openDemocracyUK: Opinion

I’ll no longer be a source for Murdoch’s empire of lies

We must boycott Murdoch until the truth about the eco-emergency is put on the front page

Rupert Read
3 October 2020, 7.00am
Extinction Rebellion activists blockade London's Oxford Circus last year

Last month, I spoke to a Times reporter about the then ongoing Extinction rebellion. When our conversation appeared in the paper, I was amazed to see that a headline had been written by his editor which entirely distorted what I had said. 

He had quizzed me about far-Left ‘infiltration’ into Extinction Rebellion, specifically, the Socialist Workers’ Party. I had replied that, while it was an irritant to have Swappies (as they’re known) turn up to XR (as we’re known) events, it was no more than that. They had got nowhere in any efforts they might be making to infiltrate us. 

In the course of the article-production process, this got turned into a headline screaming that XR was allegedly, according to me, “threatened by parasitic hard-left groups”. Something I’d never said. The opposite of what I’d said.

That very day, as it happened, XR executed the most audacious action of the September rebellion. A successful one-day blockade of Murdoch print-presses. It shouldn’t surprise us too much that most of our political and ‘intellectual’ class immediately picked up the crude “This is an attack on the free press!” placard in unison – to excuse the consistently bad, dangerous speech of our press. For everyone is basically scared of Murdoch.

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If you’d have asked Gandhi what he thought of a free press, he’d have replied: “It would be a good idea”. We don’t have a free press, still less a good press. These are what Lord Leveson wanted; but instead we still see a tiny handful of barons, still blocking the desperate truth on the climate emergency from being properly understood, and still behaving as if they don’t need to exercise the great power they hold with any real responsibility.

And what of the Murdoch press itself? What was its reaction to having its printworks disrupted?...: Was it to report the news relatively neutrally? Was it even to actually take some pause, to wonder why 100 concerned citizens would put their own liberty on the line to #StopPress?

It was to double-down, and in particular to engage in a scurrilous campaign of lies and deliberate distortion against the non-violent disobedients who had the temerity to take on the man that all the world fears to confront: Rupert Murdoch. 

One of those people was me. So the next day, the Sunday Times upped the ante: they pretended that the Murdoch blockade was a result of the very (fantasised) ‘far-Left infiltration’ of XR that they pretended I had ‘admitted’ was ongoing. And they pretended that I had implied to their correspondent that I didn’t support the blockade, because it allegedly wasn’t ‘moderate’, it wasn’t ‘beyond politics’.

All pretence. In plainer English: all made up. All lies.

Of course, I’m just one of many many people down the decades who have had this kind of experience at the hands of the Murdoch empire. 

But I must tell you; when it hits you personally, it is a bit different. Perhaps that is inevitable. When they lie about you, it suddenly becomes personal

And so, having had this deeply unpleasant and revealing experience, I’ve come to a decision.

I won’t serve as a source for Murdoch any more. I am not prepared to speak to papers that systematically twist my words.

I’m saying: it’s high time, not only as a consumer, but also as a source, to boycott Murdoch.

Some will ask, ‘Why just Murdoch? Aren’t the Mail or the Telegraph just as bad?’. And I get the point. In some ways they are. But let me note two things.

First, this, as I’ve laid out above, is personal. As those who were hacked by News International know all too well, when a paper attacks you, then you want redress. So my first appeal to join me is directed to all those who have a grievance against Murdoch...and that is such a long and varied list.

I appeal to the workers and trades unions who he expropriated and got fired and beaten up and marginalised; I appeal to Liverpool fans and to all of that fine city; I appeal to Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, to Marcus Rashford and Gary Lineker, to Neil Kinnock and of course Extinction Rebels; I appeal even to Max Mosley: join me! Let us form a band of surprising allies!

Second, this is about whether we are going to have a future or not. On a global scale, there is simply no comparison between Rothermere, who owns the Mail, or the Barclay brothers, who own the Telegraph, and Murdoch, whose media conglomerate suffocates the English speaking world. 

Murdoch is categorically the global leader in the promotion and dissemination of climate-denial, climate-delay, and eco-destructive madcap ‘economic growth’ at all costs. His empire is leading humanity directly into perdition. His own son has recognised this. In effect, James Murdoch has called out the evil empire that is News International.

We all have a grievance against Murdoch. For he is the single most influential factor in our civilisation’s race to self-destruct. Anyone and everyone who wants a future for their children has a powerful reason to join me: in boycotting the Murdoch empire.

And the fact that they’ve pushed things as far as I’ve noted they have, the fact that they have reached new lows in lying about and distorting what Extinction Rebellion are saying and are about, is actually a sign of progress: they’re clearly rattled. So now is the time to up the ante.

Murdoch et al want you to be angry at climate activists — while he pretends that global over-heat is not wrecking our world, starting with his own country, Australia, recently burned by the world’s worst ever bushfires...which killed two billion animals. 

I refuse to speak to outlets/platforms that refuse when challenged to be truthful about these life-or-death matters. The despicable lies of the Murdoch press lately have crossed a line. If that point hasn’t yet been reached for you, then give me a threshold. How many need to die, before you agree that enough is enough?

For me, the threshold has been reached. And so I’ve taken the hard decision to step aside from all roles in Extinction Rebellion forthwith, in order to make this stance against the Murdoch press. For the last thing I’d want is for this new stance to rebound against XR. And I know only too well that there is little Murdoch et al won’t stoop to, when it comes to their ‘enemies’…

Many of us have been engaging in a consumer boycott of the Murdoch empire since we were in small trousers. I’m proposing that that be redoubled, and that’s something everyone can play a part in – but what I’m suggesting be added to it, what’s really new here, is my suggestion that those of who get approached by Murdoch media as sources stop being such. If enough of us do this, then it gradually withdraws legitimacy, and the life-blood of stories from sources, from the Murdoch empire of lies.

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