A Vice News film crew embedded with a far-right speaker in Charlottesville last weekend seeks to highlight the motivations of white supremacists
A Vice News film crew embedded with a far-right speaker in Charlottesville last weekend seeks to highlight the motivations of white supremacists
ReachTEL: 51-49 to LaborThe Coalition gets a better federal voting intention result from ReachTEL, although the result would be more typical of recent polling of preferences are applied as per the 2016 election result.Essential Research: 54-46 to LaborLabor maintains its wide lead in an Essential Research poll that also gauges opinion on party polarisation, same-sex marriage and foreign leaders.BludgerTrack: 53.0-47.0 to LaborA bit of a fillip for Labor in the latest reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, and also for Bill Shorten whose net approval rating has edged ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s.My thought for the day.”Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.”
Fox guest: “If it’s an interview” with Trump, “it’s on Fox”
Media Matters to Ofcom: Latest developments at Fox News prove the Murdochs aren’t fit to take over Sky
In the firing line is Ten’s news division. Staff fear their local weeknight bulletins will be replaced by a national news hour, produced by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News. Sydney newsreader Sandra Sully is tipped to host the new service, which may retain the Eyewitness News branding. Share on Facebook SHAREShare on Twitter TWEETPopular Ten programs such as The Project will continue unchanged. For now.Popular Ten programs such as The Project will continue unchanged. For now. Photo: TenIt’s possible this bulletin will feature local news “windows”. Even so, viewers will see a drop in state-specific stories. Any cuts to news will affect Studio 10 and especially The Project. Every day, it uses Eyewitness News footage. Sometimes, it even borrows its equipment.
Right-wing media is failing in its attempt to manufacture consent. Jeremy Corbyn proved that even with the entire mainstream media against him (even the BBC) it is possible to smash through the lies and spin of Murdoch and his other 5 billionaire friends who control more than 80% of the U.K media
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is currently trying to take full control of the United Kingdom satellite broadcasting company Sky — which oversees Sky News. Such a move would increase media consolidation in the U.K., and it raises concerns that the Murdochs could seek to turn Sky News into a right-wing propaganda outlet like Fox News. In the c
The merger has been greeted with silence by ministers who usually welcome foreign investment. That’s because Murdoch is as controversial as ever
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The ‘Fake Sheikh’ has been jailed for 15 months for lying in the service of News UK. It’s time for Leveson part two to begin, and end the company’s corruption
The screaming headline on the front of today’s edition of The Sun added to the shredding of Tony Blair’s reputation. “Weapons of Mass Deception,” it blared. That was bit rich, considering the role of The Sun and the rest of the global media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch in the run-up to the Iraq war.
Media mogul, who was gung-ho for the invasion of Iraq, now wants us to believe he – and the Sun – were taken in by Britain’s prime minister
Two weeks ago Rupert Murdoch’s ex wife No.3 Wendi Deng was arm-in-arm with hunky violinist Charlie Siem, 17 years her junior who also dabbles in a bit of underwear modelling.
It’s a brave politician who dares take on Rupert Murdoch, especially in an election year. But that’s exactly what Malcolm Turnbull looks set to do.
Those puzzled by the Heydon Gang’s decision to clear Bill Shorten of all criminal hypotheses months ahead of schedule need only look at the timing, writes Bob Ellis.
‘This guy has got to go, and it has to happen before Christmas,’ Malcolm Turnbull said of Tony Abbott a month ago in conversation with colleagues.
Illustration by Simon Kneebone For those watching closely this week, Rupert Murdoch’s tweets clearly signposted how the political scenario is likely to unfold over the next six months. There will be a snap election. The trigger for this will arise from either a leadership challenge or a double dissolution. The latter is the more probable of the…
Fox News is outraged that the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia — where over 87% of residents are Muslim — moved their annual Fourth of July celebration “out of respect” for those observing Ramadan in the country, claiming that they’re just being “overly sensitive” to Islam and using the event to claim the United States is “leading from behind” on foreign policy.
On June 4, the United States Embassy in Indonesia celebrated the Fourth of July after Ambassador Robert Blake moved up the celebration one month “in order to respect the upcoming Ramadan month,” according to The Jakarta Post.
During the June 10 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends host Elisabeth Hasselbeck and guest Jim Hanson criticized the embassy’s decision to move up the Independence Day celebration, blasting them for being “overly sensitive to Islamic sensibilities.” Citing the decision as evidence that the Obama administration has “lost its way,” Hanson asserted that the U.S. is “the exceptional nation” and “should act like it. That’s not being rude or insensitive to other people, that’s just what you should do.” Hasselbeck agreed, suggesting that this is another example of the administration “leading from behind”:
Hanson argued that “Indonesians are hardly the most extreme Muslims,” but Fox’s outrage ignores that Indonesia has the highest population of Muslim residents in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, 87.2% of the population in the country identifies as Muslim — meaning the large majority of the country would be fasting in observance of Ramadan during the celebration had it not been moved.
From The Age : Stephanie Peatling,
” Prime Minister Tony Abbott has appointed a new personal photographer:”
News Corp photographer .
By proposing new regulations to cover Australia’s media, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has started a war with cranky old press propagandist and pay TV monopolist Rupert Murdoch, writes Rodney E. Lever.
‘A government can no more regulate the news that it can regulate the weather. Hitler and Mussolini tried and look what happened to them?’
[Note: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were European dictators who exerted iron control over their media. In the end, Hitler shot himself in the head and Mussolini was last seen hanging from his feet outside a butcher shop in Italy.]
I wrote the above Tweet when I woke to Fran Kelly on the ABC passing on the news that Rupert Murdoch had entered the fray over a submission presented to Prime Minister Tony Abbott by his wily rival, Malcolm Turnbull.
The previous day, the whole story had appeared in the Fairfax-owned Australian Financial Review, also engaged heavily now in a battle with the Murdoch papers.
Of course, we all know that Rupert Murdoch himself has been personally regulating his own media from the moment his father died in 1952.
The 84 year old Rupert has employed the same strategies in Australia, Britain and the USA for the past 63 years, and any ambitions Turnbull might have to change anything is centred on Turnbull’s own desire to crush Abbott.
Regulating the media is as old a part of world politics as the media itself — from when in 1440 Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, a blacksmith, launched his home made printing press in Germany and human beings soon began to read for the first time from printed paper.
Now, in 2015, on March 16 Murdoch tweeted to his half million followers the following:
What Turnbull wants to do is to give the existing Australian media (including TV Channel 9) an opportunity for greater sharing of stories and for easier merging with other TV stations. The overall plan would enable media companies to compete with unregulated digital enterprises, like Independent Australia and its various competitors.
What is not clear yet is whether the unregulated new sources would remain unregulated.
The Turnbull plan also covers matters like free to air sports coverage and the imminent entry of the U.S. Netflix service to Australia. It will offer a paid fee opportunity to watch current movies on the home TV.
The plan leaked from Abbott’s office so fast that the ink was barely dry and Murdoch in New York was informed of Turnbull’s plan only minutes later.
News has always been a problem for those who want to manipulate it to their own advantage and Rupert Murdoch is the master of that skill. His newspapers are losing money nearly as fast as his multiple other ventures in other parts of the world are bringing in profits.
His personal use of newspapers has always been the source of his power over governments, politicians and other and his business rivals — but has been rarely displayed in such force until today.
You can follow Rodney on Twitter @RodneyELever.
The purpose of journalism is to serve the community and the purpose of political journalism is to give citizens the information they need to participate in civic affairs. Political journalists should serve as watchdogs to assure honest governance and campaigns.
Politics is often portrayed as a “game.” Indeed, sports and metaphors pepper political writing. Unlike other “games,” political ones have real world consequences: war or peace; high taxes or low; jobs or unemployment; health care or not; tackling climate change or pursuing unfettered mining. Considering the ramifications, political journalists bear a heavy responsibility to present the facts to the electorate.
The Herald Sun is a Murdoch tabloid newspaper based in Melbourne. It is the highest-circulating daily newspaper in Australia, with a weekday circulation of 515,000 and readership of 1,500,000.
Two days before the 2013 Federal election the anonymous editorial gave this ‘astute’ pronouncement which read more like a paid advertorial than insightful analysis:
“TONY Abbott stands ready today to become Australia’s new prime minister with a set of economic and social policies to take the nation into a safe and assured future.
Mr Abbott and the Coalition have shown they are more than ready to govern whereas another three years of Labor will condemn the nation to more destructive class-war politics and policy on the run.
We believe Mr Abbott stands ready to seize the day. His has been a disciplined performance in a bitter and deeply divided Parliament. He has proved himself a man of principle.
