No Brake and No Disclosure on Media Owners’ Interests 155


The Times today carries an article on ISIS’ oil interests, Syria and Turkey. Nowhere does it inform its readers that the owner of the newspaper, Rupert Murdoch, has a vested interest in this subject through his role and shares in Genie Energy, an Israeli company granted oil rights in Syria by the Israeli government. Dick Cheney and Lord Rothschild are also shareholders.

No, they really are. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is a conspiracy.

That Israel should grant oil rights within Syria is of course a striking example of contempt for international law, but then that is the basis on which Israel normally operates. Of course Genie’s share value will be substantially boosted by the installation of a neo-con puppet regime in Damascus which can be bought to underwrite the oil concession granted by Israel. Contempt for international law has been the single most important defining characteristic of neo-conservatism, and the need to uphold international law the recurring theme of this blog. I never thought the UK government would make the withdrawal of its support for the concept of international law explicit, as Cameron has done by removing the obligation to comply with international law from the Ministerial Code. That is truly, truly disgraceful.

But to return to Murdoch’s oil interests in Syria, it seems to me a fundamental flaw that when Fox News, Sky News, the Times, the Sun and Murdoch’s numerous other media outlets bang the drum for Western military action in Syria, there is no requirement for the consumer of this propaganda to be told that the outlet is pushing a policy in line with the financial interests of its owner. Even for those actively seeking information, there is no register of the interests of media proprietors.

It is a wonderful irony that there is a register of the interests of the board members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, but no register of the interests of media proprietors!

This is not an accident. The Leveson Inquiry did receive evidence and questioned a witness – Dr Rowan Cruft of the University of Stirling – who suggested that a proprietor’s financial interest in a story should be revealed. Robert Jay, QC to the counsel asked:

Robert Jay

This is on your page 8, our page 00885. You say:
“First of all, the code could do more to require proprietors, editors and journalist to declare their financial and also their political interests and to declare these to readers as well as editors.”
I don’t think the code does anything to require proprietors, editors and journalist to do that.

Dr Rowan Cruft
That’s right.

Robert Jay QC goes on first to suggest any duty to declare financial interests should only apply to specifically financial journalists. He then moves quickly on to discuss the implications of declaring political interests of proprietors. Robert Jay QC is a clever man and he managed to avoid any discussion of the financial interests of proprietors whatsoever. Shortly after the Inquiry concluded, he was promoted by the Government to be a High Court Judge.

The Leveson Inquiry totally ignored the real rot in Britain’s media – the massive concentration of media ownership and its subservience to other corporate interests. The revised Code of Conduct which was its result does not contain any reference to proprietors’ interests even in the very limited context of writing about stocks and shares. A financial journalist has a duty to declare any interest which he or his family have in a company he writes about, but no duty to declare any interest of his proprietor – the person who is paying him to write.

If you think this is an accident, you are extremely naïve. It is just a tiny glimpse into one aspect of the UK’s extraordinarily dense web of elite corruption,


155 thoughts on “No Brake and No Disclosure on Media Owners’ Interests

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  • BrianFujisan

    Brilliant post Craig, and Sheds more light on these dastardly goings on.

    i was only just reading a piece on this By Mark Curtis, He says –

    ” The two agendas came together in Benn’s speech – in a single stroke, Benn achieved both the elite’s war aims: undermining Corbyn and helping to win the vote for bombing Syria.

    I’ve been monitoring the mainstream media for 30 years and cannot remember a time like this: literally everything is being thrown at Corbyn. The BBC has simply become an attack dog, its reporting so extreme and so full of vilification that it does not even have a pretence of providing the balance that is required of it as a ‘public service broadcaster’. The people who pay for the ‘news’ service the BBC provides (us, of course) are its precise enemy, the target of its disinformation…

    Further Down he talks about consequences of ripping up the Ministerial charter –

    ” Actually, UN Security Council Resolution 2249, to which Benn was referring, does not simply give Britain a licence to bomb. The text authorises ‘all necessary measures’ to ‘eradicate the safe haven’ that IS has established in Iraq and Syria and to ‘prevent and suppress terrorist acts’. But it does not explicitly authorise force (as in a chapter VII resolution) and also requires ‘compliance with international law’, meaning that countries must act in self-defence. How is bombing IS in Syria acting in self-defence? Given that the Paris attacks were organised in Belgium, maybe Mollenbeek would be a better military target. The likelihood is that if terror attacks are to occur in Britain – as they did after the bombing of Iraq – they may well be conducted by fanatical British Muslims living in Britain not in Syria.

