Monday, ahead of Rupert Murdoch’s inquiry by the British Parliament, former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appeared on CNN to defend his beleaguered friend against accusations of knowledge of his employees’ hacking and bribing offenses.
The men’s relationship goes back at least 15 years, when Giuliani gave Murdoch one of New York City’s five public-access channels to launch Fox News Channel. As the article below shows, the sordid, often concealed Murdoch-Giuliani partnership is exemplary of the kind of societal destruction that becomes possible when public officials merge their interests and power with private wealth, and confirms the urgent need to write and enact laws that prevent such an occurrence. —ARK
The Nation Institute in conjunction with The Daily Beast:
Let’s start in 1996, three years after Murdoch’s New York Post helped make Giuliani mayor with the narrowest win in modern city history. That year, Rupert and Ailes, who’d actually managed Rudy’s unsuccessful mayoral run in 1989, were launching Fox Cable News and they had one rather daunting problem: Time Warner controlled the prime NYC cable franchise, with 1.2 million viewers, including virtually all of Manhattan, where every advertiser who might buy a spot lived or worked. And Time Warner refused to give Fox a channel for its new venture. In those days, Time Warner only had space for 77 channels on the dial, and 30 applicants had lined up before Fox. Richard Aurelio, who ran the NYC cable system for Time Warner, recalls now that he assured Ailes that in a year or so, they would “get more capacity and put you on.” But, says Aurelio, now long retired at age 83, “Murdoch was furious.” A former deputy mayor under John Lindsay, Aurelio says he’d “never seen such a display of raw political power,” branding it “ferocious.”
Records revealed that after Murdoch and Giuliani talked directly about the matter on Oct. 1, their aides had 25 conversations and two meetings in the space of a few weeks. A deputy mayor instantly warned Time Warner about the possibility that their franchise, granted by the city every 15 years, might not be renewed and volunteered to fly anywhere in the country to meet with a Time Warner executive above Aurelio. When Time Warner wouldn’t budge, Giuliani came up with an extraordinary remedy. The city controlled five public-access channels, written into law as alternatives to commercial television, and the mayor decided to give one of them to Fox. In fact, presumably to make it look like this wasn’t something he would just do for Murdoch, he offered another to Mike Bloomberg’s then fledgling TV network. The Bloomberg News channel actually had its debut one night before a federal judge could stop the deal, but soon the courts blocked this transparently extralegal adventure.
Flickr / VictoryNH: Protect Our Primary
The relationship between Rudolph Giuliani, above, and Rupert Murdoch goes back at least 15 years.