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.