Home > #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media > Meltdown at the Oz: Quiggin edition

Meltdown at the Oz: Quiggin edition

August 2nd, 2011

The Oz has always been thin-skinned, and my piece in the Fin the week before last attacking the Murdoch press (I’ve reprinted it over the fold) was bound to elicit a reaction. It came in the form of a full-length hit piece, written by Michael Stutchbury and including a fair few quotations to this blog. The headline An economist who is good in theory but on the far left in practice gives the general line. It has a bit of a phoned-in feel, like an exercise in party solidarity rather than a sudden concern with my errors and obviously wasn’t a spontaneous outburst – Stutchbury told me had been directed to write it. That’s part of the price of working for the Empire these days (compare Caroline Overington’s part in the attack in Julie Posetti).

Mostly, the piece doesn’t misrepresent me – it’s quite true that I think Barack Obama is too centrist, and that Julia Gillard doesn’t care about equality. However, as I said to Stutchbury during our phone conversation, it’s a bit precious to complain about various pieces of colorful language on my part in a paper which referred to me as having a “totalitarian mindset”. At least, unlike the anonymous editorialist who penned that description, Stutchbury calls me out by name rather than coyly referring to “an opinion writer in a financial tabloid“.

More significantly, Stutchbury ducks the issue on climate change, saying

On climate change, Murdoch has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt. The Australian supports putting a price on carbon over Tony Abbott’s direct action. But the journalistic default should include some scepticism over whether scientists can accurately predict the climate decades ahead.

He must be reading a different paper to the one that has now racked up 60+ entries in Tim Lambert’s Australian War on Science series. And that’s without considering the truly appalling stuff put out by News International outlets like Fox and the Sunday Times.

Update Michael Stutchbury has called me to take issue with my statement that he told me he had been directed to write the piece. That was my recollection of our conversation, but he was very firm in rejecting it, and I’m not going to insist on my version of events, so I’ve struck out that part of the original post.

Only answer is to cut News’s reach

As recently as June, the imperial power of the Murdoch empire was at its full flower. The parts were impressive, but the whole was so much more than the sum. At the top end, the ownership of some of the world’s leading newspapers, such as The Times and the Wall Street Journal, gave the Murdochs a status and influence few press magnates have ever exceeded.

At the bottom end, tabloid papers provided both cash flow and a direct line of personal attack on any political or public figure foolish enough to cross the Murdoch interest. The picture was completed by electronic media interests like Sky and Fox, which not only amplified the power of the print media, but benefitted from an endless stream of political favours flowing from those eager to please the Murdochs or turn away their wrath.

Within a few short weeks, much of this edifice has collapsed, and much of the rest is in danger. The revelation that Murdoch’s News of the World had hacked the voicemail of a murdered schoolgirl, deleting messages in the hope of receiving more, opened the floodgates. A week later News of the World had been closed down, but by then the issue of illegal hacking was only a secondary part of the story.

After initially focusing on the ‘bad apples’ at the News of the World, members of the British political class, led by Ed Miliband of the Labour (one of the few figures not personally implicated in the process), revolted against decades of servitude to the Murdoch empire. That servitude had embroiled not only the leadership of both major political parties, but the Metropolitan police force which has now seen the resignation of its two most senior officers.

With leading Murdoch lieutenants Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton having already resigned, and Brooks facing possible criminal charges, almost no-one in the UK elite can regard their position as safe. The Prime Minister, David Cameron is vulnerable, having displayed, at best, appallingly bad judgement.

The Murdochs themselves are at risk on many fronts, including possible civil and criminal prosecutions in both the UK and US, and challenges from the long-suffering shareholders of News Corporation. At a minimum, the litigation from the thousands of phone hacking victims will keep NewsCorp tied up in court for years to come.

Going beyond the press, the connections are now being drawn between the seemingly unchallengeable impunity of the Murdoch empire and that of the British elite as a whole, and most notably the banking sectors. Just as Murdoch seemed able to buy or bully his way out of any potential trouble, so the banks got off scot-free from the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, Cameron’s Conservative government is demanding that ordinary Britons pay the price of austerity to cover the debts run up in the rescue operations of 2008 and 2009. The crisis over Murdoch has re-energised resistance to the whole program of bank-backed austerity.

Such periods of political spring are inevitably short and business as usual will doubtless be restored in due course. By then, however, the revolt may have carried away not only much of Murdoch’s UK empire but the capacity of the government to push through a program based on a spurious premise of shared sacrifice.

What are the implications of all this for Australia? It seems unlikely that there has been any significant phone hacking here: that appears to be a UK-specific pathology. But in other respects, the power of News Corporation and the shamelessness with which that power is used to promote the political and commercial interests of the Murdoch empire is even greater here than in the UK.

