The Oz feeling the heat

As many bloggers know, The Australian is hypersensitive to criticism, which is unfortunate, since so much of what is printed in its pages calls out for correction. The most consistent example is its War on Science (particularly climate science). Tim Lambert’s series on the topic is now up to 50 entries.

Until now, the usual MO has been to make the attack without identifying the target, though in such a way that anyone actually involved knows who is intended. For example, I got a whole editorial to myself, in which I was described only as “an opinion writer in a financial tabloid” and as a “green activist” with a “totalitarian mindset”. I’ve finally got around to adding the latter bouquet to my sidebar, along with various other compliments.

But, as the Oz has become more and more openly partisan and dishonest, the criticism has come not only from bloggers and occasional columnists but from leading lights of the journalistic establishment, who can’t be ignored in this way. Laura Tingle had an excellent piece in the Fin (paywalled) and the Oz today identifies Barrie Cassidy and Fran Kelly as fellow-critics. The Oz takes offence at a description by Fran Kelly of “front-page editorialising”, but that’s too generous. Party-line propaganda masquerading as news can be found on every page of the Oz.

And what’s true of the Oz is true of the entire Murdoch empire, from Fox News to the Times of London. The former paper of record[1] was recently forced to print a humiliating retraction of the lies it told about the spurious “Climategate” scandal[2], something which the Oz has (I think) failed to do.

Obviously, Murdoch is not incurring any short-run costs from abandoning the truth. His readers and viewers have demonstrated, over and over, that they prefer comfortable lies to inconvenient truths, on everything from the Iraq war to climate change to birtherism. But sooner or later, the political right in the English-speaking world will pay a heavy price for its collective decision to disregard reality.

fn1. To be absolutely specific, it was the Sunday Times – I’m not sure of its exact relationship to the weekday edition.
fn2. Of course, the real scandal was the theft of private emails, and the use of distorted extracts for defamation, a crime in which almost everyone in the anti-science movement was complicit to some extent or another. Their standards of morality are even lower than their standards of reasoning.

35 thoughts on “The Oz feeling the heat

  1. Rupert Murdoch is not playing politics in Australia, his stable punted for different prospects. On the issue of climate change they have leaned to the sceptical side, away from the consensus.

    This is healthy journalism. The MSM is robust because of the dialectic, not just the rhetoric of Fairfax and the ABC.

  2. @el gordo
    Murdochs stable in Australia has punted heavily in the Oz to take the Greens down (I could list the articles but Id rather not – they are all there) – he is playing politics in Australia. He plays politics in a lot of places but he certainly plays politics noticeably here in Australia. He hasnt let up on the Greens since Gillard got back in.

  3. When I see the Australian lying around in the staff room, I just put it in the bin.

    You can too!

    Today’s front page was how Kevin’s lip quivered as the faceless Shorten was sworn in – and how he exhaled deeply when Arbib was sworn in…

    into the bin it went, under the leftover soup.

    Personally I favour the Fijian solution.

  4. Alice

    The Greens are fair game, especially now that they have formed a relaxed coalition with Labor.

    The recent election in the UK saw the Third Estate take sides, as they have done throughout history. It’s no big deal because people will make up their own minds with or without the msm.

    In the climate change debate it is difficult to discern the pseudo facts from scientific fact. Just like the bad old days behind the iron curtain the proletariat read Pravda (the truth) between the lines.

    So in the short term it may be difficult to discriminate between opposing views, but ultimately the truth will be out and then we will all LOL.

  5. @el gordo
    el gordo – of course the greens are fair game for the loss leading right wing propaganda merchant journos but I really dont know many people who actually buy the Australian. The fact that you say “it is difficult to discern pseudo facts from scientific facts” on climate science is a measure that the propagandists like the OZ have had some success at convincing readers that fact is fiction and fiction is fact.

    I dont know why OZ even makes comment status in the news reviews on the ABC morning news. Its comforting to know that at election time, the voters speak and outnumber the media army. I actually think the media was asleep at the wheel in the recent election – it was engaged in inciting ABBOT v GILLARD tournaments of childish interaction, infotainment style and playing old tired themes (attempting to float the boatpeople again.) The media actually ignored the greens but raised disgust in the electorate with both major parties.

    Maybe he is losing his grip on his rank and file downstream…..

  6. Alice

    The media was producing mostly puff during the election, because it sells. The real story is about climate change, but it was never a serious contender.

  7. Pr Q said:

    Obviously, Murdoch is not incurring any short-run costs from abandoning the truth. His readers and viewers have demonstrated, over and over, that they prefer comfortable lies to inconvenient truths, on everything from the Iraq war to climate change to birtherism. But sooner or later, the political right in the English-speaking world will pay a heavy price for its collective decision to disregard reality.

    The reference to Murdoch’s forthcoming day of reckoning should be read in context with Keyne’s old line: “in the long run we are all dead”. So how far off is the day when the electorate will exact this “heavy price”?

    The “political Right in English-speaking world” has done surprisingly well at recent elections and polls, the more so as it has continued to “disregard reality”, on ecologic matters at least.* The Abbott-L/NP forced Rudd to back down on climate policy and then got Rudd sacked. And the Palin-REPs look set to win back the House from the Obama-DEMs.

    The Right’s come-back in the US has been even more impressive. I thought Obama would only be retarded by “Right-wing ballast” in his first term, restricted to a mostly “janitorial” role. I thought the Tea Party generated more smoke than fire. I was fairly confident that the hollowness of the Right’s economics and ecologics would be exposed in time and the DEMs could risk a more Left-wing program in Obama’s second term.

    Wrong on all counts. The US Right has come back with unprecedented vengenance – and make no mistake – the Tea-Party is populist, not elitist, political movement. It is unseating the REP establishment, a sure sign of grass-roots vitality (or ferality, if you like). It could well drive the US’s political agenda in the next few years.

    Taking an anti-scientific position on a Big Issue will not cost you votes. It seems that “people can only bear so much reality” and are happy to indulge their fantasies at the ballot box, for the sake of some cheap thrills. This conclusion is profoundly depressing for those who might have hoped for a more reality-based democratic politics.

    * Exactly the same criticism can be made of the way in which the political Left in the English speaking world flagrantly flouts science in cultural policy. Allthough the Left’s war on anthropological science takes much longer to inflict headline-making casualties, and indeed is shrouded by a politically correct veil of silence.

  8. @Jack Strocchi
    Jack – and I thought you were a serious political predictor? Ive seen you wrong a lot lately. You keep predicting the resurgence of the mad right, quite a lot (somewhat more than any outcome). There is a song called “wishing and hoping”.

  9. ‘prefer comfortable lies to inconvenient truths”

    It is not comfortable lies but a determination to be ignorant in the face of all of the evidence – a narrow piece of self interested rhetoric full of prejudice.

  10. The Oz is redefining who “Business” is on the run. If various business leaders make competing claims, the OZ lets you decide in a fair and balanced manner (sarc).

    One of the Oz’s, reliable sources is Macarthur Coal chairman Keith DeLacy, who says:

    “We should not be looking at a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme in advance of the rest of the world,” […] “It will reduce our competitiveness and won’t necessarily reduce carbon emissions.”

    Shorter Coal Boss:

    The Coalition under Howard was promising a carbon price in th 2007 election that would have “reduce our competitiveness”.

    Another Shorter Coal Boss:

    The GTS reduces our competativeness.

    In reality neither is true, as the price on carbon can be taken off exports and added to imports just as the GST is.

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