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The revolt against Murdochracy

July 10th, 2011

Continuing on the theme of #newscorpfail, the ever-expanding scandal surrounding hacking, bribery, perjury and obstruction of justice by News Corporation in England has already brought about the closure of the venerable (at least in years) News of the World newspaper, but looks likely to go much further, with significant implications for the Murdoch press in Australia.

The scandal over hacking and other criminal behavior has now become an all-out revolt of UK politicians against Murdoch’s immense political power , which has had successive Prime Ministers dancing attendance on him, and rushing to confer lucrative favors on his News Corporation. Those, like Labour leader Ed Miliband, who are relative cleanskins, are making the running, while PM David Cameron, very close to the most corrupt elements of News, is scrambling to cover himself.

The hacking and bribery scandals appear (as far as we know) to be confined to the UK, but the greater scandal of Murdoch’s corruption of the political process and misuse of press power is even worse in Australia. The Australian and other Murdoch publications filled with lies and politically slanted reporting aimed at furthering both Murdoch’s political agenda and his commercial interests. Whereas there is still lively competition in the British Press, Murdoch has a print monopoly in major cities like Brisbane.

It seems likely that News International will be refused permission for its impending takeover of BSkyB on the grounds that it is not “fit and proper” for such a role. That would have important implications for Australia.

Regardless of how the current scandal plays out, we need to remember that while the productions of News Corporation be papers, what they print is certainly not news.

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  1. Ian Milliss
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:20 | #1

    Then let me rephrase the question. Is this a case of thinking the ABCs right wing bias is not an issue because it conforms to your prejudices?

  2. ken n
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:22 | #2

    Of course it’s a tax. It is imposed under the taxing power and the proceeds will go to consolidated revenue. Gillard has acknowledged that it is a tax and JQ has so referred to it.

  3. ken n
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:31 | #3

    Like just about everything else on TV Media Watch is scripted and its content and style comes from the executive producer. EPs have changed as often as presenters.
    As a presenter once said to me “you don’t expect actors to write their lines, do you?”

    For the the greatest problem with ABC TV news is the lack of much serious content. Watch tonight and you will find that they are on to the trivia about 5-7 minutes in. SBS news has better content usually.

  4. Freelander
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:32 | #4

    …And, of course, there was the study which found that the ABC was the most biased toward the coalition of all the media covered, which, incidentally, surprised those who conducted the study.

  5. ken n
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:35 | #5

    Ian – still no. You might see it as right because your views are well to the left of it. That is a fair observation, from your point of view but it is still nowhere near News publications.
    And I don’t think ABC news and current affairs have changed much in political position recent years.

  6. ken n
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:36 | #6

    Freelander. I have read that study. It was mechanistic and its conclusion nonsense.

  7. Fran Barlow
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:46 | #7

    @sam

    Listen to the way that Fran Kelly and Michelle Grattan speak every morning. The most salient thing in their world is the Newspoll, followed next by “the horse race” of politics. Listen to the way in which the ABC attempts “balance”, or the frequency with which the expert spokesperson on a government policy is the opposition spokesperson.

    On PM about 10 days ago the reporter described Abbott as having demolished the government’s case point by point despite the fact that Abbott was merely restating his usual slogans which now in the light of day have been refuted.

    There’s no doubt that the ABC is treating the polls as decisive and according the opposition authenticity as vox populum while holding the elected government at arm’s length. It’s in that context that their repeated use of “carbon tax” to preface commentary {verballing} is illustrative.

  8. ken n
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:47 | #8

    Folks – we are not getting anywhere with the discussion and I have some wonderful music to go and listen to, which will be much better for my soul that a worn out political argument.

  9. Fran Barlow
    July 13th, 2011 at 17:56 | #9

    I might add that when one or more states are at war, it’s possible for other states to adopt various grades of neutrality. One can be absolutely neutral — refusing aid to either party — adopt benign neutrality towards one party and hostiule neutrality towards the other. One allows passive support to one (e.g overflights of airspace, use of ports, normal trade) but not the other.

    #theirABC is officially neutral, but its attitude towards the LNP is one of benign neutrality. It doesn’t cross-examine their spokesmen in depth, allows them to repeat talking points unchallenged, leads with their strongest claims without preface, and conversely, is critical of government claims, juxtaposing rebuttal material that is sometimes purely an untested opposition claim. This prevents the government developing any clear and coherent case and forces them to put out often illusory spotfires.

    In an example on Sunday, Adam Bandt was asked four times in succession — but why back this scheme and knock back the CPRS? In each case Bandt’s substantive explanations were ignored, and the question rephrased and put again. That’s hectoring not neutral — still less an attempt to elicit information.

  10. Fran Barlow
    July 13th, 2011 at 18:00 | #10

    @ken n

    Folks – we are not getting anywhere with the discussion and I have some wonderful music to go and listen to, which will be much better for my soul that a worn out political argument.

    More accurately, you are not getting anywhere with this discussion, and so you’d sooner filter out inconvenient truth with nice sounding melodies and refrains. I’d say that tells a tale.

  11. Freelander
    July 13th, 2011 at 18:19 | #11

    @Fran Barlow

    Yes. The coverage of the coalition is quite amazing. Every utterance of Abbott, no matter how repetitious. No challenging of anything he says. They even cycle through coalition backbenchers giving them a chance to air their ‘views’. And if we’re lucky someone from the government being interviewed by some rabid attack dog like Uhlmann who doesn’t ask questions but puts forward his ‘facts’ and asks the person to comment on them, and then talks over the top of them.

