WBEZ | Murdoch http://www.wbez.org/tags/murdoch Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How media outlets report on scandals that hit close to home http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/how-media-outlets-report-scandals-hit-close-home-89354 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-19/Murdoch.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The alleged phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has received its fair share of media coverage. Except, <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/201107140013" target="_blank">according to some</a>, from the company’s own media outlets. It’s a sticky situation that may well be familiar to Chicago journalists. Only last year, the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> had to report on a <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-tribune-ceo-randy-michaels-oct19,0,2480410.story%20">scandal </a>unfolding in its own boardrooms, and former <em><a href="http://www.suntimes.com/">Chicago Sun-Times</a> </em>owner Conrad Black’s conviction on fraud made headlines in that paper.<br> <br> How do media outlets cover the story when it hits close to home? And how do news organizations manage in the eye of a media storm? To answer these questions and more, Alison Cuddy was joined by <a href="http://lorenghiglione.com/" target="_blank">Loren Ghiglione</a>, Professor of Journalism at the <a href="http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Medill School of Journalism</a>.</p></p> Tue, 19 Jul 2011 16:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/how-media-outlets-report-scandals-hit-close-home-89354 Milos Stehlik views Rupert Murdoch through 'Citizen Kane' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/milos-stehlik-views-rupert-murdoch-through-citizen-kane-89351 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-19/AP271216016.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It is one of the most famous and enigmatic words uttered in film: as he dies, Charles Kane, wealthy newspaper baron, whispers his last word, <em>"Rosebud."</em> The scene from the Orson Welles masterpiece <em>Citizen Kane</em>, references the name painted on a small sled that Kane had as a child, implying that this was the only happy time in his life.</p><p>Kane was loosely based on real-life newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, whose own "Xanadu" is the famous Hearst Castle at San Simeon, California.</p><p>In real life Hearst, urged on by his top gossip columnist, Louella Parsons, tried to stop <em>Citizen Kane</em> from reaching the screen. His efforts to condemn the film to oblivion nearly succeeded. Today, it commands mythic status.</p><p>If, as British philosopher Mary Midgley argues, myths are not so much narratives, as they are systems of symbols to interpret the world, then the myth of Charles Kane provides a powerful resonance for the crisis that envelopes Rupert Murdoch, our century's most visible media baron.</p><p>But these parallels are not so aligned to personal character. Charles Kane, as played by Orson Welles, is articulate in ways that Murdoch, by all reports, is not. Yet both shared a youthful idealism — a desire to equal the playing field for everyone in the world. But this idealism rots into scheming manipulation and a zealous quest for power. Both use scandal, scare-mongering and yellow journalism with surgeon-like skill, determination and a ruthlessness to build their press empires. These men were both kings — and kingmakers.<br> <br> Kane, Hearst and Murdoch also share a political activism which pretends to help the media-consuming masses while, in reality, mostly helped their own privileged class. Most striking is the collusion of money and power, with the role of the press retooled as a private instrument of propaganda. The overturning of antitrust rules, which allowed Murdoch to own multiple media outlets in the same market, parallels Hearst’s national newspaper empire, which dominated the American news landscape.</p><p>A famous story about William Randolph Hearst, which Welles integrated into <em>Citizen Kane</em>, was Hearst helping push America into the Spanish-American War following the 1895 Cuban revolution.&nbsp; False and sensationalistic reports from Cuba accomplished this feat. One soon-to-be famous man-of-adventure would use the so called “Fog of War” from this conflict to propel himself into the White House — Teddy Roosevelt. But these “war games” are not so distant from the Murdoch-owned media’s relentless fear-mongering about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction prior to America’s adventure in Iraq.</p><p>Hearst told artist Frederic Remington, who was in Cuba, to send dispatches about the war. Remington sent Hearst a telegram saying there <em>was </em>no war in Cuba. Hearst famously told Remington to just provide him the pictures, and he would furnish the war.</p><p>A Hearst newspaper editorial advocated political assassination just a few months before President William McKinley was killed.</p><p>Both the Hearst and Murdoch newspaper empires also relied on an endless stream of celebrity gossip. Louella Parsons was Hearst's Hollywood queen. In her heyday, she had 40 million readers. According to Mamie van Doren, the key to Parsons’ longevity was her opportune presence on Hearst's yacht, the Oneidam, when director Thomas Ince paid too much attention to Hearst's longtime girlfriend, actress Marion Davies. According to Van Doren, Hearst shot Ince in the head. The body was then taken off the boat and quickly cremated. Everyone present on the boat was paid off, van Doren claimed. Parsons's payoff was a permanent column in the Hearst papers: "Did I mention," she writes, that Parsons was "a power-mad, nasty, vengeful, destructive bitch?"