By Campaign Agent Matthew Waterfield
Rupert Murdoch owns the company News Corp, which in turn owns media outlets such as The Times and The Sun. The Sun has the largest circulation of any British newspaper, currently standing at 1.7 million, while The Times is known for its high-quality reportage and in-depth analysis, albeit with a small readership.
Murdoch has played a major role in British politics for decades, due to his ownership of several sections of the British media. He is a Marmite figure, loved by the right to the same extent that he is loathed by the left and his media empire is globally influential.
His papers often promote his own political views, which have changed multiple times over the years. For example, Murdoch was left wing in his youth, supporting Labour while at university, and, with the exception of The Times in 1997, his papers threw their backing behind Labour at the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections, with Labour winning each one. However, he was a supporter of the Conservatives in the 1980s and shifted his support back to them shortly after Tony Blair stood down as prime minister.
Part of the reason why the ‘Murdoch Media’ evokes such strong emotions is how it can seemingly alter the results of elections. In 1992, polls were predicting that Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader, was to win that year’s election and become prime minister. During the election campaign, The Sun targeted Labour aggressively, culminating in a front page editorial on the day of the election with a mocking picture of Kinnock’s head in a lightbulb. Labour ended up losing the election, with a consensus forming afterwards that The Sun’s campaign against them had had a serious impact.
Another reason that so many people loathe Murdoch’s empire, specifically The Sun, is because of the scandals it has been involved in. To this day The Sun is boycotted in Liverpool due to its incorrect coverage of Hillsborough, where it claimed that Liverpool fans were responsible for the death of the 96 fans. Also, the News of the World (The Sun’s sister paper) was forced to close in 2011 after it was revealed that it hacked the phones of dozens of famous individuals, most infamously murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler
Image rights: David Shankbone @ Commons Wikimedia