The Oz is not a newspaper

I happened to look at the front page of The Australian today, something I don’t do very often. Of five front-page stories, one was a brief teaser for a business story about Channel 9. The other four were hit pieces on the Federal government. Even a piece on increasing inequality was presented as an attack on Wayne Swan. One (on asylum seekers) was accompanied by an “opinion” piece by Greg Sheridan, notable for the fact that it was more sober and balance than the “news” story on which Sheridan was commenting.

As I’ve said before, I don’t see this as a problem requiring a regulatory solution, as suggested by the Finkelstein Report. Rather, we simply need to recognise that 20th century assumptions about “the press” have ceased to be applicable. The Australian looks like a 20th century newspaper, just as Fox resembles a 20th century US TV network, but both are far more like political blogs in terms of their content and operating procedures.

An obvious implication is that, while Murdoch should be free to publish whatever he likes, his employees should not be accorded any of the special privileges that were routinely accorded to journalists in the 20th century, such as press passes, access to press conferences, special privileges shielding sources and so on. These should either be made available to everyone, or restricted to media organizations willing to commit to factual reporting, fair treatment of the issues in news stories and so on.

The most important asset of the traditional media is not a formal privilege but the assumption that journalists, unlike you and me, have a right to ask questions of perfect strangers on matters of all kinds, and to expect an answer. In a context where the answer is bound to be used dishonestly, this makes no sense.

If I were advising the government at this point, I would suggest a routine policy of “no comment” in response to any question from an employee of News Limited. Obama tried this with Fox News early on, but other news organizations threatened to boycott his press conferences in solidarity and he backed down. That was, I think, a mistake.

99 thoughts on “The Oz is not a newspaper

  1. ” .. while Murdoch should be free to publish whatever he likes ….”

    I don’t get this.
    Why should he be allowed to and yet I can’t?
    The last time I looked I’m as much a citizen of this country as he is. Probably more so actually, I live here full time and I’m not a citizen of any other country. And I’m not a criminal, considered,like Rupert, to be legally sane. I’m a bit younger than him, but still well past the voting age.
    I just don’t get it, why him and not me?

  2. Thanks John, We do live in strange times journalistically. Oz journalists and fellow travellers (the Devines, Bolt, Jones) give the profession a very bad name which many of their own colleagues (sports journalists?) may not deserve so much.

    On the other hand the bias is increasingly so transparent (as it is with various Oz syndicated columnists whose identity and opinions are easily deduced from a quick look on the web at their other works and organisation affiliations) that a little deconstruction can go a long. As a result unlike in the past where good information was mixed with the bad it does allow one to avoid reading them completely with a clear conscience and say baldly to friends they are wasting their time reading this rot.

    On the other hand it does beg what alternatively one should read and this one is still evolving. For the moment at least we still have the Guardian and its weekly version which provides me at least with non Australian news of reasonable quality. On radio and TV we still have Auntie ABC and SBS doing a fair job locally. Then in the blogosphere we have specialists like yourself and a linked current favorite of mine Naked Capitalism which abounds in many good links and synopses by useful experts. There is enough good information here to keep one occupied and satisfy curiosity. So things arent all bad. And this is before the rapid access to the vast ocean of primary scholarly journals and reviews.

    Re the statee SMH/Age that is more difficult and maybe you might comment on your feeling there. They still have good journalists but I can help but feel they are being increasingly ‘managed’ if not directly by the dreaded Gina then by under-resourcing compared to the old days.

    Maybe they should all leave and resurrect the good old ‘Nation Review’ (anyone under 35 see the Wiki entry).

  3. Fred: fairly sure our host means “within the confines of defamation and incitement law”. Anything that you can say on Facebook or your blog without being hauled off to chokey, so should News Limited be allowed to say. But they shouldn’t get any more access to the PM or the press gallery than someone who rants on Facebook or their blog.

  4. The Australian is center right biased, so what? The New York Times, Guardian, Age are left wing biased, who really cares? That’s their business model and they favour opinion writers that suits their needs.