    Benn then immediately contradicted his professed moralism by saying that although he had ‘concerns’ about the ‘potential civilian casualties’, ‘unlike Daesh, none of us today act with the intent to harm civilians’. This view will come as great comfort to the mothers and fathers of British-bombed children in the region – “sorry we killed your kids, but we didn’t mean to”. Is Benn’s reference to simply ‘potential’ civilian casualties not a disgrace in itself?

    https://markcurtis.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/hilary-benns-speech-the-medias-war-footing-on-corbyn-and-syria/

  • Republicofscotland

    The American neocons have been going around South America for decades exploiting oil and gas resources under the guise of instilling democracy, and the US media backed them.

    As far back as Nasser of Egypt in recent times, the British establishment have threatened and overthrown leaders for assets and access.

    The governments of EU countries, the UN and Nato (the thieves kitchen) for that matter surely must know whats going on in the likes of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria.

    Murdoch, Cheney and Jacob Rothschild on the board of Genie Oil shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, nor should Murdoch backing airstrikes in Syria, the hypocrisy and corruption of it all can leave you feeling, well deflated.

    The self appointed corrupt world police Nato, Israel and Saudi Arabia are exempt from criticism, they simply have too many powerful friends in high places.

  • Herbie

    Are their views on war, war, eternal war, related to their financial investments:

    “Strategic Advisory Board

    The Strategic Advisory Board of Genie Oil and Gas advises management on strategic, financial, operational and public policy matters.

    Michael Steinhardt (SAB Chairman)
    Noted Wall Street investor and Principal Manager, Steinhardt Management LLC. Founder Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Co., and noted philanthropist.

    Richard Cheney
    46th Vice President of the United States. Vice President Cheney also served as President and CEO of Halliburton Company and U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993.

    Marry Landrieu
    United States Senator from Louisiana from 1996 to 2014. Senator Landrieu served as chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In her capacity as chair, she sponsored and passed the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Bill. The bill fosters partnerships focused on developing resources such as natural gas and alternative fuels, on the academic, business and governmental levels.

    Rupert Murdoch
    Founder and Executive Chairman of News Corporation, one of the world’s largest diversified media companies. News Corporation’s holdings include Fox Entertainment, Dow Jones and Company, the New York Post, HarperCollins and significant media assets on six continents.

    Bill Richardson
    Governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011. Mr. Richardson has served asU.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1997-1998), Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration (1998-2001), Chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

    Jacob Rothschild, OM, GBE
    Chairman of the J. Rothschild group of companies and of RIT Capital Partners plc. Chairman of Five Arrows Limited. Lord Rothschold is a noted philanthropist and Chairman of the Rothschild Foundation.

    Dr. Lawrence Summers
    Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University. Dr. Summers served as the 71st Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and as Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama.

    R. James Woolsey
    Director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995 and as Under Secretary of the Navy from 1977 to 1979. Mr. Woolsey is co-founder of the United States Energy Security Council and is Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.”

    http://genieoilgas.com/about-us/strategic-advisory-board/

    Afek Oil is the local Israeli subsidiary.

    http://afekoil.co.il/en/

    They’re calling it Israeli oil.

  • RobG

    In June 2012, President Rafael Correa granted political asylum to Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. The corporate media reacted in the usual way. Here’s the Daily Mail’s demolition job…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2190401/Julian-Assange-Welcome-Ecuador-hotbed-corruption-extortion-repression-says-WikiLeaks.html

    The above article bangs on about how Correa came down on press freedom in Ecuador, but the fact is that the press in Ecuador used to be corporate controlled propaganda machines (just like the press in the UK and USA now is), and were swaying elections in favour of right wing candidates. President Correa came down hard on the press to try and correct the balance. I’m not saying that Correa is perfect (Ecuador is still a developing country, after all), but he has been elected president three times now, gaining more than 50% of the popular vote in elections that were deemed by the UN to be safe and fair.

