July
21st 2011
Simon Says, Goody Two-Shoes edition

Posted under: American history, art, bad language, European history, Gender, jobs, publication, race, unhappy endings, wankers

Ah, the 1980s:  when fashionable men dared to wear eye shadow.

This video seems newly timely given the massive wiretapping scandal blowing up News Corporation.  Now that Rupert Murdoch and his empire look pretty weak, the long knives are out for him.  Roger Simon reports that nearly 30 years ago–perhaps to the soundtrack of an Adam Ant video–Murdoch said something racist at a dinner with Chicago Sun-Times reporters after he bought their newspaper:

Murdoch came to see what would soon be “his” paper — it may have been his first trip to Chicago — and about two dozen employees were summoned to a dinner with him. He was relaxed and easy-going and promised — as he always did when he bought a paper — to retain its quality and integrity.

It was a lie, and we knew it was a lie. But we tried to convince ourselves of its truth for as long as possible. For me, that wasn’t long.

I had a conversation with him about various sections of the paper. “I don’t understand anything about American sport,” he told me breezily, “but I know the coloreds like it.”

I told him that in America we no longer used the word “coloreds,” that it was considered insulting.

He looked at me the way Queen Victoria might have looked at a footman who had told her she was using the wrong fork to eat her pheasant.

This, my friends, is exactly the problem with the neutered press corps we have, whether or not they’re owned by News Corps or not.  This should have been reported at the time for all of Chicago to see–instead, a whole tablefull of obedient lapdogs, as well as other American reporters to whom Simon told this story back in the day (read the whole story)–kept it all to themselves.  But now that Murdoch is in his 80s and his company is crippled by scandal he lets the secret out!  Now Simon says that Murdoch is an evil racist and his newspapers are sexist and horrible.

11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Simon Says, Goody Two-Shoes edition”

  1. henry on 21 Jul 2011 at 8:12 am #

    “Don’t drink don’t smoke …. what do you do … don’t drink don’t smoke …. what do you do…subtle innuendoes follow … must be somethin inside….” great song. Made my Thursday.

  2. Susan on 21 Jul 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Great story. Murdoch is really oily. Sitting in London, it’s been a pleasure to watch the slow unfolding of the story. When one person has so much power in the trade, many reporters were fearful because criticism might affect career prospects. It’s not unique to journalism. Those in power keep others in line through fear.

    It was a pleasure to see Murdoch looking so out of it in front of Parliament the other day. I don’t believe it entirely, but insofar as it was an act, it undermines him going forward.

  3. LadyProf on 21 Jul 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Perfect point. Journalists post-Watergate love to blather about themselves as saviors of democracy–but they never stopped the cringing and flattering they did for Jack Kennedy when he was bringing mob hookers, treating them just like dialed-in pizza, past the Secret Service to his White House pool.

    Who knows what news of state we’re not getting, but we’ve seen plenty of ugly facts about celebrities that the press didn’t print at the time. God forbid, Jack Nicholson might not give you an interview or an autograph if you tick him off. So don’t tell that he paid a large settlement for the serious injuries he inflicted on a prostitute. And don’t report that this woman sued him again saying the injuries had worsened and his settlement payment wasn’t covering her expenses.

  4. koshem Bos on 21 Jul 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    So it all started from Kennedy; I am relieved. Kennedy hookers did not use to be public information and rightly so. Lady Prof, I don’t care who has sex with whom no matter who are who and whom.

    Simon is one of our pretend journalist that actually see their job as supporters of the strong and the rich. We need about 20 of his type, sadly we have hundreds. We also have a pretend Democratic party, a pretend progressive movement (they vote for our reactionary president) and almost 20% actual and real unemployment.

    Can we put Kennedy on trial?

  5. truffula on 21 Jul 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    koshem Bos: So it all started from Kennedy; I am relieved.

    That is not what Lady Prof wrote.

    koshem Bos: Kennedy hookers did not use to be public information and rightly so. Lady Prof, I don’t care who has sex with whom no matter who are who and whom.

    Creepy view of women’s worth. Renting out women’s bodies for the purpose of personal gratification reveals a level of disregard for their basic humanity that seems, to me at least, to stand at odds with Kennedy’s PR image as a great humanitarian. To suggest, on a history blog of all places, that such information should not be available when evaluating an individual’s contributions to society seems silly.

  6. Comrade PhysioProf on 21 Jul 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Adam Ant was one of the best concerts I ever saw!!!

  7. Feminist Avatar on 21 Jul 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Dudes, this is Britain. Making shit up is the news and we’re proud of it. We’re all just confused as to why they paid people to ‘hack’ for information that we would have published without corroboration and been quite happy about.

  8. LadyProf on 21 Jul 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    koshem bos, I read about JFK’s behaviors in the harsh Sy Hersh book that drew resentment from the Camelot crowd but has never been refuted on anything major. It’s been a few years but I remember a passage quoting the chief of the White House Secret Service. The poor fellow said he simply couldn’t do his job of protecting the President when unnamed, unidentified visitors were slipping in. He either turned in his resignation because of the stream of prostitutes or said he should have: I don’t remember which.

    It wasn’t a trivial matter. Anything salacious like that would leak out in our era; so we’re probably well covered on sex, but what else aren’t we learning about?

  9. Historiann on 21 Jul 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Yeah, the JFK sex stuff is pretty well documented. And people can’t stomach a president who may have the occasional migrane these days! (Or smoke!) Hilarious.

    I don’t particularly care about the sex lives of the presidents, but I think the compulsive misogynist sex stuff spoke to JFK’s lack of judgment and empathy. Dude should have had better pain medication for his back problems and his Addison’s Disease.

    But as to koshem Bos’s larger point: sexuality stuff doesn’t really affect how I vote either. I voted for Ted Kennedy in 1994 when Mitt Romney challenged him for the Senate. I was glad to vote for him, because he was one of the few Senators (then or now) who stood up for feminist values. And yes, I realize the irony here, considering that he probably killed a young woman (Chappaquiddick.)

  10. Jezebella on 22 Jul 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Comrade: ME! TOO! New Orleans, ca. 1982ish, Saenger Theater.

    I miss boys in eyeliner.

  11. Western Dave on 22 Jul 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    I miss being a boy in eyeliner.

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