Murdoch Makes A Difference, One News Article At A Time
March 25, 2008
John read this passage about the Dalai Lama in The Times of London in an article entitled, “Defiant people yearn for the ‘political monk in Gucci shoes'”:
When he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 he described himself as “a simple monk from faraway Tibet”. His existence as a symbol of the struggle for freedom have won him a huge following in the West. But his position is complicated; he has been described as “a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes”.
John then wrote the following letter to The Times:
Interesting that the journalist does not mention that the person credited with the “monk in Gucci shoes” remark is none other than the proprietor of The Times, Rupert Murdoch. Mr Murdoch is hardly the most objective commentator given his considerable efforts to curry favour with the Chinese leadership while trying to expand his media empire into China.
I feel the journalist is being a little disingenuous with this omission, especially as the quote is used in the title of the piece…
— John Grant, Cambridge, MA
The BBC attributed the quote in question to Mr. Murdoch back in 1999. What’s striking about the Times reporter’s omission is that this remark did not pass quietly into obscurity. It’s still a favorite for watchers of the media mogul and his Buddhist nemesis.
What’s also striking — and amusing — is that both Murdoch and the reporter in his employ attribute the quote to nameless, faceless others (albeit in the way that a child closes her eyes and thinks no one can see her):
Murdoch, 1999: “I have heard cynics who say he’s a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes.” (I can’t source the original Vanity Fair interview where Murdoch reportedly said this because, as with much of our cultural heritage, it’s buried in some paid archive management service.)
Reporter, 2008: “…he has been described as ‘a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes'”.
Murdoch is known to strongly influence the coverage of the media properties he owns. But it’s always a little shocking to see that influence in action. Nice catch, John.