    A whole lot of people need to calm down and grow the f### up. Gillard and Labor have their and excepting a miracle are going to be out of government before Christmas next year. Every day in government is one day closer being out of government. The center left will be in government again like I knew the the libs would be when Howard was defeated.

    Abbott will be the head of government in twelve months, he will inherit the roll Gillard currently fills. And that will include any “special powers” that happen to be there. Any rights Australians lose are never returned. Every politican (Abbott will be the same) convert into believers very quickly about such things when their opposition title changes to that of a government title.

    Politics just isn’t worth getting involved in these media and law changes.

  5. Good idea. Every government should be able to choose its inquisitors.

    A leading characteristic of media bias is people agree on its existence, but disagree on the sign.

    Competition forces news outlets to cater to their customer’s preferences. The print media is under dire threats to its very existence at the moment.

    Any media bias is likely to be slightly to the centre-left for the following reasons:
    1. young women tend to be one of the most marginal groups of news consumers (they are the most willing to switch to activities besides reading or watching the news).
    2. young females often make the consumption decisions for the household so advertisers will pay more to reach this group.
    3. Since young females tend to be more centre-left on average, a news outlet may want to slant its coverage that way. Newspapers sell space to advertisers tailor the way they cover politics to gain more readers.

    Realised profit is the criterion by which the market process selects survivors: those who realise positive profits survive; those who suffer losses disappear. Positive profits accrue to those media outlets who are better than their competitors. Their lesser rivals will exhaust their retained earnings and fail to attract further investor support.

  6. PrQ

    If I were advising the government at this point, I would suggest a routine policy of “no comment” in response to any question from an employee of News Limited. Obama tried this with Fox News early on, but other news organizations threatened to boycott his press conferences in solidarity and he backed down. That was, I think, a mistake.

    Very much agree.

    IIRC I advocated almost exactly this policy following the June NPC address by Gillard at which she famously cautioned: Don’t Write Crap

    I also responded to Malcolm Turnbull more generally on what ought to be done with the press. Rarther than clog this place up, I’ve left the link.

  7. About once every 3 months, I glance quickly through a newspaper. This is enough to remind me why I don’t buy or read them now. I’m all in favour of quiet consumer boycotts for myself. But I am quite happy for people like JQ to point out that modern newspapers like the OZ are very poor.

  8. @fred

    What john b said.

    To be clear, commenters aren’t entitled to say what they like on this blog. If you breach my comments policy, I’ll delete or ban you. But it only takes 5 minutes to set up your own blog, Twitter feed etc, and there you can say what you like, subject to defamation etc.

  9. John :The Australian is center right biased, so what? The New York Times, Guardian, Age are left wing biased, who really cares? That’s their business model and they favour opinion writers that suits their needs.
    A whole lot of people need to calm down and grow the f### up.

    John

    Are we to take it from this that you consider Murdoch’s rabid Fox in the US and the bizarre hacking culture of his London newspapers to also be centre right and normal practice, that we should just get used to such nonsense and ‘grow up’ – and that all this scandal and drivel overseas has no relationship to the behaviour/content of his Australian newspapers?

    What a curious view of the world you have. Afterall what the Murdoch media shows is, in addition to loathing the left, (fair enough as this is really just about football team analogues if I follow your rationale) Murdoch also considers his fellow travellers and supporters of the right like you so locked in to his media organs that they can be dished up any rubbish and will accept it.

    There was a time of course when the majority on the left were similarly locked into an bastard ideology – the days of support for old Jo Stalin and the homicidal Mao. Fortunately most of the broad left have now grown up and see the world in terms of grey and Julie not as some supreme being.

    But that now leaves people such as your good self. What I want to know is when are you going to wake up and realize how likes of Murdoch are treating you with as much disdain and disrespect as the old dictators of left once did (and still in the case of North Korea do in ways which would be comical if they werent so tragic in human terms).

  10. “These should either be made available to everyone, or restricted to media organizations willing to commit to factual reporting, fair treatment of the issues in news stories and so on.”

