Tuesday, February 4, 2014

LEFTY MURDOCH & PRESIDENT KENNEDY-Continuing biog of Crusading Editor," Big Jim"Bowditch

A special feature  in  the NT News on  Tuesday , September  13 , l960 ,  explained  the significance of  the  Murdoch  takeover.  It  included  a  photo of     Rupert Murdoch, 29 , right. An editorial MURDOCH  HERALDS  NEW PRESS  ERA  IN  THE NORTH  said the son of the famous newspaperman, Sir Keith Murdoch , had visited the Territory  many   times .
From  these visits  grew the awareness  of the need   for private investment  and expansion in the interests of Australia  as  well as  the North itself.
The  new tabloid paper would soon be a tri-weekly with  a sporting edition to come  out early Saturday. It  also stated  that  Murdoch’s  personal assistant , Ken May,  who had been the Adelaide  News political roundsman  ,  was expected  in Darwin  in a few  weeks  to  coincide with the visit  of  Mr and Mrs Murdoch  who would  be driving across  from  Townsville .  The  Murdochs arrived  in  Darwin  a day earlier  than expected and it  was  suggested that Rupert may have  disconnected the speed  governor on a hire car and put his foot down .

Bowditch said the  quick trip  made a favourable impression  on  him  and the NT News staff . On  another occasion , Murdoch  arrived , possibly  from  Mt Isa,   and   Bowditch  asked  compositor  Bobby  Wills   to  drive a  hire car  to  the Fannie Bay  Hotel  where  Murdoch’s  party was  staying.  Wills delivered the car to the hotel and  Bowditch introduced  him to Murdoch. Murdoch  told  Wills: “ You can  now  say  you  shook the  hand  of a man who shook  the  hand of President  John  F. Kennedy.  

Bowditch said that in those early days  Murdoch was seen as something of a rebel and at  the time was  taking on  the  larger  media  empires in Australia. Furthermore, when he had been at Oxford University  Murdoch had  been  what Bowditch  described  as  a "lefty "  and   went on to say  he was regarded by some as  " the great  white  hope” in  Australia.

In  the special book printed by the Herald and Weekly Times  as a tribute to  Sir Keith after his death , it included  the  following  passage which gave  an insight into his attitude to young  journalists  and  their political views :

As long as they served him loyally in their  office work, Murdoch was tolerant  of the political views of  his staff. He admired independence of thought. Any  set of convictions , even if misplaced, were better  than  no strongly  held  convictions. Enthusiasm ,if even sometimes misdirected, was  its own  virtue .
In the era of between war  cynicism which culminated  in Munich, the leftist proclivities  of many of Murdoch’s young men caused a  raising  of eyebrows  among  Murdoch’s financial acquaintances. Murdoch stuck to his tolerance. He was  heard more than once  to  joke that  any  young man ought to be  a  socialist , at least until the age of 25.
Later, he reckoned, his rebels  would tend towards a more balanced view  of the world, and perhaps the world  would tend a little their way, too. In his own politics Murdoch was a revolutionary conservative. This is evident in his published writings, but even more so in confidential commentaries  he wrote  about  his  own newspapers…

Bowditch opined that Murdoch eventually changed once he  had  borrowed  so  much money to  expand his empire.  It will  be shown that Murdoch  strongly  supported  Bowditch  in his  fearless  campaigns,  even when he became  personally involved ,  flouted  the  law  and  took  dangerous  risks.  NEXT : Hectic life  under  the new  regime .