Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and rock star Bono were the featured stars at a recent semi-secret conference sponsored by News Corporation and its founder Rupert Murdoch, often labeled a “conservative” or “right-wing” media mogul. The nature of the event, held from July 31-August 3, confirms our suspicion that Murdoch may be moving left as the 2008 U.S. presidential election approaches, and that he may bring his “conservative” news properties with him.
Author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell was another featured attraction, offering his thoughts on “Mind-reading the Zeitgeist.” Wikipedia says Gladwell specializes in examining “the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences, particularly sociolology and psychology.” So what should we expect from Murdoch?
A panel at his conference on “Islam and the West” was supposed to feature Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who is an advocate of the view that the notion of national sovereignty is old-fashioned and out-moded.
There were Republicans such as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator John McCain at the event, but they are not identifiable conservatives. However, conservative former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was hired as a commentator by Fox News, was there, participating in a panel on “The Politics of Change,” moderated by Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, a Murdoch property. Gingrich recently made headlines by saying we are involved in a World War III against radical Islam.
Murdoch, of course, recently hosted a fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton, leading some of the suspicious minds on the left to conclude that Murdoch must think Hillary would be an easy target for defeat in 2008. Murdoch has since declared a preference for Senator McCain for president.
Whatever his ultimate political preferences, Murdoch is doing something right, and we are in far better shape with a Fox News Channel than without it. The leftist British Guardian has just published a major attack on Murdoch, labeling him pro-American, pro-Israeli, and pro-military and complaining about his close relationship with Tony Blair.
Blair, to his credit, has complained about the Guardian’s fellow travelers at the BBC, having told Murdoch that he had listened to the BBC’s world service coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans only to discover “it was just full of hate of America and gloating about our troubles,” to quote Murdoch.
Murdoch recounted this conversation during his participation on a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative conference last year, saying that “I think we’ve got to do a better job at answering it.” He can start by dropping plans by his British satellite affiliate BSkyB to air Al-Jazeera International. That will be a test of his intentions.