1.Blair tells Murdoch: 'gloating' BBC is 'full of hatred for America' 2.Blair gave Murdoch 'veto' over EU, says PM's ex-aide
3.What Tony said to Rupert - and why it speaks volumes
Even those who thanks to the GM debate and Iraq are all too nauseatingly familiar with Blair's mendacity and his toadying to the US and to powerful vested interests, may be taken aback by some of what is highlighted below. And if you want to know who Rupert Murdoch defers to - see 'Monsanto and Fox: Partners in Censorship'
http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1998Q2/foxbgh.html or get the DVD of The Corporation. www.thecorporation.com
EXCERPTS: There are... two transatlantic special relationships that have dominated Tony Blair's 11-year leadership of the Labour Party. One is with the US government; the other is with the naturalised US citizen Rupert Murdoch.
In one comment - that the BBC reports illustrated it is "full of hatred of America" - the Prime Minister managed simultaneously to tell Murdoch something that he wanted to hear, send out a message of succour to his friend George Bush, and whack the BBC. Again. (item 3)
Another change imposed on Mr Price [a Downing Street press officer who has published his diary] was that an entry describing Mr Blair as "relishing" ordering air strikes over Iraq in 1998 was toned down to say that he had "mixed emotions" about the first military action he had embarked on as Prime Minister. In public, he claimed to have issued the order with a "heavy heart".
1.Blair tells Murdoch: 'gloating' BBC is 'full of hatred for America'
Extraordinary attack on corporation's coverage of New Orleans disaster
By Francis Elliott, Deputy Political Editor
The Independent on Sunday, 18 September 2005
Tony Blair has told Rupert Murdoch he believes the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina was "full of hatred of America and gloating".
In an extraordinary disclosure that will acutely embarrass Mr Blair, the world's most powerful media mogul revealed details of a private conversation that took place in New York on Thursday.
Addressing a conference of influential media figures in the United States, Mr Murdoch said the Prime Minister had told him he had been shocked at the way the BBC had handled the disaster.
"Tony Blair... told me yesterday that he was in Delhi last week and he turned on the BBC World Service to see what was happening in New Orleans, and he said it was just full of hate at America and gloating about our troubles," the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation said.
Mr Blair's criticism drew a withering response from the BBC last night and plunged its relationship with the Prime Minister to a new low. Opposition politicians and respected journalists also rounded on Mr Blair for siding with Mr Murdoch against his commercial rival.
Greg Dyke, the BBC former director-general forced out in the wake of the Hutton report, last night said Mr Murdoch had provided a telling insight into his relationship with Mr Blair.
"If it's an accurate record, Mr Murdoch has provided a fascinating glimpse of his private relationship with Mr Blair," he said. "It may not come as a great surprise that the Prime Minister aims to please Murdoch but it comes as a bit of a shock he goes this far." He added: "Mr Blair, it might be said, is hardly the best judge of the impartiality of news coverage, given his behaviour in the run-up to the Iraq war."
Anger over Mr Blair's comments will be heightened by a claim made in a diary kept by a former Downing Street spin doctor that Mr Murdoch was allowed to veto any change in UK policy towards Europe.
An entry in a diary kept by Lance Price, who worked for the PM between 1998 and 2000, said: "We have promised News International we won't make any changes to our Europe policy without talking to them."
But, according to today's Mail on Sunday, that diary entry was altered on instructions from the Cabinet Office. [see below]
2.Blair gave Murdoch 'veto' over EU, says PM's ex-aide
By Andy McSmith, Political Editor
Independent on Sunday, 18 September 2005
Tony Blair promised Rupert Murdoch that he would be consulted on any change to Britain's policy towards Europe, according to a diary kept by a former Downing Street press officer.
But the original entry in The Spin Doctor's Diary was toned down on the orders of the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus McDonald. The original entry, published in today's Mail on Sunday, described the atmosphere in No 10 as "very edgy" after pro-euro comments by the then Secretary of State for Trade, Peter Mandelson "because we have promised News International we won't make any changes to our Europe policy without talking to them."
The idea that an Australian-born newspaper magnate should have a veto over Britain's relations with Europe will infuriate Labour supporters. The version that will appear in the diary, to be published by Hodder this month, will read: "apparently, News International are under the impression we won't make any changes without asking them."
Its author, Lance Price, was a Downing Street press officer in 1998-2000. As a former civil servant, he was required to submit the manuscript to the Cabinet Office before publication. As The Independent on Sunday disclosed on 17 July, Mr Price was originally told by the former Cabinet secretary Sir Andrew Turnbull that publication of the diary in any form would be "completely unacceptable". Sir Andrew has since retired.
