An editorial in The Sun on Wednesday 4 January took the notion of irony to its limit. The piece, attacking Max Mosley (the former boss of Formula One), was about press regulation. But in it, The Sun seemingly ignored some ugly home truths about its own chief, Rupert Murdoch. And the paper also seemed to forget to look in the mirror as well.
Max Mosley is a major donor to press regulator Impress. The organisation represents mostly local newspapers, and is a government-approved body. But Impress is widely criticised by the rest of the mainstream media, because the industry sees it as a step towards state regulation of the press. Most newspapers are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), a self-governing and self-funding regulator.
The Sun also takes issue with Impress because of Mosley’s funding of it. And in its editorial, the tabloid made its position on him very clear:
But what The Sun failed to recognise is that if you took out the name ‘Max Mosley’ and replaced it with ‘Rupert Murdoch’, the paper could have been describing its own boss.
The Sun editorial began:
No democracy should tolerate the idea of centuries of press freedom being left in the hands of a vindictive tycoon.
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The tabloid’s boss, Murdoch, owns both The Sun and The Times via his company NewsCorp. Which means he controls around a third of total newspaper circulation in the UK. He also owns a 39% stake in UK broadcaster BSkyB. And in December 2016, his other company, 21st Century Fox, placed an £11.7bn bid to control of the remaining 61%.
Murdoch also owns talkSport, talkRadio and Virgin Radio. Outside the UK, he controls countless other media groups including Fox News in the US and Sky Italia in Italy.
According to The Sun, Mosley is “vindictive”. But Murdoch could have the same charge levelled at him. In 2012, Harold Evans, the former editor of The Times, gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. He said that Murdoch was “evil incarnate”, that he had “his heart removed long ago”, and that a “vindictive” atmosphere existed under his former boss’s control.
The Sun describes Mosley as an “odious millionaire”. Indeed, he is very rich. And many may class his family history as “odious”. But Murdoch is no angel. His Twitter account is renowned for its bad taste:
Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 10, 2015
Also, former Murdoch-owned Sunday tabloid The News of the World was caught up in the phone hacking scandal. Perhaps the most “odious” aspect of this being the hacking by the paper of murdered school girl Milly Dowler’s phone.
And Murdoch is hardly short of a few bob. His personal wealth is estimated at $12.2bn, making him Forbes 35th most powerful person on the planet. Mosley, meanwhile, doesn’t feature on Forbes‘ list.
The Sun says that IPSO is a:
self-funded, properly independent regulator…
But IPSO is not as independent as the tabloid would have you believe. Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun’s former Political Editor, is also a board member of IPSO. He came under fire in October 2016 for backing Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie over the row about Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji wearing a hijab during a broadcast of the Nice terrorist attack. Both Manji and her bosses at ITN complained to IPSO about MacKenzie’s column. But IPSO found The Sun and its journalist not guilty of any wrongdoing.
In conclusion, The Sun said Mosley and the “washed-up celebs” who campaigned for the Leveson Inquiry:
will do anything to shut down papers that expose the wrongdoings of the rich and famous.
It’s just a shame that many “wrongdoings” are actually done by papers like The Sun. The paper which lied about the Hillsborough disaster. The tabloid that slandered the UK Muslim community. The paper whose misogynistic victim-blaming in murder cases knows no bounds. The paper that now takes the moral high-ground when it comes to the notion of a free and fair press. Let that sink in for a minute. And then continue to ignore anything Murdoch’s odious rag tells you. Ever.
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