Rupert Murdoch’s involvement in toppling Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull seems self-evident. Murdoch flew into Australia on 10 August. By 24 August Australia had a new PM, Scott Morrison. Murdoch had intimated to fellow magnate Kerry Stokes, that Turnbull should be replaced. Stokes called Turnbull warning him that Murdoch and NewsCorp were intent on removing him.
Prior to this, NewsCorp commentators began warning Liberals to “stand against Turnbull’s global warming idiocy” and then promoted minority views in the coalition who saw big ‘C’ Conservative Peter Dutton as the solution – and PM candidate.
No wonder the Edelman Barometer finds Australians’ trust in media at just 31%, 12 points below global and US averages.
Unlike New Zealand, we don’t have a balanced press, but a Public largely beholden to the views of journalists ‘guided’ by selected editors under the influence of Murdoch and big business backers.
Dangerously, Murdoch’s NewsCorp Australia, part of a US-listed global conglomerate, owns two-thirds of the print media in Australian capitals and Foxtel TV which broadcasts Murdoch’s Sky News.
With NewsCorp, Australia has the most concentrated media ownership in the West and third most controlled worldwide after China and Egypt.
Some believe social media dilutes Murdoch’s power, “however, because the electronic media is so denuded of journalists, Murdoch’s print media disproportionately impacts on the day’s agenda.”
Murdoch has been amid much of Australia’s rolling leadership instability, which erodes public trust in Australia’s political process.
Kevin Rudd was also ignominiously dropped as PM, and lost the 2013 federal election, for which he blames Murdoch and fake news.
Rudd writes in his memoirs, “Murdoch is a political bully … who, for many years, hired bullies as editors.”
ABC’s Media Watch concurred that Murdoch’s campaign was ‘character assassination’: “it’s clear it’s not politics or performance that Murdoch’s paper is attacking. It’s Rudd himself, whom they paint as a psychopath, a narcissist, a cheat …”
Rudd believed Murdoch’s ‘jihad’ against his government was partly because the NBN threatened Foxtel.
Few may believe Labor won the 2016 elections but the Murdoch media was able, in this writer’s view, to engineer an additional 2-4% antagonism against the ALP, enough for the losing Coalition to govern.
Witness now the NewsCorp anti-Labor media crescendo building in lead-up to the 2019 elections.
Rudd describes Murdoch as “the greatest, most malignant cancer on our Australian democracy.”
“Murdoch is not just a news organisation. Murdoch operates a political party, acting in pursuit of commercial interests, in addition to the relentless prosecution of his far-right ideological worldview.”
A healthy Australian polity depends on citizens receiving unbiased news – so they can decide intelligently about the issues and merits of alternative actions and who to vote in.
Well-being of the greatest number of citizens – not a privileged few – is the key test of a country’s governance.
NewsCorp typically promotes policies favourable to Big Business.
Conservative governments accept this, maintaining that profitable big businesses benefit all from ‘trickle down’ economics.
Unfortunately, due to such governance, Australia faces many dysfunctions: first, abuse of the public’s trust and white-collar corruption in big banks, second, housing considered an investors’ play rather than facilitating family security, third, diminished wage rises, fourth, opposing environmental action on climate change and a viable national energy policy, fifth, attempting to emasculate the ABC, and finally, weakening the trade union movement.
This writer supports former PM Rudd’s call for “a Royal Commission into the future of Australian media ownership, with particular reference to News Limited.”
Given the frequent national leadership disruptions, the next incoming government should give this matter priority consideration.