Media “Bias?” Uncle Fairfax Throws Stones From A Glass House

RESPLENDENT in its outrage, the Fairfax press is having a field day; whilst castigating rivals in the Murdoch stable for “bias” toward the Coalition, the Fairfax tomes have ripped into the new government, the Prime Minister, and his ministers. The pot is clearly black — regardless of what it calls the kettle.

I think we all know the drill: there is — stereotypically — media bias in Australia and across the world for that matter, as far as they eye can see; and the big, bad ogre in the whole conspiracist plot is one R. Murdoch.

It’s a convenient argument, and an entirely inaccurate one at that; as anybody who has ever been within cooee of a Coalition election campaign knows all too well, the Murdoch press is as prone to swing wildly in the breeze of electoral change as any media outlet is.

Murdoch newspapers campaigned heavily for Kevin Rudd against John Howard in 2007, for example; they weren’t much use to the Coalition’s prospects in 1993 either.

And the mass circulation Murdoch publications of Fleet Street arguably played a big part in keeping the Conservative Party out of office in Britain for over a decade.

Yet even that misses the mark, because whilst the Murdoch media is often (but not always) friendly to the political Right, the Fairfax press, the ABC, the Guardian, Private Media and a whole slew of others are unflinchingly and unfailingly adherent to the Left.

And this is why, reading in the once-honourable mastheads of the Fairfax stable that now remain in name only, the “Let’s get Abbott!” mentality of the Fairfax tomes seems blinkered in its partisanship and almost childish in its vehemence.

Before we get too far into this, a question for readers: Going back to, say, 1975 (and being completely objective and impartial — difficult, I know 🙂  ), which election results in Australia did the voting public really, really get wrong?

Setting aside caveats about always campaigning for a Liberal Party win, that the worst Tory government is always better than the best Labor one and so on, the one that stands out vividly is 1993 (although 2010, for obvious reasons of recent history, comes close).

It is true that the then-leader of the Liberal Party, John Hewson, wasn’t a salesman’s bootlace, and had all the political acumen and judgement of a turnip.

And it is certainly true that the Prime Minister of the day — Paul Keating — met these shortcomings with a vicious assault on the Liberals’ Fightback! manifesto, destroying Hewson and his election prospects in the process.

But the ALP had run out of puff after ten years in office; once re-elected, it embarked on a traditional borrow-tax-spend binge, moving to occupy the insiderish, politically correct, elitist, minorities-driven and welfarist position that we have so recently witnessed of the ALP in office under Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd — and which would have been the end destination of the Whitlam government had its tenure not been abruptly truncated in 1975.

Whose responsibility was the Liberals’ election loss in 1993? I don’t blame the press, ranged against us as it mostly was at that time.

But to listen to present incarnations of once-respected publications such as The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, you’d think the media alone is responsible for determining who governs Australia, and on what terms.

Forget about Abbott the misogynist, Abbott the unfit Prime Ministerial candidate, the unready Liberals, and stories of agendas designed to plunge the populace into poverty and the country into a depression: all spin, fabricated in the bowels of Labor’s Sussex Street citadel, and dutifully regurgitated by Fairfax and the other media cabals of the Left.

Does anyone seriously think voters made a mistake dumping the ALP in September, or — more to the point — that Labor actually deserved a third term in power? Even if they can’t admit it publicly, I daresay many of the Labor Party’s own people know their party deserved the thumping it was given.

Which is why the grand old time apparently being had over at Fairfax Media should be a fruitless rearguard action, to say the least.

A quick scan of the front page of The Age website yesterday (and remember, The Age was the only major newspaper in Australia to endorse Labor at this year’s election) reveals no fewer than six leading, highly prominent articles advancing the causes of the Left, ripping into the new Liberal government — and, of course, into Murdoch’s News Limited press.

News Corp Bias Against Kevin Rudd,” screams the headline of an “exclusive” report into anti-Labor bias in the Murdoch press uncovered by an independent study.

The “independent” study — as readers quickly learn — was commissioned by the Labor Party at the request of veteran ALP strategist and key Rudd adviser Bruce Hawker.

It had previously been “confidential,” which is presumably why it was leaked on an “exclusive” basis to the Fairfax press.

Unsurprisingly, the study found — among other things — that the Sydney Morning Herald had been “the leading source of unfavourable press coverage of Tony Abbott and the Coalition.” Surprise, surprise.

Next: “Executives Add Voices To Call To Redress Gender Disparity” screeches a “business” article that just happens to focus on the affirmative action agenda and gender quotas so lovingly championed by the far Left.

Needless to say, the editorial endorsement is glowing.

Tony Abbott ‘Thumbing His Nose’ At Voters, Says Laurie Oakes” — it must have been a real coup by Fairfax management to get this stuff on the record from Oakes, who is — after all — a resident columnist at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

The original headline on that article was “Laurie Oakes Slams Abbott Government,” which makes you wonder why it was changed; after all, the first headline would seem far more in line with Fairfax’s editorial priorities than the second.