</p><p>Such events — if true — could never happen again. Yet consider the present melodrama - and we still don't know all of the circumstances — of Sean Hoare, the first journalist to report the phone hacking scandal — being found dead yesterday. Then there’s Rebekah Brooks, whom Murdoch regards as his soul mate or daughter figure at the very least. Her husband denied that the bag the police found in a parking lot trash bin with her cell phone, paperwork and computer belonged to her.</p><p>This greatest tabloid story remains to be written — our age lacks an Orson Welles to bring to cinematic life.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="../../../contributor/milos-stehlik" target="_blank">Milos Stehlik’s</a> commentaries&nbsp;reflect his own views and not necessarily those of Facets Multimedia, </em><a href="../../../worldview">Worldview</a><em> or 91.5 WBEZ. </em></p></p> Tue, 19 Jul 2011 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-19/milos-stehlik-views-rupert-murdoch-through-citizen-kane-89351 Milos Stehlik reviews Errol Morris’ new film 'Tabloid' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-15/milos-stehlik-reviews-errol-morris%E2%80%99s-new-film-tabloid-89217 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-15/tabloid-movie-poster.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Tabloid</em>, which filmmaker <a href="http://errolmorris.com/">Errol Morris</a> self-assesses as his best film, is opening at a topical time – just as the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14045952">scandal</a> surrounding the British tabloid News of the World continues to explode.</p><p>Errol Morris’s films have a sensationalist element at their core: people obsessed with their pets and pet cemeteries in his first feature, <em>Gates of Heaven</em>, the turkey hunters in <em>Vernon, Florida</em>, the Texas man wrongly accused and convicted of murder in <em>The Thin Blue Line</em>, the portrait of execution device inventor and holocaust denier <em>Mr Death: The Rise And Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr</em>., the self-rationalizations of former defense secretary Robert McNamara in <em>Fog of War</em>, American soldiers run amok at Iraq’s Abu Graib prison in <em>Standard Operating Procedure</em>.</p><p>If Morris thinks that <em>Tabloid</em> is his best film, it is because it is the most cinematic and the fastest-moving. Its subject --- the beauty queen Joyce McKinney – whose relationship with a missionary Kirk Anderson becomes the scandal known as “Mormon sex in chains case” –is certainly <em>Tabloid</em> fodder.</p><p>As the love-struck Joyce McKinney pursued Kirk, the Mormon missionary to England, she was arrested and charged with abducting him. Then the press accused her of chloroforming and raping Kirk Anderson, who she said was her fiancé. The case became the locus of a newspaper war between <em>The Daily Express</em> and <em>Daily Mirror in London</em>. In the film, McKinney says that her relationship with Anderson was a love story, and all she wanted to do was to reclaim him from brainwashing by Mormon Elders. Even today, McKinney thinks that the Mormon Church ruined her life.</p><p>Years later, McKinney continued her sensational saga by paying $25,000 to a Korean scientist to have her dead pit bull cloned in Korea. The result was five puppies.</p><p>What makes the films of Errol Morris, including <em>Tabloid</em>, interesting is not just their subject matter, but Morris’s approach. Morris’s take is ironic, voyeuristic and peels at the scabs of sordid reality to revel in the gap between how people are and how they see and represent themselves.</p><p>Just how visceral this disconnect between reality and perception can be, is demonstrated by the real Joyce McKinney’s reaction to <em>Tabloid</em>, the movie. She has virtually stalked various festival screenings of <em>Tabloid</em>, accused Morris of lying to her, and threatened to sue. The singular argument that emerges from her impassioned rhetoric seems to be that Morris falsely says McKinney raped her lover. As she states in one on-line blog response, Morris was not in the bedroom.</p><p>Joyce McKinney states that Morris tricked her into appearing in the film in the first place by representing the shoot as a non-existent Showtime series about paparazzi, and that her story, as Morris represents it in the film, is false. She says that the tabloid hoax, invented by the British tabloids in 1977, is based on false information propagated by the Mormons when McKinney tried to rescue her fiance, which led to her wrongful arrest. The film, McKinney charges, also promotes lies about her.</p><p>I would wager that the controversy over <em>Tabloid</em>, much like earlier controversy over <em>The Thin Blue Line</em> and, to a lesser extent, <em>Fog of War</em> is music to Errol Morris’s ears. The more blurred the shadowy line between truth and fiction becomes, the more Morris, the director, becomes the singular orchestrator of that reality. There is something brilliant and at the same time diabolical in his being able to provoke that tease, leaving the audience gasping for some sure footing in the ambiguity.</p><p>Morris’s defense would be, of course, that the scandal in <em>Tabloid</em> is just a story –a story that he, as a filmmaker, simply found fascinating. But every story, whether it pre-exists a film or not, needs a storyteller. Much like his vaunted “Interretron” interviewing technique – which uses technology to fool the interview subject into looking straight into the camera – Morris, the orchestrator of the shifting realities, hides in their shadow, leaving his audience breathless – and grasping for meaning…</p><p><strong>M</strong><strong>ilos Stehlik’s commentaries reflect his own views and not necessarily those of Facets Multimedia, <em>Worldview</em> or 91.5 WBEZ. His reviews air on Fridays.</strong></p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 18:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-15/milos-stehlik-reviews-errol-morris%E2%80%99s-new-film-tabloid-89217