It has just come to my notice, following reports of the News Corporation annual general meeting in New York, that I have something in common with Rupert Murdoch.
We are both codgers – a delightful term usually adopted affectionately, to refer to an eccentric but amusing old man, not to be confused with an old duffer referring to an incompetent or stupid older person and occasionally directed at Rupert Murdoch.
Last year I was having my annual competency test to retain my driver’s licence which involves a very patient nursing person asking trivial questions to ascertain if you have all your marbles or at least some of them and having you gaze at a distant chart of wiggly alphabetical characters to determine the extent of your failing vision.
This was taking place in August last year and the simple questions included today’s date, my own date of birth, what season it was and the curly one: who is the current prime minister? This was at a time when Malcolm Turnbull was the prime minister with the overwhelming and vocal – albeit brief – support of his party, having just won a challenge from Peter Dutton 48 to 35: somewhat decisive you may think. But then the people’s favourite Peter [call me spud] Dutton had another urge to have a go as he evidently thought there may have been a miscount or that members of the party may have not understood what they were voting for – even the suggestion of voting instructions in Mandarin Chinese [a favourite ploy of the Liberal party] may have added to the confusion. So Pete again put himself forward and once again got trounced. In desperation the Liberal party, faced with the worrying prospect of a new leader in the form of a woman [Juie Bishop] making the cut, reached out to a man who we are told wasn’t even in the race and who staunchly supported Turnbull. A man who would become known as Scomo sounding more like a cleaning product for shower screens than a prime minister, who grinned a lot and who has a habit of saying ‘how good is that’ whenever there is a lapse in conversation.
So back at the surgery with the nurse looking at me expectantly for an answer, I told her that I wasn’t sure who the prime minister was right now and this had little to do with the onset of dementia and more the political state of the nation. She insisted on a response so, glancing at my watch, I told her I thought it was Malcolm Turnbull and waited for her reaction. As she was also of a certain age and probably didn’t follow politics closely, she accepted my answer. I then told her that it’s complicated and to demonstrate that I was a modern age ‘wake’ – whatever that means – codger I briefed her on the shenanigans going on in the Liberal party : she duly awarded me a pass and I toddled off to see if I could remember where I had parked my car : just as well they have those little buttons on your car key, you just hit the unlocked padlock symbol and bingo your car responds with a flash of lights as if to say ‘over here you silly old bugger’!
At the News, AGM Rupert was thrown a curveball in the form of a question from the floor by a proxy for Andrew Mayne – an Australian shareholder activist. Murdoch was asked about the company’s “stance on climate change”.
The questioner asked: “What do you believe is the global role of News Corp in the geopolitical climate? If you do believe in climate change, why [is it that] News Corp gives climate deniers like Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann so much airtime in Australia?”
His answer was dismissive: “there are no climate change deniers around [News Corp] I can assure you.”
This from a man who has presided over a publishing and broadcasting empire that has become synonymous with climate change denial and obfuscation, fiercely disputing and mocking science and providing a global sanctuary and a platform for those who promote the primacy of coal and fossil fuel interests.
Did he have a senior’s moment, did he not hear the question, does he not read, listen or watch his own media outlets in the USA, the UK and Australia: or was he just telling porkies?
Do you think there are editorial meetings taking place right now at Newscorp Australia and Sky-after-Dark trying to read between the lines of what the oracle in New York may have been saying? Should Andrew Bolt, Chris Kenny, Peta Credlin, Paul Murray, Rowan Dean and the host of hangers-on who had previously signed an oath never to acknowledge climate change, clean out their desks and be escorted from the building – is the party over?
Or has the codger transitioned to an old Duffer no longer a fit and proper person to be heading up a global media organisation?
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