Another change imposed on Mr Price was that an entry describing Mr Blair as "relishing" ordering air strikes over Iraq in 1998 was toned down to say that he had "mixed emotions" about the first military action he had embarked on as Prime Minister. In public, he claimed to have issued the order with a "heavy heart".
The diaries suggest that the deference shown to Mr Murdoch was not matched by any great respect for the senior journalists at his biggest selling newspaper, The Sun. A diary entry for 16 March 1999 says: "Blair and [Alastair] Campbell went to lunch at The Sun - Alastair described it as like being at a BNP [British National Party - far right racist group] meeting."
Another revelation is that one of Gerhard Schröder's first acts on winning the German general election seven years ago was to reject an invitation to appear at Labour's annual conference. "Blair personally invited him to come to Conference. But he's gone to Paris instead. So we lied and said we hadn't invited him," the diary records.
3.What Tony said to Rupert - and why it speaks volumes
The PM's extraordinary attack on the BBC has reopened old wounds and raised questions about his special relationships.
By Andy McSmith
Independent on Sunday, 18 September 2005
It may have been a throwaway remark during a private conversation with Rupert Murdoch, but what Tony Blair said about the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina speaks volumes about where the Prime Minister's loyalties lie.
Not with the publicly funded BBC, an old established corporation that has served Great Britain through peace and war - obviously.
There are, rather, two transatlantic special relationships that have dominated Tony Blair's 11-year leadership of the Labour Party. One is with the US government; the other is with the naturalised US citizen Rupert Murdoch.
In one comment - that the BBC reports illustrated it is "full of hatred of America" - the Prime Minister managed simultaneously to tell Murdoch something that he wanted to hear, send out a message of succour to his friend George Bush, and whack the BBC. Again.
The remark was uttered less than a week after the PR consultant Tim Allan leaked to The Times a transcript of indiscreet political remarks made by the BBC journalist John Humphrys.
The Blair-supporting Times is, of course, owned by Murdoch. Allan used to work for BskyB, controlled by Murdoch, having gone into that job directly from Downing Street, where he was deputy to Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's press adviser. The many threads connecting Murdoch and New Labour go back to the day Blair ascended to the party leadership in 1994. Before this, the picture was very different.
Twenty years ago, Murdoch's journalists were banned from Labour Party press conferences, in solidarity with the printers and other employees sacked when Murdoch moved his operation to the its current headquarters in Wapping.
It was party policy that a Labour government would break up the Murdoch operation by forcing him to sell at least one of his national daily papers. The only contact between the Labour leader Neil Kinnock and Murdoch's largest-selling daily, The Sun, was through libel writs.
The paper retaliated by setting out to destroy Kinnock, ending with its famous boast, after the 1992 election, that "It was The Sun wot won it" . That all changed one day in 1994, when a car glided into Wapping taking Blair's advisers, Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson, to a secret meeting with the editor of The Sun.
The following July, Blair and senior aides flew across the world and back to address an annual conference that Murdoch and his senior executives were holding at the Australian resort of Hayman Island.
He had also struck up a friendship with the columnist Irwin Stelzer. Stelzer is so close to Murdoch that - as the political editor of The Spectator, Peter Oborne, memorably put it - he "stands in the same kind of relationship to Murdoch as Suslov did to Stalin". ["A curious rumor about Suslov is that, when Stalin would be nervous, he would be called in his office so Stalin could relax kicking his buttocks"
Soon after one of Stelzer's many visits to Downing Street last year, Blair made the unexpected announcement that Britain would not sign up to the proposed EU constitution until the people had voted for it in a referendum. Stelzer has denied that he was sent by Murdoch to give Blair his marching orders.
Another social tie that linked Murdoch to the future Prime Minister was the west London dinner circuit, in which Mandelson sat down to eat with Elisabeth Murdoch, the media mogul's daughter.
In 1997, The Sun carried a piece by Blair headlined "I'm a British Patriot", drafted by Campbell, promising that Labour would not allow Britain to be absorbed into a European superstate.
The piece played excellently to Murdoch's well-known opposition to the EU, and the very next day, Labour landed the big prize: The Sun, with its 3.3 million-a-day circulation, threw its support behind Labour.
The Sun has been amply rewarded ever since. Its political editor, Trevor Kavanagh, was able to report accurately the date of the 2001 general election before the information had been imparted to the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.
When The Sun's rival, the Daily Mirror discovered that Cherie Blair was pregnant, she immediately shared the information with the editor of The Sun, Rebekah Wade.
More seriously, in March 1998, when Murdoch made a GBP4bn offer to buy an Italian television station from Silvio Berlusconi, a Turin newspaper reported that Blair had contacted the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, to ask if the government in Rome would block the deal.
To say the least, it was odd that the British Prime Minister should concern himself with an Australian-American billionaire's interest in an Italian television station. When Alastair Campbell was asked about it, he described the report as "crap". That was because Blair was reported to have telephoned Prodi, when, in fact, it was Prodi's office that placed the call. The rest was true.
