News Corp lies to Australia

Kevin Rudd at senate inquiry

True to Rupert Murdoch’s editorial policy, as denounced by his own son James, News Corp executives fed the senate media diversity inquiry a mix of disinformation, misinformation, and outright lies.

Most of this came as responses to Kevin Rudd’s evidence, which struck me as a little weak and understated in itself; I had expected a stronger case from him.  Perhaps it just wasn’t reported that way.  But the response by News Corp nevertheless indicated the company felt threatened by what he had to say.

News Corp’s devoted considerable word count to rebuttals by News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller and colleague Campbell Reid, and executive in charge of corporate affairs, policy and government relations teams—meaning spin doctoring and colluding with Scotty from marketing’s gang.

Miller refuted lack of diversity in Australia media market by arguing Australians choose from many different news sources and are discerning consumers of news.

  • That’s disinformation: if there’s no Australian diversity, where can Australians get accurate reporting on Australian issues? 
  • How does internet access to conspiracy theories, disinformation, and lies balance out oligopoly conditions in Australia? 
  • And isn’t the apparent reliance by up to 40 per cent of Australians on Facebook for news evidence of very little discernment in the ‘consumption’ of news?

Miller says he doesn’t direct editors what to publish politically.

  • More disinformation: the proof of the pudding is the similarity in right wing extremist causes, conspiracy theories, and climate change denialism across News Corporation’s international media assets. 
  • The common factor is not a disingenuous Australian executive, but Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.
Truth graphic for decoration.

Campbell Reid denied News Corp assets engaged in character assassination, which he said only occurred on Twitter.

  • An outright lie.  Anyone who monitored News Corp’s 2019 election coverage recognized how Bill Shorten was demonized, followed shortly later by even worse treatment of Daniel Andrews, and then Annastacia Palaszczuk during the state election in Queensland. 
  • Moreover, Twitter doesn’t have press accreditation and the access to government that comes with it. 
  • And most importantly, in the Daniel Andrews’ case, News Corp newspapers and Sky News promoted breaking the law on lockdown, curfews, and self-isolation to put his government in crisis.  An agenda very similar to News Corp’s suborning of a coup in the USA by supporting ‘stolen election’ and other delusional, dishonest claims by Donald Trump on its Fox News channel. An agenda that continues unabated.

Reid argued that defunding the wire service AAP was purely a business decision, not an attempt at market rigging.

  • Reid lied: News Corp colluded with Nine Entertainment, chaired by former treasurer and Murdoch puppet Peter Costello, to use his insight into AAP as its former chair to put it out of business so News Corp could dominate that market niche itself. 
  • Did anyone ask whether Nine Entertainment agreed to rig the market this way with a favourable rate for the competing News Corp service?

Miller rebutted Rudd’s statement that News Corp’s 70 per cent ownership of print media in Australia made it a fearsome enemy to anyone not favoured by Rupert Murdoch, arguing this was an unwarranted focus on only print media, which is in sharp decline.

  • Miller misinformed the Senate: he knows from experience how the Murdoch papers represent a strong oligopoly position that has enormous influence on particularly older Australians. 
  • That print media are in sharp decline is easily explained by paywalls with steep prices for very biased coverage from Nine News and News Corp. 
  • He also avoided talking about how Sky News leveraged and amplified biased and dishonest reporting in the Murdoch press, and vice versa.

Miller told the senate that Rudd was wrong to point to Queensland as a News Corp print monopoly.

  • Miller again misinformed the Senate: News Corp operates the state’s only daily, and the regional papers in Toowomba, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. 
  • Is he seriously proposing smaller provincial and suburban newspapers are a viable alternative to News Corp’s stranglehold on the press market in Queensland?  That the smaller papers could possibly reach as many readers, or have as much access to government as the Murdoch propaganda platform?

Miller rejected claims by Rudd that News Corp had campaigned for climate change denialism, arguing Rupert Murdoch believed in climate change science.