    In another one of those “you couldn’t make it up” moments, Julian Assange interviewed Correa early in 2012, as part of Assange’s series of interviews on RT, called ‘The World Tomorrow’. This interview was done one month before Assange ended-up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. This is a short excerpt from that interview, in which Correa attempts to explain his clamp-down on the corporate media…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4bTixx50hw

    If interested you can find the complete interview that Assange did with Correa here (it runs to 25 minutes)…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvUwC5JTAJY

  • BrianFujisan

    Ros

    Or Doing most of the U.S dirty work.. Esp in the case of Israel, who really don’t have vast amounts of their own Money, but are heavily reliant on U.s Aid.

  • Tony M

    Elsewhere Cheney is listed merely as an adviser, but personal gain accrues to him through it nonetheless.

  • Herbie

    “It’s libel to say I use my newspapers to support other business interests. The fact is, I haven’t got any other business interests.”

    – Rupert Murdoch

    “Rupert Murdoch and the Israeli Genie”:

    “Sorry, Roops, old sport? What about your interests in Genie Oil and Gas, Inc., which consists of American Shale Oil Corporation and an 89% interest in Israel Energy Initiatives, Ltd. in Israel?

    Don’t you want people to learn that you are part-owner of an Israeli-American company which has landed a shale oil exploration and production license covering 238 square miles in the Judean Hills and on occupied Syrian land, even though this is plainly illegal under international law?”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/27/rupert-murdoch-and-the-israeli-genie/

  • John Spencer-Davis

    BrianFujisan
    05/12/2015 4:09pm

    I did not hear Hilary Benn’s speech, but I have been reading it over in Hansard and a couple of things struck me about it. Firstly, that the delivery of it must have been scintillating if it is generally being regarded as a great speech, because the content hardly bears this out. It is stuffed with cliché – “cruel yoke”, “clear and present danger”, “shoulder to shoulder”, et cetera. If it was written before the debate, Benn should surely sack his speechwriter. Secondly, it contains at least one enormous whopper that even I can spot.

    “We now have a clear and unambiguous UN Security Council resolution 2249, paragraph 5 of which specifically calls on member states

    “to take all necessary measures…to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL… and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”.

    The United Nations is asking us to do something; it is asking us to do something now; it is asking us to act in Syria as well as in Iraq.”

    That is NOT what UN Resolution 2249, paragraph 5 says, and to say that it does, on the floor of the House, is tantamount to lying as far as I am concerned. Another contributor made this point with eloquence in commenting on an earlier post by Craig in which the contributor discussed the same gross distortion of the truth by David Cameron in his recent statement on Syria. Apologies, that I cannot remember who that contributor was.

    The relevant wording of 2249 is this:

    “5. Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, IN COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW, IN PARTICULAR WITH THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER, AS WELL AS INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS, REFUGEE AND HUMANITARIAN LAW,on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”

    I have capitalised some of what Benn left out. As Mark Curtis rightly observes, this does NOT explicitly authorise military force, and that is something that Jeremy Corbyn wanted: a clarification from the UN unambiguously authorising military force. To say that this language is “clear and unambiguous” is simply a lie. It is anything but. It permits very wide interpretation as to whether or not the use of military force is within international law or not, and actually the likelihood is that it is not, because if it were, the Resolution would have said so explicitly, or would have been worded differently.

    Liar. I hope this speech is remembered as one of the most dishonest speeches ever uttered in the House of Commons.

    Kind regards,

    John

  • Herbie

    “Murdoch was also investing in an Israeli-American oil shale company with ties to Dick Cheney. Can his legendary business savvy help out an upstart oil firm?”

    “Lord Jacob Rothschild and Murdoch just purchased a joint 5.5% stake in Genie Oil and Gas Inc., a division of the IDT Corporation. The equity stake purchase by Murdoch and Rothschild is worth approximately $11 million. Genie is a new face in the energy market; the company just launched this summer.”

    “According to Rothschild, “Rupert Murdoch’s extraordinary achievements speak for themselves and we are very pleased he has agreed to be our partner. Genie Energy is making good technological progress to tap the world’s substantial oil shale deposits which could transform the future prospects of Israel, the Middle East and our allies around the world.””

    https://www.fastcompany.com/1704559/boogeymen-trifecta-murdoch-allies-oil-company-cheney

  • Republicofscotland

    “Or Doing most of the U.S dirty work.. Esp in the case of Israel, who really don’t have vast amounts of their own Money, but are heavily reliant on U.s Aid.”