    I vote “everyone.”

  11. Clearly the Oz is the flagship of vanity publishing.

    Those long-suffering US stockholders who just yesterday tried unsuccessfully to jemmy Rupert out of his position of power no doubt have publications like the Oz in mind when they grind their teeth at the less than optimal return on capital achieved by NewsCorp.

    Rupert retorted that NewsCorp shares had rocketed in price since the NOTW scandal and that if shareholders weren’t happy with the performance of the company, then they should sell up. Given that Rupert’s rellies own a large proportion of the voting shares of the corporation, any shareholders who want to buy influence as well as wealth should consider carefully Rupert’s advice. Otherwise, they can remain, birdies in a gilded cage, waiting for the next corporate fiasco to spring from the increasingly sclerotic mind of Rupert Murdoch and of his accident-prone offspring.

    Meanwhile, the Oz, the Great Panjandrum of Bloviators, floats smugly on a deep ocean of red ink.

    Rather than boycott the Oz, government spinmeisters would be better served pointing out the above facts whenever circumstances recommend. In the public mind, ridicule is a far sharper barb than complaint.

  12. Ironically I tried to read the Oz today, while having lunch in a coffee shop. Hard to cop this “news”.

  13. murdoch has made mistakes: he supported whitlam in 1972. vanity publishing indeed.

    Murdoch is like Packer. Murdoch has a long history of backing whoever is the winning side: supporting Whitlam, Hawke, Keating and Blair. Murdoch then changes with the political winds to stay on the winning side. do investors in highly regulated free-to-are TV and cable TV industries have other options?

    Murdoch’s see-sawing political stances are entirely pragmatic. He is always been prepared to back winners just before they win, and to shift allegiances on non-ideological grounds.

    Murdoch seems to supporting right-wing parties more simply because the right-wing parties are more popular and win elections more often.

    HT: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/a-man-of-selfish-loyalties-rupert-murdochs-apparent-overture-to-tony-blair-strikes-a-chilling-chord-among-australian-politicians-he-has-supported-1376362.html

  14. I’ve come to the conclusion that the leftist political aware of today are self destructive. The self righteous and proud always are.

    A leftist can never simply state what “they” want. That would be selfish. Countless time and effort must be spent convincing others of how much this is being achieved for them. This includes amazingly fighting for (at sometimes large personal costs) ideas ,actions, and people one not only doesn’t really agree, one sometimes doesn’t even like. It’s a self sacrifice thing that the selfish could never understand apparently.

    I’m amazed at the personal drama and losses in so many ways, people have put themselves through to get to a place that isn’t actually of any personal benefit. More often than not it was at personal expense.

    I think Mr Quiggin would like to see more government involvement (money) in say his chosen field of education. Rather than simply point this out he advocates government spending and that includes deficit spending. He then goes through all the reasons why people should support it and what they’ll gain from it.

    They deserve it they’re encouraged to believe. They’re entitled to it they’re made to feel. Those that say otherwise a stealing or hiding this entitlement. The time has come to go get what is in fact rightfully theirs. Tell a person enough about how important and sinned against they are, and unfortunately one day they’ll come to believe you.

    The most sought group of people, lets call them the “government” deciding bogans, which oddly enough are the same people that are the cause of so many problems our leftist thinkers point out recieve their entitlements. Which guess what? instills a new sense of empowerment. Which only re-enforces a growing sense of entitlement. I want a better house, I want my kids at a better school, I want three flat screens and two cars, I want a yearly overseas jaunt.

    Why haven’t I got it? What are you going to do to make it possible? Punishment will be swift for anything except complete acknowledgement and acceptence of the all needs, now morphed to entitlements. Which means to even think about denying is now viewed as a form of theft.

    Mr Quiggin rather than be honest about the abject waste batts, halls, and oddles of underserved compensation etc is, you defend it if undertaken by your preferred political ideology. You even stated that it didn’t really make any difference where or what the money went toward.

