The selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate has certainly energised the Republican core support in the US, much like Sarah Palin’s selection did for John McCain.
It remains to be seen how Romney/Ryan plays out and whether it will be a disaster like McCain/Palin, but it hasn’t stopped NewsCorp owner Rupert Murdoch taking to twitter to acclaim Ryan as an ‘almost perfect choice’.
Murdoch’s newspaper titles, particularly The Sun, are famous for always backing the winner of a General Election, most famously with the Kinnock-in-a-lightbulb cover and subsequent ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It’ headline.
It became a symbol of their virility and power that in always backing the winner they were somehow key in securing them victory. How true this is has always been disputed, but as time has gone on the general consensus is that they don’t create winners, they simply wait until it is clear who the winner is likely to be and then back them.
Of course they messed up in 2010 by strongly backing the Tories, who then failed to win the election even though they still came to power via a coalition (as was right, as it happens).
Nonetheless it has, along with the hacking scandal and his slow response to it, led many people to say that Murdoch is losing his touch.
My advice to Rupert Murdoch would be this: take a leaf out of the Queen’s book and stopping ‘letting the light in on the magic’.
Murdoch hasn’t lost his touch, he never had it. It hardly took a genius to work out what the election results from 83-05 would be. Only 1992 was a ‘surprise’ result and even that had people questioning the likelihood of a Labour victory even as we had huge poll leads.
What Twitter has done is allow Murdoch to reveal his prejudices, like the rest of us, in real-time. And the effect of this is to reveal his prejudices as they occur to him, without the editorialising process that occurs in newspapers that ensures views aired in public are properly considered.
If the Romney/Ryan ticket fails I’m sure people will delight in reminding Murdoch of his immediate support for the ‘almost perfect’ Ryan that failed so badly (If they lose the election!) and once again his reputation will have taken a hit.
This is why he should be more like The Queen, who is famously reticent to ‘let the light in’ on the ‘magic’ of the monarchy. This is because transparency is a great neutraliser and she knows, I think, it could be damaging for the monarchy frankly for the public to know more about them.
The internet and things following on from that such as Twitter has been a great leveller in many respects as it becomes harder and harder for the elites of society, from bankers to politicians, from journalists to celebrities, to keep projecting their images of power and authority when the truth is so often revealed to show them in a negative light, from libor rate fixing to expenses scandals, from phone hacking to any of a number of celebrity-based scandals.
Murdoch’s tweets are interesting and engaging, belying the image of a doddery old man he tried to present to the House of Commons Select Committee, but the downside of appearing more human is that people are reminded that he is not all-powerful, and once that mystique is broken it is very hard to rebuild it.
That is why the Queen doesn’t want to ‘let the light in’ and Murdoch shouldn’t either.