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Murdoch Is Daddy Warbucks to the Neocons
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Like my friend Taki, I sympathize with Rupert Murdoch in his time of travail. Not only has Murdoch seen his lieutenants dragged off to jail after their assorted misdeeds, but the president of News Corporation was physically assaulted on July 19, after an abusive grilling by the House of Commons, as he was trying to leave the scene of his humiliation. Throughout the questioning Murdoch looked like a tired old man, and at times he seemed confused by the surly comments that were thrown in his direction.

As someone also getting up in years, I was moved by the sight of this haggard octogenarian on the TV screen. Moreover, the fact that Murdoch seems to have a revolving, indeterminate identity merits astonishment rather than contempt. Is he Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or all three? Is he an Australian or the advocate of an American global democratic empire? The grandson of an itinerant Presbyterian minister, whose mother may or may not have been Jewish, and whose present wife, with whom he attends Mass, is Asian and Catholic, Murdoch has struggled to be at least as diverse as the readership his press empire has targeted. But there’s one identity he’s been slipping into with growing ease, and we can pick it up by noticing the recipients of his billions of dollars. Murdoch makes no secret of the fact that he dispenses funds on the basis of convictions. While this website would never see a dime of his fortune, the neoconservative power structure is bathed in his wealth.

As an example of what Murdoch believes, let us reflect on his comments at a banquet held by the American Jewish Committee on March 4, 2009 honoring him as “man of the year.” Here Murdoch stresses his major concerns as a political actor and media baron. “In the new century,” he assures us,

the West is no longer a matter of geography. The West is defined by societies committed to freedom and democracy. … And if we are serious about meeting this challenge (of undemocratic terrorism), we would expand the only military alliance committed to the defense of the West to include those on the front lines of this war. That means bringing countries like Israel into NATO.

Has anyone missed the family resemblance between Murdoch’s politics and what one reads in the Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, and the New York Post and what comes our way from Murdoch’s subsidized clones on Fox News?

Murdoch also, not incidentally, laments the raging anti-Semitism that he discerns in Europe and which he thinks has become murderous. In his remarks he’s addressing the sponsors of Commentary, that is, a group that previewed and still finances neoconservative ideology. But his effusions of Jewish anxieties go beyond anything that one might expect to hear even in neocon circles. They are fully worthy of Allan Dershowitz and Steven Spielberg: “In Europe men and women who bear the tattoos of concentration camps today look on a continent where Jewish lives and Jewish property are under attack—and public debate poisoned by an anti-Semitism we thought had been dispatched to history’s dustbin.”

A few queries may be in order. How many former residents of concentration camps are around in Europe today? Whom will Murdoch invoke in order to appeal to Christian guilt when even this small number is gone? If anti-Semitism is “poisoning” Europe today, then why doesn’t Murdoch mention the obvious fact that some Muslim immigrants are producing it? He certainly grows after Hamas later in his comments, when he urges the creation of an American-Israeli front against anti-democratic terrorists. Why therefore does Murdoch leave the impression that it is rightwing European nationalists who are generating poisonous anti-Semitism? The grim truth is that multiculturalism has led not only to an indiscriminate Islamic immigration into Europe but also to attacks on Jews and synagogues. And to make matters even worse, European Jews, who are filled with anti-fascist fury, vote for politicians who are making this situation even worse. The vast majority of Jews in Western and Central Europe vote for the multicultural Left, and the German Central Committee for Jews in Germany (note not German Jews) screams bloody murder every time a politician tries to limit Muslim immigration into what used to be the German nation state.

While reading his speech, I was thinking how nice it would be if Murdoch withdrew his funding from the neocon empire. This may be the only point about which President Obama and I would agree. What Murdoch’s fortunes have done is allow a hegemonic persuasion, neoconservatism, give or take a few changeable additives, to gain undue influence on a drifting American Right, including the Republican Party. In the 1980s the conservative movement, whatever its deficiencies, exhibited a wide range of views on social and historical questions. Many of the views that are now identified with an alternative or disaligned Right were then expressed in National Review and in other widely read and once-interesting publications that have since come under neoconservative control. The major funder of neoconservative publications in the 1980s was the World Unification Church, and the recipients of funding from the Reverend Moon tried to hide their dependence on this leader of a Korean sect, by ridiculing their beneficiary. Then Rupert entered the scene and showered the neoconservatives with billions of dollars. This allowed them to get off the Moonie dole and into a powerful media position.


