Murdoch only powerful because our elites allowed themselves to be seduced

Handy reminder from the New York Times on the kind of political and media culture that exists in Britain (and Australia, too) that allows a war mongering media mogul to exercise so much power:

When David Cameron became prime minister in May 2010, one of his first visitors at 10 Downing Street — within 24 hours, and entering by a back door, according to accounts in British newspapers — was Rupert Murdoch.

Fourteen months later, with Mr. Murdoch’s media empire in Britain reeling, Mr. Cameron may feel that his close relationship with Mr. Murdoch, which included a range of social contacts with members of the Murdoch family and the tycoon’s senior executives, has been a costly overreach.

Those concerns were intensified by the arrest on Friday of Andy Coulson, the former editor of The News of the World and, until he resigned in January this year, Mr. Cameron’s media chief at Downing Street.

For now, though, Mr. Murdoch and the executives of News International, the Murdoch subsidiary that controls his newspaper and television holdings in Britain, may be less concerned about the impact that the scandal may have on their political influence than on the more immediate legal challenges they face.

The company’s decision to close The News of the World will not end the scrutiny of the newspaper’s practices by the police, courts and Parliament and by a public panel of inquiry that Mr. Cameron has promised to appoint. Together, these investigations seem likely to make for an inquisition that could run for years, causing further erosion in the credibility of the Murdoch brand and costing News International millions of dollars in potential legal settlements.

But for all the questions about how Mr. Cameron will weather the scandal, Mr. Murdoch has been much the larger target. Simon Hoggart, a columnist for The Guardian, described the relief among British politicians at seeing the Murdoch empire brought low.

For years, members of Parliament “have been terrified of the Murdoch press — terrified they might lose support, terrified, in some cases, that their private lives might be exposed,” he wrote. “But that has gone. News International has crossed a line and M.P.’s feel, like political prisoners after a tyrant has been condemned to death by a people’s tribunal, that they are at last free.”

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