In news that is likely to have readers checking its not April 1st, the daughter of News Corporation founder Rupert Murdoch has been revealed to be in the running to be the next Director-General of the BBC after Tony Hall announced he would leave his position in the summer.
In a month where the establishment has seemingly given up all pretence of creating a level playing field, the Democrats in America openly and transparently screwing over Bernie Sanders, it seems the British government has likewise lost the desire to present at least an image of impartiality and democracy.
Elisabeth Murdoch is the former head of Shine UK, the production company responsible for Masterchef and Broadchurch and is said to be a candidate “acceptable” to the wingnuts that Britain installed into Downing Street. Shine was acquired by News Corporation in 2011 as part of a controversial deal that raised questions about nepotism.
While nobody should be condemned for the crimes of their father, Rupert Murdoch has consistently called for the privatisation of the BBC and is notorious for his promotion of far-right, Islamophobic, racist, homophobic and misogynistic views around the globe through TV channels such as Fox News and The Sun newspaper. Elisabeth Murdoch has worked for her father for decades without objection.
The BBC has been under heavy criticism in recent years from both sides of the political spectrum, with the Tories continuing efforts toward privatisation despite the Beeb being seen as heavily anti-Labour at the last election.
In November of 2019, we highlighted seven major instances of the BBC transparently taking an anti-Labour stance over a single month, including broadcasting edited footage of Boris Johnson’s performance at a Question Time debate, broadcasting old footage of Boris Johnson at the cenotaph after last year’s disaster and neglecting to cover frequent negative reaction to Johnson on the streets. Not only were BBC impartiality rules breached on numerous occasions, but the Corporation also failed in its undefined duty to the British public when it was faced with the coming of the far-right Johnson government.
In 2014, Owen Jones tore down the illusion of “liberal bias” at the BBC, stating that such claims “allows the right to police the BBC: to make the corporation fearful of crossing certain lines and to ensure that the right sets the political agenda. Leftwingers are reluctant to return fire for fear they will help to fatally undermine the BBC.” It was Jones’ opinion that the anti-Labour bias at the BBC was a hangover of the Iraq war when “director-general and journalist Andrew Gilligan [was] driven from the corporation. The episode left the BBC supine and fearful. Its news output is deeply reactive, rather than agenda-setting, structured along the lines of government announcements.”
Jones would highlight the fact that the BBC is almost entirely staffed with Tories, including the likes of Nick Robinson who was once chairman of the Young Conservatives and Andrew Neil who is chairman of the racist and conservative Spectator magazine. At the time of Owen’s article Chris Patten, former Tory minister and governor of Hong Kong was head of the BBC Trust, he would be replaced by Rona Fairhead who went on to be a minister at the Department for International Trade. Likewise, the former head of BBC Westminster Robbie Gibb would go on to be Theresa May’s director of communications and be accused of being “a hard Brexiteer who wants to destroy the PM’s new search for a cross-party compromise” by Nick Boles. Working at the BBC and working for the Conservative Party seem almost interchangeable.
Earlier this month journalist Peter Oborne, a former chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph, revealed that he been told by a source that it was now BBC policy to not expose the lies of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister as it would undermine public trust in politics.
“Senior BBC executives… tell me they personally think it’s wrong to expose lies told by a British prime minister because it undermines trust in British politics… Is that a reason for giving Johnson free reign to make any false claim he wants?”Peter Oborne
Oborne has previously accused journalists of failing in their duties and regurgitating “propaganda… smears, lies, fake news”, taking aim at Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston as having “become effectively press spokesmen for Boris Johnson and… Dominic Cummings”
Appointing Elisabeth Murdoch will be a hugely positive move in the eyes of the Conservative government, guaranteeing positive coverage for the increasingly right-wing Tories while at the same time further eroding left-wing support for the BBC. The insidious suggestion is a calculated move by the government and their supporters inside the BBC itself to open the door to future unopposed privatisation as the left abandon support for the Corporation. Those who advocate reform over privitisation must not fall into the trap of undermining a state-owned BBC and must not begin to advocate for privatisation in-line with the true goal of Johnson’s Tories.
The attempts to make the BBC toxic enough to the left to ensure socialists support policies against nationalisation must not be allowed to take hold.
Main Image: Elisabeth Murdoch | Eirik Helland Urke