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Don't forget: Rupert Murdoch contaminated Britain's media and political culture before he founded Fox News in America. The most ironic/iconic reminder is from Dennis Potter, the playwright who memorably scalloped Murdoch in his last interview in 1994.
The interview -- Potter had been diagnosed with terminal cancer -- is incredible to watch, a quarter century later. To keep going, Potter had to sip liquid morphine from a flask unscrewed by his host, Melvyn Bragg, who offered to take a break. "It's better to go on," Potter said.
"As a writer, you will know that one of the favorite fantasy plots of a writer is--a character is told you've got three months to live, which is what I was told, and who would you kill? I call my cancer, the main one, the pancreas one, I call it Rupert, so I can get close to it."
"Because that man, Murdoch, is the one who if I had the time--in fact I've got too much writing to do and I haven't got the energy--but I would shoot the bugger if I could. There is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press."
"And the pollution of the British press is an important part of the pollution of British political life. And it's an important part of the cynicism and misperception of our own realities, that is destroying so much of our political discourse."
Here's that particular sequence, which begins at 24:30 in the interview.
Potter was best-known for writing "Pennies from Heaven" and "The Singing Detective." He died shortly after the interview with Bragg, but not long ago the Guardian wrote about his legacy, calling him "one of the great geniuses of TV drama."…
So much of what he said in his last interview correlates to what's happening in America. Bragg asked whether Potter felt Britain was decaying. "I do," he replied, "with great regret and pity and feeling of shame, of self-shame too. But it's rescuable, too."
"It's up to people to stand up and shout a bit, not to turn it into cynicism, which is I'm afraid what is happening. Politics is still crucially important. Our choices are vital, and we've got to make them and not just say, 'Oh, they're all the same.'"
"They are all the same in certain ways, alas. A political animal is such, an animal. But the ideas behind it, the concepts lurking somewhere behind their rhetoric and their spittle and so on, are important choices that we should make."
Here's that particular sequence, which begins at 25:35.
Potter is scathing on Murdoch's tabloid, the Sun (a precursor to Fox). "Just pick up a copy of the Sun and say 'Is this Britain? Is this what we've done to ourselves?' These people who work on that paper--how can they go home and face their families without any sense of shame?"
"I'd be shamed to the pit of my guts if I were forced to do, and some of them are, to be fair, forced to do it, because they don't want to be unemployed. They want to earn, they need to earn. Some of them do things that--they are appalled by what they do."
"I know that, I met some of them, I know they are. But my God, what a system."
Here's that sequence in the interview.
Sorry for going on about Potter. I vividly remember watching the interview in the 1990s, when I lived in Hungary and visited London a lot. It's eerie to watch it now and feel its resonance to what's happening in America with Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.…
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