Australia’s Labor Government Started This Alleged War With Murdoch’s Papers

Posted on Thu 08/08/2013 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~papers1_thumb

Australia’s ABC TV Network smells a conspiracy. The Prime Minister is in a snit and tearing at his hair – literally. And Labor, which for three years has kicked Rupert Murdoch’s papers and trashed free speech, is suddenly paranoid it might be getting payback.

The reason? One of Murdoch’s News Corp newspapers said on Monday this Labor Government hadn’t actually been very good and should go.

A reasonable conclusion, I’d have thought. The only thing slightly unusual about the Daily Telegraph’s announcement was that it was blared out all over the front page, with a huge headline urging, “KICK THIS MOB OUT”.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was livid, given the Telegraph is popular in the western Sydney seats that could cost Labor the election. At a press conference that day, Rudd refused to take questions from a senior journalist from The Australian, which, like this paper, is also owned by News Corp.

The next day, at another press conference, he furiously flicked his hair at least 20 times, sometimes dashing at it in what seemed a barely repressed fury.

“I think (Murdoch) made it fairly clear … that he doesn’t really like us and would like to give us the old heave ho and get his mate (Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott in,” Rudd said. Flick.

He suggested the Telegraph was just doing the bidding of a media boss “all the way from the United States” who wanted to punish Labor for building the National Broadband Network.

“Does he sense it represents a commercial challenge to Foxtel, the major cash cow for his company or not?”

This was just more Rudd deceit. The Opposition will also build faster broadband – but sooner, meaning any competition to Foxtel comes sooner, too. Moreover, both Murdoch and Foxtel said this week the NBN would actually be good for business.

But never mind the facts. Labor preferred to push the anti-Murdoch conspiracy theory to explain the bad press it’s getting.

And trust the ABC, the echo chamber of the Left, to actually feed this folly. Last May I publicly offered to be the next host of the ABC’s Media Watch – to be its first conservative in the show’s 24 years. I nobly declared it my duty to help fix the taxpayer-funded ABC, which despite its charter obligation to be balanced has given every one of its main current affairs shows to a host from the Left.

But the ABC chose instead Paul Barry to be Media Watch’s eighth host. Barry, you see, is another of the true believers. Last month he praised Julia Gillard, just sacked as Prime Minister, as “dignified and tough as nails” and wondered: “So WHY did everyone hate her so much?” Enough said.

Result: on Monday the ABC screened the same anti-Murdoch conspiracy theory from Barry that is pushed by Rudd. Like Rudd, Barry falsely assumed the Telegraph‘s front page was done on Murdoch’s instructions and was not the typical work of its feisty editor, Paul Whittaker.

Like Rudd, Barry – himself British-born – complained the Australian-born Murdoch was influencing the election when he was “not of course … an Australian citizen”.

Like Rudd, Barry peddled a false figure to make Murdoch look menacing, claiming he had “control (of) two-thirds of Australia’s newspapers”.

Memo to Rudd and Barry: Murdoch’s News Corp owns 33 per cent of newspapers in Australia – half of what you claim. Sure, those papers grab 59 per cent of total newspaper sales, but that’s because Australian readers tend to prefer them to the competition, such as The Age or Sydney Morning Herald.

Murdoch doesn’t “control” that choice. Readers do.

Like Rudd, Barry was so keen to exaggerate Murdoch’s media “control” that he overlooked the explosion in news sources – blogs, online newspapers, websites, Facebook, Twitter, new television outlets – that has in fact diluted his reach.

And again like Rudd, Barry assumed it was foul play when a Murdoch paper’s front page attacks Labor: “An abuse of media power,” cried Barry.

Actually, two newspapers on Monday carried front-page editorials denouncing this Government. The second was the Financial Review, owned by Fairfax, which declared: “Labor has shown itself to be structurally unfit to govern.”

