Because I refuse to subscribe to any of the pretend newspapers owned by NewsCorp and the appalling Rupert Murdoch, nor watch his silly Sky News, I only see a few of the items of drivel which pass for news at NewsCorp. However, I do enjoy sticking the boot into them, for their lying by omission, mostly. Journalism, especially in newspapers, has been in decline for quite some time1, and that has left the way open for people like Murdoch to debase the profession of journalism2. He uses his newspapers to push his religious, hard-right, neoliberal, climate change denying agenda. Perhaps the worst example of his excesses is Fox (Faux) News in the US. In Australia, the worst are probably his two tabloids, the Herald-Sun (aka the Hun) in Melbourne, the Daily Telegraph (aka the Daily Bellylaugh) in Sydney, his broadsheet, The Australian, and on television, Sky News3. Murdoch’s debasement of journalism has been referred to online as ‘rupertage’ and its practitioners ‘ruperters’. This is how they operate:
Charles Miranda (Daily Bellylaugh) wrote under the headline ‘Labor leader Bill Shorten missed an Anzac Day dinner with Diggers to visit a Dubai shopping mall’. This was a lie by omission, because Liberal senator Scott Ryan accompanied Shorten and also missed the dinner. Neither Shorten nor Ryan were informed about the dinner4.
Out of a speech given by Labor MP Anthony Albanese, in which he stated that successful Labor governments have collaborated with unions, business and society. Of course, ruperter Geoff Chambers (The Australian) manufactured a conflict between Albanese and Shorten, stating that Albanese’s speech went against Shorten’s ‘anti-business crusade’, this despite the fact that Shorten has announced numerous initiatives in support of business5.
Peter Dutton released information about a boat, containing an Indonesian crew and several Chinese nationals, which was ‘swooped on’ by the Navy. The fact that this boat arrived on Dutton’s watch made it a little difficult for Renee Viellaris (Brisbane’s Courier Mail) but, undeterred, she stated effectively that the Labor Party don’t know what to do with asylum seekers. In fact, the Labor Party have said that Manus and Nauru should be processing centres, not indefinite detention centres6.
After the five by-elections in July, 2018, four of which were won by Labor and the other by the Centre Alliance, recidivist ruperters Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers (The Australian) wrote a piece headed by ‘Plotting ‘blows up in Albo’s face’’. It was subtitled ‘Anthony Albanese’s leadership ambitions are in tatters following Bill Shorten’s clean sweep at the by-elections, say senior members’. Hilariously, they state that although Shorten has majority support among Labor voters, Albanese has more support from Coalition and One Notion voters. Really?7
Ruperter Rory Callinan (The Australian) headed his piece with ‘Shorten accepted upgrades at hotel under a human rights cloud’. It stated that the hotel in which Shorten stayed and received upgrades has a connection to the Sultan of Brunei who wants to legalise stoning to death of homosexuals and adulterers. Despite these laws being suggested four years ago, nothing has happened as it is thought that the Sultan is sensitive to outside perception. Nowhere does Callinan mention that Malcolm Turnbull and Marise Payne have accepted gifts from Brunei, and Payne and Peter Dutton have accepted gifts from the UAE, where homosexuality is already sometimes punishable by death8.
Rachel Baxendale (The Australian) published what was intended as a hatchet piece on Labor frontbencher Tony Burke. She bemoans the fact that Burke, who was then environment minister spent money on aircraft visiting the Tarkine Wilderness in 2012 which was topical at the time. She also attempted to paint a false equivalence between Burke and his wife and Barnaby Joyce and his paramour Vikki Campion, by noting that Burke’s now wife worked for GetUp and was Burke’ chief of staff despite their relationship not starting until some time afterwards9.
Steven Wardill (Brisbane’s Sunday Mail) stated that the husband of Queensland’s Liberal National Party Leader Deb Frecklington had to close his Gloria Jeans coffee shop franchise because of a ‘vicious’ boycott organised by the Electrical Trades Union. This wasn’t mentioned by Mr Frecklington when the business actually closed down. He said that the franchise agreement had run out and he wanted to focus on his first passion, farming. The ETU stated that there was no boycott and that they had bigger things to do than look at a coffee shop10.
Unhinged ruperter Chris Kenny (The Australian) stuck the boot into the ABC accusing it of fake news and conspiracy theories after ABC reporter Andrew Probyn related a story of a conversation between then PM Malcolm Turnbull, and media billionaires Murdoch and Kerry Stokes. Probyn’s story turned out to be true. The fact that Kenny, a climate change denier (he believes it is a conspiracy) accuses others of fake news and conspiracy theories simply demonstrates his lack of self-awareness11.
Brad Norington and Andrew Clennell (The Australian) stated, prior to the Wentworth by-election, the independent candidate Kerryn Phelps (she eventually won) was ‘open to tearing down the government’, which is an option kept in reserve by any independent member of parliament. On Sky News it was suggested that she could create chaos; to which she replied. “We have chaos now”. Indeed12.
Elias Visontay (The Australian) wrote a piece about Rob Oakeshott suggesting he may contest the seat of Cowper at the next federal election. This was designed to damage Oakeshott’s chances, by stating that it could net him tens of thousands of dollars. This is true, and is for any candidate. Each candidate who gets over 4% of the primary vote obtains 273.454 cents for each primary vote. Visontay does not mention this detail until the second last sentence in his piece13.
The unnamed Federal Political editor of the Courier Mail wrote a piece which was published in the Hun (Herald-Sun). It was headed ‘Queenslanders turn to Scott Morrison after leadership spill’, and maintained that Turnbull’s demise was motivated by a desire to increase the government’s popularity among Queensland voters. It had the Government’s primary vote climbing 1% from a sample of 839 voters. Given the relatively small sample size, statistically, nothing had changed14.
Joe Kelly and Paige Taylor (The Australian) tried to assert that turmoil in the Coalition was the reason that the Labor policy to dump the Howard government’s generous cash refunds for imputation credits was not being noticed. They give an example of how a couple both in their 70s will lose something between $10,000 and $12,000 per annum, which means they likely have $200,000 worth of shares, They extrapolated this to indicate that many old people will suffer. Nowhere do Kelly and Taylor mention that modelling indicates 75% of the benefits go to the richest 10% of households15.
The hack, Troy Bramston starts off his ‘kill Bill’ rant in The Australian by maintaining that the Labor Party’s central mission is ‘to implement the socialist objective’. This mission statement comes from nearly a century ago, and is belied by all subsequent Labor governments who have been anything but socialist. This is desperate stuff from a ruperter trying somehow to prop up what they must know is a deeply incompetent government16.
Recidivist ruperter Greg Brown has written a piece in The Australian when Liberal assistant ministers Sarah Henderson and Linda Reynolds were wheeled out to defend the merit-based selection of choosing Liberal candidates. Reynolds accused Labor women of allowing themselves to be used to promote quotas, seemingly unaware of the concept of irony. The Liberal Party’s merit-based selection process has led to the selection of Tony Abbott, Craig Kelly and Angus Taylor. Enough said?17
How these Murdoch employees can call themselves journalists is beyond me. They must be completely lacking in any sort of integrity or professionalism. They demonstrate why Rupert Murdoch and his media interests are the greatest threat to Australian democracy that we face. We must have truth in media laws.