Murdoch: A Journalist Of Integrity.

No, not Rupert, his father Sir Keith Murdoch.


Born in Melbourne in 1885, Keith Arthur Murdoch became a journalist first with The Age and later with The Sydney Sun. During World War I he was based in London  as managing editor of the cable service run by The Sydney Sun and the Melbourne Herald. He was asked, in 1915, by the then Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, to travel to the Middle East to check on concerns that had been raised about the Australian troops that had been stationed there. In August of that year, while in Egypt, he sought and received permission to visit the Australian troops at Gallipoli and report, subject to the normal wartime restrictions.

“The agreement he signed specified that he was “not to attempt to correspond by any other route or by any other means than that officially sanctioned” and during the war he must not “impart to anyone military information of a confidential nature…. unless first submitted to the Chief Field Censor.””

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Quickly, Keith Murdoch discovered what other war correspondents already in situ were all too aware of, that the Dardanelles campaign was a disaster and that the truth was being covered up by the military censors. The Daily Telegraph war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, asked Keith Murdoch to carry back to London an uncensored report to hand directly to the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith so that he could be appraised of the real situation on the ground.

However, Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the Dardanelles campaign in Turkey, discovered this plan and Keith Murdoch was arrested by Military Police in Marseille and the letter was confiscated. On his return to London on September 21st he made straight for the Australian High Commission and wrote his own letter to The Australian Prime Minister. He wrote:

‘The conceit and self complacency of the red feather men are equalled only by their incapacity. Along the line of communications, especially at Moudros, are countless high officers and conceited young cubs who are plainly only playing at war. …appointments to the general staff are made from motives of friendship and social influence.’

This letter found it’s way via the British Cabinet to the British press and at last the true situation in Gallipoli began to be reported. Sir Ian Hamilton was removed from his post and as a direct consequence of Keith Murdoch’s actions Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, who was responsible for the planning of the amphibious Dardanelles campaign was forced to resign.

Keith Murdoch went on to have a prestigious career in journalism before dying in 1952.


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Those, as you can see, are mighty big boots to fill and it has often puzzled me how his son, Rupert Murdoch got lost along the way. At what point did the journalistic passion to expose the truth and to hold power to account evolved into a business enterprise which ruthlessly exploited the power of the media, a power seemingly coveted for it’s own sake ?

I’ve read that Rupert Murdoch is very proud of his father and so, as you have read, he should be but one is left to wonder if he will ever fill those boots that were bequeathed to him, whether that inherited journalistic instinct might triumph yet over grubby business motives.

What would Keith Murdoch have done if he had come across a story that involved institutional child sexual abuse and establishment cover-up ?

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Filed under Abuse, Fairbank, Fernbridge, News, Pallial, Politics, Yewtree

14 responses to “Murdoch: A Journalist Of Integrity.

  1. Loverat

    I disagree. He was a great leader for his time.

    I have heard people talk of atrocities by him against kurds in early 20th century and bombing Germany etc but you have to judge people by the the standards of the times and the circumstances. You cannot apply a set of standards we claim to have nowadays to 70 years ago when we were fighting for our own existance. The real atrocities were those conducted in cold blood by Japan, Germany and Croatia. This country did everything it had to to win the war and bring it to an end.

    There is a far stronger argument for Tony Blair to go on war crimes trial for his crimes against humanity in Iraq and the Balkans. There was no threat against this country and no justification for targeting civilians in this day and age.

    • The sandman


    • Tom

      I agree. Churchill’s presence was critical in first saving this country from invasion (by the skin of our teeth), and then winning the war for the sake of millions under German oppression. It was Hitler who refused to admit defeat until his cities were rubble, and Churchill had no choice but to end the war as quickly as possible by any means possible.

  2. The sandman

    Winston Churchill, was an awful PM, but a great mouthpiece of his speech writers ……
    I believe he ought to have stood before the war trial commissions, for bombing innocent German people, choosing to carpet bomb the most densely populated areas of Germany.
    To my knowledge, no Castles were damaged….though many, many poor people, were obliterated.
    I understand that family Sax Coburg Battenbuggers are quite safe, as are their German ancestral castles.
    Given what we know now about the immorality of the great and the few, and the evidence given by the innocents, oh don’t ya just wanna puke ?

  3. The sandman

    I’m awake to your thinking at last, and so will be many of us, we are legion.

  4. rainbowsophie

    Murdoch is now 81 yrs old, towards the end of his life, I have the impression that he is selfishly seeing things out before handing over to the next (albeit warring) generation to have ultimate control. I also wonder if he is holding back to ensure that a certain redheaded protege of his is treated with kid gloves September of this year. ‘Family’ will win out every time.

  5. Loverat

    Interesting to me from the historical viewpoint and the complete incompetance of British leaders and officers in World War One. What seems to be a striking feature about that war (as Keith Murdoch seemed to have detected) is the obsession of these fools on their own self interest and advancement, playing politics and covering up their own incompetance. Blackadder style.

    Meanwhile millions died unnecessarily because of them.

    A good job that Winston Churchill emerged from the Gallipoli failure as a better leader in WW11.Perhaps if he had not been removed, things would have turned out rather differently. I suspect that the greater urgency of our leaders and officers and their better performance in that war was influenced in part by the imminent threat of invasion.


    • You are correct of course.

      But remember that Keith Murdoch was not alone, British journalists already in situ felt the same way and it was a British journalist who gave the original uncensored letter to Keith Murdoch to take to London.

    • john carey

      Winston Churchill was a failure in the 2nd World War also – USA saved the west – thank God for Pearl Harbour!

  6. annie

    Tom Watson just tweeted, I see @peterjuke’s “Fall of the House of Murdoch” is on special offer today:

    Let’s hope it’s about to fall a little further.

  7. OyiaBrown

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  8. Pingback: Murdoch: A Journalist Of Integrity. « Alternative News Network

  9. john carey

    greed, greed and more greed, plus he is very clever, and managed to pull all major politicans strings since Thatcher made her pact with him. Must be a broken man now – what`s his legacy?

    • rainbowsophie

      On the face of it – a huge fortune, 6 children by 3 different wives and the 2nd largest media conglomerate in the world. So, would Daddy have been proud ? Well that depends on whether or not HE had also sold his soul…