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Murdoch hates Rudd: a reminder

The Fairfax media and the social media have seized on the ‘rumour’ that Murdoch wants to wipe away Kevin Rudd’s chance of electoral success, in favour of Abbott; a win to Abbott would be a win for Murdoch, financially.

The barrage of frenzied attacks on Rudd from Murdoch’s News Limited media over the last few days gives this rumour some strength.

But this isn’t new. The Murdoch media is well oiled when it comes to attacking Rudd.

Let’s go back to September 2009, courtesy of Mungo MacCallum who wrote the following (reproduced below) in his article Rudd and the Murdoch Press.

“The most powerful man in Australia does not actually live in Australia. This, for many, is just one more reason to fear and loathe him. Much of Australia has never forgiven Rupert Murdoch for putting wealth and power above patriotism and deserting his country of birth to become an American citizen.

Political leaders find it particularly irksome. It was painful enough to be called into the media mogul’s Sydney headquarters, worse still to be invited to his rural estate – ‘Cavan’, near Canberra – to don gumboots and compliment him on his livestock. But to be summoned halfway around the world – to New York or, the ultimate humiliation, to one of his executive bonding retreats at Aspen, Colorado – is almost too much to bear.

Almost … but not quite. Those unwilling to undertake the pilgrimage have only to cast their minds back to 1975 to recall the terrible consequences of offending the Sun King.

The campaign waged by the News Limited press against Gough Whitlam during that year’s election was so brutal and single-minded that a number of Murdoch’s own journalists went on strike in protest. It was also overkill; in the somewhat hysterical atmosphere of the time, Whitlam was going to lose anyway. But the Dirty Digger’s Blitzkrieg undoubtedly made the result more dramatic than it might otherwise have been.

No sane politician, let alone prime minister, is going to invite an encore. For this reason, various Labor strategists are starting to worry about the simmering feud between Kevin Rudd and the Murdoch empire, concerned that there is a risk of eruption into open warfare.

Rudd and his colleagues have never tried to hide their distaste for the News Limited style of journalism, more than once accusing the corporation of deliberately distorting reports to favour Labor’s opponents. They have long since given up on some of News Limited’s columnists; you might as well try to convert Alan Jones. There is a particular contempt for what insiders describe as the Axis of Evil: Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, Piers Akerman in the Telegraph and Janet Albrechtsen in the Australian.

When Mark Latham called Albrechtsen “a skanky ho who would die in a ditch for the Liberal Party”, he was accused of bad taste, but he was actually just summarising the general sentiment of the Labor Party. And Dennis Shanahan – working within the press gallery itself – became a standing joke at the close of the Howard era, thanks to his heroic attempts to read hope for the coalition into a long series of disastrous opinion polls.

But all this is par for the course, what Rudd himself might call the “normal argy-bargy of politics”. In recent times, though, the to-and-fro has become more particular and more serious. Rudd has been able to brush off many of the attacks against his ministers and the policies of his government, but when the concerted forces of the Murdoch press moved against his integrity it hit him where it hurts, both politically and personally.

Rudd is jealously protective of his image as a sincere prime minister.

The Opposition, of course – with the help of its cheerleaders in the media – has tried to portray him as a shallow, malleable politician, lacking both principle and conviction: all spin and no substance. But it is clear that the public does not see him that way. Indeed, a recent letter-writer to the Sydney Morning Herald explained Rudd’s longstanding ascendancy in the polls with one word: Integrity.

So when News Limited threw its considerable resources behind what became known as the ‘Utegate affair’, Rudd cracked. The accusation that he had given special favours to the car-dealer John Grant in return for – of all things – a beaten-up truck, was simply unacceptable and, when the email on which the charge was based was proved to be a forgery, he hit back.

Asked during a press conference for his reaction by Matthew Franklin, who had helped to drive the story in the Australian, Rudd responded in terms rather more measured than he had been using in private:

I think, what a number of people have said to me, Matthew, around the place is where have we kind of got to, when you have major papers like the Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser running on their front page that the prime minister of the country is corrupt, and then secondly the editors it seems not having sighted any original document in terms of this email, and thirdly, it turns out that, that email is a forgery, I would have thought a few people would want to know how all that happened, what sort of journalistic checks were put in place for that to be the case, or is it simply being sort of airbrushed from history?


