Katya Rogers is the Senior Producer for On the Media
Reflections on Murdoch and The Sun
Friday, July 22, 2011 - 11:31 AM
As a Brit sitting here in New York watching News International implode I found myself reliving a bit of my youth. Murdoch’s influence was so pervasive, and so intertwined with my memories of growing up in London in the 80’s. In those days the nightly news was all IRA bombings, the miners’ strike and of course, Wapping.
Wapping was the location in East London of the new printing plant that Murdoch had built without informing the unions (he had led the print unions to believe it was going to be used for a new evening newspaper). The new plant allowed journalists to input copy directly, saving time and money but eliminating print workers’ jobs. The National Union of Journalists announced a strike but after a year of no work and no pay, the union was eventually crushed and thousands of workers lost their jobs. It felt to me, as a teenager watching the miners and then the printers being beaten up by police on endless picket lines that Margaret Thatcher’s government considered the working people the enemy.
Incidentally, my generation in England are called Thatcher’s children; we’re very bitter about weird things (she eliminated free milk from schools and we went out to protest with banners that read “Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher”) and we have a bleak vision of England during those 12 years under her rule.
Murdoch was so invested in the Thatcher government that the Sun newspaper is widely believed to have ensured the victory of her successor, John Major over Labor contender Neil Kinnock with the now iconic headline “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights” The Sun celebrated with the headline “IT’S THE SUN WOT WON IT”. Murdoch later switched his allegiance to the Labor party and Tony Blair before switching back again to support the election of the Conservative, David Cameron.
I was thinking about all this when former OTM senior producer Arun Rath posted this classic bit of British comedy from Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry on facebook. Warning: there’s lots of weird aussie swearing by Hugh Laurie as Rupert Murdoch