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Preview: Marvin Kitman Probes Failure to 'Stop' Rupert Murdoch in Upcoming 'Harper's' | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Preview: Marvin Kitman Probes Failure to 'Stop' Rupert Murdoch in Upcoming 'Harper's'

The upcoming issue of Harper's, out on October 26, features a major piece by longtime TV and media writer Marvin Kitman titled, "Murdoch Triumphant: How We Could Have Stopped Him—Twice."

The issue also feature Lewis Lapham's farewell "Notebook" column for the magazine—he started it in 1984—with Thomas Frank taking over next month.

Kitman traces Murdoch and media history from the 1970s, following the News Corp. chief's role in the decline of American journalism and rise of infotainment, not to mention Fox News. 

He argues that regulatory agencies on two occasions failed disasterously to halt Murdoch's "stranglehold" on cable news. "But both efforts failed—out of confusion, crossed loyalties, self-preservation, and a misappropriation of the idea of free speech," Kitman declares. "Had either succeeded, our most feared media villain would have been just another megalomaniacal press lord from abroad who was sent back where he came from, like Conrad Black or Robert Maxwell."

Kitman probes in-depth the Honig lawsuit—filed by a lawyer working for the NAACP in 1994 and charging Murdoch with misleading the FCC to gain a toehold by securing Channel 5 in New York—and "TIme Warner's capitulation." 

The result of this "failure to stop the barbarian at the gates of New York" was the arrival of Fox News in 1996, which also "marked the demise of Ted Turner as a player in the media wars." The cover image, in fact, shows Murdoch knocking out Turner in a boxing ring.

Kitman concludes: "Fifteen years ago, we had a chance to stop the relentless march of Rupert Murdoch.  His recent million-dollar contribution to the Republican Party is just gravy, for he was already the heaviest hitter in the race to shape public opinion around causes he championed." 

The piece actually opens with the latest development—News Corp.'s one million donation to the Repubican Governors Association—and the impact on the Citizens United court decision.

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