The blatantly fact-free political campaigns run by News Corporation on issues such as climate change and fiscal stimulus have created huge difficulties for the Labor government (the Obama Administration in the US has had similar problems). Dealings between governments and the press are constrained by a set of conventions based on the presumption that the press is supposed to present a more or less accurate report of the events they cover and that governments are obligated to treat the press as a group seeking to find and report the truth. When that ceases to be the case, as it has done with News Corporation, it is hard to know how to respond.

We need a new set of institutions and assumptions to deal with the kind of openly partisan press represented by News Corporation. The first step must be to cut its power back to a more manageable level.

Categories: #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media Tags:
  1. Michael
    August 2nd, 2011 at 08:00 | #1

    Sadly, this is not their worst meltdown.

  2. August 2nd, 2011 at 08:02 | #2

    Its nice to know that someone is listening! The target centres on the criticisms of the Australian newspaper – the rest is fill. Stutchbury criticised various conclusions you arrive at (e.g. on microeconomic reform) without discussing the arguments – its as if they are purely political utterances.

    The Australian’s formal position on climate change as a stated supporter of carbon pricing is not consistent with its choice of op ed writers – most recently an outrageous piece by Jo Nova. Reminds me of a boss I had who approved most of my proposals but who made some many qualifications and worked so hard on the side to defeat what I wanted to do that he might as well have rejected them.

  3. dylwah
    August 2nd, 2011 at 08:14 | #3

    On ya Proff Q, keep poking those bullants.

  4. fred
    August 2nd, 2011 at 08:34 | #4

    Very nice, a good balance of factual and straight talking with appropriate level of diplomatic restraint.
    Like the last sentence in particular.
    Good one.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 2nd, 2011 at 08:41 | #5

    Well, if I was Quiggin I’d be really chuffed. Getting the News Corpse full monty smear fest is as sure a sign of real personal distinction as I can imagine. The reserves of vitriol and malice that News Corpse is able to mobilise to slime one of its innumerable enemies is testament to Murdoch/Moloch’s ability to spot ‘talent’ and bring out the worst in it. Just look at Glenn Beck, vilifying the dead Norwegian children as ‘Hitler Youth’.And I see that they’re still savaging Christine Nixon, and Greg Sheridan has a lovely piece today that, in my opinion, in its trademark unctuous sycophancy to the USA and the Tea Party Mad Hatters and venomous and almost entirely mendacious contempt for Obama (who deserves to be despised for precisely opposite reasons to Sheridan’s)is typical of the man and ‘The Fundament’ as a ‘hole’. The truth about News Corpse, I believe, is that it has deliberately set out to blackmail and intimidate politicians wherever it operates, to push societies to the psychopathic Right where Big Men like Rupert rule the roost like feudal barons, and their myriad myrmidons keep the rabble in line. His power without responsibility or morality was bound to produce its own Nemesis, but not before he’d undermined the police and God knows what else, as well. However, I do differ from John Quiggin in that I see absolutely no reason why Murdochean tactics were not universal in his pathocratic state. Already the US authorities are on to computer hacking by the Evil Empire (Climategate e-mails anyone?) and Murdoch’s flunkeys are periodically gathered together to receive the Dark Lord’s latest instructions. I believe that at a recent one, held at his Californian redoubt, Mordor, he demanded more active political campaigns. A real ‘hands-off’ Master. Don’t tell me that the minions weren’t swapping techniques and experience at every opportunity, to impress the Boss with their enthusiasm.

  6. Mr Denmore
    August 2nd, 2011 at 09:00 | #6

    It’s amusing how The Australian ritually refers to its centrist positions of its leading editorials on issues of the day, when those are the least read parts of the paper and while its news pages are crammed with misrepresentative, twisted and dishonest reporting of those same issues to serve ultra-right ends.

    In the meantime, News Corp operates like the mob, closing ranks and seeing any criticism as sufficient cause to smear its opponents. It’s interesting that its ‘journalists’ all speak with one voice, as well, and are expected to defend the corporate mothership – something you would never expect out of Fairfax (which has its own issues).

  7. Chris Warren
    August 2nd, 2011 at 09:13 | #7

    If Stutchbury had been told to write the piece – then the obvious question is: ‘who told him to write it”?

    Who pulls what strings in the capitalist media?

  8. John Quiggin
    August 2nd, 2011 at 09:27 | #8

    @Chris Warren
    I imagine the directive came from someone who shares a first name with you, if not much else 🙂

    I very much doubt that my trivial efforts have drawn the attention of the Dark Tower in NY.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 2nd, 2011 at 09:30 | #9

    When one begins to take the Murdochean shilling, a microchip is inserted deep within the reptilian portion of the brain. In many vases, of course, that is all the brain that the ‘chosen one’ possesses. This device is activated by His Highness whenever the Empire is threatened by its myriad enemies, and the sludge floweth forth.