I think the other thing which sort of comes up is, I mean, the usual accusations when political leaders respond to factually inaccurate reporting in the media, in this case in those papers that I referred to, is to accuse the political leaders in question of having some sort of glass jaw. It may simply be that what people want is just some basic answers as to how that might have happened, that’s a pretty basic thing.


The other thing I saw the chief executive of your own news organisation do yesterday was, in responding to this, indicate that somehow the deputy prime minister was raising these matters because she’d felt set upon by your newspaper over the coverage of the Building the Education Revolution stuff. Well, all’s fair in love and war, I mean, you guys will take whatever editorial position you want on the Building the Education Revolution and that’s been the case.

Rudd described this treatment of Gillard as “journalistic retaliation”. In other words, it had gone beyond Utegate: Rudd now saw it as a concerted campaign.

The Australian immediately struck back: one of its less scrupulous hit men, Glenn Milne, devoted an entire column to vilifying Rudd. And the paper’s dedicated sneer column, ‘Cut and Paste’ (which seems to exist purely for the purpose of trivialising or denigrating views to the left of the soup spoon), redoubled its attacks on Rudd and his defenders.

One of the constant accusations was that Rudd did indeed have a glass jaw: he could dish it out but he couldn’t take it. It is true that, since becoming the leader of the Labor Party, he and his staff have seemed both clumsy and overreactive in their dealings with the media. One explanation may be Rudd’s background in the Queensland arena, where the journalists (“the chooks”, as Joh Bjelke-Petersen once called them) are rather less aggressive than the Canberra press gallery.

The current stoush between the PM’s office and what is arguably the most forceful and influential constituent of the fourth estate is not a good sign. Rudd began, as quoted above, by referring specifically to three of the Murdoch tabloids, but later widened his attack to include “the Murdoch press” generally, perhaps implying that the campaign was being led by the man himself.

This is unlikely: these days Murdoch regards his Australian operations as pretty much on the fringe and allows his editors the kind of independence that their predecessors only dreamed of. An obvious example of this, is Murdoch’s support of the use of short-term stimulus packages to combat the global financial crisis, while his Australian economics writers (Michael Stutchbury in the Australian, in particular) have been highly critical.

Also, Murdoch declares himself a true believer in climate change, but the Australian has become a haven for sceptics and deniers. The anti-Rudd push, if it is coordinated at all, is almost certainly locally driven.

This may not give Rudd much immediate solace, but at least he is unlikely to suffer the kind of vendetta that was the fate of Gough Whitlam. Murdoch may well have disapproved of many aspects of the Labor government of 1972–75, but the ferocity of his onslaught was driven at least partly by a desire for payback.

The Murdoch papers had campaigned vigorously for Labor in 1972; indeed, their bashings of the incumbent prime minister, the hapless Billy McMahon, were almost as ruthless as their monstering of Whitlam three years later. And shortly after Whitlam took office, Murdoch appeared on the doorstep, claiming his reward: he wanted to be appointed to the plum diplomatic post of high commissioner to London, with the proviso that he be allowed to continue all his business operations – including running his media empire – from the official residence on the Strand.

Whitlam, outraged by the demand, refused point-blank and shortly thereafter cancelled a coal mining project that Murdoch had underway in Western Australia, on the grounds of “national interest”. The rest is history.

Kevin Rudd may find it inconvenient to have to make the trek to the United States to pay his respects, but he has reason to be thankful that Rupert Murdoch now pursues his insatiable ambitions from somewhere a long way away.”

Author’s comment:

Did Mungo provide a crystal ball for his readers to gaze into the future: September 2013. Unwittingly, it appears he has. Conversely, he has given us some history to reflect upon. History, that over the next month, will be repeated . . . with venom. We won’t need much reminding that Rupert Murdoch does indeed hate Kevin Rudd. Just keep an eye on his Australian media over the next few weeks if you have any doubt.

