Liverpool Fans Hate Rupert Murdoch the Most

Do you know who’s enjoying the Rupert Murdoch-News Corp. phone hacking scandal more than anyone? More than Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, and Hugh Grant (yes, Hugh Grant) combined? It’s the fans of Red Sox owner John Henry’s soccer team, Liverpool FC.

Liverpudlians hate Murdoch with a passion usually reserved for despots and lawbreakers (actually, that might be fitting). It all goes back to 1989, when the Sun, one of Murdoch’s tabloids, accused Liverpool supporters of being responsible for the death of 96 fans when chaos broke out at Hillsborough Stadium. The paper alleged that Liverpool fans committed all manner of vile atrocity, writing, “Some fans picked pockets of victims; Some fans urinated on the brave cops; Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.” Scousers (as Liverpudlians are also called) reacted with immediate outrage, boycotting the paper. The Sun’s reporting was quickly debunked and an official report eventually blamed the police and Hillsborough Stadium’s design for the violence.

But Liverpudlians have never forgiven Murdoch. Even today, virtually nobody in town will buy the Sun and, if you did, I’d imagine you’d get some serious stink eye. When I was in Liverpool this past winter, more than one person asked me if Boston magazine was owned by News Corp. before assenting to be interviewed (by the way, we are most definitely not). As for this latest scandal, the Liverpool member of Parliament has been all over Murdoch and the rest of the British press has hardly forgotten, either.  The No. 1 prize, though, goes to the British songwriter and activist Billy Bragg, for his new song, “Never Buy the Sun.”

If there’s one lesson here for John Henry, maybe it’s this: don’t piss off a Scouser. They don’t forget.


Marquee photograph by Jason Schwartz