As an astonished News International executive told the Financial Times: "Rupert's access to the Prime Minister is pretty amazing. We were bowled over."
That "amazing" access was in evidence again this month, as the Prime Minister and the media mogul chatted amiably on a trade visit to Delhi. Keeping away from the cameras, they discussed the tragedy in Louisiana, and to judge from Murdoch's account of the conversation, it was not the fate of the victims that worried Tony Blair.
It was the thought that people watching BBC news at home might think that the United States is a divided society and that its government was slow in coming to the aid of those too poor to escape the hurricane.
Tony Blair's press adviser, 1994-2003. One of the most powerful and outspoken political advisers any prime minister has had, never slow to attack Blair's enemies in the media.
Since stepping down, has signed a contract with his favourite newspaper, The Times - owned by Rupert Murdoch - to write a regular sports column and articles on politics.
A political adviser in the early 1990s, when Tony Blair was shadow Home Secretary, he returned as a press officer in 1994. Blair tried to bring him back into Downing Street this year.
From Downing Street he went to BskyB - owner, Rupert Murdoch - as head of communications, where his tasks included writing speeches for Elisabeth Murdoch.
He knew Tony Blair and Gordon Brown before they were in government, and gives advice freely. He allegedly persuaded Tony Blair not to sign the EU constitution without a referendum.
A regular columnist for The Sunday Times, a confidante and personal emissary for Rupert Murdoch. The Spectator said he played "Suslov to Murdoch's Stalin".
She enjoyed dinners with Peter Mandelson and arranged for BskyB to sponsor the Millennium Dome [a Blair/Mandelson project] to the tune of £12m, when Mandelson was the minister in charge of it.
Her father made her managing director of BskyB when she was 30, but she left in 2001 to run her own production company. Murdoch says his daughter is welcome back.
Labour vs the BBC: three years of vicious spats
Publish or be damned
August 2002: The BBC was challenged to publish the findings of internal investigations into claims that Downing Street had hacked into the corporation's computers to monitor its news coverage 1997. Tony Blair's office dismissed as "complete drivel" the allegations by John Simpson, the BBC's world affairs editor. A number of BBC journalists were said to have passed on concerns about apparent breaches of computer security to senior editors, who were said to have investigated.
May 2003: In a 6.07am broadcast on Radio 4's Today programme, reporter Andrew Gilligan, right, appeared to suggest that the Government had known that there was no basis to the claim that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, but went ahead with it anyway. Even then, there was no furore until Mr Gilligan suggested in a newspaper article - still quoting his anonymous source - that the person responsible for inserting the 45-minute claim was Alastair Campbell.
June 2003: Mr Campbell demanded an apology, as the Government ordered an inquiry into the source of the leaks. Mr Gilligan and Mr Campbell appeared before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Mr Campbell and the Government demanded an apology from the BBC. The BBC refused.
July 2003: The Iraqi weapons expert David Kelly told the committee he didn't believe he was the source for Mr Gilligan after he was named in the media. Three days later Dr Kelly took his own life. Lord Hutton was asked to investigate.
November 2003: TheToday programme was at the centre of a fresh row after it emerged that Margaret Hodge, the children's minister, had written to Gavyn Davies, the BBC chairman to complain about one of its investigations. Ms Hodge claimed that a BBC reporter, Angus Stickler, was conducting a " concerted campaign" to link her with cases of child abuse in homes run by Islington council, of which she was leader from 1982 to 1992. She said that this amounted to "deplorable" sensationalism, and accused Mr Stickler of basing a report on evidence from an "extremely disturbed individual".
January 2004: The Hutton report cleared Tony Blair and Mr Campbell and blamed the BBC for just about everything. Mr Davies, the director general Greg Dyke and Mr Gilligan all resigned.
February 2004: A leaked copy of a BBC legal report said that Lord Hutton's report was "wrong in law".
August 2004: Mr Gilligan claimed the BBC is "going soft" on the Government, fearing a backlash from No 10. Speaking in Edinburgh. he said that Today "does seem to have lost at least half of its reporters and there seems to be a trend of moving story-breaking journalism off daily news programmes and into less-watched programmes in current affairs".
No respite for the Beeb
January 2005: A year after leaving the BBC, Mr Dyke, writing in The Independent, said: "Knowing what we now know, the saga has an unreal quality because, today, there is no doubt that the BBC story, which led to our departures, was fundamentally right when it said that Downing Street had sexed up the case for going to war in Iraq."
February 2005: Mr Campbell was branded an "out-of-control nutter" after sending an obscene email to Newsnight journalist Andrew McFadyen, which ended "Now f*** off and cover something important you t***s".
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