7 Nov. 2007

Divide And Conquer: Neoconservatives Target Georgia

Strange things are happening in Georgia today, and Rupert Murdoch is closely involved. As his flagship paper states, the Georgian government appears to have prevented a coup:
GEORGIAN President Mikhail Saakashvili has declared a state of emergency in the capital after sending in riot police to battle protestors and special forces stormed a leading opposition TV station.
What Murdoch's paper omits to say is that Rupert now controls that "opposition TV station". So this is pretty misleading stuff:
Imedi is controlled by billionaire tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili.
Actually, Patarkatsishvili just handed control of the station to Murdoch under a 12-month deal. And where is Patarkatsishvili in all this? He's in Tel Aviv. Which may or may not seem strange, given that he is Jewish.

Patarkatsishvili sounds like an utter rogue, but he is not the only one in this story. Saakashvili is considered a pro-Western leader, who is blaming Russia for his problems. But both Russia and the Georgian opposition say that is ridiculous.
"The Georgian people are already tired of Mr Saakashvili's declarations, which always blame Russia" former Georgian foreign minister Salome Zurabishvili said. "What has this got to do with Russia ?"
I don't doubt Russia is involved, but I'll bet Murdoch and his neoconservative friends in Washington and Tel Aviv are also in it up to their eyeballs.

Meanwhile, Murdoch's News Corporation has posted operating income of $US1.05 billion, an increase of 23 per cent on the first quarter last year. Losses from his rightwing newspapers, books and TV stations like Fox News were subsidised by profits from movies and other interests.

And get this:
News Corp said it was considering nominating Natalie Bancroft, a member of the family involved in selling Dow Jones & Co Inc to News for $US5.6 billion ($A6.06 billion), to its board...

Family members missed a deadline to nominate their own candidate for the News Corp board, according to letters posted on the Journal's website.
Natalie is a 27-year-old opera singer with no experience in journalism or business. Fairfax has the inside story:
Most family members wanted to send an experienced newspaper person to News Corp's board who would defend the Journal's journalistic integrity. Their first choice, the former managing editor Paul E. Steiger, declined the offer. A second candidate, the former Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll, was knocked back by Mr Murdoch, who may have seen him as a potential troublemaker. Mr Carroll walked out on his job last year after refusing to give in to further cost cutting by that paper's owner.

In an email breaking the news of the rejection, Christopher Bancroft told his relatives: "Rupert made the [board seat] offer to the family as an incentive to sell and because he would like the appearance of the support a Bancroft family member sitting on his board brings. It is not because he needs or wants a 'seasoned champion of journalistic values' from the world of journalism…"

"I can only say what a joke this episode has become," a family member, Crawford Hill, replied in disgust. "This entire, sad and pathetic, final episode is a fiasco. No wonder we lost Dow Jones."

Most of the relatives finally settled on Crawford's brother Mike Hill, who had taken an active interest in the company for years. But people familiar with the deliberations told the Journal that News Corp "wasn't comfortable with his activism". News Corp also wanted to add a woman to its all-male board.
Natalie Bancroft originally opposed Murdoch's takeover of Dow Jones, but has now relented:
"Sentiment has a very small place if one wants success," she says.
I suppose it depends how you define "success".