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Murdoch's brand grossly and continuously abuses journalistic guidelines

By Bill O'Donnell, October 2, 2012

Lies, Bad Journalism Typify Murdoch Brand – One of the immutable principles of newspaper columns and opinion pieces is that they must be signed, with the identity and relevant facts about the writer attached to the piece. Only then can we begin to know and weigh what ties exist and/or what employment history may have influenced the opinions and judgments of the writer.
The same principles, or rules of the game, are essentially in force for other media.

Rupert Murdoch is the founder and major stockholder of News Corporation and the creator of Fox Broadcasting. His huge media empire includes the Wall Street Journal and the self-styled “fair & balanced” Fox news channel. As unfolding events in Britain clearly show, Murdoch and his editors, writers, TV interviewers, et al, have precious little respect for these well-entrenched principles of journalism. The Murdoch-encouraged illegal wiretapping and similar smarmy activities have been the subject of indictments in Britain, and trials for those charged in those cases will be forthcoming.
Closer to home, the Murdoch brand has grossly and continuously abused these journalistic guidelines; in many cases totally ignoring the rules and operating in such a way as to disguise or intentionally omit the relationships of writers and/or interview subjects to their material. Only in this way can the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and other Murdoch media outlets hide their frequent conflicts of interest and keep readers and viewers in the dark about the bias and special pleading by their employees that is endemic in many outlets of the Murdoch empire.
A brief glance at the two major News Corporation companies operating in the US —the WSJ and Fox —show they have thumbed their noses at the principles of ethics and fair play. Just since the presidential campaign began, the Journal has published op-ed opinion articles twenty times by at least nine Romney advisers without disclosing their relationship to candidate Mitt Romney. These under-the-radar commentators have used their print space and air time to attack President Obama or his administration without having to own up to their campaign ties.
This is not what legitimate, responsible, honest journalists do.
Similar tactics are regularly allowed by the management at Fox News where a steady stream of paid Fox commentators with ties to the Romney campaign appear offering campaign news and comment, and where a swath of Romney advisors appear on Fox programs without disclosing their ties to the Republican candidate. These practices betray a complete disregard by Murdoch media for basic communication ethics and a disturbing disdain for those readers and viewers who rely (but rarely receive) the unvarnished truth.
George Mitchell, A Man For All Seasons – From peace in Northern Ireland and Middle East negotiator to steroid use in major league baseball, former US Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine has proved to be the go-to-guy when the chips are down. His history and accomplishments are the stuff of dreams. His father was an Irish-American janitor, his mother a Lebanese immigrant who didn’t read or write.
Today, Mitchell leads a major law firm and was recently named an integrity monitor overseeing the NCAA sanctions on Penn State University. In a recent interview with CBS News, he spoke of his early years with his family: “My mother was a weaver in a textile mill and she worked a night shift. I still can’t figure out how she did it. She had five children, so including she and my father there were seven people in our house. We had one tiny bathroom.”
In 1962, Mitchell was offered a job by then-US Sen. Edmund Muskie. Seventeen years later, he was elected to Muskie’s Senate seat. A decade later, he was elected majority leader by his peers. In 1995, he left the Senate. Then came Northern Ireland and ultimately a peace accord he helped to orchestrate with the aid and encouragement of hundreds of Irish and Americans of good will.
When asked by CBS’s Rita Braver how he found the patience to overcome the stops and starts, the tiring debates, the disappointing moments in the lengthy search for peace in Ireland, Mitchell said, “Very early in the process I said, ‘Look, I’m a product of the US Senate. I’ve listened to 16 -hour speeches. There nothing you guys can say that can faze me.” And so it was!
Vatican Council II Marks Golden Anniversary – On Oct. 11, 1962, some 2,500 bishops from across the Catholic world were called together by Pope John XXIII to participate in an ecumenical council, the 21st such gathering in the history of the church. One of the 16 documents approved by the bishops insists that the Catholic Church must be at the service of all humanity, especially those most in need. The council also underlined the importance of protecting the unborn and working to end war, militarism, and poverty.
Pope John’s council was a joyful, fresh breeze that invigorated an insular Church. One way to underline the importance of that event 50 years ago this month would seem to be relatively simple for the Vatican curia and the current pope to accomplish: Complete with a proper flourish and celebration the canonization of Blessed Pope John XXIII and honor him and the key role he played in enhancing the Catholic Church for modern times. Such a move is woefully overdue; it’s embarrassingly shameful to delay Angelo Roncalli’s elevation to sainthood.
Irish Social Club A Success Story –Early last month a bill was signed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick after passage by both the Massachusetts House and Senate that should result in the return of a permanent liquor license to the West Roxbury club, a move that is essential if the revived organization is to be successful in organizing its numerous social events and neighborhood activities. The club previously had a full liquor license, but it was mistakenly turned in and so in the meantime it has been forced to use a series of temporary licenses. But that problem is well on the way to being solved.
The Irish Social Club has overcome a number of obstacles in the past six months and with great concern and solid effort, it has attracted hundred of old and new members and made repairs to the club building and its operating systems. It is now prepared to move forward for the next chapter in one of the most celebrated venues in the greater Boston Irish Community. Congratulations!


