A titular and symbolic move in the house of Murdoch inspires a left media frenzy

This week mainstream media were paralyzed in a frisson of apoplexy over the news that Rupert Murdoch was stepping aside.

The dark lord of conservative disinformation and bête noire of the professional left, will allow the empire’s dauphin and scion to take the reins of the House of Murdoch.

At long last their long national nightmare was over. Or so they thought. And if you think for a moment that Murdoch père is divesting himself of control and influence over his dynasty, I would immediately halve your meds if I were you.

This is a move (James Murdoch to become CEO of 21st Century Fox, Lachlan Murdoch will be executive chairman alongside their father) to keep Wall Street happy and to show the world that the mega conglom is in fighting trim and ready for seamless transition. Every media outlet of every stripe was flooding the Internet’s series of tubes announcing the changing of the guard, and the notoriously liberal CNBC was credited with “breaking the story” by announcing King Rupert’s succession. Not even the Wall Street Journal or the New York Post, Murdoch’s own properties! To explicate the anachronistic nature of story breaking, let me remind you that in a world of instantaneous dissemination, “breaking” consists of a picosecond of lead time before the media scavengers move in for mynah bird echo-chambering.

When most media types think Rupert Murdoch, they think Fox News and not 21st Century Fox or his other media properties. No, it’s Fox News and Bill O’Reilly and the stable of conservative firebrands that abrade and annoy and drive the professional left crazy. In fact, so critical is the Fox News message that it’s the only source of anything that vaguely resembles a political platform for the professional left or the profoundly vague progressives. So dominant is the Murdoch message that were you to miss a particularly piquant installment, MSNBC and Jon Stewart would surely play in its entirety every second of the offending piece. As to the recently retiring Mr Stewart, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, said that “I don’t think he could make a living without Fox News.” And as for Maestro Ailes, while his conservative provenance is impeccable, his ability to appreciate antipodal political types serves to infuriate and confound his own phalanx of sinistral critics. Which serves to fuel this media juggernaut even more so.

No, the most estimable contribution of Fox News’s 1996 debut was Messrs. Murdoch and Ailes perfecting narrowcasting, i.e. aiming and targeting a particular audience with news and primarily opinion that comport and endorse the viewer’s own worldview. You know precisely what you’re getting with Fox News whenever you sample it. It never varies; it never veers. You will never find yourself sampling the umpteenth prison doc or a segment on culinary misadventure.

The transition from hard news to today’s hybrid started pre-Rupert. There was always a hard division between news and commentary with the former being rather no-nonsense, stodgy and, well, concrete Cronkite. But everything changed in 1952 with the NBC debut of TODAY. In 1977 Roone Arledge was crowned ABC News chief, a move, which was met with a hail of media and news critics who could not see the entertainment factor of news. Sound familiar? And he thereafter transformed the face of news forever. Arledge gave us Nightline and 20/20, showing the world that programs like 60 Minutes can compete in primetime.

News is entertainment. Commentary and opinion and news are interchangeable. The editorial cartoon as well as the editorial itself both serve to highlight news. Media audiences today care not to engage in the parlor game of technical parsing and distinguishing as to what is a news story versus commentary. And with younger demographics sampling news in a variety of platforms and delivery systems, news and opinion are part of a media slumgullion, called information.

And when friends of mine suggest the Murdoch encomia are a tad excessive and exaggerated, I just respond with a simple request: Name the chairman of CNN. The defense rests.

Lionel is an Emmy award-winning media news decoder and legal analyst whose website is lionelmedia.com.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.