MSNBC's Martin Bashir argued on Wednesday's Morning Joe that the News of the World hacking scandal demonstrates why government should be allowed to regulate private ownership of media. "All of this reveals the fact that people like Michele Bachmann, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, talk about government getting out of the way, well this is what happened in this country. In 1968, Rupert Murdoch bought one newspaper, and government got out of the way. Then he bought a second, then he bought a third. "
Bashir warned against allowing the close ties between media and government that exist between Rupert Murdoch and British politicians. "Eventually people began to wake up to the fact that his power base in the country was bigger than anybody else's," said Bashir. Although Murdoch is highly influential, it is not as though he is without competition. Murdoch's other papers still have to compete with other major British national papers including The Guardian, The Financial Times, and The Daily Telegraph.
It is also odd for an MSNBC anchor to complain about media conglomeration. Bashir's network is itself part of the larger NBC-Universal company, which also operates CNBC and Telemundo. The company is currently owned by Comcast, which owns several operations in both television programming and interactive media. NBC is also part owned by General Electric, which also has interest in other media ventures. Bashir can also hardly get away with criticism close ties between the press and politicians. Joe Scarborough, on whose show Bashir was saying all of this, is a former politico who has now ventured into media, as are former political staffers and current MSNBC hosts Lawrence O'Donnell and Chris Matthews. It would thus also be interesting if Bashir would opine on his network's yanking of Mark Halperin after a phone call from the White House press office.
A transcript of Bashir's remarks, which aired at 7:21 on Wednesday's Morning Joe, follows below.
7:21 am EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Defiance on Cameron's part. And Ed Miliband leaned in with, I thought, some very damaging questions, a damaging line of questions. But then Cameron came back with a good bit of evidence that this is how business was done with Brown and Blair that the entire culture has been this way for some time. Explain British politics and the British press, and how intertwined it's been.
MARTIN BASHIR: Well, what you've just seen is an antagonistic interaction on both sides, but what it all reveals is the fact that Rupert Murdoch has actually corralled and controlled so many of these politicians that, so when Ed Milibanda throws certain criticisms at the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister is able to say "well Mr. Miliband of your 32 lunches with the media, 11 of them were with Mr. Murdoch and his company." All of this reveals the fact that people like Michele Bachmann, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, talk about government getting out of the way, well this is what happened in this country. In 1968, Rupert Murdoch bought one newspaper, and government got out of the way. Then he bought a second, then he bought a third. Within 25 years he owned four national newspapers. Then he established a satellite television company, and eventually people began to wake up to the fact that his power base in the country was bigger than anybody elses.