“The Irish have a word for it. The small town merchant who gradually achieves a stranglehold on his neighbors is called a gombeen-man. Gomba, in Gaelic, means vaguely a bit or a scrap. Gombeen is the diminutive. A textbook of economics might well be condensed into that single word.”
– James ‘Jim’ Phelan (1895 -1960)
from his Bog Blossom Stories

Mary Robinson Memoir Due Out in Early 2013
–Easily one of the most accomplished and preeminent women of the 20th century, former Irish President Mary Robinson, 68, will finally have her memoir published in the United States early next year. Last month, her keenly awaited story was published in her native Ireland, as her way of honoring the country of her birth. The hectic life of service across the globe by the former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has delayed the book’s completion, but she obviously enjoyed launching it in her hometown of Ballina, Co. Mayo.
Mrs. Robinson’s memoir, titled “Everybody Matters” (distributed by MacMillan) takes her from the early days in Mayo and on to her education as a lawyer at Trinity and Harvard. Prior to her election as president, she served for 20 years in the Irish Senate and was one of Ireland’s most respected barristers and an outspoken activist voice for human rights.
She has been honored by the United States with the President’s Medal of Honor, and has received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience citation. She serves on many boards and maintains (as her book title might suggest) a full schedule that keeps her in demand and traveling in behalf of many causes, including her Mary Robinson Foundation.
I first met the future Irish President in the early 1980s when she was a member of the Irish Senate and was briefly in Boston with her husband Nick. Following a phone call alerting me that she was stopping in Boston, I met the couple at the Parker House and we did a fast-paced lobby interview. I was stunned then by how attractive she was, and bright as a new star. A bit smitten, I was, maybe.
About ten years later, I again had the opportunity to meet her. She was then president of Ireland and the passage of time had been kind to her. She joined some of us for lunch at the World Trade Center during the Boston Ireland Ventures trade festival. I recall thinking at the time that some day she might be the new face on the Irish punt. The Euro put paid to that notion.
Update: ECB Threatened Lenihan With Disaster – Three newly released letters from the then president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, to the late Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan show that Trichet warned Lenihan that if Ireland did not apply in timely fashion for the huge bailout with conditions, the entire Euro banking system would be put at risk.
The Irish Times reports it has seen the three ECB letters that were sent to Lenihan in the days leading up to the 2010 Irish bailout.
In looking back at the dire risk assessment by the ECB, it is apparent in hindsight that Minister Lenihan, grievously ill from the cancer that would soon kill him, was being backed into a corner and forced into signing onto an outsized bailout that haunts Ireland and its economy to this day. The pressure was enormous, more so given the grave health issues facing the young Irishman.
In Trichet’s letter of November 4, and others later that month, he emphasized the concerns of the ECB about its exposure to the Irish banking system for the enormous sums involved in the bailout and that the support of the ECB was contingent on the four-year plan being implemented. On Nov, 20, Lenihan and the Irish government, despite profound, unresolved concerns, formally applied for the EU-International Monetary Fund program.
Trinity College Scientists Celebrate Discovery –
The hard-working lads in their Trinity laboratories have yet to find a cure for sleepwalking, or to discover a way to keep the Orangemen off the Queen’s Highways in July, but the scientists there have found a beer breakthrough. Honest.
Plastic bottles currently in use have a relatively short shelf life; their contents lose their taste and fizz quickly as they sit on shelves. This, in turn, led to finding that beer could retain its flavor on the shelf in plastic bottles if a material they discovered at Trinity was added to the liquid.
Miller Brewing Company has taken instant notice and is “delighted to partner on this exciting project.”
O’Neill Family in Donegal For ‘Tip’s’ Centennial – Eighty members of Thomas P. ‘Tip’ O’Neill’s family were in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, last month to celebrate Tip’s 100 birthday. The late speaker of the US House was born on Dec. 9, 1912. He served in Congress for 34 years and was speaker from 1977 to 1987.