Tony Abbott has matured as a leader. He has gained people’s trust to do a tough job in tough economic times.
The Herald Sun believes Mr Abbott should be given the opportunity tomorrow to restore Australia for Australians.
We urge Australians to vote for Mr Abbott and elect him as our 28th prime minister.”
Righto then. (Note to self: Do not rely on The Herald Sun’s judgement)
Fast forward to February 2 this year. Also in the Herald Sun, Tony’s most ardent supporter, Andrew Bolt, is forced to concede:
“The LNP defeat [in Queensland] also damaged Abbott because the analogy between Newman’s fall and Abbott’s own decline is so powerful.
Newman broke promises, picked too many fights, rammed decisions down voters’ throats and carried on at times like an autocrat, making idiosyncratic decisions such as appointing an underqualified magistrate his chief justice.
He just seemed arrogant and beyond voters’ control — a fatal flaw.
Australian voters can’t be commanded, tricked, bullied, surprised, taken for granted or treated like fools. How many leaders have learned that already? Abbott, too, has broken promises — on spending cuts and tax rises. And, like Newman, he picked too many fights, announced radical schemes without real consultation and made several idiosyncratic decisions, such as reinstating knighthoods.
He now seems out of touch, unpredictable and too self-willed. One who imposes, not persuades.”
Oh? Do tell.
Abbott, in his all-encompassing search to blame others, has suggested that we have been too generous in giving “benefit of the doubt” to bad people.
I could list countless examples where that is true in domestic violence and child abuse cases. If you look at the history you wonder why those entrusted to protect us failed so badly.
In politics, it is up to the media to protect us but, with some notable exceptions, they have failed to see the pattern and to warn of the risk.
The mainstream media, along with the Liberal Party, are like a victim of political abuse, wanting to believe that their abuser truly loves them and will change.
“I have listened. I will change from now on. I’ll be better…..promise.”
How many times do you listen to this before you decide to leave?
Look at the examples of violence and aggression over the years that Abbott has either denied, defended, skited about, or, as a last resort, apologised for.
In 1976, while at University, Tony kicked in a glass panel door after a narrow defeat in the University Senate elections .
There was the 1977 charge of indecent assault where Abbott argued that Helen Wilson “was speaking about me in a highly critical way”.
The same year saw the ‘alleged’ physical intimidation of Barbara Ramjan. After she beat Mr Abbott for the presidency of the Sydney University Student Representative Council, he put his face close to hers and punched the wall either side of her head.
There was also the proven charge of destruction of public property. In celebrations after passing his final year economics examination, Abbott was challenged to bend a street sign. As he did so two policemen spotted him. The offence was proven but no conviction was recorded. Look how strong I am, nobody punishes me.
Lindsay Foyle, a former deputy editor of The Bulletin and a past president of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association, revealed that Tony Abbott once threatened to punch him because of a disagreement over abortion.
“Greg Sheridan, the education writer on The Bulletin, arrived with some people who did not work with us. The interlopers were soon identified as radicals involved in student politics at the University of Sydney.
They quickly explained how the world went around and why they had to extinguish their opposition at the university and the rest of the country. Unfortunately, I did not agree with everything that was said and a few feathers got ruffled. The main point of contention was a woman’s right to control pregnancy, either via contraception or abortion. My view was that it was something those involved should settle on, not people like me who didn’t have to live with the consequences of the decision. To the activists that view was just as unacceptable as abortion.
The largest of the lot was a person named Tony Abbott. He decided the quickest way to settle our differences was to take me downstairs and demonstrate how I was wrong by punching my head in.”
Abbott loves to speak about his sporting past which is more renowned for aggression than talent or finesse.
After being swiftly dumped from the rugby union team at Oxford, Tony entered the boxing ring where he got his much wanted blue for hitting people.
In the 80s, Abbott punched team mate Joe Hockey at football training leaving him unconscious and with two black eyes. The angst was caused by Hockey’s disapproval with Tony’s captain’s picks for team selection. How ironic.
Tony has skited about his point scored in the best and fairest awards for landing a good punch on an opponent suggesting that “sometimes, to be the best and fairest, you have to throw the first punch”.
He has admitted that his only skill at cricket was sledging.
This same ‘skill’ was on display in his threat to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin. What leader of a democratic nation speaks this way?
Throughout his public career, Abbott has expressed his dislike of outspoken women and his mistrust of homosexuals, finding both “threatening”. His attitude to feminists and gays has changed little over the years.
During his time in the Howard Government, Tony Abbott was once escorted out of Parliament because he moved in a threatening manner towards the Opposition benches just after Labor’s Graham Edwards, a Vietnam Veteran who had lost both his legs during the Vietnam War, had interjected: “You’re a disgrace”.
Tony has admitted to ‘mistakes’ over the years, like when he personally attacked terminally ill campaigner, Bernie Banton. These admissions only happen after public outrage and outing by the media.
After Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party, he encouraged his followers to attack Julia Gillard in the most personal vile sexist manner that I have ever viewed in politics. And this is how the Abbott government has proceeded. Watch how Christopher Pyne tries to shut down Kate Ellis on Q&A.
When the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, suggested we were already seeing the results of climate change and criticised Abbott’s Direct Action Plan as inadequate, he dismissed her saying she was “talking through her hat”.
Tony will not tolerate being questioned.
When asked about his “shit happens” comment about the death of a soldier in Afghanistan, Tony went into catatonic meltdown where the suppressed violence was palpable.
When asked why Peter Slipper was facing prosecution when Abbott had incorrectly claimed far greater expenses for his book signing tour, Abbott repeteadly says “the matter has been fully dealt with” before telling the female journalist to “calm down”.
When asked about corruption in the NSW government, Abbott attacked the female journalist.
“Prime minister, do you trust this government – the state government – which is proving to be corrupt, to deliver your major infrastructure plans?”
Abbott reacted angrily to the question, lecturing the woman who asked it and demanding that she “withdraw” the question.
“That is an entirely unjustified smear,” said Abbott. “Let me not mince my words, madam, an entirely unjustified smear and frankly, I think you should withdraw that and apologise because there is no evidence whatsoever for that.”
This same attack mode is used against those within his own party who dare to speak up as shown by the violent verbal tirade directed against Wyatt Roy for suggesting that honesty might be a better way to deal with their broken promises.
“Abbott was furious. He rounded on Roy, yelled at him, then directed his remarks to all of them that there were no effing broken promises and no one should concede there had been.”
And if any further proof was needed, Tony Abbott’s reprehensible response to the report on children in detention shows exactly what sort of person we are dealing with.
“The Australian Bar Association and Law Council of Australia agree that personal attacks deflect attention from the very serious findings of the report and place an individual office holder under significant pressure – we cannot tolerate our public officials and institutions being subjected to this barrage for fulfilling their statutory duties,” ABA president Fiona McLeod and Law Council president Duncan McConnel said. “To do so is to compromise the integrity of those institutions charged with holding the government to account.”
Tony Abbott is an aggressive controlling man who has been encouraged to believe his abilities are greater than they are. He is a serial abuser.
What sort of message are we sending if we tolerate and reward this sort of behaviour?
Are we going to continue to be taken for mugs by this bully?
Are the Liberal Party and the media going to give him “the benefit of the doubt” yet again?
Will the people of Australia believe that a man whose natural reaction is aggression has “listened and changed”?
As Tony Abbott himself pointed out, “we need to have decent standards in this country. We need to have decent standards from the media, if I may say so as well as decent standards from politicians.”
PM moves vote forward shortly after Malcolm Turnbull emphasises the importance of keeping it on Tuesday, angering numerous MPs
Tony Abbott has brought forward the vote on the leadership spill motion by one day, shortly after Malcolm Turnbull emphasised the importance of keeping it on Tuesday.
The decision to rush the vote angered numerous MPs, including NSW senator Arthur Sinodinos, a former assistant treasurer and the chief of staff to John Howard.
Time is running out for Tony Abbott’s chaotic and dysfunctional government
Lenore Taylor political editor
The backbench MP for Brisbane, Teresa Gambaro, warned against an “internal climate of fear and intimidation” and said: “We cannot govern the country through belligerence and hubris.”
The prime minister announced he had asked the chief government whip, Philip Ruddock, to call a special party room meeting for 9am on Monday to consider the spill motion.
The spill motion brought by two West Australian backbenchers was originally expected to be considered at Tuesday’s regular party room meeting, the first of the year.
Abbott said it was “important to end the uncertainty at the very beginning of the parliamentary sitting week” and deal with the spill motion and “put it behind us”.