    Chris Uhlmann and Tony Abbott seem like they’re in some type of mutual admiration society. Of course, Uhlmann seems to be modeling himself on Abbott. First, training to be a priest, then working as a journalist. (Even had a stint as a security guard. I suppose that is to balance Abbott’s love of boxing.) I am waiting for his next shot at politics. (He did have his earlier shot.) He probably sees himself as the next Lib PM after Abbott. The question is: When are we going to see Uhlmann in budgie-smugglers and displaying a hairy chest?

    To quote from crikey.com.au:

    ” Former Pauline Hanson adviser John Pasquarelli has defended Chris Uhlmann and Leigh Sales, describing them as “obejctive.” Youch! ”

    And, of course, Tony Abbott calls Uhlmann a “highly professional journalist” .

    What better endorsements can you have? Tony Abbott, for example, is renowned for his fair mindedness, balance and objectivity, and strict regard for the truth.

    Yes. As long as you ignore the evidence, there is no evident slant in Rupert’s ABC, the same way there is no slant evident in Rupert’s Australian or Rupert’s FoxNews or Rupert’s now defunct News of the World.

  12. Ian Milliss
    July 13th, 2011 at 18:58 | #12

    And to add my recent favourite, Uhlmann exhuming Peter Reith to comment on Defence scandals.

  13. sam
    July 13th, 2011 at 19:07 | #13

    I listen to Kelly most mornings. I think she does a pretty professional job. I wouldn’t characterise her as having a conservative leaning. My main problem is that she tries to project a false balance, as though both parties’ broad ideological position had some intrinsic merit that needs to be responded to by the other side. In effect, her bias is to assume that she is interviewing grownups. Not surprisingly, this helps the coalition a lot more at the moment, as their positions are childish and unhinged.

    The other problem I have with her is that she seems to have more focus on politics than policy than I like. I think this is because politics is essentially easy to understand; humans are hardwired to be good at the zero-sum business of power and social relationships. Policy is complicated, with lots of graphs and long explanations. I’m not sure how much economics training she or other ABC journalists actually have.

    I think the newspoll is a fairly important indicator of current opinion though. I wouldn’t like to see it removed.

  14. Fran Barlow
    July 13th, 2011 at 20:17 | #14

    @sam

    Apart from anything else Kelly and Grattan give the impression of people who turn up on time and simply start talking. They give no evidence of having prepared for interviews or even for flapping their gums, beyond having read the headlines in The Oz.

    I often feel insulted — not merely at the way this vacuity and want of professional practice serves the LNP — but at the assumption that we who listen are all as disengaged and vacuous as they are.

  15. Fran Barlow
    July 13th, 2011 at 20:30 | #15

    @sam

    I should add that there have been two honourable exceptions to this rule within the ABC. On the handful of occasions that I’ve heard Tikki Fullarton (sp?) she has impressed me as having done her homework and as being able not merely to ask her first question, but to ask sensible follo-up questions that surely anticipated the answers she was likely to get. I saw her give Barnaby Joyce a complete going over in one interview and he was clearly rattled by the end of it.

    Stephen Long also seems a thoughtful and intrepid character. He’s had a couple of minor stumbles but trivialities aside, he has always done a professional job, in my estimation.

  16. Freelander
    July 13th, 2011 at 23:50 | #16

    @Fran Barlow

    Yes. I agree. New ABC journalists are characterised by their laziness, in not doing their homework, in not finding out the easily findoutable facts, and instead relying on different opinions, many of which are complete and obvious lies, and they are also characterised in their ignorance, lack of comprehension, lack of education, manners and breeding. But, perhaps, I am being not harsh enough.

    On NewsRadio, daily broadcasts have now become a catalogue of mistakes. Even if there wasn’t the continuous bias which makes it sound like one long party political broadcast, mistake after mistake has made it far too painful to listen to any more.

    The most outrageous aspect is despite their myriad failings, these journalists seem to have unbelievably exalted views of themselves. This is exemplified in the delight with which they spend half their time interviewing each other. And then characterise their extemporising and banal banter and gossipy chit chat and speculation as ‘analysis’.

    As they are equally inept in every department and ignorant on every subject, they seem to have concluded that that uniform lack of capability has made them Renaissance men and women. Were they not living on the taxpayers tab it would be simply mirth making, although so old now is the joke, one can no longer laugh.

    Truly, ABC NewsRadio should be retitled FoxNewsRadio and the ABC is getting toward earning the title FoxNews Down Under.

    Yeah! Rupert has been forced to withdraw his bid in the UK for BSkyB.

  17. Ian Milliss
    July 14th, 2011 at 00:13 | #17

    They’ve thrown the BSkyB bid to the wolves. Panic must be setting in.

  18. John Quiggin
    July 14th, 2011 at 05:40 | #18

    Ken N and Fran – please remember not to flood the thread. I will open a new sandpit shortly.

  19. smiths
    July 14th, 2011 at 14:32 | #19

    And if someone will give me odds – preferably 3/1 but I’d go for 5/2 – I’ll bet that the BSkyB deal will go ahead after an interval.Ken n
    as i said, bskyb will not go ahead
    Rupert Murdoch gives up BSkyB takeover bid
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/13/rupert-murdoch-gives-up-bskyb-bid
    this is not primarily about hacking phones, and its not primarily about corrupt police,
    this is about the way democracy is a sham in a corporatist state where powerful news companies buy politicians, the stooges scurry to meet with him,
    doesnt anyone remeber Rudd meeting him about two weeks before the Ruddslide election

    contrary to ken N’s ill informed commentary, every important issue of the last three decades has been affected by what rupert wanted,
    rupert sold the iraq war, rupert poisoned the well on climate change in this country,
    rupert defends a criminal political class that conspires to sell out the people,
    rupert misreported the financial crisis so that it it didnt look like the biggest bank robbery in history (which it was),

    and Rupert is in deep poo, anyone who cant see this is reading the wrong (Murdoch) papers

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