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  1. Fed up

    It is interesting that Rudd today, on more than one occasion called Dennis Shanahan out more than once, during his PC.

    I also noticed that some reporters did take up Rudd’s challenge for them to put questions to Abbott, when he appeared. Some did take up the challenge.

    It appears that Murdoch has been in Australia at least three times recently. Abbott was caught dining with him, in an alcove behind a curtain. As his mother has died, it is unlikely to be family that is bringing him here so often.

  2. Min

    Let’s say that something has changed since Mungo wrote that article in ’09, these days Murdoch regards his Australian operations as pretty much on the fringe.. but then along came the NBN. Never try to stand in the way of Rupert and a dollar.

  3. CMMC

    Murdoch hates Labor because they are building the NBN, which will further empower Google.

    Google is his chief enemy, it is the multi-media platform of the future, Cable TV will just die.

    Murdoch hates the future.

  4. dave the brickie

    Let’s face it,it is about time the powers that be at Google came out and declared their allegiance to the providers of the best NBN available and showed some support for the REAL one,and the party that will deliver it.Take Murdoch on at his game and see if it doesn’t get some reaction.I don’t like him in any way at all as he thinks he can influence my vote with his bastardry.Whats the point,of say, the Snowy scheme without the turbines.

  5. cornlegend

    MSM are already going all out to portray Abbott in a favourable light.
    Abbott, in all the polls to date, has been about as popular as a boil on a bum, hovering about 30%

    Tonight, Channel 7 in conjunction with Reachtel conducted a poll on preferred Prime Minister
    Abbott 51%
    Rudd 49%

    They must think we are all as dumb as a box of rocks.

  6. Kaye Lee

    I would imagine after the first debate even the rocks will be deserting Team Abbott.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Mind you Tony has to wait till Brian and Peter fill him in on that. Apparently Brian has written a letter…he thinks. Probably sent by snail mail without a stamp to the wrong address.

  8. Kaye Lee


  9. John Lord

    Truth matters and you have spoken it.

    ‘It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated’

  10. joy cooper

    Murdoch’s behaviour would be considered treasonous if he was an Australian citizen, which he isn’t. This evil monster cannot even vote for “his” party. Is there any way he could be charged with offences as a foreign national? If anyone else did what he has done they would be in gaol.

    Utter disgrace. At least I have Murdoch Blocker installed so I don’t get to read any of his newspapers’ trash. Trouble is Kerry Stokes of Ch 7 & the West Australian newspaper has also thrown his considerable weight behind the effort to oust Rudd as PM & Labor as Federal government. Then we have the rest of the mainstream media as well as BCA & other business associations, mining interests, Gina Rinehart, the disgraceful IPA, Menzies House, HR Nicholls Society, Sydney Institute etc etc ad nauseum all barracking for Tony Abbott. He doesn’t have to do anything but spout his three word slogans & try, desperately, to not fall flat on his face. Fingers crossed he does. 😆

  11. Truth Seeker

    Min, thanks for another good read, 😎

    Yes Murdoch has a lot to answer for, and all of it BAD 👿 and how sad it is that people in this country are still prepared to be told who to vote for, as in the Telegraph front page this morning, and on the front page of The Courier Mail on Sat.

    Absolutely appalling and certainly not in the national interest, but only in Murdoch’s best interest! 😯

    BTW have just posted my own,satirically poetic, take on the start of the election campaign “They’re off and running.” 😀

    They’re off and running.

    Cheers 😀

  12. Kaye Lee


    “John Howard has said that Rupert Murdoch has been by far Australia’s most influential international businessman; but I would like to go a little further. Along with Sir John Monash, the Commander of the First AIF which saved Paris and helped to win the First World War, and Lord Florey a one-time provost of my old Oxford College, the co-inventor of penicillin that literally saved millions of lives, Rupert Murdoch is probably the Australian who has most shaped the world through the 45 million newspapers that News Corp sells each week and the one billion subscribers to News-linked programming.