“The normal party room meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning will also go ahead in the usual way,” he said.
“The only question – the only question – for our party is do we want to reduce ourselves to the level of the Labor party in dragging down a first-term prime minister,” he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
“Obviously, I’ve been talking to many colleagues over the last few days and my very strong sense is that we are determined to do what we were elected to do, to clean up Labor’s mess and to give our people the economic security and the national security that they need and deserve.”
Abbott left the media conference without taking any questions from reporters.
Bringing the vote on early raised the possibility of some people not being able to make it to Canberra in time. Ruddock said 101 of the 102 Liberal party room members were confirmed to attend, while he was checking the status of the final person.
Earlier on Sunday, Turnbull said Abbott had “shown great respect for the party room by saying that the meeting will be on Tuesday” rather than rushing it forward to Monday.
“He knows members coming to Canberra who will have been getting lots of phone calls and talking to their constituents, many of which will be uncertain, will want to have the opportunity to sit down and talk to each other in the nation’s capital in the course of that Monday leading up to the Tuesday,” the communications minister and former Liberal leader said.
Turnbull’s supporters have indicated he is likely to run for the top job if the party room passes the initial spill motion declaring open the leadership positions.
Turnbull said on Sunday he would vote against the spill motion because that was what was expected of all cabinet members, but refused to rule out being a contender if the motion succeeded.
“It’s very important to remember that the leadership of the Liberal party is, as John Howard said, the unique gift of the party room,” he said. “Now, what that means is that members of the party room have got to have the time to talk to each other, backbenchers talking to each other, backbenchers talking to frontbenchers, frontbenchers talking to frontbenchers and so forth.”
In an apparent reference to Abbott supporters fronting the media to push their case, Turnbull said it was important to talk to colleagues directly “rather than, you know, giving them advice or lecturing them or trying to communicate with them through the media, through the megaphone of the media”.
Turnbull also praised Abbott for suggesting the spill motion would be voted on through a secret ballot, saying this would allow the party room “to make its own decisions without any pressure, without people feeling that if they go one way or another, they’ll be subject to some sort of recrimination or vindictiveness or something like that”.
Gambaro issued a strongly worded statement after Abbott’s announcement.
“We cannot govern ourselves in an internal climate of fear and intimidation,” the Brisbane MP said. “And that is the unacceptable situation we have endured for the past five years.
“Equally we cannot govern the country through belligerence and hubris. In our parliamentary democracy, MPs, as elected officials, have the individual honour to serve the people of their respective electorates and as such deserve to have their voices heard. This is the path to good government.”
The manoeuvring came as a new poll suggested a leadership change would boost the Coalition’s standing with voters, but not would not place the government in an election-winning position.
The Galaxy poll for News Corp showed Labor was leading the Coalition 57% to 43% after preferences. Labor’s lead would shrink to 51% to 49% under Turnbull, the poll suggested.
In another scenario put to respondents, with the Coalition led by Julie Bishop, Labor’s lead would be 53% to 47%.
The Galaxy poll also asked whether Abbott should stand down, with 55% of respondents saying that he should and 35% disagreeing.
Senior ministers moved on Sunday to quash speculation Abbott could strike a peace deal by dumping Joe Hockey as treasurer and placing Turnbull in the key economic role.
News Corp reported that several cabinet ministers had urged Abbott to replace Hockey in the role. But the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, told the ABC’s Insiders program: “Joe Hockey has the full and complete support of the prime minister. That story is wrong.”
The Coalition’s Senate leader, Eric Abetz, emphatically rejected claims he had suggested the treasurer should be replaced. “I continue to support the leadership team and I continue to support all of my ministerial colleagues, including the treasurer,” he said.
The News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch called on the Liberal party not to change leaders. Murdoch tweeted on Sunday: “Abbott, good guy, not perfect but no case for rebellion. Remember last one gave us Gillard disaster. Country still paying for it.”
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) February 7, 2015
Abbott, good guy, not perfect but no case for rebellion. Remember last one gave us Gillard disaster. Country still paying for it.
Abbott has brought forward the spill motion to Monday but said the normal party room meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning would also go ahead in the usual way.
THE CABIN ANTHRAX, MURPHY, N.C. (CT&P) – This month’s edition of Scientific American is somewhat of a departure for a magazine that normally steers well clear of politics. It boasts several well-researched articles examining the right wing in general and the Tea Party in particular.
“We wanted to highlight how a group could overcome the serious handicaps of its individual members to become a viable political force in our society,” said SA editor Michael Moyer. “The rise of the Tea Party, the Christian Right, and their propaganda arm, Fox News, illustrates how a species crippled by superstition, racial hatred, and lower than average IQ’s can rise to a position of prominence in the modern nation state.”
The issue, which is on news stands now, traces the growth of the Tea Party from a ragtag army of inarticulate individuals all the way to this year’s midterm elections, when an alarming number of the insecure cretins won national political office.
“We tried to get inside the minds of these people, as frightening as that prospect was,” said Moyer. “We really wanted to find out what made these people tick. We placed particular emphasis on finding the common threads that unified this group of backwoods bumpkins.”
“What we found was fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of minorities, fear of science, fear of gay people, fear of just about any fucking thing you could imagine. The overwhelming consensus was that this group of people yearns to return to the days before the Enlightenment, where their outdated ideas and archaic societal standards ruled with an iron fist.”
The SA team spent a great deal of time analyzing the movement’s leaders Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and a host of other kooks such as Steve King and Louie Gomhert.
“One only has to look at the leadership of this movement to see how incoherent and insane their beliefs really are,” said Moyer. “If you go back and examine some of the speeches and statements made by Bachmann and Palin over the last decade, it reads like something out of H.P. Lovecraft. Nothing makes sense. For example, last weekend in Iowa, Palin was apparently possessed by one of her demons and began writhing around the podium and speaking in tongues. It was truly scary.”
Although the writers and editors at SA came to no definitive conclusions about the future of the right wing and the Tea Party, Moyer said that they will most likely be swept away by the tide of history.
“To paraphrase Huxley, extinguished theologians, and in this case reactionary political factions, lie about the cradle of progress as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules,” said Moyer.
Although many midterm Congressional races were won by Tea Party supported buffoons, the facts seem to support Moyer’s argument.
Gay marriage, Obamacare, and decriminalization of marijuana, three policies that the far right is rabidly against, are more popular than ever and gaining national acceptance.
“It gives us hope for a bright future in which the voices of these kooks are drowned out by the voices of reason and science,” concluded Moyers. “I am a fervent supporter of free speech and support these people’s right to be as ignorant as they want to be, but I fully believe that they will be remembered by history as the wingnuts they truly are.”
The scenes of social collapse in movies of a decade ago are now everyday scenes in allegedly democratic countries, writes Melissa Frost in this letter to The AIMN.
I watched the movie “Children of Men” again the other night and walked away with a renewed feeling of dread. A sinking feeling of doom came over me. Right in my chest. Had I just witnessed a glimpse of the future? Our future. Our future here on Earth. Was this how it ends? Are we imploding as a species? “No, no, no”, I said to myself. It can’t be, as I slipped onto the comfort of my massive mattress pulling the crisp European duvet over my head. But as I restlessly tossed around in bed that night I started to analyse what is happening here in Australia.
There are a lot of similarities between the movie and the ideology of our present government in Australia. We have a government that is anti-immigration, totalitarian and fascist. Refugees coming to our shores are classified as illegal immigrants, hunted down by our border patrols, made to sit on navy decks in neat little rows of confinement and then transferred to prisons where they spend an eternity of misery. These scenes we view hourly on the 24hour news channels we also see in the movie. A universal battleground of military control, security zones, refugee camps and warring tribal and religious identities.
The world of “Children of Men” is in absolute turmoil and anguish. The media are filled with headlines about religious fundamentalism – based terrorist attacks, mosques being put under surveillance, allegations of tortures of journalists, backlash against refugees and immigrants and political powerplays enveloped in pollution and poverty. The scenes of the two hour movie are a world of social collapse and desperation redolent of the hourly scenes on our screens of Iraq, Syria, Gaza or closer to home the 105,000 homeless of Australia. Which brings me to the story of the residents of a luxury apartment block in the UK installing spikes outside “their” reception area to deter a somewhat sheltered slumber for the homeless of Southward, South London. Mark Hicks, a resident of the building, said it was a “very good idea” as he was seeing “drunk homeless people” in his doorway which is “not very nice at all and if it stops that, its great”.
