Everyone would benefit from a deeper understanding of how ‘the system’ works. By that I mean how decisions are made that affect all our lives, how politics and the establishment works and the role the media plays in it all.

Helping our clients benefit from our experience in that field is a big part of the work we do at Comsteria and this 3 part BBC series is one we highly recommend everyone watches.

You won’t get far in business (or life) without a basic awareness of your finances and we believe the same is true of the media. Everyone should have a basic level of understanding. This programme provides a solid grounding in much of it.

Rupert Murdoch might be nearing the end of his career, and in Britain at least, the political establishment have backed away from him following the phone hacking scandal involving the News of the World, but his various companies continue to exert serious influence around the world, none more so than Fox News which is now led by Rupert’s son Lachlan.

Life is rarely ‘black and white’ and while the usual rent-a-mob campaigners love to paint Murdoch as a villain akin to Lex Luther in ‘Superman’ the truth, as revealed in this superb documentary is far more nuanced. I found the programme quite sympathetic towards Murdoch. What exactly is wrong with a business owner seeking to influence government policy to protect his interests? It’s not Mr Murdoch’s fault he is able to do it on such a grand scale. Neither do I share one contributor’s concern about ‘here we have a foreigner influencing British government policy!’ as though it’s some sort of unheard of scandal. I’d suggest it’s happening all the time with a large cast of players. How many of our energy companies are British owned? And then there’s the tech sector. Come on. We’re a small island. OF COURSE foreigners will influence our government policy.

In any event, whether you agree or disagree this programme shines a powerful light on how things work. The strings that get pulled, who pulls them and how, and it reveals the great weakness and vanity of our political establishment. Did ‘The Sun’ switching support to Labour in 1997 win them the election? It doesn’t actually matter. Tony Blair’s buddies THOUGHT they could, so Murdoch gets what he wants. Same again for Cameron in 2010.

Murdoch strikes me as a highly astute business person, who works hard to understand what the public want and what direction they are going to move in. He then positions his businesses accordingly and reaps the rewards when he calls it right. He backs winners. It’s as simple as that.

It’s the politicians bending over backwards for him, spending time on the phone to him, running things past him, sacrificing their principles you should be concerned about. And when they’re not doing it with Mr Murdoch they’re doing it with a cast of characters you’ll never hear about. That’s the way it works.

Rupert’s children and his search for a new leader of his business empire was a key area the programme explored. Elisabeth, once seen as her father’s natural successor, has built several extremely successful businesses of her own in media production, and James held a senior post at News International when it all came crashing down around the News of the World. An unconvincing (in my eyes) appearance at the Leveson Inquiry damaged his reputation and it was Lachlan who grabbed the reins as the last one standing. The programme ends by discussing the role of Fox News in this US Presidential Election year and notes that its output is controlled by Lachlan, who the programme claims, shares many of his father’s ideals.

A day after the final episode in the series was broadcast, it emerged that James had entirely quit the family empire. In recent years he has become more involved in issues relating to climate change and appeared to wish to distance himself from some of the coverage relating to climate change coming from the News Corp and Fox outlets. The subtext being that James seems to consider climate change a serious issue, while clips were played of his father giving an interview where he appeared to downplay its importance.

Could it be that in these latter stages of his incredible career, the man that once had such understanding and influence over so much of the population has badly misjudged how we feel about one of the biggest issues of our time? And his younger son, written off by many less than a decade ago has called it correctly?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, Lachlan gears up Fox News for the role it will surely play in helping millions of Americans decide whether to elect Donald Trump for a second term this autumn.

Categories: NewsReview