I’m not suggesting we’d all be on a level playing field if only Murdoch stopped funding the usual suspects. They would still be getting funds from multiple sources, including Asian governments fighting protectionism, global democratic troublemakers, and Jewish Democrats who support the neoconservatives on Israel. What would change would be the disparity between what neocons get and what the marginalized Right is surviving on. Moreover, it would no longer be necessary for libertarians or conservative Christians to depend on neocon generosity to get TV time or be treated sympathetically in the neoconservative-dominated press. More competition would be possible if the trust that Murdoch has subsidized fell apart.

Consider the New York Post’s coverage of gay marriage and immigration. Those who oppose these things are typically depicted in this paper as extremists or religious nuts, and it is impossible to distinguish any longer between the social rhetoric of Murdoch’s Post and what one sees in the regular leftist press. The Post’s coverage of the murderous rampage by the Norwegian psychopath Anders Behring Breivik could have appeared in the New York Times, and it would be hard to believe from reading the Post’s account any more than the Times’s that those who call for the preservation of European nations and the limiting of Muslim immigration into Europe were doing anything but engaging in “Nazi rants.” To be fair, the Post, which vigorously supports Governor Cuomo on gay marriage, does differentiate itself from the Times by its ostentatious support of the Israeli Right and by calling on Obama to compromise with the Republicans on tax issues.

It would be possible to respond to my gripe by arguing that we should be grateful to Murdoch and the neocons for providing an opposition press. Were it not for the Wall Street Journal, New York Post and Weekly Standard, there would be no adversarial press, and we’d be getting the propaganda of Obama-maniacs nonstop. One should therefore be grateful for small favors and not ask for more. The trouble is that the small favors have come at a prohibitive cost. Neoconservative censorship has destroyed the careers of brilliant young conservative journalists, and even older ones, who have not toed the party-line. The young conservative journalists and media personalities whom I encounter are with few exception low-octane liberals, and they are unduly belligerent toward “undemocratic” countries. They are the natural products of the last thirty years of neoconservative dominance of the American Right. If Murdoch pulled his money out, it might be possible for less programmed conservatives to succeed in gaining attention as spokesmen for their side.

Equally troubling, the result of Murdoch’s favoritism has created the impression that there is one “conservative” view about everything and that one can learn it each day by watching Fox and by reading some neocon satellite magazine. All self-identified conservatives of my acquaintance obtain their picture of reality by accessing these sources. Unless they are young and non-adjusted or crotchety reactionary types, they don’t bother with non-authorized news or opinion sources, from those who are not part of the establishment. Forty years ago there was no (artificially) unified conservative movement but competing factions, none of which spoke for more than its own group. Those who took over the movement came from left field, and they expelled those who did not fit their agenda while creating agreement on what they considered to be essential issues. One significant reason they were able to marginalize their opposition on the right was Rupert Murdoch’s boundless munificence. This Daddy Warbucks gave Kristol and Company the kind of financial power and media access needed to become an international force. Let’s see if this situation would go away absent Murdoch’s gifts.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Rupert Murdoch 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    You’re right, Professor. Most “conservatives” just sit there and eat their gruel, provenance be damned. The neocons rely on that.

    The WSJ/NYPost/Fox apparat – which I welcomed when it first appeared – turned out to be almost worse than what it was supposed to remedy. And as you say, on a lot of social / cultural issues it is indistinguishable from the gruel served up by the Left.

    No real American could subscribe to all the global interventionist and Zionist tripe issuing from Murdoch’s various holdings. But then Murdoch isn’t a real American, and neither are most of the people working for him.

  2. tbraton says:

    An excellent piece, Prof. Gottfried.

    You state: “Moreover, the fact that Murdoch seems to have a revolving, indeterminate identity merits astonishment rather than contempt. Is he Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or all three? Is he an Australian or the advocate of an American global democratic empire? The grandson of an itinerant Presbyterian minister, whose mother may or may not have been Jewish, and whose present wife, with whom he attends Mass, is Asian and Catholic,”

    It matters little to me that he may be Protestant, Catholic or Jewish. What matters is that an Australian has been able to gain an outsized position of power both in Britain and the U.S. British affairs are for the Brits to worry about. What concerns me is how an Australian outsider was able to acquire important American media properties, such as newspapers, television stations and movie studios and through those properties shape American thought and opinion. I understand that he was able to acquire the TV stations only because of a speeded-up naturalization process. We need strong laws to limit ownership of American media properties to people born in the U.S. or who have been naturalized U.S. citizens for at least 30 years, no, make that 50 years. I no more regard Murdach as an American than I regard the Russian billionaire who bought the New Jersey Nets as an American. Would we really allow a Chinese bllionaire to acquire the NY Times? And it doesn’t matter whether Murdoch is a man of the “right” or a man of the “left.” He has shown both in Britain (where he endorsed Tony Blair) and the U.S. (where he endorsed Hillary Clinton for Senate) that he swings both ways. If anything, he has shown loyalty only to the Murdoch family interests.