  10. August 2nd, 2011 at 09:40 | #10

    Thank you for dropping by at my place to comment on my post about Michael Sutchbury’s piece in the OZ. Now having read your post above I don’t agree with your suggestion that it is “Stutchbury is the one claiming persecution here.”

  11. Uncle Milton
    August 2nd, 2011 at 09:52 | #11

    Stutchbury is a loyal company man, which is quite rare these days.

    He’s not the worst Murdoch journalist, or even the worst journalist at the Australian (though this isn’t saying much) and his integrity is high by News Ltd standards. Though in his piece he conflated the need for fiscal stimulus as such with the outcomes of a particular program that was part of the stimulus policy, the home insulation program. Stutchbury knows the difference perfectly well, but the public doesn’t, hence the campaign by the Australian/Opposition to discredit the fiscal stimulus as macroeconomic policy.

  12. Mark
    August 2nd, 2011 at 10:10 | #12

    NewsLtd and the other 30% of newsprint outlets may not have indulged in illegal phone hacking in Australia….but there can be little doubt that other (possibly illegal & certainly immoral) practices have been used to obtain information.

    Be that as it may….my central concern is the disproportional influence Murdoch (an American citizen) has on our democratic process. It is not unreasonable to state that our democracy has been seriously damaged by his attempts to effect regime change here.

    Additionally the blatant and often outrageous mis-reporting and/or mis-representation of factual information is a an affront to each and every thinking Australian. I for one don’t get any news and opinions from Murdoch newspapers anymore…and the trashing of “The Heart of the Nation” is very sad indeed.

    An broad ranging inquiry into all forms of media is long overdue with two central objectives…

    1) To ensure clear separation of News from opinion…with an unambiguous statement regarding the backers/sponsors/political affiliations of all opinion writers.

    2) To limit ownership of all forms of media to 25% in total…

  13. Ikonoclast
    August 2nd, 2011 at 10:20 | #13

    I hope all the Murdochs and the CEOs go to jail for long stretches and that News Corp is utterly destroyed. Bliss to be alive on such a day!

  14. Tim
    August 2nd, 2011 at 10:39 | #14

    Don’t listen to him, he’s a meanie.

  15. snuh
    August 2nd, 2011 at 10:43 | #15

    a couple of years ago i had to explain to a friend what a “concern troll” was. he didn’t really understand my explanation and i kind of blanked on an illuminating example. it’s a pity i didn’t have that quote from the oz re climate change, which as an example of the phenomenon is almost too perfect.

  16. John Brookes
    August 2nd, 2011 at 11:01 | #16

    Q&A was fun last night. They had a full-blown Murdoch apologist on the panel. He said that the UK phone hacking was terrible, but then implied that any attempt to curtail that kind of behaviour would lead to totalitarian government. If I’d been in the audience, I would have heckled. Anyway, he gave us a stark choice – we can either have a totalitarian government, or we can let Rupert choose our government.

  17. August 2nd, 2011 at 11:09 | #17

    Gillard is having a private dinner tonight with News Ltd executives and editors. She said it was “private” when asked about it a few minutes ago.

    In the US and UK Murdoch is too toxic to touch, in the world’s first total murdochracy he can still summon the PM to come and pay fealty and she does so without so much as a blush!

    We urgently need to modify the FIRB so that it is either illegal for any foreigner to control our news media OR throw it open to his beloved free market and let any foreign investor enter the market (my preference is the former, but that it biased because of my deep hatred for the murdoch machine).


  18. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 2nd, 2011 at 11:19 | #18

    mark, the Murdoch Evil Empire has not only been caught phone-hacking innocents, politicians and the police in the UK, but has also had to pay out hundreds of millions in ‘hush-money’ to other corporations in the US for computer hacking. I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to suspect that his myrmidons here were not capable of similar behaviour, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for the AFP or the Gillard regime to look under that rock. It makes you wonder anew at all the damaging ‘leaks’ of recent years that have bedeviled politicians.To see Gillard privately dining with these creatures is perplexing and worrying. Perhaps she is going to pledge unswerving fealty, and hope that Murdoch’s attack crustaceans will be called off. One wonders in that hypothetical case what the quid pro quo might be.

  19. may
    August 2nd, 2011 at 11:51 | #19

    dylwah :On ya Proff Q, keep poking those bullants.

    when i was a kid i got one of those ants called sargent ants (ones that are about 3/4 ” long and a third of that jaws) try to pick me up by the toe and carry me home for lunch.

    the only way i could dislodge the thing was pulling and pulling until finally it’s head came off and i had to take either jaw and prise them apart to get it off.

    didn’t hurt much but i was amazed.

    very much like morloch media,which is incipient totalitarianism.

  20. Gaz
    August 2nd, 2011 at 12:35 | #20

    Just make sure the password on your mobile phone isn’t still on the default setting, John.