Where has our humanity gone? Are we so desensitised to these hourly visions that our subconsciousness is now immune? Yes, yes I think we are. “Children of Men” is based in the UK and it is interesting that the film makers decided on the UK. The UK is one of the oldest democracies in the world. Democracy means a government by the people. That is all the people have a say in the running of their lives. So for Brits to witness their government developing fascist ideologies and terror-invoking methods is tyrannical and oppressive.
And this is exactly what is happening in Australia. We are witnessing a government led by Tony Abbott who is backed by conglomerates such as the Rinehart empire and the Murdoch empire thrusting 24 hour fascist ideology and terror-invoking commentary on the Australian people. Its time for Australians to read the signs and demand Democracy.
It’s rather strange that in a week, where free speech is such a hot topic that we’ve had the “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt incident, people arguing that the anti-vaccination campaigner, Sherri Tenpenny shouldn’t be allowed into the country, and Rupert Murdoch’s tweet.
Personally, I’m all for Rupert tweeting. Generally, he shows himself to be the ignorant, old fool that he is. (Apologies to anyone ignorant, old or foolish reading this but you really need to distance yourself from Murdoch or I’ll consider you responsible for everything he does!) When he asserts that “Egyptians are white” or when he tweets “Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century’s status quo with their monoplies.” (sic), it shows exactly how out of touch with reality the man really is – not to mention spelling – as well as going a long way towards explaining Fox News.
And, of course, his idea that even if “Most Moslems are peaceful” but still accountable for the actions of the others strikes me as absurd when you apply it to any other group. I can’t imagine anyone writing “Maybe most Americans are peaceful, but until they recognise and destroy their growing number of gun criminals, they must all be held responsible…” And should all Christians be held responsible for the Westboro Baptist Church? Or does Father Rod Bower cancel them out? Am I responsible for other Collingwood supporters?
Now, we’ll undoubtedly have people arguing that to protect our free speech we need to ban certain people from saying certain things and to give our government greater powers. And I’m sure we’ll have many articles telling us that Islam is the problem. Not violence, or vigilante actions. We’ll have many articles telling us that political correctness is the problem. And without reading him, I suspect Andrew Bolt has probably already complained again that he’s prevented from writing about Islamic immigration, while writing about Islamic immigration. (Paul Sheehan complained that Islam has made certain places in the Middle East unsafe to travel. Afghanistan, for example. And Iraq. Mm, I’m wondering when Afghanistan was a safe place to travel given it was invaded by the Soviets in 1979 leading to a war which lasted nine years! Iraq, on the other hand, used to be very safe while the Americans were in charge. Certainly, inside the green zone anyway.)
Most people have some sort of belief in the concept of human rights; the only point of disagreement is what are they and who has them. The dilemma of free speech, of course, is how we deal with competing rights. Few reading this would say that I don’t have a right to express my views in this piece of writing, but may object if I express my views through a loudhailer on the street (or outside their window at 6a.m. on a Sunday morning). Yes, there are laws against noise, as well as libel and fraud. But when my views are “merely” offensive to you, at what point do you have the right to object to me expressing them at all?
Voltaire’s famous: “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” sounds all very nice and politically correct, but the fact is I’m not always comfortable with it. I won’t defend a racist’s right to incite hatred, nor a liar’s right to spread misinformation to give two examples that have nothing to do with any high profile case in Australia’s recent past.
Neither will I endorse Larry Pickering’s views.
Yes, there are views and statements which I don’t think that people should be allowed to make because they trample on other people’s rights.
But is this hypocrital of me? Is free speech a matter of open slather and allowing people to judge for themselves with offensive views being drowned out by the chorus of disapproval? If I say, “Je suis Charlie” must I also say “Je suis Rupert” or “Je suis Larry”?
These are the hard questions. The easy question is do people have a right to use violence as a solution to being offended? And I suspect the quote attributed to Ghandi is probably most appropriate.
“An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind.”
Rodney E. Lever has a dream that, before 2016, one of the main parties can offer a rational solution to deter any more megalomaniacs from wrecking all our freedoms, all our hopes and all our future.
“I have a dream, today.”
Some people will recall that Martin Luther King Jnr opened his most famous speech with those words in 1963. He was demanding fairness for the black people of America — the slaves who had provided much labor that was to make America the wealthiest nation on the planet.
In Australia, it was convicts that Britain sent who would help to build the beginnings of our nation in New South Wales. There were also islander people brought here – some voluntarily, but also also many through “blackbirding” – to help cut sugar cane in colonial Queensland.
There were the coal miners from England who came here after they had been permanently blackballed by their owners when they begged for better wages and safer working conditions. One of them was Andrew Fisher, who was three times prime minister of Australia.
Then there were the shearers, thrown out of work when they protested at the importation of cheap Chinese shearers.
These were issues that resulted in the formation of the Australian Labor Party in 1891 under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Barcaldine, Queensland. It was the era of Waltzing Matilda, Banjo Patterson and the Melbourne Cup, and the beginning of Australia as we know it today.
We have a proud freedom of the press, unwritten and unspoken. And we have a Murdoch press that exploits that freedom by telling lies, and in Britain engages in raw criminality and bribery and fear.
There are regulations which affect television and radio, but no regulation of our press. Rupert Murdoch began to abuse the freedom of the press as no one before him had ever done.
Fairness and freedom are words that often go together. It gets trickier once you talk about freedom of the press and that extends to other forms of communication never thought of when the United States ratified its Constitution in 1787.
Four years later, in 1891, the fathers of the Constitution added the First Amendment:
‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…’
That did it! The cat was out of the bag.
We don’t in Australia have any formal acknowledgement of press freedoms. We just take it for granted because it generally had worked well.
Rupert Murdoch treated us like suckers. He showed his view of freedoms as his right, not the right of his readers. In Australia, then in Britain and then in America, no one could touch him. The U.S. Constitution had opened the door to all media, even though the Constitution only says “the press” and the rest of the English speaking world seemed to accept it.
In Australia, Murdoch owns three quarters of all the major newspapers. No one has ever freely exerted that kind of power before — perhaps not even Hitler and Stalin.
Never before have we seen one magnate grow up so quickly and then turn the country’s media into a personal fiefdom, bullying and abusing politicians, and crashing electoral traditions. The politicians on both sides of the major media let him get away with it. The rest of us have had no say at all, except many choosing not to buy the rubbish and looking elsewhere for news..
In Britain, Murdoch has far more competition, but one of his papers, The Sun, has the largest readership and is powerful enough to change governments according to wherever he can get the best deal. It has nothing to do with press freedom and all to do with wealth and personal power over politicians and the lives of people.
He dumped Labor in Britain last year in the interest of accessing the full ownership of Britain’s largest commercial television service. TV has always been a licence to print money. After supporting the Blair and Brown Labor government for six years, Murdoch switched his support to David Cameron’s Conservatives only after Cameron was able to snare another party into coalition and to promise that Murdoch would get his wish for total ownership of BSkyB.
In Australia’s Constitution there is no mention of freedom of our press.
It does, however, state that
“… the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.”
Both Sir Frank Packer and Kerry Packer were called to a parliamentary inquiry at different times. Both fired back at the questions they were asked and gave as good an argument as the drubbing they received.
I remember another occasion when R. G. Menzies was prime minister. He had the Speaker, Archie Cameron, order the arrest of a publisher named Frank Browne and his partner. They were called before Parliament and charged with contempt because of something written in their modest weekly paper. They served a short prison sentence, as I recall, which is better than a flogging.
So much for freedom of the press in Australia.
If Australia does not formally offer total press freedom as a Constitutional given, then opportunities are there for the next Parliament and Senate to argue about it, but only as long as they keep Murdoch at bay.
Some form of legislation must surely be possible to protect the rights of readers, over any rights of publishers. Voters want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They don’t want funny headlines.
Relying on an Australian Press Council to constrain its own members is a little like playing with a piranha in your bathtub.
Our best hope for the 2016 election is that one or the other party can offer a rational political solution to deter any more megalomaniacs from wrecking all our freedoms, all our hopes and all our future. This could be the main issue next year. I hope so.
You can follow Rodney Lever on Twitter @RodneyELever.
Read what the REAL leader of Australia has Tweeted in 2014>>>
RUPERT MURDOCH’S DUMBEST TWEETS OF 2014 http://themurdochtimes.blogspot.com.au/2014/12/rupert-murdochs-dumbest-tweets-of-2014_29.html
#hate4sale #notfittogovern #votebairdlast
Martin Flanagan is a senior writer at The Age.
Former Monty Python member John Cleese said this book woke him in the night scared. Why? Because at one level, Hack Attack by Nick Davies is the fast-moving story of how the illegal phone-hacking being practised by journalists at News of the World on a mass scale was exposed. But, at an even more disturbing level, it is the map of an unholy web of influence that deformed British democracy.