    Rupert Murdoch has sometimes changed his political allegiance but he’s never changed his fundamental principles. At least since the mid-70’s, those have been greater personal responsibility, smaller government, fewer regulations and support for open societies that don’t build walls against the world.

    For our guest of honour, as for anyone deeply steeped in reporting, experience trumps theory and facts trump speculation. His publications have borne his ideals but never his fingerprints. They’ve been skeptical, stoical, curious, adventurous, opinionated yet broad minded. He’s influenced them, but he’s never dictated to them – as I happily discovered myself in 1989 while writing editorials in favour of the pilots who were trying to ground the airline that he then half owned. As a transgression, this turned out to be far less serious than spelling his late great mother, Dame Elisabeth’s name with a ‘z’ rather than with an ‘s’!

    Rupert Murdoch is a corporate citizen of many countries, but above all else, he’s one of us. Most especially, tonight, he’s a long-serving director of the IPA, as was his distinguished and celebrated father, Sir Keith.”

  13. Daniel Coburn

    Murdoch is a shonky operator. He’s not ethically fit to operate a media business.

  14. john leslie-vincent

    do what they did in england and ban his media interists here as well maybe we australians will then wake up to the rubbish on the frount page of the telegrath 5-8-13

  15. Kaye Lee

    They also have a ban on political advertising in the UK. That would save a lot of wasted money.

  16. Bob Evans

    How he is allowed to get away with 70% paper media ownership, Channel 10 and Foxtel, which has its Fox news lite version, sky news is beyond belief.

    The NBN for the conservatives and Murdoch is very dangerous. For the conservatives, allowing the NBN to see fruition would mean perceptions of the public would be, Labor builds useful things in the countries interests. That would be damaging to the free market Liberal brand of, the private sector should pay for everything and left to their own devices, eventually will. Murdoch and telstra want the NBN dead for obvious reasons.

  17. Cass Silva

    I reiterate, VOTERS BEWARE -A VOTE FOR ABBOTT IS A VOTE FOR MURDOCH. Do we really want this imperialistic obligarch pulling the strings on government policy!

  18. Fed up

    or with a vote for Rudd, we get rid of the for the price of one.

    I suspect the few readers of the Tele are of like mind, and nothing is going to change their beliefs.

  19. George Baxter

    Gee Bob Evans, so if the NBN ever gets completed….. it will thwart Murdoch and Telstra? The NBN conveniently won’t be delivered until 2018. Obviously with the inference that if we keep voting Labor it will happen. Nothing said about asbestos.And how long before the system sees fruition? How much longer than the currently projected 5 years until it is up and running? And when people express frustration at Labor’s long drawn out, costly mistakes you will label them as right wingers? Everything you write shows you to be the pathetic left wing fanatic you truly are. You might think you fall on the left side of the compass, but the truth is you are a deluded dreamer failing to find reality.
    As for Kaye Lee, a member of Gillard’s man hating elite shock troopers? Your pathetic left wing sexism was outdated when feminists took up the issues of women’s rights. Even Labor sacked Gillard. If Murdoch was so anti Left he would have a field day with Labor’s **** ups like shoe gate, menu gate and ute gate to name a few. But all you pathetic left wingers are too deluded to understand that. “Faceless men in blue ties”? Yeah that is so convincing. Its a pity the right wingers aren’t as opposed to and as critical of free speech as you pathetic left wingers. September 7 is Clean Up Australia Day. And from what I read from you, a big broom needs to go through the Melbourne media in a huge way.

  20. Möbius Ecko

    Gee George Baxter, the full NBN when it’s completed in 2018, and even if later, is already completed in many areas. It’s not just one big thing that gets built and then turned on with a single switch.

    What about asbestos? You do know it also affect Abbott’s fraudband plan, even more so as he is completely utilising the old infrastructure?

    You do know that fraudband will be more costly for a worse outcome and take longer?

    Of course you don’t or if you do your blind ideology won’t let you admit it.

    You do know that Howard had 18 out 20 major project run over time and over budget and it will be the same for Abbott, but you will ignore that of course.

    List Labor’s drawn out and costly mistakes in the ~600 policies and project they implemented?