  21. Dennis Argall
    August 2nd, 2011 at 12:36 | #21

    The phone tap is just a symptom of corrupt activity, not its cause. The core is departure of information industry and political industry from dealing with the issues honestly and fully.

    There are three possible outcomes in Australia.

    There could be, as in the UK, an all-sides political agreement on the repugnance of being led by the nose by thugs.

    There could be a loss of influence in Australia by News as a result simply of melt-down of the company.

    There could be a situation in Australia, as in Salazar’s Portugal, where corrupt imperial command of governance by vested interests entangled with the court continued while other advanced countries moved on to greater things.

    It is not just a question, however, of the politicians or of News, it seems that a much wider and general sweep of journalists and their outlets have distorted their work in the frenzy to fill spaces with thrills for the public. Good business: in the days of ancient Rome, Tunisia’s second largest export was lions. We cannot blame News for the general quality of commercial TV news, to get space on which one must metaphorically or literally be a fugitive two-headed mother-raper or victim of such. Moreover, wherever we look, if pervasiveness in advertising reflects success in advertising, the evidence is that we are increasingly a disconnected, gullible, gonad-driven bunch of petrol-head urbanites. Read the history of the service-industry based Kingdom of Naples and what happened to its hypertrophic glories (world’s fastest adapters of new products) when Italy was unified and all Naples’ taxing power left town… as will ours, one way or another, if we don’t think harder. The fault dear Brutus, lies not in our News but in ourselves that we are on the murky slope.

  22. may
    August 2nd, 2011 at 13:04 | #22

    the ABC with murdoch apparatchics(am i being harsh here?) on the board being fair and balanced regarding newscorp is a bit eerie.

  23. grant belchamber
    August 2nd, 2011 at 13:16 | #23

    Tabloid Mike does have a brain, the pity is that he is complicit in the News Corp ad hominem attack strategy. Does not like the award system so denigrates Giudice. Plays the man, not the ball (which he never did as a receiver playing wing for the ANU Blacks). Never lets the facts foul the masthead’s current campaign – against climate change or fiscal stimulus or labour law. Your response John is a pearler – straight, substantive and dignified.

    When he returned from his stint in Washington a few years back Mike told me he thought Australia’s dry-cleaning industry was rorted with price-fixing; over there he left his dirty shirts on the front porch in the morning and had them returned the same night, cleaned and pressed and hung on hangers, for a buck a piece. One seventh the cost here, just had to be a rort. Black and hispanic women and contract drivers working (long hours with minimal OHS standards or enforcement) for US minimum wages was not the explanator that suited his priors or his story.

  24. Baz
    August 2nd, 2011 at 13:39 | #24

    Quiggo – I hear the Murdoch evil empire have their death star pointed at you. Just kidding bro – but the paronia on the blog is quite amusing…

  25. August 2nd, 2011 at 13:42 | #25

    Wow, a hit piece from an Australian “journo”. That’s a badge of honour if ever there was one. You should add a quote from it to your Testimonials sidebar. I greatly enjoyed the enraged howlings of the angry partisan hack. Well, perhaps “enjoyed” is going to far but it was amusing. And congratulations on the 2011 Distinguished Fellow Award!

  26. August 2nd, 2011 at 14:11 | #26

    Prof. Q,

    To use another currently even more fashionable literary reference: If by mentioning He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named you automatically tip “over Green Left Weekly polemics”, please, for all that’s sacred, never use the “the devil is in the details” idiom…

    I can’t reliably decipher our modern-day Torquemada’s thoughts, but I have the nagging suspicion they could include a bonfire, chants in Latin and much unpleasantness.

    In any case, I bid you farewell using a formula popular among tea-partiers: Praise the Lord!

  27. Marilyn
    August 2nd, 2011 at 15:28 | #27

    Truly amazing that Stutchbury can still claim Anthony Klan actually did great reporting on the BER, he did no such thing. All he did was report bits and pieces from various submissions from people not involved.

    His main source had nothing to do with anything but was blindly quoted by Klan at every opportunity, as Crikey pointed out over and over again.

    In numerous reports it was found that less than 2% of school programs were unsatisfactory.

    And Stutchbury himself was caught out claiming $7 billion waste before one $ had been allocated to the program.

  28. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 2nd, 2011 at 15:57 | #28

    Ah, Marilyn, remember the dictum-when telling a lie (I would submit that these are News Corpse’s stock-in-trade) tell a Big One, because the ordinary pleb, being basically honest and loathe to lie (I know-things have deteriorated in the last ninety years)will doubt that anybody could have the audacity to spin a yarn so ludicrously over the top. News Corpse has a real talent for concocting ‘scandals’ out of thin air. They could find something to smear in Francis of Assisi’s record, and if that proves difficult, inventing malfeasance is a ready fall-back. Never forget Manning Clark’s ‘secret Order of Lenin’ that got Rupert’s attention and made a career.

