News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson, in a wide-ranging speech Tuesday night, took aim at the media’s apparent mocking of Middle America and The New York Times’ “muck-spreading,” while ramping up his criticism of big tech companies.
Thomson delivered his remarks, titled “Truth, Trust and Tech,” during the Keith Murdoch Oration at the State Library of Victoria in Australia, criticizing “professional liberals” in the American media for allowing their opinions to supersede their objective reporting of President Trump and his supporters, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
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“Average Americans … do see that the president is challenging a contemporary establishment which regards Middle America as a louche lumpenproletariat, as despicably deplorable,” Thomson said.
“These are decent, thoughtful people — and not the doltish troglodytes that much of the media mocks ceaselessly.”
Thomson, who became News Corp’s global chief executive in 2013, also hit back at a three-part, 20,000-word series on the Murdochs published in The New York Times earlier this month, calling the investigation a “rancid hatchet job” and “distant from the truth,” the Australian Financial Review reported. The Murdoch family owns and operates News Corp and Fox News.
“Smearing Sir Keith, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch was multi-generational muck-spreading in which the facts were incidental, if not accidental, and the journalistic jaundice and corporate self-interest were fundamental.”
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A persistent critic of “big digital,” Thomson warned that Western leadership has been “sanguinely supine” for too long toward companies such as Facebook and Google, the Morning Herald reported.
“As a result, we have institutionally ingrained some seriously bad behavior and have dominant digital companies culturally ill-equipped to cope with the contemporary challenges,” he said.
These challenges include the journalistic impact of advancements in technology, such as 5G mobile networks and artificial intelligence. Thomson warned such advancements could further weaken a society where “our capacity for empathy” is being tested.
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“There is no doubt that our technical ability to create, to distribute and share information and images and much more, will be exponentially enhanced over the coming five years. But that is the contradiction — while we are creating that capability, we are challenging our capacity for empathy.
“So we have the cross-border, and we have the crass-border, the seamless spread of witless nonsense, delivered digitally, globally, endlessly, daily,” Thomson said.