What News of the World did was akin to blackmail. When I blackmail you, I ring and say: “I’ve got information on you. You pay me and I’ll keep it private”. What News of the World did was ring you and say: “We’ve got information on you. You talk to us and we’ll put a slant on the story that’s sympathetic to you:”
By getting the person in question to spill the beans, the newspaper could avoid leaving any trace that its only source for the story was an illegal phone hack. Many people submitted to this treatment and editor Andy Coulson is quoted as saying, “That’s tabloid journalism! You turn them over in the morning and in the afternoon they thank you for it”. Riding the wave of its illicit gains, News of the World won Britain’sNewspaper of the Year Award.
Davies writes that people in the power elite had reason to fear because “they had all seen what happened to the former Labour minister Clare Short. Several times she criticised the Sun‘s use of topless women to sell the paper and found herself denounced to millions as ‘Killjoy Clare’, ‘fat’, ‘jealous’, ‘ugly’, ‘Short on looks’, ‘Short on brains’. At various points, the paper offered readers free car stickers (“Stop Crazy Clare”); sent half-naked women to her home; and ran a beauty contest to ask their readers whether they would prefer to see her face or the back of a bus.
“Separately, the News of the World ran two bogus stories suggesting she was involved with pornography; tried to buy old photographs of her as a 20-year-old in a nightdress; and published a smear story that attempted to link her to a West Indian gangster.”
In 2010, Labour MP Tom Watson, one of the few MPs to stand up on the issue, made a speech to the Commons. He declared, in part, “The barons of the media, with their red-topped assassins, are the biggest beasts in the modern jungle. They have no predators. They are untouchable. They laugh at the law. They sneer at Parliament. They have the power to hurt us, and they do, with gusto and precision, with joy and criminality.”
One of the book’s grotesque scenes is when prime minister Gordon Brown feels obliged to fly from London in a helicopter and squeeze in an appearance at Rebekah Brooks’ wedding between talks with Vladimir Putin and an appointment at the palace. Successive British prime ministers from both major parties are enmeshed and, with the appointment of Coulson as David Cameron’s media chief inside 10 Downing Street, the collusion reached its high point.
At the end of his book, Davies says it’s not just about the News of the World or those responsible for its debased culture. “It’s about the next ambitious businessman who wants media influence, some Russian oligarch or Middle Eastern oil magnate or Chinese billionaire.” And he’s right.
The war never ends, but this battle was fought with uncommon resourcefulness and vigour by a journalist who now has powerful enemies working to discredit him. In pulling a rarely-opened door off its hinges and exposing the inner workings of a nation not unlike our own, Hack Attack is 2014’s must-read for the politically aware.
There are ways for the media to cover stories such as the Sydney siege without committing gross ethical violations.
AUST gets wake-call with Sydney terror. Only Daily Telegraph caught the bloody outcome at 2.00 am. Congrats.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) December 15, 2014
In one brutally insensitive tweet, Rupert Murdoch told the world everything it ever needed to know about the central tenet of the News Corp culture: nothing matters except the story.
It is a culture in which the ends justify the means.
It is a culture that celebrates cruel vulgarity, infamously exemplified by the headline “Gotcha” in the London Sun when, during the Falklands War, the British forces sank the Argentine warship the General Belgrano, with the loss of 368 lives. In Stick It Up Your Punter!, their account of life on The Sun, Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie wrote that although even the editor, the egregious Kelvin MacKenzie, had second thoughts about the heading, Murdoch said:
I rather like it.
This is a culture that ultimately leads to the kind of criminality exposed in the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed the British branch of Murdoch’s empire in 2011. It is a culture that says if that’s what it takes to get the story or sell a newspaper, let’s do it.
In the case of the Lindt Café siege, it is a culture that permitted the publishing of the faces of hostages as they were forced at gunpoint to hold up the gunman’s black flag in the café window. There was a strong news case for showing them holding up the flag but no case for showing their faces.
These are images that are likely to haunt those hostages all their lives. The risk of doing harm should have been obvious. The disregarding of that risk is unjustifiable and unforgivable.
It is a culture that permits the publication of a door-stop photo of the father and husband of Katrina Dawson, who died at the gunman’s hands. They are leaving the hospital where Dawson died. The photo is clearly taken against the husband’s wishes: he is covering his face with his hand. The father’s face is a mask of shock. The intrusion on their grief is another unforgivable act.
There are ways to cover these stories without committing these gross ethical violations, and much of the other media showed how to do it. Channel Nine’s graphic live footage of the final police assault, and other television footage of hostages dashing from the scene, were vivid and immensely strong pieces of news reporting. ABC TV’s careful pixelating of faces of hostages in footage taken during the siege was another example of good ethical decision-making.
This is a clear violation of a foundational privacy principle that says material supplied for one purpose shall not be used for another purpose without the provider’s consent. Many people – young people in particular – post material on Facebook for the purpose of sharing it with their friends. They do not anticipate that it will be used by the media in whatever context or for whatever purpose the media thinks fit.
The focus of this article has been on News Corp because the connection between its performance and Murdoch’s tweet is the principal point of argument. However, that is not to say News Corp coverage was all bad, nor that others were blameless.
The coverage of the Lindt Café siege is as a strong a candidate as we have seen in recent years for the Australian Press Council to conduct an investigation into the performance of the newspapers generally, and for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to use its own-motion powers to do the same in respect of radio and television.
The mixed quality of the media performance was illustrated by the responses to it by the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, and the chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor Julian Disney. Scipione publicly thanked the media for acting responsibly in the way they covered the siege:
For you to act the way you did, to be responsible, all I can say is “thank you”.
Disney issued a statement, saying:
Much of the coverage has been excellent and has not hesitated to tell painful truths when necessary. But there have been some deeply regrettable errors and exaggerations, spreading dangerous misinformation without any reasonable basis. This type of material can be a serious risk to public safety, as well as causing an unjustified level of fear and distrust across the community.
It was a general statement of assessment, and did not make specific allegations against any particular media outlet.
However, it provoked a response from News Corp broadsheet The Australian, which has been running a campaign to undermine Disney in his last year as chair of the Press Council.
In a front-page story, it accused Disney of “triggering concerns” – by whom, one wonders – about “whether his organisation has abandoned the rules of procedural fairness”.
The basis for this accusation was that Disney had spoken without hearing the media’s side of the story. The weakness in this argument is that Disney was not making a finding against a specific newspaper, but making a general statement about the performance of the newspapers as a whole.
However, the motive for the story became clear in its last paragraph. There, The Australian quoted its own editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell, as saying Disney:
… has just dealt the Press Council out of any future complaints about the role of the media during this week’s events.
This was clearly meant as a shot across the bow of the Press Council. In the event that the Press Council does decide to hear complaints about the coverage of the siege, it is reasonable to suppose that News Corp will challenge its fitness to do so. This may not thwart any such inquiry, but it might make it more difficult to accomplish, especially if News Corp decided not to co-operate on the grounds of apprehended bias.
This brings us finally to another aspect of the News Corp culture: every critic is an enemy, and we take no prisoners.
* The Abbott supporters in the crowd had their Greg Abbott paper fans to keep them cool – Tea-Party yellow with the slogan “Fast Cars, Firearms & Freedom-It’s a Texas Thing”
*** Greg Abbott was appointed as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court in 1995 by then-Governor George W. Bush
*** Won the right to display the Ten Commandments in front of the state Capitol
*** Was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and the ‘Young Republicans’ Club’ (Our Liberals).
*** Abbott became a paraplegic when an oak tree fell on him while he was running following a storm in 1984.
*** He sued the homeowner and negotiated an insurance settlement worth more than US$10 million, resulting in payouts of US$14,000 a month.
*** Abbott later championed laws capping punitive damages to two times the amount of economic damages awarded plus US$750,000.
*** Abbott said that when asked what his job entails, he explains ‘it’s gotten simplified’. “I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.”
*** Justice John Paul Stevens commented upon Abbott’s performance while in a wheelchair, “I want to thank you … for demonstrating that it’s not necessary to stand at the lectern in order to do a fine job”.
*** Abbott has filed suit against various U.S. agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (including challenges to Obamacare), and the Department of Education, among many others.
*** Abbott has said that the state must not release Tier II Chemical Inventory Reports for security reasons, because Texan citizens, WAIT FOR IT>>>> “can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not”. PML
*** Koch Industries has denied that their contributions to Abbott’s campaign had anything to do with his ruling against releasing the safety information. ROFL. Stop Abbott, you’re killing me!
