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Julian Kossoff

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Rupert Murdoch, News Corp and the War of the Worlds

Posted: 18/07/11 17:54

Somewhere in a not so far off galaxy called Murdoch the final battle has commenced. The Death Star - emblazoned with the huge but now flickering News Corp insignia - is under sustained attack from the rebel alliance. Huge plumes of flames erupt (bonfires of the vanities, surely) from the crippled leviathan as missiles of truth pierce its thick hull built from a composite of money, power, corruption and arrogance, once thought indestructible.

On the bridge of the media leviathan stands Darth Rupert - the cunning, power-mad old fox. As he peers out at the popular front of freedom fighters armed with 'the Force', a new wonder weapon distilled from public outrage, his wrinkled hand within his mailed glove trembles for the first time and he grips the rail in front of him, like the condemned man in the dock.

All around is carnage. He's been forced to scuttle his beloved old flagship the News of the World, which served him so well in the early days of the long march to planetary domination. Nothing stood in his way for long back then - neither unionists nor dead Liverpool fans - and he was free to spread an alien infestation across the globe. Some called it the trickle-down theory, others claimed it for the creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, but it was surely as much the Murdochian age and if there was truly 'an invisible hand', it was Rupert's.

Now the sun is setting on his empire and the (b)sky(b) is falling in.

His most loyal courtiers - beloved princess Rebekah who so understood and shared his psychotic ambition, Les 'La Familia' Murdoch's sly consigliera, trusted wise-guys Couslon and Wallis and the sleazy crew of Scotland Yard bagmen, political knee cappers and seedy wire-tappers - either faced arrest by the resistance or had made their excuses and left. Even Cameron the Craven was seeking desperately to disentangle his strings from the puppet-master's grip.

Rupert is alone except for the massive disappointment that is Prince James still by his side. 'The Chosen One' had been given too much power too quickly. A corporate blue-blood but with not a drop of printer's ink in his veins, he had arrogantly believed that he could snuff out the gathering hacking firestorm with a gush of money, a trick learnt at his father's knee. "Stupid boy," mutters Captain Murdoch to himself.

Worst still the Death Star's fuel rods - known as share prices - are in the red. Suddenly, behind him Rupert can hear whispering and the accents are American. Who'll watch his back now? His knuckles - scarred from all the beatings he has dished out to disobedient politicians, wrong-coloured immigrants and ditzy celebrities - turn white.

Once Rupert could sing "tomorrow belongs to me'" but now he has to prepare to go to the Palace (at Westminster) and parley with his enemies, led by an upstart knight called Watson. He is filled with dread of an age-old prophecy.

What if, as he travels from his embattled fortress at Wapping to the palace - accompanied only by a phalanx of greedy droids called lawyers - from amid the crowd of onlookers he shall hear the voice of an innocent, a small boy (or in this version, the ghost of a teenage girl called Milly) who will dare to ask why, "the Emperor wears no clothes?"

 

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