Belfast Telegraph

Ignorance is (wedded) bliss for old Rupert Murdoch the ridiculous

By Matthew Norman

Ben Brown has long had a reputation as the carrion crow of broadcast news, whose presence anywhere on the planet is the most reliable guarantee that something truly monstrous is unfolding. Whether he was drafted in specially, or whether it was pure coincidence, how fitting that it fell to Brown to read the BBC1 news on Saturday night.

For that bulletin contained the tidings that Rupert Murdoch had exchanged vows (a devalued currency in his purse, perhaps, but let's try not to carp) with Jerry Hall.

Technically, the ceremony in the journalists' church of St Bride's, Fleet Street, lacked the requirements for a major disaster. However strongly the groom resembled a cadaver, no one died. Yet who could gaze on the pictures of bride, groom and gilded guests without suffering traumatic stress?

Certainly, this marriage will captivate chroniclers of early millennial Britain. To social and political historians, the vignettes are priceless source material. They might examine what this marriage reveals about the failure of our newspapers in speaking truth to power. Alternatively, these historians might concentrate on the flexible morality of our governing class.

Michael Gove (Mr Sarah Vine) was also at St Bride's. Less than five years after Rupert endured the humblest day of his life, when he did his half-senile act for the select committee examining phone-hacking, a senior Cabinet minister (admittedly, a friend and previous employee) feels emboldened to offer his public blessing.

Any decent wedding party is more notable for its absentees than attendees, of course, and the historians will note that, among the uninvited, was Tony Blair. He and Murdoch are terminal non-speakers, as you know, due to the latter's suspicions about the former's relationship with his third wife, Wendi Deng.

If the Iraq War was more than anything about oil (Rupert wanted it, he stated before the invasion, because it would bring down the price of the commodity and be good for business), Blair's absence on Saturday and the enmity this represents lent a flavour of the Barnes vs Ewing feud from Dallas to this demi-Texan love match.

One of the few consoling joys of human existence is observing the ridiculous marching through life in total ignorance of how ridiculous they appear. So, our thanks to Rupert for his final tweets before an extended honeymoon absence from Twitter, which had the tone of a 22-year-old star of TOWIE gushing to Closer magazine about the depth of her love for a Premier League footballer. He is, he assured us, "the happiest man in the world".

He now resides in a surreal place where soap opera, politics, rampant vulgarity and raw power collide. The only other occupant of that bizarre nexus who comes to mind is another quadruple bridegroom, Donald Trump.

In a world where Trump remains a live contender for the Oval Office, who can affect to be astonished by this latest twist in the crazy, crazy life of Rupert Murdoch?

Please God, then, that, for once Ben Brown isn't the harbinger of doom and that the fake smile on his face as he introduced that touching news item does not presage disaster.

Here's wishing Rupert and Jerry a fulfilling marriage in every possible way. One has little doubt that Rupert, pass for 117 in harsh daylight though he might, would reassure us his hands are in no way shrunken by age and his handshake remains as firm as ever it was.

Belfast Telegraph


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