This remarkable moment from the Murdoch father and son testimony at the House of Commons’ hearing today was an amazing act of political theater orchestrated by a comedian who is also a leader of an activist group named UK Uncut. Amazing because it evoked the transgressive shock of, say, a violent attack, but, in the best tradition of slapstick, turns out to be a shaving-cream pie in the face. The comedian, whose name is Jonathan May-Bowles a/k/a Jonnie Marbles, drew attention to the calculated spectacle of Murdoch as vulnerable old man pleading for mercy with the attack, in a way dispelling the whole gambit. The Guardian has posted a nice video of the “attack,” its aftermath, and footage of Marbles’ organizing efforts here. Apparently, Marbles live-tweeted his “performance” posting entries like: ” “I’m actually in this committee and can confirm: Murdoch is Mr. Burns” about half an hour into the hearings, then the hilarious “”It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat,” seconds before lunging toward Rupert with the shaving cream pie. Dickens will never die.
In the US press, identifying Jonnie Marbles was left to the gossip-y pages of The New York Daily News, TMZ.com, and the Daily Beast, while the New York Times settled for this nausea-inducing short feature on Rupert’s current wife Wendi Deng Murdoch and her pugilistic skills.
Yep, there she is, right behind Jimmy Boy and Rupert. But who is that Poindexter sitting next to her? Well, it’s none other than former New York City school’s chancellor Joel Klein, whom New York magazine refers to as “News Corp’s point person” and our old pal Wolf Blitzer calls Murdoch’s “damage control expert.” So, all along Bloomberg had been telling us this guy was the best he could find to run our schools and educate New York’s children, when he really is just a high-powered lawyer who is good at assembling management teams and creating top-shelf media spin? Now part of Murdoch’s “hastily formed inner circle” to protect a corporate media propaganda machine that virtually installs and dethrones world leaders? Or maybe it’s just the banality of business connections. This report from Democracy Now details the sinister story of a Murdoch data-collection firm acquisition which is then awarded a $27 million no-bid contract from New York State, and…shazam! Murdoch has control of information on every student and teacher in the entire state. Somehow engineered by Joel Klein without a whimper of opposition.
So I think Jonnie Marbles got it wrong. Joel Klein is Mr. Burns. And Murdoch might be in danger of becoming Krusty.