Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Blowing the Whistle on Murdoch's Australian

An extract from Ideology runs rampant at Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspaper by Jim Buckell, News Corpse escapee:

"Under the editorship of Paul Kelly and then David Armstrong this extremist tendency ['unwavering, often knee-jerk conservative ideology'], while not unknown, was usually kept in check by a range of views. Sadly, in the noughties this position gradually gave way to the thundering of the neoconservatives. The paper began to act like more of a propaganda sheet for the rightwing of the Liberal Party than a broad-based sounding board for big ideas and public policy. This period roughly corresponded with [Chris] Mitchell's ascendancy as editor-in-chief. And therein lies the dilemma. No matter how well written, no matter how well edited, the paper's right-wing bias is overwhelming. The tone is hectoring and unforgiving, making it frustrating to read and tricky to work around as a journalist. As a reporter you learn how to navigate around masthead biases that don't fit in with your own values or approach to news gathering. It's a survival technique you have to master to balance the demands of editors with the fragile trust you build with your sources... I can't read the paper anymore. It's too distressing seeing ideology run rampant because it suits the ideology of Rupert Murdoch and his allies. The influence the Australian and News Corp Australia wield by setting a market-based, small-government agenda is widely understood because it's so blatant. Less well scrutinised is the impact of groupthink on the profession of journalism within Fortress News. When dissent is marginalised and self-censorship is an unquestioned norm, the newsroom culture becomes self-serving. Chris Mitchell may have been a conjuror but we should be under no illusion about the price he extracted." (theguardian.com, 7/12/15)

Buckell's piece, while welcome, is too short on detail. If only he could eventually write an extended analysis of the beast, along the lines of Robert Manne's 2011 Quarterly Essay - but without Manne's selective vision - see my 2 posts, The Silence of the Intellectuals 1 & 2 (6-7/9/11).

A trawl through the hundreds of comments which followed on the Guardian Australia website was an interesting experience given that so few of the commenters actually read The Australian (and, I suspect, are blissfully unaware of its malign hold on our political class). Typically, therefore, only 3 were sufficiently aware of its ferocious Zionism to refer to the fact:

"I've read the Australian since 1980, and the last few years the constant bashing of the ABC, and extreme slant to the right makes it hard to read more than half the paper. Worst of all are the diatribes of Greg Sheridan, sycophant of murderous regimes like China, and an appalling apologist for the crimes of Israel and its occupation of the West Bank. I remember back in the 80s before Timor gained independence his shameful apologia for the murder of Timorese by the Indonesian government."

"The Australian Goebbels. Heil Rupert. But now he prays to the mountain of Zion. The rest is just business."

"The Australian - cheerleader for Israel, relentless Muslim-basher, climate change denier. Try getting a pro-Palestinian letter published - no chance - while some members of the pro-Israel brigade seem to have a season ticket to the letters page."

And, apart from that last comment, no one - not one! - mentioned The Australian's now dominant feature, its rampant Islamophobia.

On the other hand, it was good to see so many Guardian readers taking the opportunity to have a swipe at the Guardian itself, although none mentioned its insidious liberal Zionist line, which emanates from its (relatively) new editor-in-chief Jonathan Freedland, and surfaces in opinion pieces by him and the likes of Nick Cohen, Hadley Freeman and Rafael Behr.

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