Rupert Murdoch has accused social media platforms of creating an ideologically driven atmosphere of conformity, garnering applause as well as accusations that his vast media empire is guilty of the same crime.
In a pre-recorded acceptance speech thanking the Australia Day Foundation for honoring him with a lifetime achievement award, the Fox News owner expressed dismay over a “wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate and ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential.”
— PoliticsVideo23 (@politicsvideo23) January 25, 2021
He went on to lament how social media was abetting a “rigidly enforced conformity” that acts as “a straitjacket on sensibility.”
Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy.
The billionaire native of Melbourne, Australia turned American claimed this assault on the free exchange of ideas and expression was one of the greatest challenges currently facing media organizations. Speaking personally, the 89-year-old said that his own career in the news industry was “still in motion” and “far from done.”
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Among the outlets in his media empire are the American Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Fox News channel, as well as the UK’s Sun and the Times, and around 70 percent of Australia’s major news outlets.
In November, ex-Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd pushed for an inquiry to be set up into the massive influence the Australian-born tycoon has over politics there.
Although himself a controversial force in the media landscape, the News Corp chairman received kudos from like-minded observers on social media.
Not my favourite person in the world – but on this matter, I fully agree.
— Robert Bruce (@RobertB74672274) January 26, 2021
100% conform or be cast out.
— Tommy Sparkzz (@Tommysparkzz) January 26, 2021
But there were plenty of others who argued that Murdoch is the last person who should be giving lectures about nefarious influences stifling healthy public discourse.
Many pointed to the 2011 News of the World hacking scandal, in which the now-defunct outlet, which was owned by Murdoch’s News Corp, was accused of hacking the phones of celebrities, politicians, members of the royal family, and even the telephone belonging to a murdered schoolgirl, in pursuit of scoops for the paper. Murdoch stepped down as director of News Corp following public outcry over the scandal and the paper was shut.
His reporters hacked people’s phones including a murdered teenager. He’s a nasty, sinister bastard.
— The Beagle (@beaglebugle) January 26, 2021
Others blamed Murdoch’s media empire for fanning the flames that led to violence at the US Capitol on January 6, with one Twitter user quipping that “woke orthodoxy” was preferable to “civil wars and unrest.”
Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis slammed the media mogul as the “single most malign influence in democracy in the English-speaking world.”
When I say that Rupert Murdoch is the single most malign influence in democracy in the English-speaking world, I don’t just mean Trump’s America and Brexit’s UK but his native Australia. These this morning at his SkyNews there: pic.twitter.com/gyGjWO47gD
— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) January 25, 2021
Like-minded blue checkmarks expressed similar shock at Murdoch’s alleged hypocrisy.
Very funny to see Murdoch rail against “censorship” and “woke” culture. Should be the nail in the coffin in terms of that term being used un-ironically. An embarrassing amount of otherwise smart people still deploy it https://t.co/YrJnUvfF8z
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) January 26, 2021
Although social media users were skeptical of Murdoch’s credentials to speak on the subject, News Corp-owned outlets like the New York Post have been speaking out against the purported woke crusade.
In an op-ed published in the Post on Sunday, US Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) called on conservatives to push back against the “alliance of leftists and woke capitalists” who allegedly aim to “regulate the innermost thoughts of every American, from school age to retirement.”
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