    You do know that Abbott has promised $75 billion in unfunded liabilities, so talk about being costly, along with Howard being the most expensive ex-PM in history, more than all the other ex-PMs combined by a long shot, and Abbott being the most expensive LOTO ever, in most areas more expensive than the PM, all whilst claiming expenses for charity and party political campaigning?

    If there is any disconnect from reality you like most right wingers perfectly demonstrate it in your gormless rant, and nothing illustrates this in your blah than stating the right wingers aren’t opposed to free speech and the left are.

  21. Fed up

    Sorry, Telstra has been dealing with those asbestos pits and ducts for decades. It is Telstra’;s problem. The danger is there regardless of NBNCo. Surely it is not beyond the imagination for Telstra engineers to find a safe way to remove a little cement block, laced with asbestos from the ground.

    The pits and ducts belong to Telstra. NBNCO is renting them, to the string the fibre through.

    Yes, NBNCO, will not be fully up and running until 2929 I believe. Along the way, every day, people will be gradually connected. 2020 is the day, the final homes are expected to be connected.

    As for Turnbull’s lying quote, that Labor lies when they say, the public will get the fibre to the home free. Turnbull is well aware that Labor is not talking about connecting to a server, which we pay for now, and will do in the future, What Labor is talking about, if one wants that fibre, without the copper wire, which delivers a inferior service, they have to pay, up to $3000.

    The asbestos is another scare beat up, as is the pink batts scare. Neither is the responsibility of Labor. It is the responsibility of the firms that hire the workers involved.

    The states are responsible for the health and safety laws that cover these workers. Bosses are responsible for ensuring the work place is safe.

    If I buy a unit off the plan, I am not responsible for ensuring the necessary worker wears harness, when working in high places. The worker has a responsibility to follow safety procedures. The boss, the responsibility to ensure all safety equipment is available and used. Not my problem or responsibility in any way.

    No, NBNCo, no matter how the figures a manipulated by Turnbull, is the cheapest and most efficient scheme in the long run. Maybe not full needed now, but will be by 2920, when Turnbull’s BNBCo lite will need to be extend to the home.

    The maintenance of a crapped out copper wire, is in it self enough to stick to NBNCo. Yes is really little between the cost or finishing times, to dump what we are now getting. It is all about politics, nothing more.

  22. Fed up

    “hat Howard had 18 out 20 major project run over time ”

    Many did not see the light of day, just being announcements that were recycled time after time.

    As for Murdoch, after the news of the last few days, once could suspect all he is concerned with, is saving his own bacon. Funny, nothing about Murdoch’s trouble on Insiders this morning.

    Why is so much time taken up on shows like Insiders about polls. Why not more on policy.

    The shows reminds me of what one reads in history, of the kings experts gather around, examining the entails of the chicken, to predict the future.

  23. melaine

    Loving the way the yapping attack poodles from the ‘blue tie’ brigade seem to get more shrill the closer we get to election day… me thinks they do protest too much haha. Keep up the fabulous comments ME, FU and KL… you give me so much hope and inspiration with your discussions of important issues and your effort to share some sanity in reporting of issues essential for the future prosperity and health of our community and country. And a big thank you to ‘aimn’ for the providing the forums for these discussions to take place. Nice to see commonsense is actually more common than I could have hoped for…

  24. Kaye Lee

    “As for Kaye Lee, a member of Gillard’s man hating elite shock troopers? Your pathetic left wing sexism was outdated when feminists took up the issues of women’s rights.”

    It appears there is a great deal more work to do.

  25. cornlegend

    George Baxter

    Are you always this stupid, or are you making a special effort today?

  26. cornlegend

    There was an old joke about Tony Abbott, isolated in the Seminary.
    He said to the old priest, what do I do to fill in time ?
    The old priest handed him a little screwtop jar .
    Masturbate behind the shed.
    Yesterday, George Pell said to Tony,
    Whats in the little jar on your bench.
    Tony told him.
    Pell said “get rid of it”
    Tony looked sadly at the bin, then threw it,
    Yelling ” bye bye George Baxter

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