  29. Michael Ryan
    August 2nd, 2011 at 16:15 | #29

    John said: “…first step must be to cut its power back to a more manageable level.” the government should exercise its possession of the trademark “Australian” for a start.

  30. Fred Argy
    August 2nd, 2011 at 16:38 | #30

    Well done, John.

    I too happen to believe in substantive equality of opportunity (not what The Australian calls formal equality of opportunity). But I accept that present levels of inequality (especially the surge in top 1%) can easily lead to a further increase in corporate power. So I too believe that Gillard may have in part sold out of Labor values – but she is trying to help the disadvantaged in many other ways (such as with carbon tax and the Levy).

  31. Robert Wiblin
    August 2nd, 2011 at 16:46 | #31

    The piece has this quote:

    “Zombie Economics argues it should be junked because “ideological” policies such as privatisation and central bank independence will cause another global financial crisis.”

    I don’t recall you opposing central bank independence in Zombies. Is that my bad memory or a misrepresentation?

  32. John Quiggin
    August 2nd, 2011 at 16:53 | #32

    @Robert Wiblin
    I originally had some stuff about central bank independence. But it was too complicated to distinguish between the strong (say, post-1990) version of central bank independence I wanted to criticise and the kind of independence that the Reserve Bank has always had. So, I took that out of the book, but it is in some articles that I published earlier.

  33. Jones
    August 2nd, 2011 at 16:56 | #33


  34. Freelander
    August 2nd, 2011 at 18:37 | #34

    If they weren’t such a threat to democracy, Rupert’s toadying sycophants at the Oz and at the other News Corps organs would simply be amusing in their mad scramble in attempting to please their master never nearly enough for him to notice.

    But one foot wrong and their colleagues scramble over each other to inform, and notice of the career destroying type they do get.

    Oh what a cruel life for the Murdoch minion. How worth it could it be for what can’t be nearly enough money?

    No wonder they are such a precious lot. And so fragile.

  35. paul of albury
    August 2nd, 2011 at 19:52 | #35

    At least they quoted the gutter press lines 😉

    And don’t you love the hubris of giving this rare planet that supports so much life ‘the benefit of the doubt’

  36. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    August 2nd, 2011 at 20:33 | #36

    What does Stutch mean by “unedited blogger” in reference to you? The implication is that if it were “edited” phrases such as “corruption of Australia’s political process” and (The Australian) is “filled with lies” would have been redacted out.

    Hence it was amusing if not subversive of Stutch to quote all those anti-Murdoch/The Australian assertions: from “worthless gutter press rag” to “sad joke” and in a “downward spiral” plus “Murdoch’s readers have demonstrated, over and over, that they prefer lies to uncomfortable truths” thereby giving the accusations currency.

    Does Stutch expect his readers to all laugh at the outrageousness of those propositions?

    Perhaps this is a fifth columnist at work.

  37. Freelander
    August 2nd, 2011 at 20:40 | #37

    @paul of albury

    Maybe Rupert is expecting extreme gratitude from the planet, in return for throwing that scrap of benefit, just as he has expected and received much gratitude from the high and mighty for any scraps he has thrown their way.

  38. Rob
    August 2nd, 2011 at 23:19 | #38

    Bias comment isn’t a crime in Australia. Bias comment by a newspaper isn’t a crime in Australia. News Ltd in Australia has nothing to apologise for. If the Australian political establishment can’t live with freedom of speech, Murdoch should close both the papers and move on.

    Australian politicians would simply look a mob of rednecked yahoo’s and cry babies. A free press is essential for any first world country.

  39. Michael
    August 2nd, 2011 at 23:48 | #39


    And a media where truth and fairness are more than platitudes is also essential in a first world democracy.

  40. Freelander
    August 3rd, 2011 at 00:28 | #40


    Freedom of speech would be great. However, when you have Citizen Kanes like Rupert Murdoch controlling most of the organs of speech and using them to provide nothing but their master’s voice, that is not ‘Freedom of Speech’. Also, it is not Freedom of Speech when all the resources of that organisation and those News Corpse organs of speech are brought to bear on any individual who dares exercise their freedom of speech in a way that displeases the master. This has been the News Corpse modus operandi in Australia, the UK, and most recently, the USA and the effects have not been good.

    Personally, I don’t define Freedom of Speech as that the single person with the big stick can say whatever they like, and anyone else can say whatever they like, as long as they are willing to take the hits from that stick, and as long as they are still capable of speech after the hits. Sounds rather like the Freedom of Speech they have in Italy under Berlusconi and on the way toward the Freedom of Speech they now enjoy in Russia.

    Lets just accept the evidence. News Corpse is not a news orgnisation. And lets hope at the very least that the organisation does not long outlive its current master.

