Tina Brown on Rupert ‘Voldemort’ Murdoch

by Nat Brown

The very first paragraph of Tina Brown’s take on the News of the World phone-hacking scandal makes the same weird analogy to the “Arab Spring” that Mark Steyn recently noticed in the pages of the New York Times:

The great cliffhanger of the Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking/bribery affair is whether this time, as always in the past, the man can once more come out a winner, however tarnished. Will the revolt to dislodge his power turn out like Egypt, where Mubarak fell, or Libya, where the tyrant has turned out to be far harder to dispatch? Is Murdoch still the Great and Powerful Oz, or just the Aussie behind the curtain?

Brown quickly tires of this comparison however, and opts instead to liken Murdoch to the villain in Harry Potter (the piece, it should be noted, is titled “Murodch’s Dark Arts”):

Murdoch is endlessly fascinating to watch because his talents and brilliance are equaled only by his amorality. His enthrallment of media culture persists because he is so good at what he does. His rivals disgrace themselves by trying to emulate him, but his newspapers have more brio, more edge, more connective excitement than theirs do—and therefore more readers. His Fox News Channel is a shark-toothed star machine leaving its cable competitors in the dust. He takes big risks, makes big bets on big visions, then waits for the result like a poker player, prepared to stay at the table losing money until his bet pays off.

Imagine if that vision were allied to journalistic ethics. Murdoch would be a god. But the maggot-infested underside of News of the World is a metaphor for what his whole tabloid operation has wrought. He could have been Dumbledore crossed with Harry Potter. But he’s Voldemort, and he’s not vanquished yet.