Murdoch loves education, wants to make money from it and hopes British government will help

Stunning report in the Guardian that details the ongoing relationship between Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation; a mutual belief in reducing public funding for education and reducing opportunities for the most disadvantaged:

On a freezing November day in 2010, the education secretary, Michael Gove, turned out in east London to inspect a desolate stretch of dockside ground near City airport, where Rupert Murdoch had offered to build an academy school.

The cabinet minister was accompanied by Rebekah Brooks, then News International chief executive, and an entourage of other top Murdoch staff, including James Harding and Will Lewis.

Despite the unprepossessing venue there was no mistaking the company’s enthusiasm for the project. Murdoch described himself in a speech as the saviour of British education, thanks to his company’s “adoption of new academies here in London”.

It was a high-water mark of the love-in between Gove, Murdoch and the Conservative government. Gove, a former Times journalist, had previously gone out of his way to flatter his own proprietor, writing that Murdoch “encourages … free-thinking”.

Shortly after the Docklands visit, the phone-hacking scandal disrupted these close relations. News International’s proposed academy was quietly abandoned. Newham council says nothing was subsequently done to fulfil Murdoch’s promises.

But Gove returned to his pro-Murdoch theme last week, publicly attacking the Leveson inquiry, set up in the wake of News International’s misdeeds, as a threat to press freedom. “Whenever anyone sets up a new newspaper – as Rupert Murdoch has with the Sun on Sunday – they should be applauded and not criticised,” he said.

It was a reminder of the extraordinarily close links that still exist between publishing tycoon and Tory politician. One of Murdoch’s long-term projects is what he calls a “revolutionary and profitable” move by his media companies into online education. Gove would be a key figure in any attempt to penetrate the British schools market.

The education secretary meets Murdoch frequently and is an enthusiastic backer of the ideas of Joel Klein, the head of Murdoch’s new education division. Within a week of his promotion in 2010, the minister was at dinner with Murdoch, according to officially released details of meetings.

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