Rupert Murdoch at the Clinton Global Initiative
It was like watching a kung-fu scene unfold, albeit a very, very lame kung-fu scene. At a plenary on building a global multiethnic community—held on the third (and final) day of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and moderated by the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson—News Corp chief, billionaire media magnate, and far-right curmudgeon Rupert Murdoch clumsily dodged Robinson's questions about whether political partisanship in media (especially, hint hint, giant media empires with extensive global reaches) played a role in promoting public divisiveness, especially through the use of politically charged language.
Completely avoiding anything remotely resembling a direct answer, Murdoch insisted that News Corp "didn't dominate anything anywhere," especially in today's digital age. "Everybody has the ultimate choice of what they watch and what they listen to," he said. "And to make up their own mind."
He added that the job of the media—in particular his media, natch—was to add to public debate. "That's all part of the education of an advanced society," he said. "There should be debate about big issues. Our job is to educate people." When Robinson asked him of Fox News' use of terminology like "Muslim extremists," Murdoch muttered that that has been the case in the Middle East. "There were Catholic extremists in Northern Ireland and Protestant extremists in Northern Ireland," he said, prompting a visibly peeved Robinson to interject that they didn't describe them in those terms.
Murdoch's second stab: "That's how they described themselves." Hey, one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist, right, Rupe?
He also added that human rights in Myanmar were being "steamrolled"—the only nugget of substance in his stream of verbal diarrhea—but by then we were contemplating his resemblance to Droopy Dog. Convergent evolution at work or something more sinister? We await your fair and balanced commentary with bated breath.