    So here we are at the point of arguing the merits of a personal home expense like pink batts being placed in overly large home owned by “bogan” types that Mr Quiggin is down right hostile toward. Many of this down trodden and tortured once grow up in household too proud to take governement money they were legally available to them, because “they needed really need it”, “and it would be better going some place that does”.

    This life saving stimulus spending has meet the criteria for success, making pink batts for bogans the equal importance of say a 3 billion investment in education, training, grants and so forth.

    Where are we at? Well we now have a government desprately trying to find money (one way is by cutting 600 mill from research), so as the maximum amount can be found to offer these people the spending that is so important to gain the power and the right to spend more government money on their growing needs. Which of course means finding cuts to things these people place little importance toward.

    Leftists, convice a bunch of people they need something, so as they can attain it, and a clear new sense of their power, all so one can end up with less of the thing one set out to gain in the first place.

    That’s the thing about winning, it’s a lot like morals, it meaning isn’t a universially accepted one.

    Let’s get out their and convince people they should control what we all can watch, read, and hear. It can only be for the greater good in the end.

  15. John you say “Which only re-enforces a growing sense of entitlement. I want a better house, I want my kids at a better school, I want three flat screens and two cars, I want a yearly overseas jaunt.”

    I’ve always thought that it was the amoral marketing by ‘the capitalists’ that has taken away our values and left us sheeple wanting more and more stuff.

    Surely you have noticed that it is the ads, not the government, that encourage us to be really bad people and actually use the seven deadly sins – sloth, envy, lust, gluttony, etc, to sell us stuff? It is the capitalists that have done this social engineering and made us believe we are ‘entitled’.

    So the way I see it the government is spending money to pay for the damage that the capitalists do. It is capitalists who make the useless food that makes us fat. They make the things that discourage us from being active and doing things for ourselves. Did you know that orange growers are going out of business because we are now too lazy to peel oranges; we want mandarins.

    It is capitalism and the example set by the 1% that encourages us to climb that ladder and step on the person below. It is the desire of capitalists to make more profit that encourages us to throw good stuff out and buy new things. Where did thrift go? It is not the government that encourages us to feel entitled.

  16. An obvious implication is that, while Murdoch should be free to publish whatever he likes, his employees should not be accorded any of the special privileges that were routinely accorded to journalists in the 20th century, such as press passes, access to press conferences, special privileges shielding sources and so on. These should either be made available to everyone, or restricted to media organizations willing to commit to factual reporting, fair treatment of the issues in news stories and so on.

    As an alternative to this, John, the government could try being less crap. Personally I don’t have any problem with biased journalism, as the pose of ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ journalism is not only boring but often quite dishonest anyway.

  17. @TimT

    As an alternative to this, John, the government could try being less crap. Personally I don’t have any problem with biased journalism, as the pose of ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ journalism is not only boring but often quite dishonest anyway.

    Like you, I reject the notions of ‘bias’ and ‘balance’ as misleading and at best useless. On the other hand, a commitment to professional journalism — selecting salient data, not claiming things you know or ought to suppose were misleading or wrong — is a reasonable thing. Being accountable for the things one claims in public space, admitting both error and its provenance are fair things to expect of journalists, IMO.

    You don’t specify what you mean by the government “being less crap”, but even allowing for the sake of argument that they were crap, that would not relieve journalists of the responsibility of trying to do a professional job in reporting on its activity. Likewise, even if the government were paragons of accountability, competence and pursuit of equity in public policy — on your model the journalists could defame them at will and use their near monopoly control of public discourse to subvert the possibility of most people making informed decsions about the quality of the regime. I don’t see how that could be a good thing.

    So what the government “might try” is a red herring. We are not discussing the quality of the regime here but the quality of the media and their right to be accorded privileges.

  18. @TimT

    As Fran says, you’re missing the point. I don’t have a problem with biased writing or even with the dishonesty inevitable in political propaganda. It’s just that the term “journalist” carries a bunch of connotations which include a degree of objectivity and truthfulness not found in the Murdoch Press. Once we recognise that those connotations don’t apply, we can respond sensibly to the fact that the Oz routinely prints lies when they help its political allies or harm its enemies (as noted, identities may change depending on Murdoch’s commercial needs and political whims).

