Rupert Murdoch's Definition of Libertarianism: "Don't trust the government, don't trust me, just trust yourself."


Cory Doctorow lays into Rupert Murdoch's bold plan to take all of News Corp.'s web sites out of Google search and undo fair use borrowings of Fox material:

You know what? He's lying. But I think it'd be entertaining if every reporter who interviewed him, for the rest of his life, said, "Hey, Rupert, when are you going to take all your company's websites out of Google?" It'd also be hilarious to get the CEOs of the various pieces of Rupert's empire to comment on whether they want all their company's materials invisible to search engines.

But in the Sky News interview, the News Corp. chairman also gives a pretty good definition of libertarian thinking: "Don't trust the government, don't trust me, just trust yourself."

That's Murdoch's definition of Glenn Beck, and while I don't know how well it describes Beck's position, it's not too bad as a shorthand for libertarianism.

You will submit to Rupert Murdoch!

Murdoch is all over the place: He also threatens to sue the BBC and still insists the taxpayer bailouts of large, politically connected banks (at least the ones from last year) were necessary. Doctorow is correct that Murdoch's plan to disappear from Google search and start charging for his sites, at the very least, puts him at odds with his own media divisions. Even the Wall Street Journal's website —which Murdoch points to as a successful example of walled-off content (in which the wall doesn't go "all the way to the ceiling")—only sporadically enforces its pay-only model.

Murdoch's plan to get fewer readers but paying readers is also sadly reminiscent of the plan for "smaller but higher-value" circulation that many newspapers claimed to be pursuing for a few years around the turn of the 21st century. Of course that plan came to nothing, not because it went against newspapers' future but because it went against their past: The purpose of news publishing has always been to get the maximum number of readers. That's why newspapers to this day still engage in dollar-or-less-per-issue discounting campaigns and offer home delivery at rates that barely cover the adult paperboys' gas bills.

That having been said, Murdoch understands two things many crackerbarrel news futurists don't: 1) how to make money in the media business; and 2) just how much of that money is still coming from the dinosaurs everybody likes to disown.

Murdoch recognizes that those dinosaurs are going away, and it's because he has clearly not found the solution, yet keeps trying at an age when he could just buy himself a planet to retire on, that he's worth listening to. The model he's currently proposing won't work, but he makes an interesting, informed argument for it:

Back in August, I found more reasons to poop on Murdoch's firewall scheme. In 2007, when a smiling Murdoch announced exactly the opposite web strategy, Katherine Mangu-Ward welcomed the freedom. And for all you youngsters out there: Do you know that way back in 2004, Rupert Murdoch was considered a dangerous media monopolist? Ben Compaine explained it all.

NEXT: Kerry Howley on "America's most-read woman columnist"

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  1. And definitely don’t trust Reason not to blind your eyes with old peoples’ heads inserted into S&M images. Since you’ve already covered Rand, Greenspan, and Murdoch, why don’t you do Ron Paul and Barney Frank next.

    I’m not sure who should be “bottoms” in that one though. We might have to wait for the outcome of the Audit the Fed bill.

    1. Pretty sure frank is a powerbottom. Ron Paul strikes me as a switch.

      1. Actually Moocher, you got it backwards. See, a power bottom’s actually generating all the power by doing most of the work.

      2. Well, at least Paul is a capitalist.

        Rich would likely be more turned on by a rough trick he met at a Code Pink rally.

  2. Ever company that any stake in commercial paper was for the bailout in some form. Which is every major CEO. The problem is all they wanted was the paper to start moving again, they didn’t care how. They were scared of it staying frozen they would have agreed to give up their collective left nuts to get it moving again.

    Of course, this was as much self serving as it was to save the company. Egos can’t handle the end of the world.

    1. You say the model won’t work? If the high value low production method failed because of a glut of medium or high value in the market, and the market is declining, then high value can quite easily work. Declining markets are nice since there is no incentive for people to enter and compete and often people leaving. The decrease in competition, lack of entrants, and narrowing of providers allows providers to start charging more, since no one is going to enter to drive the price down, because the market is declining. So why not buy the cream of the crop, ride the wave down, as the market shrinks isolate your content, drive up the value, and charge more.