Why did Rudd and Barry not denounce that front page, too? Why? Because that would complicate their anti-Murdoch smear. Because attacking Fairfax too would suggest the truth: that Murdoch newspapers attack this government not because Murdoch is evil but because Labor is incompetent.

Murdoch’s tweets have made clear his disgust with Labor’s waste, deficits, rising unemployment, carbon tax and vicious in-fighting. What sane person wouldn’t?

What responsible newspaper wouldn’t have damned this government for revealing its Budget had blown out by another $33 billion in only 11 weeks?

That Murdoch newspapers were scathing is not the conspiracy Barry suggests. It’s just describing the bleeding obvious.

But I will admit this. No editor of a Murdoch paper could doubt Labor is a danger to a free press – and to their newspapers especially. They have heard Labor for years demonise their company, its owner, their reporters and newspapers. They have seen Labor so infuriated by criticism from some News Corp papers that it called a media inquiry into what the Greens and Labor MPs branded the “hate media”.

They have seen Labor propose draconian state-supervision of the press, draft rules to limit free speech and pass tough privacy provisions.

They have seen a Labor Prime Minister scream at the then head of News Ltd in an attempt to end reporting on her alleged involvement in the AWU corruption scandal, now being investigated by police, while Labor meanwhile funds a vast expansion of the Leftist state media.

THEY have even seen Labor block Foxtel’s winning tender for the overseas Australia Network in what clearly seemed a punishment for coverage by Murdoch newspapers.

Every Murdoch editor could only conclude that Labor, if returned, might try again to damage their company or restrict the right of their journalists to report without fear or favour.

And Labor wonders why they might be critical?

But it’s the hypocrisy that gives the game away. When the Daily Telegraph and other Murdoch papers backed Rudd in the 2007 election, there were no complaints from Labor and the ABC about Murdoch abusing his media power.

When half the Murdoch papers backed Julia Gillard in 2010, there were no complaints from Labor and the ABC about a “foreigner” influencing the poll. But when the same papers conclude Labor has in fact given us a rotten government it’s then an “abuse of media power”.

Yeah, right.

You know the real abuse? It’s the ABC shilling for the Left, using our taxes to attack Labor’s media critics.

When will the ABC denounce that?


Rudd losing it:

LEIGH SALES: Let me ask you one final question. On your stoush with Rupert Murdoch this week, I don’t recall you complaining about bias or corporate agenda when he backed you in 2007.

KEVIN RUDD: If you look carefully at the events of 2007, what you will see, Leigh, written right across the newspapers at that time was a whole series of negative attacks, negative articles, including the most personal attacks on me and my family in the years leading up to that election. You seem to have forgotten those in this discussion. I could list those for you one by one, which went to my wife, her business and the rest of our personal affairs as well. So let’s put that into a bit of context.

The second point is this: I have not said anything about Mr Murdoch doing X, Y and Z. What I’ve said is he owns 70 per cent of the print media in the company – fact one. [Actually false: see my column.] Fact two, day one of the campaign, through his principal masthead in Australia, they say “This government must go”. Thirdly he says through his own direct statements that he wants Mr Abbott to replace me as Prime Minister. That’s fine. That’s his democratic right. It’s a free country. But the question that I’ve posed through this is simply as follows: what is underneath all this? Is it to do with the National Broadband Network representing a commercial threat to Foxtel? [No. See my column.] I’ve seen some commentary on that, and I’ve only just been looking back on the files today and discovered that in fact Mr Abbott’s NBN policy was launched at the Fox Studios here in Sydney. I would like to hear some answers as to what discussions Mr Abbott may have had with Mr Murdoch on the future of Australia’s National Broadband Network.

Malcolm Turnbull has no tears:

Coalition broadband spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Rudd sounded ‘‘more and more like a jilted lover’’.

‘‘Once the darling of the News Ltd tabloids, guest of Col Allan at Scores no less. Now his years of sycophancy and duchessing editors with juicy leaks about his colleagues count for nothing. No wonder he’s bitter.’’

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

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