  19. on objectivity and truthfulness, many a muckracking journalist is disqualified.

    the news emerges from a contest of views, a clash of opinions and a continual tension between competing groups. the decent chaps rule never works. critical evaluation is better.

  20. the government could try being less crap.

    LOL! I used to think that. But on reflection I think they have tried and it hasn’t worked. They’re still crap.

  21. Ultimately Murdoch is committed to growing his global media entertainment business and the Oz is just another stream.

  22. I looked at the Australian in the coffee shop I visited today. However the headlines on the front page gave me no reason to even pick up the free paper for a look over a cuppa. I agree that the Government should ignore the people who claim to be journalists who write for this paper as the headlines alone showed the strong anti government bias. Pulling government advertising was a good start.
    TerjeP and TimT perhaps the government isn’t crap but you just think that because of the biased media you read. Just look at last week when the PM delivered a speech which has few equals and the MSM decided to tell everybody that it was crap. Because people could see it for themselves many formed the opinion that the opinion pieces were the real crap. It does show how a biased media taints the democracy and makes the idea of a contest of ideas impossible if the MSM is the standard as there was no contest there at all.

  23. Residents and visitors to the Gold Coast have many newspapers they can read.

    We have Rupert’s ‘Courier-Mail’, Rupert’s (ironically named) ‘The Australian’, Rupert’s ‘Gold Coast Bulletin’ and, increasingly, Rupert’s ‘Daily Telegraph’.

    They are all consistently crap. I find it interesting that over the years trolls like to defend Rupert’s right to publish crap but I never see them standing up an argument about how that crap is of any value to this country.

    As a journalist with a website I see nothing terrifying in the Finklestein suggestions. I would be happy to even have a law that says we couldn’t publish “lies”.

    Speaking of which, today’s “Bully” (the very appropriate local term for Murdoch’s ‘Gold Coast Bulletin’) had as its front page screaming headline a story about how the evil ‘fun police’ had banned the traditional ‘burnouts’ etc.. from this weekend’s V8 event.

    Of course the story wasn’t true.

    It was a lie.

    It was fabricated, made up, false, untrue, dishonest, fake and so on….

    These people are not journalists. They are the type of people who hack a dead child’s phone for fun. They are, to use Rupert’s terminology, scum.

    There is no such thing as a “good” News Ltd employee. They are enablers.

    Scum.

  24. Just look at last week when the PM delivered a speech which has few equals and the MSM decided to tell everybody that it was crap.

    The incident last week actually lowered my regard for this government. And I had thought we were at rock bottom already. My view is that many in the main stream media opened their eyes for a change.

    This government is crap. It deals in dirt. It lies. It spends recklessly. It implements dud policies. It protects the most shady and shonky of characters on the most ludicrous of pretexts. Most of the mainstream media has been biased in favour of this government and has failed to hold it fully to account. If the media is now belatedly saying the government is crap it is not because of anti government bias but because of a decline in pro government sympathies and the underlying reality that this government really is crap.

  25. Back to Johns point about privileged status for media outlets. I think revoking press passes for News limited wouldn’t work in the governments favour. However it could give it a go if it wants to further paint itself as a government preoccupied with petty things. And if we were to rank government privileges given to media outlets then surely the elephant in the room is the fact that the ABC is given a mountain of taxpayers money.

  26. Terje, please give some substance to your ‘opinions’.

    Take spends recklessly for instance.
    you do know the public sector is detracting from Growth this financial year.

    Can you explain how a contractionary budget is spending recklessly?

    That is just one point.

    One could take you to task on the others but it would take a lot f time

  27. @TerjeP

    Predictable but implausible attempt at a thread derail. This topic is not about the quality of the government but about the quality of the media. There is no case for arguing that News Ltd is describing the sweep of government policy in the way that would a professional observer.