*** In 2014, Abbott argued against a lawsuit brought by the NRA to allow more people access to concealed carry of firearms, as Abbott felt this would disrupt public safety. Boom Boom!!!
Yep, gotta be Tone’s Twin.
The Real News Channel Australian Labor Party NSW Labor The Australian Greens Democratic Party Democrats Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) GetUp! Independent Australia
AUST gets wake-call with Sydney terror. Only Daily Telegraph caught the bloody outcome at 2.00 am. Congrats.
The enemies of state-owned media – Rupert Murdoch among them – make the same arguments around the world. Cuts to the ABC, BBC, NPR and PBS are justified the same way
The terms of the current battle in Australia over the ABC, its budget and place in public life have been set by its most vociferous critics, mostly in the Murdoch press. If only the lines weren’t so predictable. Their campaign fits neatly into a global trend: to reduce the public’s faith in public broadcasting, and to prepare for its selloff to corporate competitors.
Neutering the BBC and ABC, and the US public broadcasters NPR and PBS, is part of the Murdoch empire’s core business. As many of its papers continue to lose money every day, it’s no surprise that their fixation on halting so-called digital “mission creep” is a worldwide obsession.
In 2013, Rupert Murdoch tweeted about his favourite enemy, the BBC: “huge lack of balance in UK media with 8,000 BBC left wing journalists far outnumbering all national print journalists.” He added that the BBC was a “massive taxpayer-funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian”.
And in 2006, James MacManus, executive director of News International, said it was “outrageous” that the BBC was able to run on public money because the broadcaster had “blatantly commercial ambitions” and was trying to “create a digital empire”.
The same criticisms were made of ABC managing director Mark Scott in the papers last week: that he is creating a “superfluous digital empire” that impinges on the commercial realities of privately-owned media.
The message from Murdoch and other commercial enterprises is that their investment in journalism and innovation keeps a vibrant press alive – and that any limit to their commercial operations is an intrusion on free speech.
What that means in practice is quite different. To the Murdoch empire, a “free” press means the right to, for instance, sponsor the tricks of prominent British Murdoch reporter Mazher Mahmood – the “fake sheikh”.
For a well-resourced and independent BBC, the Guardian’s Peter Preston argued in his commentary on the BBC’s Mahmood expose, freedom is the “in-house means to dig, expose, take risks, and clear its decks for action” – vital journalistic functions that serve democracy.
Although many in the UK still like and admire the BBC, the institution has fallen greatly in the last ten years. Scandals, mismanagement and the perception that the broadcaster remains too close to the political establishment have harmed the BBC’s reputation. The cover-up of the crimes of serial paedophile Jimmy Savile was a watershed moment for the BBC – nearly half the British public lost trust in the Beeb after the scandal broke.
The difference is, every scandal at the public broadcaster is ammunition for the critics and privatisers. As British journalist Charlotte Higgins wrote earlier this year in the wake of ongoing crises in the BBC:
“It is in the nature of BBC rows to escalate quickly to question the very basis on which it is run. Some of the corporation’s enemies clearly hold the view that if one undermines the foundations, the edifice might be more swiftly destroyed: like digging a mine in a medieval siege.”
Murdoch would be pleased to recently read that the foundations are indeed getting shaky: BBC management is considering placing leading current affairs shows into a commercial subsidiary, yet another arm of the organisation that could suffer hits to their credibility were it exposed to commercial realities. David Cameron’s government has always been amenable to Murdoch’s grander ambitions – in opposition he argued the BBC “was squeezing and crushing … commercial competition” in Murdoch’s Sun newspaper. Labour leader Ed Miliband has also had a cosy relationship with the media mogul, despite a recent critical turn.
PBS and NPR
The American public are fighting an even more important battle. A mere six corporations control 90% of the press, and consumer confidence in the media is at an all-time low. Publicly funded outlets PBS and NPR have been marginalised and starved of funds for so long that they now sometimes take corporate largesse, diluting their integrity.
Republican critics of US public broadcasting argue that the high salaries of top management, and the success of its childrens’ programmes like Sesame Street, are arguments for cutting it loose from taxpayer funding. Again, parallels can be drawn with the Australian example: just look at the intense interest in Quentin Dempster’s salary and the children’s show, Peppa Pig.
Were PBS or NPR to be diminished, a handful of multinational media outlets would completely dominate the US media market. Murdoch’s burning desire to still consume Time Warner would guarantee an even larger voice for the multinational.
During the 2012 US presidential election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said Washington should “stop the subsidy” to PBS, due to his ideological set against state funding for media. In reality, like with the ABC and BBC, government support is tiny and decreasing. NPR and PBS received $445m from 2012 to 2014, .012 percent of the federal budget.
Stations in rural areas are closing and shrinking and public radio states are decreasing, leaving only corporate alternatives. A 2012 poll found 55% of voters opposed cuts in public television spending. Murdoch, through Fox News, New York Post and Wall Street Journal, tirelessly campaigns and backs candidates who argue that the digital revolution makes public media obsolete.
We hear exactly the same rhetoric in Australia. The Lewis review urged the ABC to dump digital radio and charge for online content, opening the way for Murdoch to capitalise on a reduced ABC footprint.
The aim isn’t to kill public broadcasting outright but to force a long war of attrition that slowly chips away at public’s respect and broadcasters’ desire to fight. It’s a messy strategy, but it’s working: trust in state-owned media like the ABC is in slow decline, even though it still leaves its critics for dead.
It’s a sign of how far this debate has skewed that the vast majority of heated conversations on public broadcasting are framed in purely economic terms. Can we afford it? Should we pay for it? How much does it cost? Can we sell off divisions?
We’re never discussing that terms of the debate disallow or discourage dissenting points of view. It’s far easier to obsess over the dry economics of an industry that doesn’t make anything tangible, like manufacturing or agriculture. The ABC is forced to explain its relevance in the face of ongoing attacks, when its charter prioritises the very things its commercial critics would see diminished: multiculturalism, education, diversity – and independence.
Tony Abbott didn’t win many friends in America with his less than impressive performance at the recent G20. But he does have one friend in America – Rupert Murdoch – and as in Australia, his media empire grabs any opportunity it can to promote Abbott above his capabilities. Now they are praising his treatment of asylum seekers. ‘Left of Center’ reports from America.
The Abbott Government’s immigration policy is unpopular in Australia, but the friends on the curvy couch don’t believe in facts, they fawn over a xenophobe from Down Under.
To the average Fox and Friends viewer, a man with an exotic accent from the land of Oz is a fine choice to deliver the daily dose of essential fearmongering. Nick Adams, the author of American Boomerang, is a proponent of the incredibly unpopular policies of the Teabagger Down Under, Prime Minister and gaffe machine, Tony Abbott. Australia has its share of folks who are not afraid to tell him what they think.
Tony Abbott’s approval rating is tenuous at best. Recent polls show men were 45% approve/50% disapprove and women 35% approve/51% disapprove. One reporter, when commenting on his xenophobic approach to immigration said,
“He offended the world’s most populous Muslim country and one of Australia’s closest and most important neighbors, Indonesia, over his handling of his policy to turn back boats carrying would-be asylum seekers from countries such as Afghanistan who often depart from Indonesia.”
Fox News and its audience are literally terrified of anyone who looks differently than they do. Naturally, a government that has been criticized and ridiculed for myriad reasons would serve as the paradigm for immigration policy. Abbott’s Australia has been embarrassing especially among people from Nauru who have been treated abysmally.
But none of those human rights issues matter to these folks. Adams explains,
We had a terrible problem. We had tens of thousands of illegal immigrants coming on lots and lots of boats because we weakened our border protection policy. So the Conservative government came in and said, right, this has got to stop. We are a generous and caring people, but we have laws and things need to happen the right way. So we got tough because we know weakness is provocative and things like amnesty only lead to more and more immigration.
Now that Adams has everyone’s attention, it’s time to put them in checkmate for the win. In discussing immigration policy, why not insult Democrats in America to really get the Fox amigos to eat it all up. Adams says,
Well Elisabeth, it’s liberal arithmetic straight from the Pelosi Institute and it’s the last thing America needs…We haven’t had one single illegal immigrant. Not ONE.
Fawning over Adams, Brian Kilmeade asks if there has been any pushback from folks who believe Australia isn’t just for Australians.
So Adams plays the reverse-racism card:
Well, you’ve always got the politically correct types, Brian, the same people who are behind the idea that because I’m a white, Christian (of course), middle-class male, I don’t get an opinion or a voice, but if I was a naked, gay, Ecuadorian wind-turbine engineer that got on his mat and faced Mecca five times a day with a credit line at the bank of Jihad, you know the world would be at my feet.