  • Misinformation: Murdoch is well capable of saying one thing and practicing another.  Hypocrisy is not the sole domain of politics. 
  • The proof of the pudding is the word count devoted by Murdoch’s propaganda platform devoted to climate change denialism. 
  • Was that evidence sought or supplied?

Miller alleged accusations by Rudd and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull about climate change denialism in News Corp were diversions from their own failings.

  • Probably partly true, but not a convincing rejection of the allegations, also made by James Murdoch, who had no reason to divert attention from his own failings in that regard.
  • Has anyone asked how much word count was devoted by News Corp media assets to lie about the serious consequences of continuing to use fossil fuels like coal? To support coal and gas industry lobbyists? Was evidence supplied to show this word count was less than or equal to climate change science stories?
Fake news illustration for decoration.

Miller said News Corp carried 3000 stories on the bushfires in 2020, alleging ‘many’ referenced climate change as causal factor.

  • Misinformation: what percentage carried an uncontested argument about climate change, as opposed to mentioning someone had said it was, but also carrying spurious allegations of arson, failure to back-burn or otherwise manage vulnerable land, and other causes?

Reid rejected an argument that News Corp was in the grip of a sick, misogynist organizational culture.

  • Outright lie: News Corp platforms regularly practice slut-shaming, sexist objectification, and patronizing attitudes to women who don’t share the Murdoch right wing extremist views. 
  • Kevin Rudd explicitly mentioned News Corp sexism toward former prime minister Julia Gillard, including the misogynist slogan ‘ditch the witch’.
  • This is a significant plank of News Corp’s bigotry, including regularly racist comment on migrant minorities (prominently Muslims), and, especially, First Australians. Senator Mehreen Faruqi’s evidence of News Corp’s routine bigotry was far more convincing than Reid’s spin.
  • After encouraging people to disobey coronavirus lockdowns and curfews, News Corp also revelled in publicly exposing people who did exactly that, especially if they are women or people from ethnic minorities.
  • Miller implied that News Corp merely reflected significant debates and differences of opinion in Australia on such issues, but since when do conspiracy theories and neo-fascist ideology count as significant opinions?

Nine Entertainment CEO Hugh Marks commented on the joint Nine/News withdrawal of funding for the Australian Associated Press newswire service, arguing its business model was not sustainable and didn’t provide content suitable for Nine’s planned ‘model’.

  • Misinformation: AAP relied too heavily on funding from Nine and News Corp, and provided unbiased journalism incompatible with Nine and News Corp’s political agenda to colour every story with right wing extremist bias. 
  • Did Nine sign up to News Corp’s alternative news wire service?  Was that part of a market rigging arrangement that included defunding AAP?  Were those questions asked and answered?

Liberal Senator David Fawcett argued the Queensland News Corp press monopoly had no serious political impact given that the state Labor Party had won eight of nine elections in recent times.

  • Misinformation: the ALP won in Queensland because the LNP had been unable to stop internal frictions and field stronger candidates with policies that had wider appeal.
  • Significantly, the disastrous premiership of Campbell Newman, marked by cronyism, incompetence, and economic vandalism, left a bitter aftertaste in the electorate.
  • But the News Corp press monopoly in Queensland undoubtedly played a critical role in the 2019 federal election gains for the LNP of Herbert (Courier Mail and Sunshine Coast Daily, both News Corp) and Longman (Courier Mail and Townsville Bulletin, both News Corp).

This commentary is based on the article, by News Corp, putting the best case for its own self-interest.  Interestingly, though, that case turned out to be quite weak, and exposed its executives as not particularly polished liars, but with open contempt for the senate and the Australian electorate.

Much like the banking executives who faced the Senate a few years ago, with both groups knowing they could count on no consequences accruing through the ideological support of Scotty from marketing and his gang.

Worst of all, though, is that the News Corp factotums were not questioned more aggressively to present proofs of their misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies.

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