murdoch

Whether I went looking for dinosaurs or lions might depend on what colors your ballot bleeds, either way, I made it over to the National Press Club last night for Rupert Murdoch’s appearance on the Kalb Report.

The Aussie still crackles. As a journalist it was a treat to watch Kalb try to pin Murdoch down and elicit any type of elongated answer from Murdoch. Murdoch’s tongue matches the feet of Ali for butterfly-like abilities, and even when Kalb used quote after quote of Murdoch to try and find some type of clarifying response, the old business man kept most of his cards to himself.

When he did let something political slip, like his thoughts on the agenda of the New York Times, it still felt measured and shrewd. He had no problems talking about business models and his love for the iPad, but one of the best moments came when he was questioned about his digs at Arthur Sulzberger and New York Times publisher’s masculinity. At first feigning ignorance about the editorial decision, Murdoch finally got a twinkle in his eye and just laughed and said that Sulzberger should, “get a life.”

On the definition of content, Murdoch was a bit cagey, and then Kalb tried to hammer Murdoch on the propriety of having someone who isn’t a journalist, like Sarah Palin, on a news channel. The simple answer is that she isn’t a journalist, she’s a commentator, just like any of the other people that get brought onto any of the other 24-hour news networks.

Murdoch is a buisiness man, pure and simple, and his admission that, “we’re not adverse to good ratings” is the understatement of the century.

Media Matters might try to pin Murdoch down on the number of ads for Tea Party merchandise that ran during the channel’s coverage of the health care debate, but at the end of the day, there are few journalistic institutions left in the world that actually care about objectivity or good journalism.

It’s a business, baby.

And that’s a tough sell for people like me who would kill to just be working turning in regular copy on a beat for a paper.

To tell the truth and all that.

Where have you gone Edward Murrow?

Gay Talese?

Right, no tears.

The point!

After being asked for a brief thought on Obama, Murdoch replied that he hoped, like most Americans, that Obama would have a successful presidency.

But, he went on to say, Obama is missing out on a wonderful legacy for his presidency, by not tackling the issue of education in America. Despite giving some great speeches on the subject and pushing some good ideas (like merit pay), Obama is too beholden to his supporters and the teachers unions to follow any of his rhetoric with action.

Murdoch was asked if he would support Obama if he sought to truly improve the education system,

The answer came without hesitation, “Absolutely.”

President Obama ran on changing the way that Washington does things. He promised to reach across the aisles and work with Democrats and Republicans to impact change here in the U.S.

Here’s where it could actually start. Changing education policy would be a tremendous opportunity to follow up those lofty promises with tangible actions. But we have seen a President more committed to reshaping American society around a leftist ideology (by pushing health care) rather than trying actually do what’s best for our nation. Both candidates talked ad nauseam about the people on “Main Street”, you don’t get a Main Street without a schoolhouse.

This won’t come without a fight. Teachers unions are the untouchable golden cow of the national landscape, but if true education reform is going to take place in America, President Obama needs to come down off the mountain and reshape what we worship in education. Good teachers need good testing, drug screening, merit pay, and discipline if they don’t actually produce.

Mr. President, Rupert Murdoch and Fox News are waiting in the ring.
Not to fight against you, but in your corner, waiting to fight alongside you.

Or at least they say that they are.

Republicans and Democrats, Rupert Murdoch and Barack Obama, fighting for the future of America, the education and care of its children– that would be something to see.

Change that I could actually believe in.

I’ll keep waiting.

 
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Nathan Martin

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