UPDATE: I have been corrected by another writer, Dave Simmer II; the White House did in fact give an official response to SOPA legistlation . . . they don’t like it. I have updated the post to reflect that. Cause as a blogger and podcaster, I have no problem correcting myself when it turns out I was mistaken. You know, unlike . . . others.
In case you didn’t know, there is a real life Montgomery Burns. He doesn’t own and operate a nuclear power station, however. Instead he runs Newscorp and is the 38th most wealthy person in the United States. He is Rupert Murdoch.
- He founded Fox News with the sole purpose of swaying the American public.
- His company hacked the voicemail of a murdered girl, thereby throwing investigators off (making them believe she was still alive and deleting her voicemails).
- He is a dinosaur.
In today’s world of “faster than you can comprehend” information, Murdoch is a throwback to the older days of yore. Days when a single newspaper magnate could sway the opinion of an entire nation. And he’s dangerous.
Recently he, or someone he pays to “be” him, took to Twitter to bash President Obama for expressing doubt in the Stop Online Piracy Act. According to an actual news site, three advisers to the POTUS have stated they feel that SOPA “could make businesses on the Internet vulnerable to litigation and harm legal activity and free speech”. Well spoken, White House advisers.
three advisers put it on a blog, it MUST mean that President Obama himself (a democrat and *gasp* black person) officially backs this position as well . Right? One would hope he does, since it actually speaks a lot of truth. But officially the White House has yet to take a definite stance on the issue. That doesn’t stop ol’Murdoch needs to take to the intertubes, accusing the President of bowing to some sort of tech industry Illuminati.
Let me break this tweet down for you: “The President has allied himself with the people who are known for making software (who I believe pay him), to threaten those who make software . . . that is to say, themselves.”
Or this gem.
Did you know Google was a movie streaming service? No? That’s because they aren’t. In fact, Google actually doesn’t have any video streaming services to speak of, movies or otherwise. Yes, one could argue that YouTube fits the spirit of his tweet, except that’s a video hosting service. One that handles DCMA takedown requests and video fingerprinting very seriously. Now, let’s take each of his accusations and deal with them one at a time.
- The President is in cahoots with Silicon Valley: It’s no secret that President Obama has been supportive of America’s tech sector. To paraphrase his many speeches on the matter, he feels it’s the only thing America has left to compete with the rest of the world. However, I thought Murdoch himself kept trying to spread the image that Obama is only the President because of his Hollywood connections . . . not his Palo Alto ones.
- The President is paid by Silicon Valley: Yes. Yes he is. And if you pay taxes then he is paid by you too. I didn’t think this was in dispute. Anyone? I mean, hasn’t this been pretty well established since, I dunno, the founding of the position? Of course, all sarcasm aside, he’s insinuating that Obama is taking bribes. You know, like the ones the congressional aides who sponsored SOPA in the first place were discovered taking!
- Silicon Valley is trying to hurt software makers: I’m not really sure where to start on this one. I mean to you, me, them, and anyone else with half a clue the term “Silicon Valley” means software makers. However, to give him the benefit of the doubt maybe he doesn’t know that. Maybe he feels there actually is some organization called Silicon Valley who doesn’t actually make anything but instead tries to make rules that restrict how people can use things and sues everyone else (and generally makes things miserable to the people they supposedly represent).
- Google sells ads while showing other people’s content: Actually, this one is pretty much true. Of course, the way he says it proves he has no idea what Google actually does. But we do: Google is a search engine service and the ads they show are to pay for the service they offer you to aggregate search results. The way he words it, however, makes it clear that (in his mind, at least) Google might as well be removing the credits at the end of a film and taking credit for the whole thing as if they made it. You know, like Fox News does from time to time.
But all of this is secondary to the real reason why Rupert Murdoch is so outspoken against those “scary tech kids” on his account on “that scary Twitter site”; he doesn’t understand/can’t control any of it and it scares the ever-loving-crap out of him. That isn’t a knock on old people, but it is a knock on the old world.
Back in the day there was a media magnate named William Randolf Hearst. Besides being a huge supporter of Hitler (back when it was still fashionable to be so) Hearst also practiced what became known as “Yellow Journalism”; distorting real events or straight up falsifying events to suit a particular story or agenda. The quote “You supply the pictures, I’ll supply the war” is generally credited to him and describes the idea of Yellow Journalism quite well. Don’t like a politician? Create news about a horrible social injustice he did nothing to prevent (it doesn’t matter that it didn’t exist for him to prevent in the first place).
We could also talk about John D. Rockefeller, who was so afraid of workers unionizing that he helped create the Red Scare to get the government to look for communists within America while he was funding fascism and a burgeoning Nazi party.
This is the era Rupert Murdoch came from. Not just figuratively, either; this is literally how you got stuff done. You wonder why people were scared to death of the rich class back then? THIS IS WHY. Now we just watch them on VH1 reality shows. Don’t believe that this is even possible? Look up a film called “Wag The Dog”. You can probably stream it on Google while they make money off it.
This is the worldview that says “My reality is more important than your reality, and my reality says whatever I want it to say.” The problem is that the world has moved on from such prehistoric thinking. We now live in a day when anyone in the world can immediately verify and/or dispute any claim, for better or worse. We live in a day when a government can’t lie about a protest uprising through official channels because there are first hand accounts and videos online before they have even drafted a response. We live in a world where the capture/execution of the most wanted man in the world is liveblogged by a civilian and news of it is broken to the American public before the President can even get in front of a camera!
We live in a world that people like Rupert Murdoch can’t control. And if that isn’t what he’s trying to do, then you tell me why he needs so many news outlets in so many countries. You tell me why he feels the need to be personally involved with political powers in countries that he doesn’t live. You tell me why he says so many dumb things that would be impossible to debunk, if not for the fact we all have the internet too.