Publicly funded NPR’s Totenberg warns of intertwinement of government and press

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” National Public Radio’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg spelled out the consequences of the government becoming “intertwined” with the press in response to the scandal Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World publication is embroiled in England.

“Well, tabloids will never go away,” Totenberg said. “They are part of the history of at least a western democracy. But, it does show you when politicians and the news media are completely intertwined, not just get in bed together because they’ve always been in bed together a little bit, but their ownership is intertwined with the power of the press, it can get to be a very dangerous proposition, reading how frightened the leaders were to even challenge Murdoch.” (NPR host: ‘The Taliban has never been an enemy of the United States’)

The media organization Totenberg works for, NPR, is partly government funded.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp announced last week that it would be shutting down the 168-year-old publication in response to a phone hacking scandal that has engulfed it. Its final issue was Sunday.

Totenberg has been critical of Murdoch-owned Fox News in the past, but suggested that the News of the World scandal had nothing to do with Murdoch’s politics. The problem, according to Totenberg, is the massive consolidation of media ownership into a few hands.

“You see, in Italy, I suspect Berlusconi would be gone, except he owns — that the president or prime minister, whatever he is called in Italy, would probably be gone with all the scandals — except that he owns most of the television media there. We’re very lucky we have not experienced that in this country yet, anyway. But it speaks to the need for a diversity. Has nothing to do with the politics of Rupert Murdoch. Has to do with a single view, a single person or entity owning everybody and everything.”