      Voila, you are making money in a declining market and set to control a fair share of the market when the bottom comes.

      This model in one form or another has worked in several industries. Declining markets are tricky buggers.

  3. The model he’s currently proposing won’t work

    So how is Tim Cavanaugh’s great business plan for news going?

    Sure what Murdoch is doing appears counter intuitive….you could have said the same thing about itunes.

  4. Just did an I’m Feeling Lucky! Google search for ‘Rupert Murdoch’. Nada. No pranks, it just led to his Wikipedia entry. Rats.

  5. Sky News interview, the News Corp. chairman also gives a pretty good definition of libertarian thinking: “Don’t trust the government, don’t trust me, just trust yourself.”

    That’s also an example of how libertarians can’t think.

    Hint: “trust but verify and hold accountable” is actually how the system is designed and the far better way.

    1. Disdain as cold as
      Cold November rain, and yet
      Lonewacko endures.

      1. +1 for the seasonal reference, which most haikuists neglect.

        -1 for using the same adjective twice. As opposed to as cold as warm November rain?

        1. -1 for using the same adjective twice. As opposed to as cold as warm November rain?

          Good enough for Guns n Roses, good enough for Hit n Run.

    2. Ask the hard questions
      And put them on YouTube, fools
      Why don’t I, you ask?

    3. Rage covers his soul
      Like mole over pollo
      But who will eat hate?

    4. Reading dim comments
      On a dreary autumn day
      Now shut the fuck up.

  6. Hint: “trust but verify and hold accountable” is actually how the system is designed and the far better way.

    Yeah, your fuckin’ plan to hold them accountable is working so well. You must have achieved all your goals to be here instructing us in how proper governance should work.

    Shut the fuck up, Lonewacko.

  7. I don’t mind Fox in general, but I have to tip my hat to Murdoch’s genius in getting talking heads like Dr Ow talking about him. That’s marketing, baby.

  8. I love the Wall Street Journal so much I might even pay for it some day, if I’m ever disgustingly rich.

    Or at least deactivate Adblocker.

  9. I don’t know how well it describes Beck’s position

    Pretend it was an aside during a power-cry about botched ass surgery. Works.

  10. I don’t have a problem with him charging whatever he thinks he can get for his content.

    As long as he doesn’t have a problem with me going to Bloomberg, Reuters, Forbes, CNBC……

  11. “Don’t trust the government, don’t trust me, just trust yourself.”

    Uh, why? Just cuz you say so?

  12. Even the Wall Street Journal’s website — which Murdoch points to as a successful example of walled-off content (in which the wall doesn’t go “all the way to the ceiling”)

    I believe that’s called a “bathroom stall.”

  13. What a clusterfuck of an article. This is what’s sad about Reason contributors. They strain so much to try and act is if they don’t have a dog in the fight that they make a muddle of their own fucking material.

    Murdoch is single-handedly responsible for turning American media into shit-slinging punditry. He can shrug off Google, or any other search engine, and it would only be a blessing. He’s merely teasing us. His ideas are not only antiquated, but tragically so. He reminds us that old people, no matter how successful they are, are pretty much reverting back into a child-like state where fear, and insecurity rule their imaginations.

    Of course he’s going to appear “Libertarian-esque.” He’s a fucking Conservative. If that’s your standard, then you have more than just Murdoch to represent your “values.” But there’s the rub. Libertarians don’t want to appear Conservative, even though they share more in common with Conservatives than they do with Liberals.

    The reality is, you’re both anti-intellectual, simple-minded blowhards who thrive off of a sense of paranoia on just about, well, on just about any topic.

    1. I agree. The Simpsons and Family Guy have turned America into an awful place to live. Then he went and aired that American Idol crap. OMG what a fucking travesty.