  41. Rob
    August 3rd, 2011 at 01:35 | #41

    Freelander, It is freedom of speech. Anybody can has the right to start an oppossing paper or blog. Popularity (power) doesn’t come into the equation.

    A person either believes in free speech or they do not. There isn’t any middle ground, ums and errs.

    Neither Murdoch or News Ltd are compelled under any law to be fair to the government when making comments. The nation can of course change the law, however expect to be known as a first world joke.

    The Australian is a loss maker and wouldn’t be missed by the bottom line, I expect the tabloids may soon be in this position. Murdoch should tell these clowns to go take a running jump. The government has more to lose by Murdoch closing these businesses than News Ltd shareholders. I know who holds the whip hand in this possible stoush.

  42. Area Man
    August 3rd, 2011 at 07:23 | #42

    “But the journalistic default should include some scepticism over whether scientists can accurately predict the climate decades ahead.”

    The journalistic default should be that scientists themselves know best what they can and cannot predict with accuracy. To insist otherwise is for the journalist to believe that he knows better than they.

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 3rd, 2011 at 07:32 | #43

    Is ‘concern troll’, in the case of News Corpse’s, (and The Fundament’s in particular) editorial pretense of ‘belief’ in climate science (and its preposterous boast that it will become ‘carbon-free’) not simply a euphemism for cynical hypocrite with bottomless contempt for its reader’s intelligence?

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 3rd, 2011 at 07:56 | #44

    @Mulga Mumblebrain
    Chomsky and Herman described the nature of the ‘Free Press’ in capitalist economies years ago, building on the work of others and expressing cogently what any half conscious pleb with an IQ above room temperature (Celsius)understands. The ‘propaganda model’ describes News Corpse to the life. A system where virtually every story, every opinion piece, every editorial is written, not in pursuit of a ‘contest of ideas’ (La Passionaria Albrechtsen is banging on about this non-sense today)or in pursuit of the ‘truth’ or the most enlightened public policy, but to brainwash the public into accepting the neo-feudal dispensation of market fundamentalist capitalism. Like our judicial system, the object is not to find the truth, but to win and (in the MSM’s case) thus be able to dominate society and push it in your preferred direction, in the News Corpse case towards brutal neo-feudalism.
    In the Albrechtsenian universe, a ‘contest of ideas’ is achieved when one side has all the Big Guns in its arsenal, and the opposition is disarmed. Her side, the Right. has the MSM almost in its entirety, here and throughout the West. In this MSM, (News Corpse to the point of self-parody), the ideological bias is absolute. 90% plus of content favours Israel over the Palestinians, neo-assimilation and cultural genocide for Aborigines (with a nauseating pretense of concern at their plight)and the crudest anthropogenic climate destabilisation denialism. News Corpse takes ‘a position’ based on hard Right ideology on everything. And when their endless fear and hatemongering, their serial, malicious and intensely vicious character assassinations are criticised by others exercising their ‘Free Speech’, the News Corpse apparatchiki start ranting about ‘political correctness’ and the extinction of their ‘Free Speech’, which turns out to be nothing than hate speech. This has rarely been more hideously and wickedly plain than in the aftermath of the Norwegian massacre, where the hatemongering Right have instantly used this massacre, that grew out of the milieu of intense Islamophobia that emanates from the Zionist Right and its allies (Murdoch a more than usually fervent example here)to attack the Left for daring to criticise their hate speech, and to surreptitiously give credence to Brievik’s viciousness by blaming the Left for ‘suppressing’ ‘discussion’ (ie invective, abuse and vitriol)of immigration and Moslem immigration in particular.

  45. Chris Warren
    August 3rd, 2011 at 08:45 | #45

    So, I’m guessing that Stutchbury represents the epitome of tabloid journalism.

    Our default should include a deep awareness of the duplicity of Murdoch hirelings.

  46. August 3rd, 2011 at 10:16 | #46


    You’re wrong.

    It is against the law for “anybody” like Murdoch (ie a foreigner) to start up a newspaper in Australia.

    That is NOT freedom of speech. It is a blatant and deliberate market distortion to favour Rupert Murdoch over everyone else.

  47. Ernestine Gross
    August 3rd, 2011 at 10:27 | #47

    Here are a few examples of how the public sector in the USA could reduce expenditure. Unfortunately for the critics of our host, the so-called ‘far left’ practitioner of good theory, it still supports his argument regarding privatisation.


  48. Ken Fabos
    August 3rd, 2011 at 10:30 | #48

    @Sir Henry Casingbroke
    “Unedited” as in it’s author’s meaning has not been completely inverted by an editor in order to comply with unofficial company guidelines?

  49. fred
    August 3rd, 2011 at 10:36 | #49

    What Mulga said.

