A new way of taking on the Murdoch empire

Rupert Read launches a new campaign, #WeWontSpeakToMurdochRags, to boycott the Rupert Murdoch-owned media by not speaking to these publications until they take the climate emergency seriously and convey the gravity of the crisis to their readers.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rupert Read

I’ve launched a new ‘campaign’ to double-down on the consumer boycott of Murdoch papers that many of us have been participating in ever since Wapping. I am suggesting that it isn’t enough to not buy Murdoch’s media-products. We need also, those of us to whom this is relevant, to not buy into them: i.e. we need to stop being sources for them

I’ve made this gambit initially by myself. I hope others will come on board with me. Some already have; but many more will be needed if this campaign is to win.

And it’s a hard ask. Writers are afraid of being black-listed. Activists are afraid of losing even the slim conduits of publicity that they have. Politicians are afraid of being buried by Murdoch.

Everyone is afraid of this man. I’m asking us today to stop living in fear. And that’s why I’ve come to you to take up a firm stance. To say: I’ll no longer speak to Murdoch rags.

Some readers will no doubt at this point be thinking: “Hmmm, Rupert Read, one guy who most Brits have probably never heard of, is going to boycott Rupert Murdoch. He’s going to refuse to engage with Murdoch journalists. I bet Murdoch’s quaking in his boots... NOT!!” 

I get that.  

But what I want to explain in this piece for Green World is how there is a hopeful precedent to suggest that a much better outcome is possible.

With the BBC, vis-a-vis climate-denial, two years ago, I played David against Goliath. I took up what at first might have seemed a lonely stance, of refusing to debate climate-deniers on the BBC. People said: “Rupert, you are sacrificing coverage; it’s not a smart move. Go on and debate them”. 

But what actually happened is that my stance swiftly resonated, around the world; it turned out that there was a huge constituency out there who thought: “Right on! It’s high time to leave that fake ‘debate’ behind”. 

My at first seemingly quixotic act of refusal produced more coverage than another hackneyed fake debate could possibly have done; and it helped move the debate on. For, after dozens of public figures joined me in a letter to the Guardian setting out why we thought it was now right to refuse to engage with the nonsense of climate-deniers, and why the broadcast media should in this way move on, the BBC accepted the point; and abandoned their policy of using deniers as ‘balance’.

Maybe this new anti-Murdoch stance and campaign can pull off something similar. Maybe it will follow up on what HackedOff accomplished a few years ago now. Maybe others with bigger voices than mine will join my stance – and it will change from being a quixotic outlier to having real momentum.

Furthermore, let’s be clear: I’m not just talking about easy targets like the Sun, or Fox News, nor even the real and scary prospect of a Fox News coming to the UK. I’m talking about the global flagship of ‘quality’ (sic) in the Murdochsphere: the Times (and Sunday Times). It is they which have, in the kind of way I myself have now experienced at first hand, led the charge. 

The entire Murdoch empire is poisonous. It all needs changing, or weakening, or defeating.

As for the character of the challenge that I’m issuing to Murdoch: if anyone says, “What Rupert [Read] is proposing is against free speech!”, there’s a very simple reply: It is precisely my freedom to NOT speak to liars who think they can get away with anything, just as it is my freedom not to speak in fake debates with climate deniers.

We are being made ever more vulnerable to a growing, threatening, long emergency, including heightened risk of mega-pandemics, and heightened risk of facing food shortages in coming years. Second to none among those who are making us vulnerable in this way, worldwide, is that other Rupert: Murdoch! Unless the media step up to tell the truth about the long, worsening eco-emergency, we’re done. That’s why I, like many other truth-tellers, was willing to get arrested with Extinction Rebellion recently, standing up for this most crucial of causes: of stopping the torrent of denialist and delayist ‘information’ that saturates our media and our politics.

Read all about it!: Put the truth on the damned front page, Murdoch. Make the story much more often about the escalating climate crisis – which will take us and our children, unless we get serious about it and soon.

Until you do that, and until you stop lying about those of us who are trying with everything we have got to hold back the deluge, then I’m boycotting you. I won’t buy your papers – and I won’t be a source for them either. 

Here I stand. I can do no other. But I hope that my act may help to start a turning of the tide, and be a ripple that becomes a wave…

What do you think, reader? Are you in?

#MurdochLies

#BoycottMurdoch

#WeWontSpeakToMurdochrags

#StandUpToMurdoch!