And to the uncritical or the exceedingly stupid, the remarks attributed to Oakes — at first glance — appear damning of the Coalition.

Yet all it takes is to read the story to ascertain that despite the best efforts to put the anti-Liberal, anti-Abbott slant on it, Oakes is actually talking about the new government finding its way in terms of media management; he is not (as some feverishly wish) adding his imprimatur to an arbitrary and summary judgement of the Abbott government.

Indeed, one observation made by the reporting journalist is that some media requests for information from government ministers are “frequently left unanswered,” which conveniently ignores the fact that ministerial staff recruitment isn’t finalised yet, and won’t be for some weeks: this is a new government starting out, let’s not forget.

PM Stumbling Around The International Stage,” writes Raoul Heinrichs, in an exposition of Abbott lurching “from one diplomatic disaster to another” making “rookie mistakes” with our Asian neighbours.

It sits in stark contrast to the majority of the coverage of Abbott’s recent trip through Asia, which was overwhelmingly positive (and not confined by any stretch to the Murdoch press, either).

The punchline comes, of course, at the bottom of the article in a bio-grab that identifies Heinrich as a former staffer to Kevin Rudd, with a note that “an earlier version of this article failed to mention this.”

What a shock.

Moving on…”Case Of Give A Little, Take A Lot More” says business columnist Malcolm Maiden, who concedes that tax changes outlined this week by Treasurer Joe Hockey “clean up” the taxation regime the government inherited, whilst delivering on election promises without impacting heavily on the commonwealth budget.

Even so, there’s a distinctly chiding tone: after all, the Liberals are increasing tax receipts by $10.9 billion over four years, and Maiden manages to note the things Labor tried to bribe voters with — Schoolkids Bonuses and the unfunded Low Income Superannuation Payment — have been deleted, whilst also noting tax increases on superannuation for high income earners were being abandoned.

It’s a pragmatic analysis infused with a little convenience.

And — from the same columnist who cheerily wrote about gender quotas in the business community — we’re informed that “Murdoch Wants His Pound Of Flesh” in a piece that could easily be presented as the second instalment of the “exclusive” about media bias over at News Limited.

According to The Age, Uncle Rupert was “the largest single contributor to the election of Tony Abbott’s Coalition government” who is now “looking for his reward.”

The rest of the article goes on to talk about the same wish list Murdoch has always pursued in search of changes to media regulation and ownership restrictions, and which he has pursued for decades before federal governments of both political hues.

The only “new” bits are the updated items that just happen to be his present priorities: demands that would have been made of a re-elected Rudd government just as they will be of the Liberals.

There you have it: an awful, awful lot of anti-Liberal press content for a media outlet purporting outrage over “bias” in the reporting of Australian politics.

But this is the problem with the Left; the lofty and portentous standards it demands of others aren’t applicable when it comes to its own conduct; the pot can always call the kettle black, but nobody pays heed to a habitual hypocrite.

Yet far from being downbeat and dispirited, the Left is merely getting warmed up.

I’m going to share one more article with everyone today; this is from one of my favourite opinion writers at the Murdoch press, Miranda Devine, and if you don’t read any or all of the links provided to The Age in my piece today, I urge you to read this one.

Devine hits the bullseye with this, and — using a different anecdotal process to the one I have used here — arrives at the reason why there is so much noise emanating from the cabals of the Left right now, and why it will only grow louder as the Liberal Party continues in office.

It’s all part of the plan.

So it’s no wonder the Fairfax press generally, and The Age in particular, are engaged in the puerile, selectively accurate and highly biased crusade against Abbott and his government that they have embarked upon, simultaneously decrying “bias” at their Murdoch rivals.

It is, as Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt accurately described it, “a crock.”

But as ever with the Left, reality is always an afterthought to the pursuit of its agenda.

 

The Guardian A Welcome Addition To Australia’s Mediascape

THE LAUNCH yesterday of British newspaper The Guardian‘s online Australian edition is welcome, timely, and deserving of support; it adds a refreshing third voice to mainstream media coverage in this country, and provides some much-needed diversity to coverage of the nation’s events.

In posting this afternoon, I simply wish to acknowledge The Guardian‘s presence on a computer screen (hopefully) near you; I am very pleased to see this long-mooted startup finally come to fruition.

I am a longtime reader of the original British Guardian site (and its newspaper when in England); I have always found its centrist approach to issues to be relevant, topical, and surprisingly balanced  when compared to other mass media enterprises either here or in the UK.

The Guardian will be published online only in Australia; it’s the way of the world, and in spite of being an old-style troglodyte still very happy to sit down with a newspaper proper, The Guardian‘s format is clear, simple to navigate, and easy to read.

Readers will find The Guardian Australia at www.guardian.co.uk/australia.

I wish The Guardian every possible success in its Australian venture, and urge all readers to get behind this exciting new media venture as well.