    “Free speech’. as practised by media in Australia, ain’t free.
    Its bloody expensive.
    Not only would you need to have a few spare billions of dollars rolling around in the fob pocket with nothing much to do to be able to afford to set up an alternative medium to the current blatant oligarchy but, in addition, the flow of advertising which is the life blood of capitalistic mass media, would need to magically change the nature of its spots to support anything else but the raging ideology of capitalism that is the basis of all [virtually] pronouncements we currently have.
    What we currently have is censorship.
    What we [note that word please] do not have is ‘freedom of the press’.
    What exists ‘belongs’ to someone else and is not available to others.
    That ain’t freedom.
    Its restriction.

    For us to be able to credibly claim that we live in a democracy the current situation must change dramatically.

  50. Catching up
    August 3rd, 2011 at 10:44 | #50

    I fully agree with freedom of speech. I also agree that we should have more diverse media to express it.

    I do not believe any media mogul should be able to control my freedom of speech by limiting my opportunities to express it.

    I believe “our” ABC should rely on it’s own reporters and journalist to report and comment on the news.

    If we want to hear from the MSM reporters and journalists, we can tune in or read their what they say or print.

    We do not need them on “our” ABC.

    I do not want them on “our” ABC.

    I do not know why they are on “our” ABC.

    I do not want to watch a show that has Mr. Reith and Mr. O’Neill on. I am not interested in either views. If we must have them, where is the person with opposite views to challenge them. It is yesterday’s Drum I am complaining about. It was a little over the fence when it followed Capitol Hill which was just as biased.

  51. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 3rd, 2011 at 11:38 | #51

    Fred, you’ll know the story Chomsky relates in ‘Manufacturing Consent’ where, in the UK, in the post-war period there were numerous titles such as ‘Daily Herald’, ‘News Chronicle’, ‘Sunday Citizen’ that openly opposed capitalism, but which all subsequently ‘failed’ and disappeared, leaving the Right, now extreme Right, monoculture of the mind that we see today. The Daily Herald is a salient example. In 1933 it had the largest certified readership in the world, and even when it folded in 1964 it was one of the twenty biggest circulating papers anywhere. But it was undermined by an advertising boycott, ostensibly on the grounds that its working class readership was of no interest to advertisers. Killing off a Leftist newspaper no doubt hardened business’s resolve. It re-emerged, in a hideous irony, as the detestable ‘Sun’ which shines out of Rupert’s fundamental orifice.

  52. Mr Denmore
    August 3rd, 2011 at 11:47 | #52

    I notice a growing trend for apologists of News Corp/News Limited to use the ‘you are seeking to suppress free speech’ defence in answering critics of the organisation’s editorial standards – as if ‘free speech’ only extends to them.

    Their sensitivity to criticism has always been evident, but the recent scandals have really led to a circling of the wagons. You see Janet Albrechtson out today ranting about some supposed attempts by “the politically correct left” to suppress the voice of the people on immigration etc;

    I’m not aware of any attempt to supress people expressing an opinion. I am aware of increasing alarm at the enchroachment of comment into news stories and the blurring between opinion and straight news. And I am aware of increasing concern at the outright distortion and deceit in supposed straight news reporting in Murdoch’s Australian papers, all of which push an ideological agenda.

  53. Tim Macknay
    August 3rd, 2011 at 12:03 | #53

    It is against the law for “anybody” like Murdoch (ie a foreigner) to start up a newspaper in Australia.

    Presumably you’re referring to the FIRB requirement that foreign entities get government approval to invest in the media sector in Australia. That’s not quite the same thing as it being “against the law”.

  54. fred
    August 3rd, 2011 at 12:10 | #54

    Mr Denmore

    One of the few areas of mild optimism I allow myself is the potential for ‘citizen journalism’, internet blog sites, social media and so on to challenge the current censorship of the unfree media oligarchy in Australia.

    Sites like Crikey [despite its faults], New Matilda, JQ and similar offer some slight resemblance to a diversity of thought that is absent from the monolithic mass media [ABC included].

    But dollars, cold hard cash, is still the problem.
    I do not know how wide is the reach of Crikey, who I assume is the most successful site in terms of numbers of readers, but it is obvious that they are still reliant on advertising for a chunk of their revenue and the need for more subscribers is exemplified by the constant begging for such.
    And of course their reach is minimal when compared to the capitalist press.
    Positively relatively miniscule.

    So that is not a short term answer to the problem of our current oligopoly.

    I think its time to give serious consideration to the options to the current obviously unsatisfactory situation.

    Simply diversifying ownership will not be enough if the nature of the ownership continues as already exists.
    Exchanging a gorgon for a hydra is no progress.

    We need to explore real alternatives.

  55. August 3rd, 2011 at 12:47 | #55


    By “against the law” I mean the following: It is against the law for a foreigner (other than Murdoch and his current holdings) to own a newspaper UNLESS they get permission from the Treasurer FIRST.

