Michael Gove praises 'force of nature' Rupert Murdoch
Monday 03 October 2011
Rupert Murdoch is a "force of nature" and a "phenomenon", a cabinet minister said today as he defended the media mogul's record in British journalism.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, a former Times journalist, said he thought Mr Murdoch was a "great man" who had saved the UK newspaper industry when he moved the Times to Wapping.
He claimed he knew nothing about phone hacking, even when he was a news editor for 18 months at the newspaper, telling a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Manchester that he was as "surprised as anyone" about allegations at the News of the World.
Mr Gove admitted that he was not speaking from the "majority position" but insisted that the practice of breaking into private voicemails "breaches every journalistic rule in the book".
"I am a great admirer of Rupert Murdoch," he told activists.
"I think he is a force of nature and a phenomenon. I think he is a great man. I know that at the moment, for obvious reasons, there are aspects of what happened at News International that are under the spotlight. What is alleged to have happened, it goes without saying, breaches every journalistic rule in the book.
"However, I don't think you can look at this episode and all the questions that it has raised, without looking into the context of all of Rupert Murdoch's career.
"The Times and The Sunday Times wouldn't exist if he hadn't saved them. Newspapers wouldn't have survived in the way that they have done if he hadn't taken the decision to take The Times to Wapping.
"The investment he has made in quality journalism has meant that as a result we have a flourishing collection of broadsheets and we also have vigourous tabloids which hold people like me to account.
"It is also the case that his investment in Sky, it's not my first love but it is worth acknowledging, has helped to revive Premier League football in this country and it has also meant that there is a greater degree of pluralism and choice in broadcasting.
"I know that (to speak up) for Rupert Murdoch is to be like a Tory in Scotland in the 1980s, not a majority position. But, I think that any judgment of what he has contributed to this country has to take into account those things."
He said Mr Murdoch devoted a disproportionate amount of time and energy to his UK stable of newspapers, adding that he "loved" journalism.
But in a wide-ranging interview with Channel 4's political editor Gary Gibbon, Mr Gove admitted he regularly met the chairman of News Corporation.
He added: "I was I think as surprised as anyone by the revelations around phone-hacking. I was a news editor, not a particularly successful one, for 18 months and so I was there at the heart of the newsroom at the Times. But I was completely unaware of this practice, how it could be executed or what it amounted to until the stories that started being written in the course of the last year or two."
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Tube strike July 2015: Is it still on? Everything you need to know about the industrial action
Eiji Tsuburaya: Godzilla co-creator honoured in today's interactive Google Doodle
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...