    Your amateur copy and paste from Menzies-IPA-Catallaxy doesn’t change that.

  28. On the plus side Shanahan and Sheridan are the best comedy act in the Australian media especially Sheridan’s line about Abbott’s meeting with SBY being ‘a defining moment in Australian diplomatic history’.

    More gold here.

    http://hyperbolicgreg.tumblr.com

  29. Predictable but implausible attempt at a thread derail. This topic is not about the quality of the government but about the quality of the media.

    Why blame me? Sure I may have added to the discussion about the quality of the government but it wasn’t me that started it.

  30. Most of the mainstream media has been biased in favour of this government and has failed to hold it fully to account.

    Depends on what you mean by “fully”, TerjeP. There are some who allege that Gillard caused her father to “die of shame”. Are you disappointed that the sections of the media not controlled by Murdoch haven’t investigated this proposition with sufficient diligence?

  31. Terje, please give some substance to your ‘opinions’.

    Normally I would oblige and justify my criticism of the government however two things lead me to hesitate:-

    1. I’ve already being accused of derailing the discussion. Following your lead would probably just take us down further rabbit holes.
    2. My opinion was offered as a subjective retort to Jill’s subjective view point. We’re just playing “she thinks, he thinks”. She thinks the media showed bias this past week, I think it momentarily overcame some of it’s bias. It’s hard to sustain objective arguments about subjective views of bias. Especially when there are elements of a tribal divide. If Jill wants to pursue the matter then I may engage but for the moment I will pass up on the opportunity.

  32. Katz – as far as I know only one commentator (Alan Jones) has said that Julie Gillards father died of shame. Alan Jones was being a complete arsehole. His remarks were condemned by all sides of politics. Nobody has defended the remark or suggested he should stand by the remark.

  33. @TerjeP

    Why blame me? Sure I may have added to the discussion about the quality of the government but it wasn’t me that started it.

    Because you added to it? If one person starts doing the wrong thing, it doesn’t mean that the door is open for others to compound the problem. Your responsibility continues.

    This topic is about what (if anything) should be done about the quality of News Ltd. How “crap” one thinks the government is, is quite a separate matter — and something we discuss regularly in other topics.

  34. @John
    For Heaven’s sake! You can’t reasonably discount the overwhelming dominance of the Murdoch press – the relentless bias of the Australian and other News Ltd papers is in large measure responsible for the poor image of the Gillard govt and the failure to nail Tony Abbott for his lack of vision or even clear policies.
    The few “left wing” commentators don’t come within a bull’s roar of the coverage and influence of Murdoch’s disingenous spruikers.

  35. Fran – perhaps I should have asked “why single me out?”. I agree we should try and stay on the main topic as a general rule but I doubt that is a rule you could consistently live up to yourself. In short don’t be too precious.

  36. “the relentless bias of the Australian and other News Ltd papers is in large measure responsible for the poor image of the Gillard govt and the failure to nail Tony Abbott for his lack of vision or even clear policies.”

    I think propaganda is the right word for this lack of fairness, objectivity and lack of interest in an alternative narrative.

  37. Lateline had a similar discussion last Friday with News Ltd’s Campbell Reid and Prof Rod Tiffen re: media integrity and the effectiveness of the Press Council etc. Reid conceded on 2 occasions that they’ve received an unusually large amount of complaints regarding the reporting of climate change, but appeared to brush it off as something they were willing to not act on.

  38. The left and the right are just as guilty as each other of indulging in groupthink and circlejerks, publishing only that which suits their particular world view.

    If you want this government to refuse to answer News Ltd reporters than equally when a Coalition government is in power its supporters could justifiably demand that it refuse to answer Global Mail, or even arguably ABC, reporters.

    I would caution against setting such a petty precedent, thought that is only my humble opinion.

  39. @rog

    This is the quote:

    “Alan Jones’ new porkies test: fact-checker for shock jock (18 Oct)
    Alan Jones’ editorial comments will be fact-checked before going to air, under a deal struck between 2GB management and the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The controversial broadcaster will also undergo training next month to ensure his on-air statements are factually accurate and that he understands the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.”

