Over the weekend, Rupert Murdoch tweeted this to his followers: “Why Is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?” Needless to say, the eyebrow raising statement led to much controversy and criticism, causing Murdoch to subsequently issue an apology over the social media platform.
And little wonder. According to The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart, the tweet was simply “dumb and offensive.” He explains why:
Factually, the allegation is absurd. If you define “anti-Israel” as hostility not merely to one particular Israeli policy or leader, but to Israel itself, then there’s zero evidence that, say, The New York Times has been ‘anti-Israel’ even in its coverage of the current Gaza War, let alone ‘every crisis’ Israel has ever been involved in.
But Murdoch’s tweet is more than just dumb. It’s also offensive, both to journalists and Jews.
It’s offensive to journalists, because it implies that institutions of the “press” should reflect the ideological biases of their owners. Reading Murdoch’s tweet, it would be logical to conclude that he believes that any newspaper he owns should reflect his right-wing views, even in its news coverage.
...Murdoch’s tweet is offensive to Jews, because he’s suggesting that when it comes to Israel, media owners who are Jews should let their Jewishness guide their journalism.
But Murdoch’s tweet also brings up some larger issues and questions about the News Corp. chairman. Among them is this one posited by his biographer, Michael Wolff: “What does Murdoch really think about the Jews?”
Wolff writes in The Guardian:
Gary Ginsberg, his long-time aide – part chief-of-staff; part PR consigliere – was often hurt and confounded by Murdoch’s jibes, insensitivities, and humor (there was the Christmas every executive desk got a crèche by order of the boss). Once, with me, Murdoch got into a riff about Jewish groups and money: how they were good at tricking him out of his dough.
And yet, as soon as he focused his business attentions on the US and New York in the mid-seventies, he started to hire Jews as his closest advisers. His support for Israel has been absolute. Arguably, it is his support for Israel, and for neoconism in general (for many years, he owned and funded the losses of the Weekly Standard), that helped solidify rightwing support for Israel. (I was once at an Anti-Defamation League dinner where Rupert Murdoch presented Silvio Berlusconi an aware for meritorious conduct with respect to the Jews.)
I think that Murdoch, a man not so much paranoid as he is realistic about his enemies, is parsing what he sees as “‘good Jews” from “bad Jews”. Jews are just another subset of the people who are for him or against him, who he either has to manage or isolate. Along with his open dislike of Muslims – once, he explained to me his theory about how Muslims often married close cousins, therefore depressing their general IQ – and his geopolitical views about world domination, supporting Israel, I believe, is a way to win the support of what he perceives as the good Jews. (That is, if you support him, you are a good Jew.)
Perhaps this should be a concern for the media industry as a whole seeing as Murdoch is reportedly looking to expand his already vast empire by acquiring two of the pre-eminent dailies in the United States: the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
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