Rupert Murdoch: At the Left Hand of Billy Graham

At Patheos, Fred Clark casts a critical eye over a photo celebrating Billy Graham’s 95th birthday, in which the evangelist shown sitting beside Rupert Murdoch and surrounded by the likes of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump:

The scowl on the old preacher’s face may reveal his recognition that this is what has become of his legacy — that everything he did and worked for has led only to this, to the empowerment of lying hucksters and the politics of resentful privilege.

…But just look at that horrifying photograph. Soak it in.

This is evangelical Christianity in America in 2013.

White. Rich. Right-wing. Dishonest. Predatory. Outwardly pious, inwardly corrupt.

Graham’s birthday party itself doesn’t seem to have been any kind of conservative rally, but the photo – presumably engineered by his son Franklin, who lacks his father’s disarming personal qualities – works against Graham’s long-standing positioning as a non-sectarian preacher whose vision transcends the sub-cultural agendas and obsessions of the religious right and the Babbittism of the business elite.

Murdoch’s prominence at Graham’s left hand was probably unintentional: perhaps Murdoch required a chair for health reasons, and this is why he was brought to the front. However, it reminds us that that Murdoch is a major player in Christian media, as I discussed here (the Murdoch-owned Christian imprint Zondervan is Palin’s publisher);  and that Graham owes a great deal to sentimental and non-critical media coverage that’s been constant ever since William Randolph Hearst first put out the word to “puff Graham”.