Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News network are pernicious influences in US politics, spreading hate, division, and outright lies. But we should not forget that Murdoch is an Australian and his media empire has tentacles in his native land and in the UK as well.
Leading up to the recent elections in Australia, his media outlets in that country did what they do here in the US but it turned out that despite using the same playbook, they were not successful in their efforts to eliminate all the parties that were neither Liberal nor Labor and have the Liberals retain power.
At the centre of this extraordinary detachment of political coverage from reality are the Australian newspapers of News Corp, from the national daily the Australian to the popular tabloids in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in particular.
Only the Northern Territory News, among its most visible publications, editorialised for a Labor victory.
The singular story of election night was how News Corp, with all its recourses and all its outlets, from newspapers to subscription TV news, couldn’t convince voters to follow its course, at least not in the numbers needed.
It is being seen as a demonstration of impotence in political affairs, and of absence of authority in the group’s claim to speak for the nation.
Academic and journalist Margaret Simons is no chum of News Corp but was not alone when she wrote this in the Sydney Morning Herald on 16 May: “I am not sure News Corporation bothers to deny its bias these days. But could this be the election in which the impotence of its skewed reporting is exposed?”
The election result doesn’t mean the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald convinced voters to back Labor as their election editorials recommended, but it does mean they were alert to voter movement and ready to respond.
After first reacting with shock and anger over the defeat of the Liberals, scapegoating has begun with the News Corp media urging the Liberals to shift even more to the right, just like the way they have promoted extreme-right politics here. They have accused the Labor party and its leader Anthony Albanese of belonging to the ‘radical left’, as laughable a charge as the similar one made against Joe Biden and the Democratic party.
For six weeks Murray told his audience the polls were inaccurate and the Coalition could still win. He had cosy chats with Scott Morrison, who chose to appear on his program rather than the ABC during the election campaign.
On Sunday night he was gearing up for a new fight, saying: “Welcome to the first meeting of the new resistance”.
The reaction from News Corp’s media stable of commentators to the Labor win and the teal and Greens gains has ranged from shock to grief and anger.
Outsiders co-host Rowan Dean wasn’t taking it well. The editor of the Spectator said we were facing “three years of hard-core left-wing government that will destroy the fabric of this nation”.
But it was Andrew Bolt, the Herald Sun’s star columnist and Sky News host, who reacted with visceral anger.
“Scott Morrison’s pathetic Liberals got smashed by telling the world they were the Guilty Party,” Bolt wrote. “Guilty on the ‘climate emergency’. Guilty of being mean to women. Guilty on ‘reconciliation’.
“Who’d vote for such a mewling pack of self-haters with so little self-respect that they won’t even sack a party traitor like Malcolm Turnbull? Thank God this election wipe-out has taken out many of their worst grovellers.
“Please, Peter Dutton, take over, and make the Liberals stop apologising for not being more like Labor. Let the Liberals be Liberals again. But still I see some of the more clueless Liberal survivors crawl from the wreckage and whimper that they’ve got to swing even more to the Left.”
Apparently leading up to the election, the Murdoch media had been promoting the view that the polls were wrong and that the Liberals would win, and the loss has been met with stunned disbelief. This is just like the US elections in 2020. The difference is that the losers and their media supporters are not promoting a similar Big Lie that the election was stolen from them.
Murdoch and his media are a menace and a threat to democracy wherever they operate.
Matt G says
What? No accusations of voter fraud? No Big Lie? I guess the Liberals are indeed a mewling pack of self-haters.
The Missouri Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, is on the ballot for a second term. He’s a pretty far-right Republican; but he once said that the last presidential election was fair, so the right-wing are spending tons of money on TV attack ads equating Schmitt with AOC and Biden.
Equating AOC with Biden is a real knee-slapper right there, but Schmitt? (guffaw guffaw snicker snicker)
Steve Lion says
Funny you should mention it.
Just last night I was watching a BBC mini-series published in 1986, at one point mention was made of the sun and the times(?) and murdoch by name as being, shall we say, useless trash!
Matt G @1
Oh yes there are.
Thankfully the voters in Australia are far too conservative for the likes of this lot -- ivermectin-guzzling trolls that they are. Their best result nationally was a 10% result in the electorate of Holt, so no likelihood of a close result being ‘stolen’.
Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly have remade themselves in the form of Trump, but the thing is, Trump is a lot smarter than they are.
It’s worth remembering that the Murdoch family’s media empire started in Australia.
Rupert Murdoch no longer has Australian citizenship: it was automatically revoked when he took US citizenship in in 1985 so that he could buy US TV companies. At the time, Australia did not allow its citizens to become dual citizens, but that is no longer the case.
In the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies the bond villain was a mash up of Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch. 🙂
Our national broadcaster has a weekly roundup of notable media events from the week before.
Their most recent episode covered a lot of what you talk about in this post.
Pretty sure it’s viewable from outside of AU.
@1 Matt G
What? No accusations of voter fraud?
As tuatara@4 points out there is always someone stupid enough to try it but I think the Oz system is like ours in Canada. Non-political administrative body sets constituency boundaries making gerrymandering rather difficult, establishes voting regulations and administers elections, including hiring staff. The entire process is standardized across the country and politicians are not allowed to touch it.
It is much harder to have anyone believe voter fraud, especially on any substantial size.
That’s pretty much spot on. Federal electoral boundaries are set by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), which also conducts the elections. Elections for the Australian federal parliament is conducted under federal law -- the states have no say it it, other than when a Senate vacancy must be filled mid-term (death or resignation of a Senator). However, the AEC doesn’t set voting regulations: they are set down in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The AEC prepares training material for its staff, and for an election, many of the staff are hired only for the period of the election and the count.
None of: electoral enrollment, pre-poll voting, postal voting, the conduct of the election and the vote count, observation of the vote and count by party representatives, and the process for resolving disputed results are in the least bit controversial.
However, one of the fringe right-wing parties in the recent election is currently trying to allege electoral fraud, but no-one is taking them seriously. They don’t even seem to be taking themselves seriously about it, because AFAIK, they haven’t referred the allegations to either the AEC or the Australian Federal Police, which you’d think they’d be keen to, if they had such evidence.
State electoral boundaries and the conduct of elections is similarly managed, and the state electoral commissions use the federal electoral rolls, so only one enrollment is needed.
This wasn’t always the case and the electoral malapportionment under the Bjelke-Petersen Queensland state governments of the 1970s and 80s reached epic proportions.