Right on cue, he admonishes President Obama for fundamentally changing (aka destroying) America and he cautions our nation to be as racist as his country’s leadership. Fox News and Adams prefer a fundamentalist, science-denying, xenophobic white-supremacist who is the ideal leader of a frightened and ignorant population that will soon be in the minority. Thankfully, Australia is on to Abbott’s antediluvian thinking and will close the history books on him as soon as he can be sent packing from Canberra in 2016.
This article was first published on crooksandliars.com.
News Corporation AGM’s run by Rupert Murdoch in Hollywood are about as undemocratic as you can get, however a shareholder revolt suggests this may not be the case for much longer. Former News Ltd executive Rodney E. Lever reports.
A faithful attendant at most, if not all, of the annual general meetings of News Corporation has been Stephen Mayne, the founder of news website Crikey.
Rupert Murdoch has virtually abandoned Australia now so, as a shareholder, Stephen flies to America for these occasions — perhaps because it nearly always provides a good story.
After his visit to the most recent one, on 13 November, he opened his report in Crikey with this line:
‘Rupert Murdoch has done a lot of ducking and weaving to avoid answering questions at his AGMs over the years, but this morning’s effort at Fox Studios in Los Angeles was arguably his most brazen.’
Stephen was one of only ten shareholders at the meeting and probably the least welcome.
Each shareholder is provided with a document that sets out the ‘rules and procedures’.
Stephen Mayne said that many companies have limits on questions and timing, but usually there is debate that could take an hour or more. Not, apparently, when Rupert Murdoch is in the chair.
In Australia, every new resolution must be discussed and debated. American law allows debate even when several resolutions are involved.
Rupert Murdoch opened the meeting with a 15 minute oration and then offered the microphone for questions, but only two questions would be accepted from any shareholder and each limited to one minute at a time.
When Stephen asked for the microphone, one of the company lawyers, who shouldn’t have even been on the stage, told him the question rules would be strictly enforced for him. Stephen is known as a keen shareholder and a regular at these annual affairs.
He wanted to know two things: How was Rupert managing his time as executive chairman of two companies (News Corporation and 21st Century Fox)? And was Lachlan Murdoch, as co-chair of 21st Century Fox, running part of the meeting? Then he snuck in another question, but nobody seemed to notice: this was to ask why did the Murdoch family members took out a total salary of $64 million in 2014?
Rod Eddington, a News Corp director and former airline manager, took the questions and said Rupert was paid less than the two wealthiest chief executives of other media companies.
Proxy adviser Glass Lewis recommended a vote against the question.
Shareholders were not given the voting numbers but they were assured by Murdoch directors that
“… there were no meaningful protest votes.”
This despite 20 per cent of the non-Murdoch votes opposed the re-election of James and Lachlan Murdoch and close to a quarter the executive remuneration package.
In Australia and Britain votes on executive remuneration are unlawful and come under the control of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
So the meeting continued with the Lachlan question unanswered. Rupert said he could handle his two roles and, what’s more, all the key executives ‒ James Murdoch, Chase Carey and Robert Thomson ‒ had offices in New York next to Rupert’s own.
A shareholder named Aaron Epstein, asked a question and got a laugh saying he hadn’t come from Australia but rather North Hollywood.
“It was most disappointing to think that the two grandsons were sitting mutely on stage alongside their father as he embarrassed the family yet again.”
In his own published account Mayne added:
When no one got up and we were still just twenty minutes into the meeting I returned to the microphone, and management again attempted to prevent any more discussion saying I was already in breach of the rules having asked two-and-a-half questions.
I blustered through, appealing for fairer treatment and the company’s great track record on free speech. Rupert reluctantly agreed to one last question, which turned into an omnibus about the delisting of Fox from the Australian Stock Exchange and the Time Warner takeover bid.”
Rupert Murdoch said the company had been expecting a deluge of Australian selling but had been surprised that many had instead chosen to hold on.
Mayne says Murdoch brushed aside another question about his failed attempt to take over Time Warner and he dismissed the question about why voting shares hadn’t been offered, saying it wasn’t an issue that came up with the directors. The bid failed because he wasn’t prepared to increase it by USD$10 a share.
As the meeting was coming to an end, a security guard took Mayne’s microphone away. An elderly shareholder then stood up and asked about the potential for higher dividends.
With no microphone, Rupert adjourned the meeting and then he remembered that he should have closed it first.
Stephen Mayne shouted:
“Any plans to retire, Mr Chairman?”
A second meeting held a few days later, again at 21st Century Fox Studios, produced a shock for Murdoch that might silence some of his recent bluster.
It was the knowledge that News Corp’s second biggest stock holder after the Murdoch family, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, had voted against Murdoch for the first time.
Murdoch’s family owns only 12 per cent of News Corps Class B common stocks, but controls of 40 per cent of the company with about 80 million shares. He has controlled the company since he inherited it in 1952, always maintaining a majority of voting rights.
Prince Alwaleed holds seven per cent of voting rights. His father is King Abdullah, far richer than Alaweed and Murdoch combined. The Prince’s past support for Murdoch after nearly 18 years, has always been taken for granted. Analysts have pointed out that only a small group of “insiders” have benefited from this arrangement. Now the Prince appears to be an insider no more.
After the Los Angeles meeting Wall Street’s stock reports were showing 53.7 million votes against Murdoch’s re-election as chairman of the company. But he still has 112 million votes in his favor. Could this change?
Murdoch suffered an even closer shave on the day, when a shareholder proposal to unwind News Corp’s controversial dual-class voting structure, which maintains Murdoch family control despite only owing a small fraction of the stock, was narrowly defeated by 79.1 million shares in favour to 87.6 million against.
There is bound to be more news to come.
Does Australia really need a national newspaper? Or is its existence just about one man’s pride? The man who helped established The Australian with Rupert Murdoch, Rodney E. Lever, comments.
IN 1911, THE LABOR GOVERNMENT under Andrew Fisher consolidated existing local and State banks into one Commonwealth-owned bank to secure and support the wealth pouring from the gold miners, as well as sheep, cattle and general agriculural farming led by the squattocracy.
In the British mind, Australia was still a colony and the mother country was entitled to a share of Australia’s wealth. When Victoria suffered a major financial crash after feverish home and roads building for a growing population between 1890 to 1901, the British banks felt no obligation.
Ben Chifley became prime minister of Australia at the end of World War II and went to an Imperial postwar conference in London with his Director-General of the Department for Postwar Reconstruction, H. C. (“Nugget”) Coombs, where together they ensured that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia would be able to meet the needs of their own country without future reliance from the exhausted British Empire.
During the period of the Victorian crash, a bankruptcy lawyer named Theodore Fink made a personal fortune from the crash. He found an obscure legal avenue in British law that had been copied word for word into Australian Law and remained there even after Federation. That discovery saved many businessman and some newspaper owners from debtor’s prison. In lieu of payment, Fink took property and land, as well as taking possession of a number of early Victorian newspapers.
Keith Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s father, rose through the company to become a director and, when Fink died in 1942, became chairman.
After his father’s death, Rupert genuinely expected that he would replace Keith as the head of the company, or at least obtain a senior role. He told me about it himself. He said he had been robbed of his inheritance.
He was refused a place on the board. He would have to earn that position first and he was not popular in the company’s executive management. His mother, against Rupert’s wishes, was persuaded to sell Keith’s own Herald and Courier-Mail shares back to the company.
Rupert chose to use what was left of the family’s assets after death duties to establish himself in the publishing business.
One of the Murdoch family assets was the magazine publisher, Southdown Press, in Melbourne, as well as the Adelaide afternoon paper, The News. He continued to use the National Bank to finance his future acquisitions. The chairman of the National Bank, John Getty, had replaced Keith Murdoch as chairman of the Herald and Weekly Times.
Ron Corbett was in charge of the finance at Southdown Press. We often played weekend golf with two senior executives of the CBA and discussed switching our accounts from the National Bank.
The Fairfax family then purchased the Norton papers, including the afternoon Daily Mirror and the three editions of the weekly Truth in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, before virtually handing them over to Rupert so that he would then be satisfied.
When Rupert completed his purchase of the Truth group, he made me the manager for the incipient, yet still unnamed, national newspaper.
The first serious plans for the new national paper began in Melbourne, in a rented building conveniently across the road from Truth. There was no lift. Visitors had to climb a staircase up three levels to the very top offices occupied by a small staff of salesmen, hoping to raise support by securing early advertising contracts.
