It is ironic that Chris Kenny from Murdoch’s The Australian, in casting aspersions upon the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), begins what he laughably calls ‘analysis’ by referring to “post-truth journalism, fake news and conspiracy theories”1. The irony is because it is Murdoch’s media interests (e.g. Fox News2) which are some of the major outlets giving rise to this sort of drivel in the anglophone world. In Australia, this is rampant in Murdoch ‘newspapers’, as I have outlined numerous times before3,4,5,6,7,8,9.
Kenny sticks the boot into the ABC because of an article by political editor, Andrew Probyn, in which he relates the interactions between then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and media billionaires Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch. According to Probyn, Turnbull and Stokes began discussing what looked like a campaign to oust Turnbull by Murdoch’s News Corp. Turnbull believed it was being led by The Australian, the Daily Bellylaugh “egged on by 2GB’s Alan Jones and Ray Hadley” and the coterie of buffoons on night-time Sky News. Stokes was concerned that this destabilisation of Turnbull would lead to a Labor government, and was concerned about the industrial relations regime under Shorten10. Stokes contacted Murdoch to inquire what was going on inside News Corp. Murdoch told Stokes that ‘Malcolm has got to go’, but when Stokes suggested this could deliver government to Labor, Murdoch reportedly said “They’ll only be in for three years – it won’t be so bad. I did alright under Labor and the Painters and Dockers; I can make money under Shorten and the CFMEU.”10
Kenny firstly launches into Probyn by stating that it would be more appropriate in the Green Left Weekly or, as if to emphasise the point, in a university newspaper. Then he launches into Turnbull for his paranoia, and indicates that the ABC might not be adhering to its charter, suggesting that a complaint should be made to the Australian Communication and Media Authority for which he hopes someone has the time. Kenny states that The Australian repeatedly supported Turnbull’s prime ministership “urging him to improve his performance and warning him about looming policy and political problems”1. If that is the most supportive he could find, it is damning with faint praise.
Kenny defends himself by stating that his columns often criticised the government, and that other columnists in The Australian ranged from strong supporters of Turnbull, to objective, to antagonistic1, seemingly contradicting his previous statements. He then relates sections of editorials from his ‘newspaper’ one of which bores it up the government for its “fiscal, energy and leadership delinquency”1. Faint praise indeed.
To cap this all off, Kenny states that it seems the “hysterical response from left-of-centre media in the US to Donald Trump’s victory has started to take hold here”. Finally, to continue where he started, seemingly unaware of the irony, he says: “at times like these nothing is more necessary than cool heads and calm regard for the facts”1. This comes from a climate change denier who writes for The Australian, one of the flag-bearers for climate change denialism in Australia. People like Kenny are simply not self-aware. I do wonder if that is a prerequisite for ruperters11 at News Corp.
In his diatribe, Kenny does not provide any evidence counter to Probyn’s story beyond a couple of editorials which are clearly damning of Turnbull in stating that he needs to pull his socks up. Probyn relates details of conversations which have clearly come from Stokes or Turnbull, but Kenny does not address this. For Kenny to write this piece and for several other News Corp ruperters to also pile on Probyn, clearly shows how desperate News Corp are to avoid stories which detail the nefarious activities of their boss. It is also worth noting that Murdoch has form in intervening in politics. The US National Archives has declassified secret diplomatic communications including a telegram dated January 20, 1975, which sheds new light on Murdoch’s involvement in the demise of the Whitlam government. The telegram was from the US Consul-General in Melbourne, Robert Brand, who reported to the State Department that “Rupert Murdoch has issued [a] confidential instruction to editors of newspapers he controls to ‘Kill Whitlam’”12. After this, News Limited (as it then was) newspapers savaged Whitlam and strongly backed opposition leader Malcolm Fraser, so much so, that journalists at The Australian took industrial action in protest11. Such a protest wouldn’t happen today, as many News Corp journalists seem to have dispensed with any semblance of integrity years ago.