Thursday, July 14, 2011

Elba grease

Conrad Black (!!) writes about Murdoch for the FT [site reg. required] as "a great bad man" like Napoleon:
Although his personality is generally quite agreeable, Mr Murdoch has no loyalty to anyone or anything except his company. He has difficulty keeping friendships; rarely keeps his word for long; is an exploiter of the discomfort of others; and has betrayed every political leader who ever helped him in any country, except Ronald Reagan and perhaps Tony Blair. All his instincts are downmarket; he is not only a tabloid sensationalist; he is a malicious myth-maker, an assassin of the dignity of others and of respected institutions, all in the guise of anti-elitism. He masquerades as a pillar of contemporary, enlightened populism in Britain and sensible conservatism in the US, though he has been assiduously kissing the undercarriage of the rulers of Beijing for years. His notions of public entertainment and civic values are enshrined in the cartoon television series The Simpsons: all public officials are crooks and the public is an ignorant lumpenproletariat. There is nothing illegal in this, and it has amusing aspects, but it is unbecoming someone who has been the subject of such widespread deference and official preferments. 
See also: John Lanchester on Conrad Black; John Lanchester on Murdoch. (Both from the LRB archives.)
The link is via Marbury.

To my mind the most intensely fascinating thing about the NOTW scandal is the disproportion between ends and means. To bribe the police and wiretap people, and all that with the ultimate objective of reporting that some celebrity was seen somewhere! I like Gaby Hinsliff's account of why things ended up this way (I like her blog but wish she'd paragraph correctly) but regardless of that, it is a ripe situation for a certain kind of comedy. One is reminded, for instance, of Eliot's description of Sir Giles Overreach: "a great force directed upon small objects; a great force, a small mind."

Update: wordplay in "assiduous" -- intentional? Presumably not, as it only works on this side of the Atlantic.

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