The Great Replacement Mogul

Rupert Murdoch’s Legacy, Part II

Rupert Murdoch has handed over most of the reins to his son Lachlan. It’s the closest we will likely get to an official retirement from the Australian media colossus.

Anti-NewsCorp protest. Melbourne, March 2021.

But the old man has given up the throne at a time of global crisis.

Murdoch didn’t fail to mention this in his last address as undisputed chairman at News Corp’s annual general meeting.

“The world is facing multiple international crises that demand attention and understanding,” Murdoch told the audience.

“After the barbaric attack on Israel and the ensuing tragedies in the region, the rise of virulent Antisemitism should be of serious concern to all thoughtful people,” he said.

It wouldn’t have been a Rupert Murdoch speech without a sharp word for liberal elites.

“There is no doubt that we should all be concerned about the suppression of debate by an intolerant elite who regard differing opinions as anathema,” he said.

Of course, Murdoch is not a member of “an intolerant elite”.

He is merely a multibillionaire living by private jet whose loyalties are to the bottom line above any nation.

Unsurprisingly, few publishers have exerted so much influence over foreign policy with so few limits.

Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers have cheered on countless wars in the Middle East, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya.

As part of his unwavering support for the White House, Israel has long been covered by his media as though it were an American proxy.

Yet history suggests Murdoch is not a principled supporter of Israel.

Good Jews, Bad Jews

The year was 2012. Israel had launched its fifth military campaign against the territory since 2006.

This was Operation Pillar of Defence, very much forgotten in Western media as it was eclipsed by the far more devastating Operation Protective Edge.

Just as now, the media was full of discussion about the campaign, including serious criticism from some sections of the pundit class.

Just before the war officially began, Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “Why is Jewish-owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis.”

These were the days when Twitter, now X, was a far more wild place (despite what Elon Musk may think).

Murdoch’s Antisemitic question was embarrassing for his handlers.

At the time, his biographer, Michael Wolff, argued that the tweet was an insight into the Digger’s unreconstructed worldview.

“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’,” wrote Wolff.

“Jews are just another subset of the people who are for him or against him.”

Over a week later, Rupert Murdoch apologised to the Anti-Defamation League, which had given him the International Leadership Award for his record of support for Israel.

The former Marxist explained that he feels “very strongly” about the “righteousness” of Israel’s cause.

Unquestioning support for Israel is often a signifier of one’s legitimacy in US politics, but support for Jews is very much conditional.

“I should have stuck to the substance of the issue and not bring in irrelevant and incorrect ethnic matters,” Murdoch said.

Wolff thought Murdoch had one newspaper in mind with his comment about the “Jewish press.”

“I imagine Murdoch means the New York Times,” he said. “The Sulzbergers, who control the company, were once a prominent Jewish family.”

Wolff pointed out that this is strange because Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. was raised Episcopalian.

“The New York Times represents the highest example of the Jews who believe they are better than him,” Wolff claimed.

Although he is clear that Murdoch “dislikes” Muslims, Wolff thinks Murdoch’s support for Israel is another example of a tactical stance.

It’s a part of his commercial strategy to court power in the US.

“Supporting Israel, I believe, is a way to win the support of what he perceives as the good Jews,” he continued. “That is, if you support him, you are a good Jew.”

It’s not just this calculation, though. Rupert Murdoch has had business interests in Israel’s Occupied Territories.

When he was tweeting about the Jewish press, for example, the media mogul was a board member of Genie Energy, an oil and gas company operating in the Golan Heights.

The fact that the now-annexed Golan was once Syrian territory isn’t even a part of the calculus.

Other board members included former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and ex-CIA director James Woolsey.

It’s not just about signifiers of class loyalty.

Murdoch’s native Australia,  like Israel, is a settler colonial society. It would be hard to imagine he has ideological problems with it.

This is conveniently in line with his business strategy and political ties.

However, such symmetries have not helped Rupert Murdoch avoid conflict with the Israeli government.

Embarrassing Israel

There have been occasions where NewsCorp newspapers have embarrassed Jerusalem.

One such case was in October 1986 when The Sunday Times broke one of the biggest international stories of the decade.

Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu came to the paper with proof that the Israeli government had amassed a nuclear weapons arsenal.

The story confirmed longstanding rumours of Israel’s weapons of mass destruction programme.

However, the scale was far greater than any rumour claimed.

The Dimona nuclear facility could produce enough weapon-grade plutonium to produce 12 nuclear warheads a year.

Andrew Neil regarded the three-page spread as the greatest scoop of his years at the Sunday paper.

It was a major feat of serious investigative reporting. This was exactly the kind of story The Sunday Times has built its reputation on.

Of course, the Israeli government was outraged at Vanunu’s action.

Mossad kidnapped the nuclear technician in a honey trap before the story went to print – possibly with the help of a tip-off from Murdoch’s Jewish rival, Robert Maxwell.

Most Fleet Street papers were dismissive of the scoop, with many doubting the veracity of the claims.

This all changed when the kidnapping became news in itself. Not that it helped Vanunu. He was convicted of treason and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Neil is still proud that he published the exposé. He is also adamant that what happened to Vanunu was a disgrace.

But this is the same right-wing journalist who today spouts hysterical pro-Netanyahu talking points on the Sukkot War.

By the time Vanunu was free, Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers backed George W. Bush’s War on Terror. Especially in Iraq.

Naturally, Murdoch supported Israel in its conflicts with Palestinians and Hezbollah at every turn. But this is no bar against Antisemitism.

For over two decades, Fox News has repeatedly singled out Jewish billionaire George Soros for his support of liberal causes.

Consistently portraying the Holocaust survivor as an archetypal puppet master, propping up everyone from Biden to Hamas, the Antisemitism is transparent.

Tellingly, such racism is not applied to rightwing Jews. Often considered the anti-Soros, the billionaire Sheldon Adelson always received glowing adulation from Murdoch’s media.

One of the major financial backers of the Republican party and a longtime sponsor of Benjamin Netanyahu, Adelson later became a key Trump donor.

Once again, we find that there are ‘good Jews’ and ‘bad Jews’ in conservative media.

This distinction is especially useful in the United States, given the profound Judeophobia of the religious right and the white nationalist alt-right, in particular.

There are limits to this, though. Somehow, it is less significant to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson promoting the Great Replacement theory.

The ideological pillar of Identitarianism, Great Replacement claims that globalists – read Jews – are driving Europe’s immigration crisis.

The reason, of course, is what you’d expect: to change Europe’s demographics on behalf of a woke, leftwing Jewish agenda.

Carlson was eventually fired over the Dominion defamation lawsuit against Fox. But not before he made the French theory a common concept on the American right.

Though evidence of its popularity had increased since Charlottesville, Rupert Murdoch’s best-known journalist made it mainstream in the United States.

If we want to understand the ideological impact of Murdoch’s media empire, it’s all right there.

Especially at a time when Antisemitism has never been greater and is consistently blamed on the anti-Sukkot War left.

Media Monster is the first article in this series. Photograph courtesy of Matt Hrkac. Published under a Creative Commons license.