      You get today’s dumbass award.


    2. Of course he’s going to appear “Libertarian-esque.”

      Strange that the word “Libertarian-esque” appears in quotation marks in this comment, yet never appears anywhere in the post the comment is theoretically replying to.

  14. Murdoch is single-handedly responsible for turning American media into shit-slinging punditry.

    I honestly did not know he owned NBC or the New York Times or that he personally hired Walter Duranty – NOW I know. Thank you, “.

  15. Good. Let him block his propaganda garbage from Google. Who cares about Murd(er)och. He’s just another greedy money monster.

    As the old saying goes, a fool and his money soon part.

  16. I disagree about comparing newspapers with web media when it comes to how much circulation is needed. Newspapers need mass circulation to pay for their mass distribution system. Web distribution is much cheaper and so you don’t need as many subscribers.

    Newspapers power and prominence came from their ability to distribute their paper but that came at the cost of large printing plants and hundreds or thousands of people distributing the paper all over their area. These days you can download the entire content of a newspaper in less then a second for less then a penny cost. With greatly lowered distribution costs the need to be “mass media” is lessoned

  17. Don’t trust the government, don’t trust me, just trust yourself

    His papers in the UK constantly tell you to completely trust the government, until he withdraws support when the government loses popularity. Then his papers tell you to completely support the opposition.
    The Sun and Newes of the World are constantly being found out lying.
    The topless page 3 girls are brilliant when you are a kid though.

  18. You’ll forgive me if I don’t take Murdoch’s take on Libertarianism as gold. Murdoch is part of the problem. I came across a great quote on Mises the other day which explains why people like Mudoch are fueling the fall of Capitalism.

    As entrepreneurs innovate, they reap economic rewards. Production then expands and new forms of economic organization emerge, such as the modern firm, which grows to capture economic opportunities. As the size of the firm increases, so too does its bureaucracy. The functions of ownership and control gradually separate. Eventually, the owners find that their connection to, and knowledge of, the economic process has been severed. They lose the ability to see the necessity of social institutions, such as private ownership and voluntary contract – institutions without which there would be no economic progress. Isolated from economic reality, their sympathy for the capitalist system begins to wane, and, with it, the social support for the institutions that form the foundation of capitalism. These render the capitalist system open to attack from hostile parties.

    – Joseph Schumpeter

    1. 1. Murdoch is not a libertarian, by his own acknowledgment and according to various comments he makes in this interview.

      2. News Corp., like every big company, games government power to give itself advantages — occasionally in ways that are justifiable, as when Murdoch got around cross-ownership prohibitions. But working the government doesn’t create demand, and Murdoch clearly knows how to put out products people want.

      1. So did William Randolph Hearst.

  19. Murdoch’s forays in the US newspaper business haven’t been all that successful. The Post still loses oodles of money and the WSJ had a successful business model before it was bought by News Corp.

    The changes implemented in the WSJ have assuredly been for the worse. For example, the sports page. It’s half assed and worthless. If I want sports new I can go to CBS Sportsline, ESPN or SI. It’s not don’t go to those sites to get investment info. If things continue in the current direction switching over to the FT, and it’s pink pages, becomes more attractive.

  20. One of the lefty memes that amuses me is how conservatives are supposedly always manipulating everyone by stirring up irrational fears. The left, of course, virtuously refrains from this, and only speaks of verifiable threats like rampant racism in 21st century America, the imminent fascist takeover (only when a Republican is president, though), how the poor will starve if welfare is reformed, how the Earth will soon die without the Kyoto treaty, etc. etc.

  21. Hey Edward,

    Can I interest you in these papayas grown at the local non-profit farmers co-op by citizens concerned for nothing more than social justice, the fair distribution of the monies to needy parties, and that no excess profits are taken?

    Don’t walk away, Edward, or else you money will wind up in the hands of capitalist and you’ll be stuck with the mere trinkets and baubles that is the sole product capitalist know how to produce!

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