  3. Another interesting article, Professor. However, I was disappointed to see the plug for Taki. Someone who brags about his sexploits seems to be harming our Christian civilization as much as those who promote gay marriage and unlimited immigration.

  4. Patrick says:

    Fox News is neocon. Fox Business with the judge, Stossel, and Cavuto, tends to be more “conservative” or libertarian and therefore more watchable.

  5. Yes, it is a neocon fantasy to bring Israel into NATO. This would be a catastrophic blunder of the first dimension.

  6. Does Rupert Murdoch personally think Israel can keep most of the illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank? Should Israel’s self-created problem with its borders become a problem for the North Atlantic countries?

  7. Who cares if this creep suffers ? A neocon liar and warmonger.
    What’s wrong with you, Paul ?

  8. Marcy,
    You’re blowing my cover!

  9. MattSwartz says: • Website

    I agree with all that’s said, but it’s worth asking whether official neocon outfits are influential because they’re funded by Murdoch et al., or whether they’re funded because they’re influential.

    The part of the right that isn’t evil is horrible at networking.

  10. Dame Elizabeth Murdoch (nee Elizabeth Joy Greene) is still among the living, by the way, at age 102! Her father’s parentage is what is unclear. A 1993 biography of Rupert Murdoch, by William Shawcross, claims that Elizabeth’s father’s father was a railway engineer who emigrated from Great Britain. A London-based genealogist, however, was unable to trace the parentage of her father, Rupert Greene (after whom Keith Rupert Murdoch calls himself, rather than after his own father, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch!), at all:

  11. Murdoch is pro-Israel. He owns what he owns. The Ameican Conservative and the myriad cause that George Soros supporst see Israel has the nexis of evil. So whats the point.

  12. Matt Swartz raises a sensible question about which came first, neocon influence or Murdoch’s decision to promote neoconservative opinions. The answer, as far as I can determine, is that the neocons were the dominant but not unchallenged force on the establishment right when Murdoch began to fund them. His funding however made them vastly more powerful than they had been before. Although the removal of that funding will not make them go away, it will make the Right more competitive.

  13. I’m friends with an extremely well-connected member of the old Australian Establishment. He is bemused by the constant assertions that Murdoch’s mother’s side of the family is Jewish. He knows various Greenes, and says they are WASPs like hiim.

    Also, he gets annoyed by the American assumption that WASPs don’t have what it takes to be press barons.

  14. As for funding neocon outlets, the story I heard is that Murdoch’s view was that as a foreigner and a conservative trying to make it big in New York City, he felt he needed some Jews on his side — not all of them, but definitely some. The neocons fit his needs.

    My general impression is that Murdoch’s main identity is that he takes great pride in being an outstanding businessman, which he certainly has been. His political and social views (broadly pro-business and conservative) are secondary to his business interests.

  15. Although I shall gladly defer to Steve Sailer on statistical and genetic matters, I must respectfully dissent from some of his assertions made in response to my posting about Murdoch. The reason Murdoch is identified as a Jew is not that no one believes that a WASP can be a press baron. It is because Murdoch sounds like a quintessential New York Jew in his political utterances, from his blame-the-Christians- for -European -anti-Semitism attitude to his over-the-top Zionism. And “conservative” my foot! Among Murdoch’s announced political favorites have been Hillary, Andrew Cuomo, and Giuliani. Portraits of Murdoch that I’ve seen in People and other news sources worthy of his less than magisterial personality suggest this press baron is not exactly a man of the right. As for Murdoch’s mother, Elizabeth Joy (nee) Greene, there is lots of evidence on the internet (see for example that she was not only Jewish but a practicing Jew. The sources for this are extremely varied and by no means exclusively associated with anti-Semitic nuts.

  16. Stephen says:

    At some point is not the question of someone’s Jewishness, or the degree thereof, a pointless distraction? Unless you intend to insult, or assume dual loyalty (or omnipotence), what of certainty can you derive from that observation?
    Are they Conservative/Libertarian or not? I really feel that we
    just give “The Jewish Factor” way too much, if not attention, then relevance.
    If, post-Apocalypse, Murray Rothbard shows up at the compound gate, are you going to turn him away?

  17. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Brilliant. As a liberal, I so appreciate reading this. There is a whole spectrum of conservatism out there, and it needs a voice and outlet. I read this magazine for just this reason, and I encourage my students to do so as well.

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