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The Matrix-Like Reality Created by Our Media
Why the Washington Post killed the story of Murdoch’s bid to buy the US presidency
Carl Bernstein, of “All the President’s Men” fame, has arevealing commentary in theGuardian today, though revealing not entirely in a way he appears to understand. Bernstein highlights a story first disclosed earlier this month in the Washington Post by his former journalistic partner Bob Woodward that media mogul Rupert Murdoch tried to “buy the US presidency”.
A taped conversation shows that in early 2011 Murdoch sent Roger Ailes, the boss of his most important US media outlet, Fox News, to Afghanistan to persuade General David Petraeus, former commander of US forces, to run against Barack Obama as the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Murdoch promised to bankroll Petraeus’s campaign and commit Fox News to provide the general with wall-to-wall support.
Murdoch’s efforts to put his own man in the White House failed because Petraeus decided he did not want to run for office. “Tell [Ailes] if I ever ran,” Petraeus says in the recording, “but I won’t … but if I ever ran, I’d take him up on his offer.”
Bernstein is rightly appalled not just by this full-frontal attack on democracy but also by the fact that the Washington Post failed to splash with their world exclusive. Instead they buried it inside the paper’s lifestyle section, presenting it as what the section editor called “a buzzy media story that … didn’t have the broader import” that would justify a better showing in the paper.
In line with the Washington Post, most other major US news outlets either ignored the story or downplayed its significance.
We can probably assume that Bernstein wrote his piece at the bidding of Woodward, as a covert way for him to express his outrage at his newspaper’s wholesale failure to use the story to generate a much-deserved political scandal. The pair presumably expected the story to prompt congressional hearings into Murdoch’s misuse of power, parallel to investigations in the UK that have revealed Murdoch’s control of politicians and the police there.