    _________________

    That’s right Brian, if the US taxpayer ever wakens up to the fact that they’re being royaly screwed funding Israel, they’d be blood on the streets.

    AIPAC are a very powerful organisation in America, like Bush Jr, Obama has visited and kissed the Wailing wall, now a prerequisite for US presidents.

    Gone are the days when a huge Christmas tree adorned the front lawn of the Whitehouse, it has been replaced by a giant Hanukkah, which Obama personally and very compliantly lights up.

    It was US politician Simon Cameron who said.

    “An honest politician, is one who when he is bought, stays bought.”

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/19/real-festival-lights-hanukkah-white-house-20145775

  • Habbbakuk (combat cant)

    Craig

    You make it sound – I’m sure it was entirely inadvertent – as if Israel was busily granting concessions all over Syria ( you write “in Syria”)in anticipation of the installation of a puppet govt in Dasmascus.

    Are you saying that or are you in fact talking about the licences already awarded for certain parts of the Golan Heights?

    If it is the latter, you might consider editing your lead-in post to make that clear.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Contempt for international law has been the single most important defining characteristic of neo-conservatism…”

    Actually, contempt for law of any kind. Those people seriously do consider themselves above law. (As I have recently been saying, see the Melian Dialogue…)

    The difference between the neocons (and others like them) and the Nazis is that the Nazis were honest (or perhaps arrogant) enough to say outright exactly what they intended to do. The neocons, who are not in the slightest bit nicer or less vile, have discovered that they can get much more mileage by dressing up their unprincipled arrogance in an elaborate disguise of liberalism, human rights, and concern for others. To my mind that makes them even worse than outright murderers, torturers and slave-owners.

  • Habbbakuk (combat cant)

    BTW, I’m aware that the Golan Heights are considered by many to still belong to Syria. So if you are thinking of replying “”in Syria” is correct because the Golan Heights are Syrian”, please don’t as that would not address the question/point I was making.

  • Tom Welsh

    @Republicofscotland:

    Since you mentioned Simon Cameron, I cannot resist repeating this pleasant anecdote which tends to show that old-time politicians were, if no more honest, at least more amusing than those of today.

    ‘In a story told widely in the decades that followed, Lincoln, upon his arrival in Washington, asked Pennsylvania Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens the following question about Cameron’s honesty: “You don’t mean to say you think Cameron would steal?” In response, Stevens dryly answered, “No. I do not believe he would steal a red-hot stove.” When Cameron, upon hearing of Stevens’ quip, demanded an apology, the crusty Republican congressman is reputed to have replied that he could have been wrong: Cameron might steal a red hot stove’.
    http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-3AD

  • GF

    I agree that our government should be obliged to abide by the international law.

    As to the obligation on the part of media owners to declare their financial and political interests, I think this would be not only infeasible, but also not entirely conducive to the enlightenment of the readership.

    Apart from the difficulty in identifying/policing veracity or non-compliance in the obligation to declare political interests (which can actually change over time), there is the issue of the existence of many other equally biasing interests that are neither financial nor political.
    It may be the case that a newspaper whose owner has declared his financial interest in a matter can present a more truthful report on that matter than the owner of another newspaper whose bias does not require disclosure.

    The best way, quite frankly, is to take any news story with a pinch of salt and use your brain.

  • douglas clark

    Herbie.

    Is it not always what intelligent but morally corrupt people do? If I were of that persuasion, I would buy shares in Genie Oil and Gas Inc, merely for the profit potential. I would, obviously have to leave any ethics at the door.

    Which is why they are rich and I am not. I find their justifications for their, well evil maybe, self serving and ridiculous.

  • Republicofscotland

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took advantage of a private meeting last week with Barack Obama – their first in 13 months – to raise the possibility of dismembering Syria.

    According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu indicated that Washington should give its belated blessing to Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria during the 1967 war.

    Sources close to the talks told the Haaretz newspaper that Netanyahu claimed Syria was no longer a functioning state, allowing for “different thinking”. Since 2011 the government of Bashar al-Assad has faced off against rebel factions that include al-Qaeda-affiliated groups and the Islamic State (IS).

