Diana and Murdoch

I hope everyone is bracing themselves for what’s sure to be the maudlin media observance of the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. One of the more explosive links, made explicitly in Tina Brown’s book “The Diana Chronicles” is that Rupert Murdoch, the new overlord at the Wall Street Journal, is at least indirectly responsible for Diana’s death.

Murdoch, says Brown, created the rapacious bottom-feeder media environment in the U.K. that was already revving up in its search for salacious content when Diana came on the scene. The idea that Diana was hounded to death by paparazzi is, to a lot of people, rather dubious to begin with. But if you subscribe to that notion, does Murdoch, as the engine behind the paparazzi craze, bear some responsibility for what happened to Diana? Tina Brown has some personal history with Murdoch, so there may be a hint of sour grapes in that assertion. But was Diana a victim of the tabloid-ization that Murdoch has spearheaded in recent decades? Or is all this a story of a drunk chauffeur?

THE MONEY PIT: I appreciate the many comments about new faces on our paper currency. The idea is ripe for consideration because of the government’s willingness to play with the idea of new images on our money in recent years. Fifteen years ago, new designs on American money was all but unthinkable. But now it’s commonplace.

I agree that contemporary figures on currency are likely to cause all sorts of controversy in the short term, but is that any reason to avoid such figures? With its new presidential series of dollar coins, the Mint is already courting that controversy when they release coins with FDR, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter and Reagan, not to mention Dubya.

Still, there must be figures in American culture that transcend the tawdry polarization of today. Maybe the trick is to find them far back enough in history: Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Edison. After all, the idea to remind Americans that they still do have a shared heritage.

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4 thoughts on “Diana and Murdoch

  1. I would certainly second the nomination of Mark Twain, who once said, “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

    He also said, “There is no native criminal class except Congress.”

    More: “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”

    And this bit of wisdom: “Irreverence is the champion of liberty.”

    Finally, “It is a free press…There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press.”

    In terms of remembering what this country is about, and helping to preserve that vision, Twain ranks right up there, in my book.

  2. > Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Thomas
    >> Edison. After all, the idea to remind
    >Americans that they still do have a shared
    > heritage.

    Mark Twain … Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Louis Armstrong, Neil Armstrong …

    These Americans all dead except for the last … is what has kept my own American patriotism alive.

    Not this flag waving, war-mongering stupidty that so many Americans believe makes them American.

  3. > Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Thomas
    >> Edison. After all, the idea to remind
    >Americans that they still do have a shared
    > heritage.

    Mark Twain … Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Louis Armstrong, Neil Armstrong …

    These Americans all dead except for the last … is what has kept my own American patriotism alive.

    Not this flag waving, war-mongering stupidty that so many Americans believe makes them American.

  4. For a change, J and I are on the same wavelength here.

    I would also suggest that instead of people, do “famous American stuff.” This is already done, but what I’m suggesting is to make the individual persons go away (sorry about that).

    The cotton gin. The airplane. The television. The transistor. Jazz. Rock and Roll. The hamburger (if it is a US creation). And so forth…

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