Propaganda is information that is not impartial, but biased and often misleading. It is dispensed with a certain political agenda and therefore used to promote or publicise such causes with the intention of influencing the masses and directing them towards that agenda.
Over this month, Module 3 of the Leveson Inquiry has proceeded to examine the relationship between politicians and the press. The highlights of this week have been particularly engaging, starring John Major, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband as witnesses in a decisive case against Rupert Murdoch. But why does Murdoch matter so much?
The Murdoch Empire has been labelled the biggest media player in Europe – an unquestionable cause for concern predominantly in the fields of British politics and populace.
A tabloid can be defined as ‘sensational in a lurid or vulgar way’ and with particular emphasis on the latter, The Sun is a fitting example. It is part of Murdoch’s News International Corporation and has a national daily circulation of over 2.6 million, which makes it the most popular source of written news in the United Kingdom. To put it plainly, the Murdoch Empire has a mass audience in Britain and therefore potential mass influence. This provides a basis of explanation as to why the relationship between the press and politicians has become so intimate and ultimately concerning.
As the 1997 election approached, Conservative Prime Minister John Major was heavily encouraged to strengthen relations with the Murdoch press and on Tuesday, Major revealed that in February prior to the election a significant conversation between Murdoch and Major occurred amidst their fine dining. It culminated with a statement similar to the following:
“If you don’t change your policy my organisation cannot support you”
Murdoch outright threatened to remove support for the Conservative Party unless Major changed certain policies towards Europe, which is likely to have referred to a referendum on leaving the EU. Although Major was admittedly “too sensitive to the press” which he even once called a “source of wonder”, the matter was not pursued and the Tory’s lost the election, Murdoch’s support aligning itself with the new Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. Twelve years later in September 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown refused any negotiation with Murdoch and support from The Sun was withdrawn and naturally, returned to the Conservatives. The Tories won the following election.
With such a blunt correlation between party politics and the press, Ed Miliband’s suggestion that “one person should not control 34% of the British press” is extremely accurate and quite frankly, exceedingly long overdue. This is because ultimately if the Murdoch Empire has the power to change British political policy whilst having significant access and influence over the population, his tabloids can be described as the most useful instrument to promote and publicise particular political agenda and can therefore be labelled as pure propaganda.
Nobody can deny that the government is far too preoccupied with courting the media rather than scrutinising them and as a result the relationship between editors and politicians have consequently ended in one big lol, but not the lots of love kind.