    On Wednesday an unnamed White House official confirmed that Netanyahu had raised the matter. The official said: “I think the president didn’t think it warranted an answer. It wasn’t clear how serious he [Netanyahu] was about it.”

    However, it appears Netanyahu’s comments to Obama are part of a coordinated effort by Israeli officials over several months to shift thinking in Washington.

    The day before Netanyahu’s meeting at the White House, Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the US, published a commentary on CNN’s website urging Obama to consider Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

    Is there any land Israel won’t steal.

    http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2986289/israel_to_annex_golan_heights_after_billion_barrel_oil_find.html

  • Tom Welsh

    “Even for those actively seeking information, there is no register of the interests of media proprietors”.

    I suppose that is because it is generally taken for granted that proprietors will take advantage of their privileged position to push their own points of view. As witness the following remarks from long ago.

    “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one”.
    – A.J. Liebling (“Do you belong in journalism?”, The New Yorker, 14 May 1960)

    “Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to”.
    – Hannen Swaffer (journalist) 1928

    You may object that it is the bounden duty of a newspaper to publish the facts, objectively and dispassionately. But that turns out to be impossible, even in theory. There is not even any agreement on what constitutes a fact. And even if there were, the facts on any given day cannot all be published; there are far too many. Lastly, there is no possible way of publishing any selection of facts without imparting some bias – probably many biases.

    So the only safe approach is to read a number of newspapers. Today, unfortunately, inflation has made this impossible for most people of normal means. So we stop reading all newspapers, and retreat to the relative accuracy and affordability of the Web.

  • Resident Dissident

    The market capitalisation of Genie Energy is $280m – Assad and his allies steal that amount in a good morning. Sometimes Craig needs to get things in proportion.

  • Herbie

    Yes, Douglas.

    These guys aren’t simply silent investors, of course.

    A number of them are in positions where they can shape a narrative that benefits their investment, through media.

    Others have the ear of policy makers. Know them personally, indeed.

    It’s called crony capitalism, which is bad enough, but when innocents are slaughtered to its purpose it’s particularly loathsome.

    The Great Game would of course continue without them but their investment ensures their direct interest in it.

  • douglas clark

    Habbbakuk (combat cant),

    So, what point were you making? The Golan Heights were war plunder for Israel. On that we are agreed. The words ”war’ and ‘plunder’ should, perhaps tell you how contemptible the Israeli state is.

  • Republicofscotland

    Thanks Tom for that political exchange, some of the early politicians had a very droll sense of humour, your quote reminds of this one, sadly the author is unknown.

    “George Washington, is the only president who didn’t blame the previous administration for his troubles.”

  • Mary

    Brilliant exposé by Craig and excellent comments with the exception of three – so far.

    Just more Israeli theft of Palestinian resources offshore and the possibility of exploitation of shale oil and gas on land is described in this Israel friendly piece.

    Israel: the coming energy superpower
    The impact of the coming rise of Israel as a regional energy superpower plainly heralds significant and imminent changes in the Middle East, and beyond
    http://www.thecommentator.com/article/3168/israel_the_coming_energy_superpower
    5.4.13

    Oil shale Basins in Israel and Jordan.
    http://www.thecommentator.com/ckeditor_assets/pictures/337/content_is.jpg

  • Mary

    p 2 http://secfilings.nasdaq.com/edgar_conv_html%2f2015%2f03%2f16%2f0001213900-15-001804.html#FIS_BUSINESS

    I see that a licence has been granted to drill for shale oil in Jerusalem.

    ‘On September 2, 2014, the Jerusalem District Committee for Planning and Building declined to issue IEI a permit to build and operate a pilot drilling project. IEI holds an exclusive Shale Oil Exploration and Production License awarded in 2008 by the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructure. IEI is currently evaluating its options to determine the best course of action to move forward to exploit the abundant oil shale resource in Israel.’

    and on the same page

    ‘In December 2014, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected petitions challenging the exploratory drilling permits issued to Afek, and the Court lifted its injunction on Afek’s exploratory program in the Golan Heights of Northern Israel.

    In February 2015, Afek began drilling its first exploratory well in Northern Israel’s Golan Heights.’

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