In fact, the O’Neill family was in Ireland for two special occasions. The first was the visit to Buncrana, the seaside town where Tip’s grandmother, Eunice Fullerton, was born. A statue of Tip overlooking Lough Swilly was unveiled by his daughter, Susan O’Neill. There are still many O’Neill cousins living in and around Buncrana. Carl Fullerton, a cousin of Tip’s, said “We are delighted as a family to come together this weekend to remember the life and contribution of a man whose ancestors began here. Tip never forgot his Donegal roots.”
The second occasion was a stop at the University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry to attend the announcement of additional funding of $1.4 million for the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, which will be headquartered at Magee.
A happy weekend in Ireland for the O’Neills and a grand celebration to mark Tip’s 100th.
Happy 150th anniversary to Boston College. The growth and achievements of the Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill is a tribute to the vision of the faculty and graduates of this outstanding educational institution. … The US is the favored location for holiday breaks for the Irish this autumn. … Finally, the degrading unnecessary full-body searches of republican prisoners in Magilligan are being replaced by new, high-tech scanners. … The Irish are determined to see their greedy bankers do some serious jail time. The same cannot be said for US authorities. … Rhode Island will soon have drivers licenses imprinted with the designation VETERAN, if qualified. … If you live in any New England state except New Hampshire your Nov. vote for president won’t make any difference.
Gerry Adams continues to promise an alternative budget but, like Mitt, he has not delivered with details. … Speaking of Gerry, he was out-talked and out-debated by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin on RTE’s Prime Time. … The Northern Ireland golfer Darren Clarke, who lost his wife to cancer, has donated $125,000 to the Queen’s cancer center. … World # 1 golfer Rory Mcllroy has said that he is reconsidering his remark that he would golf for Britain in the 2016 Olympics. … Galway continues its tradition of workshops devoted to the fine, ancient art of making stone walls. … A recent poll in the North showed that roughly 43 percent of voters would like British or Irish political parties to organize there. … Irish President Michael D. Higgins has been a viral sensation on a 2010 clip slamming the US Tea Party movement. … The recent summer Olympics in London reminded me of the heroics in the 1896 Olympics of Southie’s James Brendan Connolly.
The compensation for helping arm the IRA agreed to by the UK and Libya is in Limbo now. … Cardinal Tim Dolan gave the closing prayer at the GOP convention, then was shamed into making the same offer to the Democrats. … A veteran Church of Ireland cleric in Britain has backed PM David Cameron’s call for same sex marriages. … Aer Lingus is catching some flak for reducing the size of carry-ons they will accept. … If you have never tried the escorted tours of the Boston Irish Heritage Trail, call BITA at 617-696-9880. It’s a great history-filled jaunt. … It’s old news, I suppose, but the Italian government prosecutors have upheld the convictions of 23 Americans for kidnaping suspected terrorists as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.
In 2005, an Irish farmer sold 8.5 acres to a developer for $2 million. He just bought it back for one-twenty-fifth of what he paid, $80,000, from the same builder. … A third of Ireland’s grads plan to emigrate to find work, and student union leaders are saying that “a serious lack of self confidence” is setting in. … I spent 16 months as a Marine guard in Seoul, Korea, protecting our diplomats at the US Embassy there and the one thing I always knew (apropos of the Benghazi attack in Libya) is that no small Marine contingent can protect our embassies without backup and the support of the host government’s police or army.
RIP – BC Professor Ruth-Ann Harris, a familiar, friendly presence in the Irish community and at the Heights who was on faculty for years at Northeastern and, later, BC while focusing on studying the migration of the Irish to Boston, died on Sept. 5. I served alongside her on the Eire Society board and she was not only a gifted teacher but also a dedicated lifetime student of Irish trends and social history. My condolences to her husband John and her family.