Picture it: a pair of aging despots, each in his 80s.
One of them has already witnessed the previously unthinkable unraveling of his evil empire. The other is witnessing the first irreversible steps in the previously unthinkable unraveling of his evil empire.
Their positions at different points along a rapid descent toward reality’s unforgiving tarmac can be seen in the slight variations between the facial expressions the two men wear and that reveal their respective states of bewilderment.
Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's former “President for Life” (how’s that for a minatory title!) now has the frightened look of a caged animal. Rupert Murdoch, soon to be former CEO-for-Life of News Corp, now has the frightened look of a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi. Place those photos side by side and it’s like a before-and-after shot of a World Turned Upside Down.
Despite the different realms of activity in which these two vile creatures operated, each ruled by identical means and methods: fear, brutality, manipulation, bribery and deceit, the last of which the minions of Hosni and Rupert churned out in a ceaseless flood of propaganda distributed through thoroughly corrupt and intimidated media outlets.
Mubarak and Murdoch espoused the same political philosophy – democracy – while busily fashioning kingdoms in which they exercised absolute and unaccountable power. Both employed the language of patriotism and freedom while seeking to impose the stranglehold of single party rule on their countries. Both proclaimed that their true objective was the betterment of their fellow citizens while greedily funneling power and wealth into the hands of themselves and their chosen few.
Both men believed themselves invulnerable. Both built an empire based upon lies. It is important, however, to consider exactly what the word “lies” means in this context?, for to do so is critical to any understanding of how swiftly both men fell.
As with Satan, the Father of Lies,? the most powerful trait of benighted autocrats is a profound hatred of reality. While considering themselves realists, Mubarak and Murdoch tried to mold reality into fantasies of limitless impunity. They didn’t just build empires based upon lies. They built empires that were themselves lies. In the end, of course, reality always reasserts itself, despite whatever running dogs like Roger Ailes or Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove assert to the contrary.
Lastly, neither man was ultimately brought low by society's powerful institutions or committed ideologues but by ordinary people who'd finally reached a tipping point of outrage and disgust: by Egyptians unwilling to endure any longer the official corruption and everyday indignities meted out to them on the streets of Cairo; by decent, patriotic Brits revolted at the very idea of a “news” corporation hacking into the phones of kidnapped and murdered teenage girls or of the families of soldiers murdered in the many wars-of-choice that same corporation promoted over the decades and whose deaths were, in turn, shamelessly exploited by that same corporation for its own craven ends.
The time has come for Mubarak and Murdoch to pay their long overdue debts to a world they did so much to make a meaner, uglier place. Let’s hope that, after spending the balance of their lives in jail cells, they end up not only rotting in hell, but sharing the same living-death quarters.
Maybe something like a small, windowless bar where they will be visited from time to time by those who were tortured and killed in Egypt's dungeons or mowed down by Apache helicopters on the streets of Baghdad and Gaza. Maybe some place where an overly bright TV monitor blaring at top volume broadcasts Fox & Friend’s three blind mice – Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade — 24/7 for all of eternity.
Now that would be condign punishment!