    Javier Moll tried but was refused – if he had gone ahead either before or after being refused permission to compete with Murdoch in Adelaide that would have been illegal.

    So we disagree, apparently, on whether that means that it is against the law.

  56. August 3rd, 2011 at 13:41 | #56

    That’s a fascinating update about your differing recollections.

    I remember quite clearly what Justice Kaye found in relation to top News executives and editors recollections in the ‘Guthrie v News Ltd’ case.

    Luckily, those findings are now a matter of undeniable public record. No room to argue about which recollection was the right one (winky emoticon goes here)!

  57. fred
    August 3rd, 2011 at 13:56 | #57

    Relevant current example.
    Ben Sandilands has an article up at Crikey about Fukushima and recent off-the-scale radioactivity readings and an impassioned speech by a nuclear expert Prof in the Japanese Diet telling them that the past and current situation is extremely serious and accusing them of negligence.
    There is more.
    Now maybe its a beat up by Ben, maybe its all hyperbole by some weirdo Prof [such people exist apparently].

    But despite the whatever above its a huge story … or should be ….its all over [sort of] the net but what coverage has it had in the Oz media????

    Because the prof appeared before the Diet a week ago.
    A week ago.

  58. calyptorhynchus
    August 3rd, 2011 at 14:12 | #58

    “On climate change, Murdoch has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt…”

    The tragedy is that people like Stutchbury have no idea how ludicrous that statement is.

  59. August 3rd, 2011 at 14:28 | #59

    When Murdoch was giving the Boyer lecture where he famously gave the planet “the benefit of the doubt”, he showed how thoroughly across the brief he was when he praised his (totally meaningless ‘1 Degree’) slogan.

    Even though it has since been changed on the official transcript, he pronounced the slogan for the campaign “Eye Degree”! Obviously a man of conviction when it comes to climate change.

  60. Tim Macknay
    August 3rd, 2011 at 14:44 | #60

    So we disagree, apparently, on whether that means that it is against the law.

    Not now that you’ve clarified what you meant.

  61. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 3rd, 2011 at 15:02 | #61

    fred, Fukushima is the ‘greatest industrial accident in history’-I forget who I’m quoting, but it’s true. Far beyond even Chernobyl, and we now know that the Japanese authorities detected isotopes outside the plat on March 12, the day after the tsunami, that indicated a melt-down was already occurring. This disaster has disappeared from the MSM propaganda apparatus, while pro-nuke zealots, like Switkowski, who came out recently as what I would describe as a veritable Dunning-Kruger type of anthropogenic climate destabilisation denialist, continue to downplay the calamity.

  62. Jim Birch
    August 3rd, 2011 at 16:08 | #62


  63. Freelander
    August 3rd, 2011 at 17:04 | #63


    Murdoch giving the Boyer lecture was absolutely absurd. I really knew the ABC was finished as “our” ABC when that happened. Would any institution of repute, anywhere, invite him to give a ‘lecture’? I thought the lecture, itself, was so appalling, even ignoring the content, that he must have written it himself.

  64. bill
    August 3rd, 2011 at 18:10 | #64

    From Bloomberg Monday

    Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, said it detected the highest radiation to date at the site.

    Geiger counters, used to detect radioactivity, registered more than 10 sieverts an hour, the highest reading the devices are able to record, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility, said today. The measurements were taken at the base of the main ventilation stack for reactors No. 1 and No. 2.

    The way I read that is that the radiation detected was actually off the scale! But apparently, if we support some sort of a Just Media hypothesis, with the notable exception of The World Today this is of little interest to anyone in Australia.

  65. paul walter
    August 3rd, 2011 at 18:24 | #65

    Egad, another redplot, brought to you by the people who brought you NOtW and many, many others examples of “ethical” journalism. (yawns, returns to FB where he is in the middle of a stoush with a “right”
    ALP figure over recent events in SA).

  66. Don
    August 3rd, 2011 at 22:14 | #66

    “An economist who is good in theory but on the far left in practice”

    I know this is a minor thing, but I’m fascinated by the headline. Did it start out as “right in theory but far left in practice” and then get changed?

  67. sam
    August 3rd, 2011 at 23:02 | #67
  68. Freelander
    August 4th, 2011 at 00:19 | #68


    Maybe it started out “right in theory but far left in practice, which is also to say, right in practice.” I suppose changing ‘right’ to ‘good’ and removing the bolshie irony (intended or otherwise) is what the editor could claim is ‘value adding’. I suppose then we are lucky that John’s blog is unedited. If Rupert gets to hear of the irony, and understands it, after it has been repeatedly explained to him, Stutchbury could be for the chop.

    Rupert, overheard in his bunker “Tell me, again. How is ‘right’ bad but ‘good’ good?”

  69. gerard
    August 4th, 2011 at 11:16 | #69

    John did you notice an effect in page hit numbers? should you be thanking the Oz for the free promotional?

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