Keith Barrow, the Adelaide News’ advertising manager, had a heart problem and died tragically soon after coming to Melbourne. Rupert was bounding up those stairs one day and saw Keith struggling.
Rupert told Keith’s deputy:
“Keith’s too fucking old. Tell him to go home.”
Keith came to see me and cried. I gave him a cup of tea and my best advice.
His deputy came to me also in tears, asking:
“What should I do?”
Keith died one week later.
He had worked for The News all his life.
I was required to fly to Canberra every Monday morning for what was loosely described as a “conference”. More accurately it was a “free for all.” The growing number of would-be journalists and executives were all pushing their own often impractical ideas.
Rupert asked me what “column rules” were. Someone had urged column rules and someone else was demanding no column rules. It was that silly!
I wrote an article for Crikey some years ago describing how journalists and would-be editors had flocked to Rupert’s door wanting to be part Australia’s new national newspaper.
Some practical issues bothered me. Not least of them was how papers printed in Canberra could be distributed all over Australia seven days a week. The more I thought about it, the more impossible it seemed.
Anybody who has lived in Canberra for some time would know of its notorious and unpredictable winter weather. Interstate and international planes were often locked in by heavy cloud, particularly early in the day.
Rupert said he would use private charter planes. But charter planes and passenger planes were frequently locked on the ground sometimes until lunchtime. Canberra’s winter weather is notorious for heavy fogs that last for hours. Private charter planes faced the same control tower restrictions as commercial passenger planes.
Thousands of freshly printed copies of the new paper sat nearly all day until it was too late to send them. They went to the tip instead. Reliability and regularity are essential for regular newspaper readers.
When I was a night-shift copy boy at the Daily Telegraph, earning twenty five shillings a week, I would nearly always be too late to catch the Manly ferry home.
Sometimes I slept on a couch in the Women’s Weekly offices on the top floor. Other times, I would hitch a ride on one of the trucks that delivered the papers to newsagents on the beaches from Manly to Palm Beach.
I made friends with the Manly driver and we had a deal that I could ride on the back of his truck and throw off the marked bundles at each of the newsagents. It saved the Manly driver time and got me home before dawn.
I would jump off at the Corso and he would go further north. I had a one-and-a half-mile walk up a steep hill to reach Bower Street.
I told Rupert that he had serious problems getting The Australian distributed if they arrived late. The agents already did two runs for home deliveries every day. They’d never do a third run.
“Crap.” he said. “They’ll have to do another.”
There was nothing in the agent’s contract that required three daily deliveries.
Agents have rights, too. They would deliver The Australian with the afternoon paper, effectively a day late with the yesterday’s news. Customers were soon cancelling The Australian in droves, refusing to pay the agents.
Rodney E. Lever generously gifted Independent Australia with the first (incredibly rare) dummy edition and number one edition (above) newpaper pulled off their respective print runs.
After a dummy edition was produced on July 14, 1964, the first public edition of The Australian paper was distributed the next day.
“A clean and handsome thing,” wrote Keith Inglis in Nation magazine after, 1964. It was the only really good thing one could find to say about a paper that led its front page with an hysterical beatup threatening the collapse of the Federal coalition. It didn’t happen then and it hasn’t happened since.
In Canberra, I met Solly Chandler, who had retired from Fleet Street after a long stint as deputy to the legendary Arthur Christiansen, editor of Max Aitken’s Daily Express for 24 years, and the man who revolutionised newspaper layout and set new standards that the rest of Fleet Street eagerly copied.
Hank Bateson of the Sydney Mirror was The Australian‘s editorial manager in 1964. A level-headed veteran of the Norton group, Hank was enthusiastic for Solly to be editor. Others argued that the editor of the new national daily had to be someone born in Australia.
In the end, Rupert chose an economics graduate with disputed journalistic abilities. It was the first and worst mistake he made, the forerunner of many more. None of Rupert’s papers have had so much pressure put on the staff than The Australian. The level of internal disputation, the on-the-spot sacking of a range of great editors and journalists were all signs it would never last.
It beggars the use of the word “if.”
In the aftermath, just about everybody wished for Solly Chandler, an all-round newspaperman; an editor and writer as well as a creative technician. He had a puckish sense of humour and a gift for attracting bucket-loads of readership, whether he was running a racy tabloid or a sober politicised broadsheet.
Rupert had hired Solly to be the editor of The Australian. On one of my early visits to Canberra, he told me the sad story of how the whole concept had turned into disarray and calamity. In the frenzy of personal ambition that surrounded Rupert at that time, he was run over by the pack.
Solly was a quiet, modest man of few words, but a mercilessly ruthless editor ‒ he never sacked people, he “strangled” them ‒ and he demanded the best.
When Solly came to Melbourne to edit Truth, he and I became close friends, attending race meetings, dog tracks and hobnobbing with some of the more powerful personalities and politicians. He had a way of making friends and influencing people, and picking up odd conversations that he turned into a story.
He would hang out with state premiers, federal politicians, senior public servants and some of Victoria’s worst criminals. At first, he was working close to 24 hours a day, sleeping in the office, and writing most of the paper himself, leaving only the racing editor, Ron Taylor and Molly O’Connell — Truth‘s jealous guardian of the paper’s archives and an incredible source of information.
Everybody else, he strangled.
Truth began to attract a team of brilliant young journalists, most of who are still alive and working elsewhere. At the end of his first year, Solly had doubled the circulation, then trebled it.
Solly’s wife Wynn was a joyful personality. When my wife, Pam, gave birth to a daughter, Wynn came to our house and stayed for several weeks. She looked after all our young children, bathing them, putting them to bed, reading them stories, giving Pam the break she badly needed, since I had long hours at work.
Solly Chandler (right) and Hank Bateson looking at a page one proof with Murdoch on 15 July 1964. (Image via Inside Story)
I wrote a story myself for Truth and it splashed the front page. The Hollywood movie star Judy Garland came to sing to a huge Melbourne audience in the old John Wren wrestling stadium, as did other stars from time to time, including Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.
Judy Garland was an hour and a half late that night and so inebriated when she finally arrived that she could barely squark the words of her traditional musical triumphs. It was a Thursday night and a tragic experience that brought tears to the eyes of the thousand or so people who had waited for her. I was sorry for her but I had to go back to the Truth office and write a story, without being too cruel.
In Truth, Solly had captured the spirit of John Norton. It was too much for Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. When Rupert closed Melbourne Truth, it was because his mother was embarrassed. Unwittingly, Solly had stepped into an area that shook the good and not-so-good citizens of Toorak, her friends and her charity contributors. It was as simple as that. Ultimately, Rupert closed Truth in Sydney and Brisbane. The era of the wild men was over.
Solly went to Sydney seeking another job. I was in Darwin then. He wrote me a long private and personal letter. I didn’t even have time to reply. Solly died just a day or two later while among friends at the Hotel Australia. He suddenly collapsed on the floor and was dead. He loved to sip a good brandy, but I never ever saw him drunk. It was too late for me to write back.
Solly had attributes that could have made The Australian a great newspaper. He was not just a tabloid man, or a Truth man. He was a newspaper giant who understood that elegant design, good concise writing, a sense of humour and intelligent and substantial content all need to work together to make a newspaper successful.
The Australian today shows no sign of ever being able to reach a peak of excellence comparable with Brian Penton’s wartime Telegraph or The Age in E G Perkins’ short seven years as editor or Ted Bray’s Courier-Mail.
It falls well short of Melbourne’s Herald and The Sun in the days when Rupert’s father worked for Theodor Fink (the true founder of the Herald and Weekly Times and its chairman for 40 years, but now the invisible man in the company history).
Keith Murdoch learned his craft as a reporter in the streets and suburbs of Melbourne, not at Oxford University where Rupert learned nothing. He has been criticised for his leanings in politics, but Keith is still a significant memory, as well as having formed the crucial partnership between the famous Reuters news service and AAP, he was a genuine, if often controversial, newspaperman.
His personal papers in the archives of the National Gallery in Canberra have revealed more of his character than any of the books he inspired. Childhood speech difficulties made it easier for him to write than talk. Many of the notes he wrote to members of his staff exist in his personal papers.
To his editorial staff:
‘No cheap or sloppy thought should find expression in our papers. We should always leave the reader feeling he has been reading a wholesome, fragrant newspaper, fearless in tone but appreciative of all that is good.’
To a reporter:
‘The general public is censorious, suspicious, and self-opinionated. We should always remember this. The reader does not always believe everything we say.’
To one editor:
‘Flaring headlines over flimsy matter simply nauseates readers.’
How true. How true indeed.