking out in support of the sadistic corporate agenda and the global war machine.
Verdict: Partly True

By Ayesha Almazroui
Zayed University journalism student

This statement, tweeted on Jan. 2, can be divided into three parts. First, Rupert Murdoch owns 322 media outlets. Second, all of his media outlets are speaking out in support of “the sadistic corporate agenda.” Third, all of his media outlets are speaking out in support of the “global war machine.”

Does he really own 322 media outlets?

Rupert Murdoch who is ranked 24th in Forbes List of Powerful People, owns News Corporation, the world’s second-largest media conglomerate. His corporation includes many different kinds of media outlets and among them are newspapers, TV and radio stations, magazines, and books publishers.

Finding the exact number of Murdoch’s media outlets on the Internet is very difficult. However, according to Businessweek, “his satellites deliver TV programs in five continents, all but dominating Britain, Italy, and wide swaths of Asia and the Middle East.”

He also owns 175 newspapers, including some major newspapers in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is known of his famous Fox Network, the Twentieth Century Fox Studio, and 35 TV stations in the United States alone that reach more than 40% of the country, based on the same article.

Given these numbers, the statement that he owns 322 media outlets is probably reasonably accurate, although an exact figure could not be found.

Support of the sadistic corporate agenda

During the World Economic Forum, Murdoch admitted using his media outlets to promote some certain agendas.

“Obviously if you are in media and are concerned with what’s happening in the world, you would like to make a deference by putting forward your opinion,” he said.

David Bulla, associate professor of communication and media at Zayed University and head of AEJMC Scholastic Journalism Division, said that Murdoch’s media outlets do push a political agenda that “agitate against an ecumenical and peaceful global society.”

“What he does with this newspapers, including the edition of the London Times that we get in print in Abu Dhabi, is not my idea of excellent journalism,” he said. “Instead, it is advocacy journalism that seems a relic of a colonial past.”

According to a New York Times’s article, Murdoch is famous for his willingness to personally shape the editorial policies of his news outlets such as The New York Post, The Times of London and so many other major newspapers.

Support of global war machine

Murdoch, also admitted during the World Economic Forum that they tried to shape the agenda of some wars in terms of the perception and how the wars is viewed and gave an example of the war in Iraq.

“We basically supported the Bush policy,” he said.

The New York Times has reported during the 2003 invasion of Iraq that the war showed “anew the exceptional” power that Murdoch has.

“In the last several months, the editorial policies of almost all his English-language news organizations have hewn very closely to Murdoch’s own stridently hawkish political views, making his voice among the loudest in the Anglophone world in the international debate over the American-led war with Iraq.”

The Guardian has also reported before the war that Murdoch completely supported the war and praised president Bush saying that he was doing the right thing.

According to the article, Murdoch said just before the war that the “greatest thing to come out of this (war) would be cheap oil, which he believes would benefit the world economy more than any tax cut ever could.”

But Abdulrahman Elshayyal, Business Development Manager of BBC in MENA and West Asia, said in an interview that InjusticeFact statements “are absolute judgments that one should be wary of making.”

“Whilst Murdoch owns a very large number of media outlets, it is problematic to categorize them all as supporters of ‘a sadistic corporate agenda,’” he said. “This assumes that all of the journalists who work therein support this agenda, and that there is such an agenda.”

However, he said that it might be possible to use some of his key outlets as examples to make that argument.

“The general editorial direction of some Murdoch outlets supports his personal publicized political and corporate stances,” he said.

Khaled Abdulrahman, a former producer at Abu Dhabi TV news center and a production manager at TwoFour54, said in an interview that he doesn’t think that the statement is completely true.

“If people didn’t have such a voracious appetite for the content that Murdoch empire distributes, then he would not have an empire,” he said. “People or society should be held accountable in equal measure and not look for a escape goat to assuage their guilty conscience.”

Our verdict

Although it’s true since Murdoch himself admitted that he uses his media outlets to support certain agendas, and some wars like the war in Iraq, the statement contains some generalization (i.e. all of them) and exaggeration (e.g., global war machine). In addition, the statement includes ambiguous judgment and the language used is subjective (i.e. sadistic). Therefore, we rate the tweet as Partly True.

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