Adam Curtis on Rupert Murdoch

Most people who have seen the work of Adam Curtis, say his BBC series The Century of the Self, or The Trap, or All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, are struck by his ability to read how mass opinion has been shaped by media and the officialdom.

It would seem hard to convey much in the way of insight on the topic of Rupert Murdoch in a mere five minutes, yet Curtis pulls it off in this short film.

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  1. Andreas Moser

    I am still not at all interested in any of this celebrity “news”. But sadly, this crap in the “Sun” finances “The Times” which is a quality paper that I enjoy.

  2. rotter

    I think this says much more about the recent history of “news” media than about Murdoch particularly. It makes no comment at all on his efforts to influence the minds and opinions of the consumers of his pap, but rather stays focused on the macro evolution of the way print and broadcast news is marketed. Of course this has had a huge effect on its content and on public discourse, but how so and why are ignored in this clip.

  3. Cathryn Mataga

    Well, at least Murdoch actually really does care about newspapers. Someday he’ll be gone and nameless beancounters will rule the press. Even though he has become a bit of a ‘Dr. Evil’ type character these days, one day he will be missed. You’ll see.

  4. Jeff

    Here’s a little ditty that I cannot find the source for, however it rings true:

    The Times:
    Read by the people who run the country.

    Daily Mirror:
    Read by the people who think they run the country.

    Read by the people who think they ought to run the country.

    Morning Star:
    Read by the people who think the country ought to be run by another country.

    Daily Mail:
    Read by the wives of the people who own the country.

    Financial Times:
    Read by the people who own the country.

    Daily Express:
    Read by the people who think that the country ought to be run as it used to be.

    Daily Telegraph:
    Read by the people who think it still is.

    The Sun:
    Their readers don’t care who runs the country as long as she has big tits.

      1. G3

        Thanks Jeff and Lefebvre. It is classy. Maybe someone can come up with something similar for the US lamestream media.

  5. scraping_by

    The celebrity bargain of vile stories in exchange for news space is an old, old old one. The idea that they’re currently more vile, is perhaps the function of the number of wannabes trying to get time in the spotlight. But they have a lower expectation of privacy, just given their profession.

    It’s treating those who didn’t choose the bargain as expendables that’s the Murdoch legacy. Taking private persons caught up in war, disaster, crime, etc. and adding to their stress by invading their private lives is his only real innovation. Using the purely verbal definition of “public person” to destroy its meaning.

    People who chose publicity-driven livelihoods have made their bargain, and have little to complain. Those who didn’t ask to be in the news are still private persons and should be treated as such.

  6. MRW

    Watch this 15-minute talk by Eben Moglen who not only said the same thing last June in NYC, but is designing what can help us. Highly recommended; don’t miss it. Entertaining, too.

    The talk that started it all is here:

    Within three weeks of Moglen’s Feb 5, 2010 talk, Zuckerberg said he would consider an IPO, and I understand it’s on for early 2012. Smart boy. He saw the writing on the wall.

    1. Rex

      Zuckerberg? Why would he be a trustworthy partner in a project to facilitate anonymity? Doesn’t Facebook’s business model depend on members surrendering their anonymity to play?

  7. Hugo Elias

    I’m really not a fan of Rupert Murdoch, but the more Adam Curtis documentaries I watch, the more I think they’re all just highly biased, conspiracy theory nonsense.

    When I saw The Power Of Nightmares, I was blown away, even though there were a couple of things that didn’t sit right with me. Then I saw All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (which is a subject I know a lot more about) and there were so many oversimplifications and conclusions jumped to that he lost much of his credibility for me.

    It’s a shame, because I like the way he makes documentaries, I just wish they were a bit more rigorous and a lot less biased.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      They’re opinion essays. He has stated this in interviews. As most others who have engaged with documentary making will know, they’re NEVER objective. Curtis just embraces this and ‘tells stories’. I think it’s a much braver and more innovative form. If some people think that he’s trying to be ‘objective’ that’s just because of their own preconceptions about what the documentary form ‘is’. And if artists allowed people’s opinions of what a form supposedly ‘is’ to dictate to them what to make… well, we’d still be looking at painted vases all day. No thanks.

      Curtis is, together with Errol Morris, the most innovative and inetersting documentary filmmakers working today. Hands down. And History will remember them for it.

      1. Hugo Elias

        I agree that they are fantastic documentaries; fascinating and entertaining to watch.

        The main problem I have is that, while he has stated separately that they are opinion pieces, you would never know from watching one. Because they are in no way supposed to represent the truth, these ‘documentaries’ would have no less value if he simple made things up.

        And I don’t agree that artistic license allows the documentary maker so much freedom that they can turn a documentary into whatever they like. They can’t turn it into propaganda and still call it a documentary, because we already have the word “propaganda”. They can’t turn it into an opinion piece and still call it a documentary, because we already have the term “opinion piece”.

  8. David S.

    The weirdest thing about the whole Murdoch (and non-Murdoch) newspapers tapping people’s mobiles and email scandals in the UK is how it underlines the bizzare popularity of old fashioned dead tree newspapers in the UK. Everywhere else in the Western world newspapers are dying or at death’s door, but in the UK they still sell like you wouldn’t believe, even if most of them are increasingly dependent on NoTW-type gossip and scandal. Why?

    Why do people in the UK still buy printed papers in such numbers? They’re hardly short of DTV stations, have computers and internet available, yet old fashioned gossipy print is still so popular.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Popularity among the working class that they don’t posses in the US. Same deal in Ireland I think. Deeply ingrained cultural habit for working class folks.

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