Rupert Murdoch, the new boss of National Geographic.
The National Geographic magazine has been a nonprofit publication since inception in 1888, but that ends today. The long-running American publication becomes very much for-profit under a $725 million dollar deal announced today with 21st Century Fox, the entertainment company controlled by the family of Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch is a notorious climate change denier, and his family's Fox media empire is the world's primary source of global warming misinformation. Which would be no big deal here, I guess, were it not for the fact that the National Geographic Society's mission includes giving grants to scientists.
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The $750m deal places the legendary nonprofit under 21st Century Fox's control.
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The first edition of National Geographic was published in 1888, the same year that the National Geographic Society was founded. An note in the first issue said the publication would help spread the research of others, “so that we may all know more of the world upon which we live.”
But things have changed since 1888, and the Society said Wednesday that selling its publications to 21st Century Fox, which has partnered with the non-profit in owning and operating its television channels for almost 20 years, was the best bet for survival in the modern media market.
A secretly made recording
of Rupert Murdoch talking to his staff at the height of the Leveson inquiry into his newspapers' extensive, illegal hacking of crime victims' and celebrities' phones, and bribery of police officers, suggests that he knew of and sanctioned the conduct: "It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing." "What you're asking is: what happens if some of you are proven guilty? What afterwards? I'm not allowed to promise you - I will promise you continued health support - but your jobs. I've got to be careful what comes out - but frankly, I won't say it, but just trust me." He also promises to use his newspapers to "hit back" at government and police. Read the rest
Tom Watson, the Labour MP who's tirelessly hounded Murdoch's News of the World over its illegal spying, has flown to the USA to attend the NewsCorp's shareholder meeting (he's got the AFL-CIO's proxy) to reveal that NewsCorp's sins go much deeper than the odd bit of mass-scale crude voicemail hacking. This is a pretty plausible allegation -- the idea that a firm as ruthless and moneyed as NewsCorp would stoop to voicemail hacking but stop there is pretty implausible. I assume that the leaker(s) who are releasing the intelligence about NewsCorp's misdeeds are timing their revelations to ensure that Rupert and his progeny twist and writhe as much as possible, coming up with new, more dire revelations every time the Murdochs appear to have settled things -- ideally these revelations should also reveal the previous round of spin as a pack of half-truths, twisted truths and outright lies. And ideally, each fresh revelation will inspire more leakers to come foreward.
NewsCorp has an odd corporate structure that gives control over the company to the Murdochs, even though they don't own the majority of shares. As activist shareholders begin to mobilize, the possibility of the Murdochs being chucked out of NewsCorp becomes more and more real.
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Watson has flown to Los Angeles to attend the shareholders meeting, which he will gain access to having been given a proxy vote by the US trade union umbrella group, the AFL-CIO. News Corporation is bracing itself for independent shareholders to vote in considerable numbers at the meeting against the reappointment of Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
Clive Goodman, the News of the World
royals reporter who resigned in disgrace, wrote a letter to News International's HR department four years ago asserting that the editorial staff of the NoTW knew about the phone hacking, that it was discussed at editorial meetings, and that Andy Coulson -- UK Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media advisor -- was active in these discussions. It also calls into question Rupert and James Murdochs's testimony to Parliament that they hadn't been aware of the practice.
Goodman then claims that other members of staff at the News of the World were also hacking phones. Crucially, he adds: "This practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the editor." He reveals that the paper continued to consult him on stories even though they knew he was going to plead guilty to phone hacking and that the paper's then lawyer, Tom Crone, knew all the details of the case against him.
Phone hacking: News of the World reporter's letter reveals cover-up
In a particularly embarrassing allegation, he adds: "Tom Crone and the editor promised on many occasions that I could come back to a job at the newspaper if I did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in my mitigation plea. I did not, and I expect the paper to honour its promise to me." In the event, Goodman lost his appeal. But the claim that the paper induced him to mislead the court is one that may cause further problems for News International.
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