Oz Blog News Commentary

Accusing others of the crimes you commit

April 19, 2019 - 09:00 -- Admin

The Chief Executive of
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Robert Thomson, delivered the Keith Murdoch Oration
in Melbourne on Tuesday night1. Keith Murdoch was Rupert’s father
and was one of the founders of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)2,
a far right-wing ultra-libertarian, climate change denying, tobacco denying
organisation that masquerades as a think tank3 and which is
effectively the policy arm of the Liberal Party4. Indeed, the IPA
have come out recently, and provided a list of policies the Coalition should
follow, if they win the federal election5.

It is ironic that the Keith
Murdoch Oration was delivered at the State Library of Victoria, a place where a
proportion of the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of our species is reposited,
parts of which News Corp and the IPA deny constantly. This has been the
stock-in-trade of both organisations ever since the 1970s, since the cancer of
neoliberal trickle-down economics raised its ugly head, and which they
enthusiastically embraced.

While most of Thomson’s
address is obscure drivel, much of it is ripe coming from a News Corp executive
and emanates from the school of propaganda in which you accuse your enemies of your
crimes. Some examples follow:

“As a result, we have
institutionally ingrained some seriously bad behaviour…”1. Some of
the worst behaviour in the current media landscape does not come from social
media and its peculiar little alleyways, but from Murdoch media and similar
disgraceful mainstream media organisations. With their reach, they should have
a responsibility to report news with veracity, but they do not. The most
appalling example is of course Murdoch’s Fox News, which simply relates lies as
long as they are in support of the Republican Party or Trump or both. The
Australian parallel is Sky News, which also spouts outrageous drivel, including
misogyny6, bigotry, xenophobia7, climate change denial8,
and anything else in support of the dog whistling or denialism of the Coalition
government. Murdoch’s print media are just as disgraceful, writing lies on a
regular basis9,10,11,12.

“That includes,
sometimes tragically, the teenagers whose insecurities and vulnerabilities are
magnified cruelly in so-called social media – or the seemingly powerful global
companies that panic and prevaricate at the first mutterings of the anti-social
media mob”1. Conflating online bullying of children (mostly by their
peers) with the campaign by Sleeping Giants Oz (‘a community initiative to make
racism, bigotry and misogyny less profitable’)13  is at best bizarre and is something only a
NewsCorp executive could contemplate. Sleeping Giants Oz simply notifies
companies that advertise on Sky News, of some of the latter’s unsavoury content
and suggests that it may be wise for those companies to rethink their advertising
spend. As is clear from the fact that Thomson mentions it, this campaign has
been very successful. Furthermore, calling it anti-social is ludicrous. It is
precisely a social movement (I have been involved) which targets all forms of
bigotry, and is in the interests of social cohesion, something with which
Murdoch’s media are seemingly antipathetic. Similarly, they have gone to extraordinary
lengths to try to damage GetUp (which I also support), another social movement,
which has as its aim “to build a progressive Australia and bring participation
back into our democracy”14. It seems community organisations scare
the bejesus out of NewsCorp.

“One example of that trend [challenging our capacity
for empathy] is the seething secularism that portrays any person of faith,
whether an evanescent evangelical or occasional attendee at mass or synagogue
or mosque or temple as a nutter, a fruitcake, a devotee of the deviant”. Again,
this is rich coming from a Newscorp employee. Their whole ethos seems to be
built around the lack of empathy. They enthusiastically embrace the dog whistle
with regard to Muslims, asylum-seekers7,15, and anyone else they
wish to hammer (the poor, the unemployed, the young16) in support of
the Coalition. Indeed, lack of empathy seems to be also the ethos of the
Coalition, as indicated by Peter Dutton, who stated that “success in the last
few years could be undone overnight by a single act of compassion” when
referring to asylum-seekers and refugees. It seems the Coalition thinks empathy
is dangerous17.

“There is actually a hierarchy of content and of news,
the fact-based and the fantasy based, the profound and the profane, the
veracious and the vacuous”1. The Murdoch media mostly deal in
fantasy insofar as they lie, mostly by omission, or are at best in ignorance of
the facts. This is perhaps exemplified by their rabid opposition to the fact of
climate change. We have known for 30 years that it is a significant danger, but
it is people like Murdoch’s ‘ruperters’ who for some reason known only to their
proprietor, refuse to accept the science, believing either that they are
superior climate scientists to all the climate scientists on the planet, or
that all those climate scientists are involved in a massive conspiracy. Perhaps
the most ludicrous example of this denialism is that of Sky News’ Rowan Dean.
He is either very stupid in that he cannot grasp the basics of science, or is a

“There should be scepticism about elites….but the question we must ask
is who are the elites, who is the establishment?… Now the world has a tyranny
of the distinguished, a smug, sneering elite that derides popular concerns as
‘populism’, and whose self-image is fuelled by an abiding sense of absolute
superiority”. Who is part of the elite, if it is not a billionaire media mogul,
who has his employees almost constantly lie for him, and reinforce the bigotry
the Coalition uses when it is in electoral trouble? Personally, I’d prefer to
put my trust in people who actually know what they are talking about, rather
than those employed to lie in the service of their proprietor.

“It would be remiss to ignore what Rupert [Murdoch] has done for the
media and for our country and for many other countries. To see Rupert up close
each day, to witness the restless curiosity, the endless energy, and a genuine
humility is in such stark and breathtaking contrast to the ill-informed
institutional critiques”1. As I said above, Murdoch employs people
to lie for him, and Thomson is no exception. While Murdoch may have endless
energy, his curiosity seems to be limited to only that which can benefit Rupert
Murdoch. Similarly, his humility seems to be only on display when his
organisation is caught out doing what it shouldn’t18. It is no
coincidence that the anglophone nations in which Murdoch has very limited or no
media presence (New Zealand, Canada), have functioning progressive governments
who are dealing with the 21st century, while those which have
corrupt, kleptocratic and inept conservative governments (Australia, UK, US)
clinging to the last century, are those in which Murdoch has extensive media

It is probably no
coincidence that this oration bemoaning the modern digital democracy should
appear not long after former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s articles, calling
Murdoch media the cancer on Australian democracy and noting its deleterious
effect on democracy in the US and UK20,21. If Australian democracy
is to survive, then the Murdoch influence needs to be massively diluted.



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