    The mind boggles at Alan Jones ‘undergoing training’. Who will be the lucky facilitator. Will questions from the trainee be allowed. Will this be a group exercise or a one on one. I would love to be a fly on that wall.

  40. @TerjeP

    I agree we should try and stay on the main topic as a general rule but I doubt that is a rule you could consistently live up to yourself. In short don’t be too precious.

    That’s fair comment. I have been known to take a rather expansive view of what the topic boundaries are. Most recently, I became involved on the “boycott hate radio” topic in a diversion about the history of the left and IIRC Ernerstine called me on it. I stopped and returned to the topic.

    In my case, while wandering off topic was wrong — I shouldn’t have taken the bait — nobody will suppose I was keen to run interference on a topic in which I’m invested. In your case, there is the lingering supsicion that you’d like the topic to be something else but what to do about News Ltd becase

    a) It smells like a call for regulation — which for you is hot button issue
    b) you regard an Abbott regime as less objectionable and News Ltd is therefore defensible because it is trolling the regime

  41. Already been done by a right wing government, ts.
    In the 1980’s, Bjelke-Petersen referred to giving a news conference as “feeding the chooks”.
    He didn’t ban news organisations; only specific reporters, obliging that reporter’s employer to send someone who would report his “chook food” favourably. It worked.

  42. While it is undeniable that Murdoch uses the political influence of his media empire to support his incumbent, rent-seeking privilege, it is trivially false to suggest this is somehow a neutral or apolitical process of picking the winner to sustain commercial advantage.

    Murdoch is not Roger Ailes but he is certainly a dogmatic ideological conservative. This narrative cannot account for countless instances of politicians coming to him as supplicant, and receiving it under specific ideological conditions which have nothing to do with his business interests. For example, see Tony Blair and Euroscepticism and the Iraq War.

    Nor can it account for the day-to-day uniform bias against any nominally progressive politics, the fawning and credulous attitude to movement conservatism and reactionary politics that pervades both straight report and editorial pages in all his mastheads, and the lack of any sustained and serious scrutiny that goes to the conservative side.

    It is true that a politician facing an inevitable win, will most likely receive an imprimatur of “heart of the nation” as part of bet-hedging. But that simple truism ignores the fact that Murdoch has traditionally already extracted a price from the candidate just to get in the race and have a career in the first place that aspires to leadership. Even so, any nominal progressive faces the headwinds of negative coverage that by tooth and claw will always favour the conservative up until there is no scintilla of doubt that the conservative cannot win.

    For example, the much touted example of The Oz backing Rudd was preceded by months of disingenuous coverage by their political team trying to spin every indicia of polling that could conceivably suggest another Howard term. Had the race been even remotely competitive that endorsement would never have even happened. It is intellectual sophistry of the the highest order to suggest such endorsements are somehow neutral decisions that simply reflect organic democratic preferences – when all his coverage is fundamentally ideology and all non-conservative hedges are made in absolute last resort when even the most dishonest coverage has failed to sway the electorate the other way.

  43. @TerjeP
    TerjeP, assuming “the government” has lied (you probably mean a person in the government), to which lie or lies are you referring?
    Would the pink batts fiasco, the ill-conceived solar panel subsidy scheme and the dud BER school grants be examples of reckless spending?

  44. Geoff Andrews :Already been done by a right wing government, ts.In the 1980?s, Bjelke-Petersen referred to giving a news conference as “feeding the chooks”.He didn’t ban news organisations; only specific reporters, obliging that reporter’s employer to send someone who would report his “chook food” favourably. It worked.

    Contemptible behaviour by a government as I’m sure you’d agree.

    Probably not a good example to follow, no matter what your political persuasion.

  45. by golly Geoff,

    The BER taskforce didn’t find it was a dud, Far from it.

    nor was the pink bats a fiasco as the Hawkes report showed.

    Just for the record feeding the chooks was another of giving news to reporters.

    well done Geoff

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