The Influence of Press Barons on Politicians: Lessons from History

'Press barons' have usually failed in their attempts to influence politics, according to a column in today's Scotsman newspaper.

Writes Allan Massie, a review of history suggests that there is nothing new in politicians and press moguls having relations – currently the subject of extensive debate, not least because of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

Massie considers not just Rupert Murdoch today but the likes of Lords Northcliffe and Beaverbrook in the past.

Says Massie: “Who says standards in public life are lower, and relations between politicians and the press murkier, than they used to be? It’s a point of view that cannot be supported by anyone with a knowledge of history. As for the influence of the media in general and the Murdoch press in particular, this is easily exaggerated. In general, the Murdoch press has followed public opinion rather than leading it.”